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We celebrate 400 years of fuss

It is not the geographical location that makes Umeå special. Nor is it the river, the birch trees, or the culture house Väven. What makes Umeå special are the people who live here. It’s that special mentality.

It's in our thoughts, dreams, and visions for the future. It is our 131 456 different opinions about exactly everything. The mixture of heart and brain, pro or against, over here or over there. It is our fuss, our debates, and our social media posts.

That unquestionable but more and more frequently questioned right to have your own opinion.

So when we celebrate 400 years as a city, we will not put a cake on the main square to celebrate. Instead, we embrace the absolutely wonderful noisy journey that has made Umeå one of the most progressive, creative and cultural cities in the world.

We celebrate 400 years of fuss.

Long live open discussions, democracy, and diversity of opinions.

A little bit more about the many fusses

Kvinna och man diskuterar vägval i vinterskog.

The first city fuss? year 1622

Umeå gets its city privileges 1622 by the king Gustav II Adolf. But the specific location of the new city was not really decided. So, it was simply time for city planning in the true sense of the word. As far as we know, several alternatives were discussed. One alternative should have been to continue building the area further up by the river, near the Backen church. Another option was said to have been the island called Ön. In the end, the decision fell on Sandahemmanet in Ytterhiske village. It was a place where the river had a calmer flow and a better deepness. This became the starting point for the city of Umeå.

Kvinnlig lärare i början av 1900-talet.

The fuss in the educational institution, year 1901

In the beginning of the 1900's, women were not allowed to work as teachers. But Maja Beskow, a woman in her 23 years of age, is determined. She has got a temporary post at Umeå general educational institution, but she wants the permanent position that is available. The school headmaster is totally against the idea. Women cannot, according to Swedish law, have a government employment. But Maja does not give up and applies for excemption with the king. She finally gets it and 1903 she becomes the first female teacher in Umeå. Today, Umeå's newest Upper secondary school is named Maja Beskow.

Kvinna och man diskuterar bakom ett ritbord.

The innovative fuss, year 1947

Gösta Nyström was an inventor from Ånäset with thousands of ideas. For example he built the very first electric car in Sweden, he invented the sun roof and built a brand new type of speedometer. But most important of all, he makes history after inventing the first truck with steel body and a protecting roll bar. This was a great acievement. At this time all vehicle bodies used wood, which did not meet many safety requirements. Today the roll bar is self-evident in all vehicles. In 1964 Gösta Nyström sells his company to Volvo. Today the company is called Volvo Trucks and is the largest private employer in Umeå.

Man och kvinna diskuterar i föreläsningssal.

The intellectual fuss, year 1965

Umeå University is inaugurated in the middle of the 1960's. Young academics arrive to Umeå with a desire for new ideas and perspectives. There are no old habits or traditions to preserve at Umeå University. On the contrary the future is made through student strikes, large meetings, and lively discussions. Protests against high rents, for gender equality and against injustices in the world makes its mark at the university. Here, generations of critical thinking students are fostered, as well as researchers that knows that it is through academic questioning you will find new solutions.

Kvinnlig fotbollsspelare knyter skor på en tom läktare.

The football fuss, year 2001

Who gets room at a municipal training facility? Who gets to select training times first, the one that needs most practice, or the best one? In the end of the 1990's there was a long and protracted discussion about the scheduling of the training times at the municipal sports facilities. Should UIK, the women's football team that was in a higher division get inferior training times than the guys? Finally, the politicians decided to allocate the training times based on the series level the teams were playing in, and not by gender. This led to quite loud discussions, but it also led to Umeå having the best football players in the world playing for UIK for many years. The UEFA cup trophies are still here as reminders from that time, plus the fact that both male and female athletes today have the same opportunity to finding good training times. This is still quite a unique thing in Sweden.

Man och kvinna tittar upp mot kulturhuset Väven.

The how-shall-we-now-develop-Umeå-fuss, present time

Many people want to stay in Umeå. Just like 400 years ago, there are many thoughts and opinions about how Umeå should grow. More and more people want to stay, work, and live here. Umeå is planning for a sustainable development where ecological, economical, social, and cultural perspectives must unite. To make this development really good, we have to keep listening to each other, turn the perspectives around and discuss how we want Umeå to be designed to be best for ourselves and for our coming generations.

*Observant viewers have noticed some of the liberties we have taken for the sake of dramaturgy, but also some historical inaccuracies that simply slipped through the cracks. We encourage your commitment and promise a nice Umeå-related prize to person who can help us point out the most historical inaccuracies.

Do you want to contribute to the fuss?

This film is a celebration to all the talks, debates and discussions that has contributed to strengthen the democracy and characterize our city during these 400 years. At this anxious time in Europe, we can state that the dialogue between humans is more important than ever.

There is a wide range of notions that can describe what happens when we exchange our opinions with each other.

Irrespective of it is called a trusting public conversation, a debate, a discussion, or fuss, it is extremely important that it happens, that the voices don't become silent. It is just the conversation, or the fuss that you might call it, that brings Umeå and the world forward.

Now we want to listen to what you think.


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