REVIVING THE COMMUNITY OF ŽIŪRAI
(FINALIST 2018) Saving a dying village: rebuilding a community, by bringing together current and former members of the village who live around Lithuania and the world.
Emigration is one of Lithuania’s most persistent problems, especially for rural communities – young people leave their villages, social ties between generations are disintegrating, traditions that used to underpin community life are disappearing, old people are often left behind, and village communities are slowly dying. In the southern Lithuanian village of Žiūrai, where the first ethnographic choir started here back in 1970, the younger generation (who call themselves the grandchild generation) decided to join forces in order to take care of their old folk and bring their village back to life. The Grandchild Initiative was launched in 2017 and had a great impact on village life. The formal purpose of their meetings is to learn the old songs sung by their elders and to have various celebrations, while the informal mission of their gatherings is to visit the old folk in the village, bring together former residents, revive the community and make their village a centre of attraction in the region. The 2018 Song Festival became a formal incentive to present the previously dwindling Žiūrai folklore ensemble to Lithuania and the global community. Now the choir consists of 9 members from the older generation, and 45 representatives of various generations.