The reason why I travel as much as I do is purely because I like it.
I have been on the road since I was 18 and i am 41 now and plan to continue with
that a few decades more. I earn my living from doing freelance jobs in tourism.
This is both as a tourleader, as a consultant and as a lecturer. I am showing
some tourists around the Azores at the moment and when that is done then i take
3 months off for a round the world trip taking me to Turkey, Malaysia, Borneo,
Brunei, the Phillipines, Vietnam and California.
The soil was collected on a roadtrip I did with some people I met through the
travel site www.virtualtourist.com. It´s
a travel tip sharing website, but it has a very good community spirit too and
we were 6 persons from 5 different countries who did this trip very spontaneously
after a chat in the travel forum on virtualtourist.com. We visited 7 countries
in 7 days (Finland, Estonia, Latvia. Lithuania, Belarus, Poland and England)
and in all the countries we met up with people we got in touch with through virtualtourist,
so it was a bit of a party trip.
The biggest challenge when collecting the soil was that we did the trip in january
and the temperatures were around minus 30 degrees celcius and the ground was
But we got it up with tools we borrowed from locals and the soil in Estonia was
collected from just outside the train station in the old university town "Tartu".
I got the soil from a Park in the center of Vilnius and in Belarus we got
the soil from a little forest next to the train station.
a little tricky in Belarus as we were actually refused entry because we
did not apply for visas in advance, but we had to wait 6 hours for a train
to deport us so I had time to get the soil in the little forst next to
the train station.
That was my 5 cents.
Just write me if you need more info.
By Jheri St. James
of Evolution in Estonia
culture has existed for over 4000 years in north central Europe.
The nation has coasts on the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Finland,
and Gulf of Riga. Included in the Estonian territory are more
than 800 islands in the Baltic Sea. To the east of Estonia
is Russia; across the Baltic Sea to the west is Sweden; to
the north lies Finland beyond the Gulf of Finland; and south
of Estonia is Latvia.
Estonia and its culture have evolved as a result of outside
forces since the late 12th century, when Christian crusaders
invaded in 1193, waging war against all Estonian farmers.
The acceptance of Christianity brought officials of the Roman
Catholic Church, who brought with them German landowners called
Knights of the Sword, who seized ethnic Estonian farms and
reduced farmers to serfs. Throughout the next 1800 years,
Estonian soil was the platform for battles involving Denmark,
Germany, Russia, Poland, and Sweden.
Estonia declared its independence—establishing its own
currency, flag, language, and foreign policy. Since the last
Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote
economic and political ties with Western Europe. It joined
both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004. As a new member
of the World Trade Organization and the European Union, Estonia
has transitioned effectively to a modern market economy with
strong ties to the West, including the pegging of its currency
to the euro. The economy benefits from strong electronics
and telecommunications sectors and is greatly influenced by
developments in Finland, Sweden, and Germany, three major
trading partners. The current account deficit remains high,
however, the state budget is essentially in balance, and public
debt is low. Estonia’s largest cities are Tallinn, the
capital, Tartu and Pamu.
One of the most successful and influential theories in the
history of science has been the theory of evolution—the
process by which organisms change and species arise and disappear,
a process in effect since the origins of life itself. As postulated
by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, 19th century
British scientists, the central mechanism of evolution was
natural selection. In essence, this theory states that life
forms with certain characteristics tend to reproduce in larger
numbers and survive environmental changes better than other,
similar life forms that lack these characteristics. These
forms then tend to become dominant within the population,
and the characteristics are inherited by subsequent generations.
Integral to the theory is the notion that all species of life
on earth are interrelated, ultimately having common ancestry.
Today the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, coming from
many branches of science—biology, anatomy, embryology,
paleontology, biochemistry, genetics, and other fields. Evolution
in any one moment is a phantom process, invisible to the observer.
our purposes, this can be interpreted to mean that all the
nations that fought over and upon Estonian soil have a common
ancestry. Here we have the core of the Common Ground 191 project
philosophy—the fact that this common ancestry of mankind
has evolved, with myriad variations, on a common staging area—the
soil of Earth. And the project has evolved with variations
in collectors. Some, like Fanis in Greece, and Simin in Turkey
get very involved in the details of our project—filling
out the volunteer identification form, carefully collecting
important soil, completing the volunteer collection form,
taking photos, and even writing the journal entry narrative.
The Common Ground 191 project continues to color their lives
as they send rewrites, corrections, and additional pictures
as in the case of the soils of Estonia, Belarus and Lithuania,
are more like “collector phantoms”—they
email Gary Simpson, founder of the project, get the carton,
put some soil in, ship it back to Laguna Beach, California,
and that’s it—no form filling, no photos, no words.
That’s what happened in the collection from Estonia.
All we know is that Claus Andersen is Danish, works in the
tourist industry, and was very busy during the recent controversy
over the Mohammed cartoon emanating from Denmark in the world
press. But, the Biking Viking is one of our Common Ground
191 phantom collectors and we thank him for the soils of those
three countries—whoever he is! Even anonymously, he
is an important link to the evolution of the mind of mankind,
an unseen divergence.
* * *
have one of the biggest collections of folk songs in the
world, with written records of about 133,000 folk songs.
Music in Estonia has evolved to the point where every
fifth year now tens of thousands of singers from all over
the country come to sing for countless listeners. World-famous
conductors Neeme Jarvi and Tonu Kaijuste and composers
Arvo Part, Veijo Tormis and Erkki-Sven Tuur are well known
writers are often not only book authors, but also spiritual
leaders. Estonian culture has been tool of political
struggle, and writers like Anton Hansen, Tammsaare,
Eduard Vilde, Marie Under, Betti Alver, Friedebert Tuglas
and Karl Ristikivi, have evolved that artistic expression
very successfully. Throughout the world, Jaan Kross
is most well known, along with Jaan Kaplinski, Andrus
Kivirank and Toni Onnepalu. In researching this journal
entry, the writer discovered a huge feminist writing
and art community also active in Estonia.
evolution of fine art, the earliest finds are animalistic
figures and metal ornaments. Polychrome wooden altars
and wood carvings have survived from the 14th and 15th
centuries. The oldest secular works of art are the benches
in the Tallinn Town Hall. Altars by Hermen Rode and
Bernt Notke were brought to Tallinn from Lubeck and
from Brugge, the large wing altar created by the anonymous
Master of the St. Lucia Legend.
the Legend of Saint Lucy (flourished 1480- 1510) was
a Flemish painter who worked out of Bruges, now a city
in Belgium. His name was coined for an altarpiece in
the church of Saint James in Bruges, which is dated
1480 and depicts three scenes from the life of Saint
Lucy. Since then, twenty-five to thirty-five paintings
have been attributed to the same hand. He may have trained
Spanish students at his studio in Bruges. Another phantom
is the patron saint of blindness and is the only saint
celebrated by the Lutheran Swedes, Finns, Danes and
Norwegians in December. Lucy means “light,”
with the same Latin root as “lucid,” which
means clear, radiant, understandable. St. Lucy’s
history is shrouded in darkness, as is the history of
her portraitist. All that is really known for certain
is that she was a martyr in Syracuse in Diocletian’s
persecutions of A.D. 303. A phantom saint, symbolic
of the invisibility of evoluation?
first exponent of Renaissance art was the Tallinn artist Michel
Sittow. Wood carving flourished during the Baroque period.
The Tartu University drawing school was founded in 1803 as
the first art school in Estonia. Art creation was prohibited
with WWII and the occupation of Estonia by the USSR. Since
the 1960’s, art has begun to diversify again with responses
to international friends of art. The works of Aleksander Vardi,
Elmar Kits and Avo Keerend represent non-figurative art. Lepo
Mikko, Olev Subbi and Tiit Paasuke are representative artists
in the classical modernism style. Many, many other artists
have emerged during Estonia’s independence.
large number of cultural institutions such as theaters, museums
and libraries are financed by the state, as are cultural periodicals,
whose editions are very large, given the size of the population.
Cultural efforts are supported financially by the Kultuurkapital
fund, which derives its revenue from duty on the sale of alcohol
and on gambling.
about the graffiti photos: It all began as a grant proposal
submitted to the National Research Council. The research projects
involve James S. Aber at Emporia State University, Kansas
and Volli Kalm at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Both are
senior scientists with similar backgrounds and interests in
surficial geology and geomorphology, specifically glacial
deposits and landforms with associated features of the Quaternary
ice age. They proposed to undertake a series of exchanges
to utilize geographic information system (GIS) and satellite
remote sensing techniques combined with ground observations
for mapping, classifying, and interpreting the geomorphology
of Estonia. Low altitude ground observations would be recorded
with both conventional photography and with kite aerial photography.The
proposal was accepted and Professor Kalm visited Kansas in
the summers of 1999 and 2000. The Aber family moved to Tartu,
Estonia, arriving the 14th of August, 2000 and made these
observations and experiences available to all who are interested
in viewing. (Graffiti photos by Jeremy Aber, 2000)
may be the most obviously evolving art expression in the world,
and Estonia’s phantom graffiti artists are at work expressing
themselves in ways that may only be defined by the perceptions
of the viewer. The website www.estonia.gov.uk says, “The
task now facing us is to ward off globalization and guard
against the whims of market forces so as to keep our own national
culture, retain our specific cultural features, even as a
member state of the European Union,” in other words
to evolve as Estonia.
us take a moment to appreciate the special qualities of the
soil of this ancient land, Estonia, as we welcome the fleeting
contributions of the phantom Biking Viking to our pastiche
of soils at Common Ground 191.
Pot Sculpture outside the Botanical Gardens Museum in