Participation – A deeper understanding of the past builds a better future

The Kalmar County Museum developed what it called the “time travel methodology” in the 1980s. The method is based on creating stories, acted out as role-play. Every time travel journey starts from a place, an event, and a year. The goal is to improve the participants’ ability to handle change and give them a greater understanding of different peoples’ perspectives by deepening their knowledge of where they came from.  

The Kalmar County regional federation and the Cape Winelands District in South Africa have now used the time travel methodology as part of their Municipal partnership, taking advantage of the stories told by the older members of the population to enable them to look back in time.

In Kalmar, the method has been used to give residents at the region’s retirement homes greater influence over their day-to-day lives. They have, for example, had the chance to relive music, locations or events that formed part of their lives. The time travel methodology has given both residents and personnel a greater understanding of one another and this has, in turn, resulted in a change in attitudes on the part of personnel and the elderly residents alike. 
“All of a sudden, we understand each other in a new and different way and going to work has become more fun,” says Anna-Greta Ahlgren, an assistant at the Dammen retirement home in Kalmar.

The same sort of time travel journeys have been taken at retirement homes in the Cape Winelands District. One example is in the Nduli township, where a time travel journey was organised at a meeting point for elderly people in the area. The journey went back to 1962 and depicted the compulsory relocation of black South Africans, or more specifically, the compulsory relocation of Ma Rose and her family who were forced, that year, to move to a tiny house with just one room and a kitchen. Ma Rose, who is now an elderly woman, took part in the journey along with 100 other participants. 
“It was an extremely powerful experience and for us, as Swedes, it is very hard to understand how this could have happened in our lifetimes,” says Emma Angelin Holmén, who took part in the journey, along with eight other representatives from Kalmar.

The time travel methodology has spread within South Africa, and local study and time travel groups have started up, both within the framework of the Western Cape and North West Province partnership, and as part of other projects in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. 
And this has also resulted in the expansion and intensification of work using the time travel methodology in Kalmar County too.  
“The experience you gain from the time travel journey is more intense and long-lasting because it paints a picture before your very eyes. It helps map and root the concept of social unity and reconciliation, and it also helps us to try and identify solutions to the challenges we face in our community,” is how Matshidiso Faith Motubatsi, who lives in the town of Mamelodi, explains the South African interest in the method.

The Deputy Minister at the South African Ministry for Arts and Culture has also highlighted the time travel methodology as an important tool in telling the story of apartheid.
“It’s important that these stories, which transcend time and space, are told,” he said at a presentation of the time travel methodology.