Hi! It’s Sonja here.

Some of you might know me, some of you aren’t familiar with me yet, but just hold on, during the upcoming year you will get to know not just me, but a whole Nepalese village! Yes, you heard me right. I am teaming up with an accelerator program Scale School to offer capacity building for a Spiral Farm House in Nepal. It is initially a development project of organic agriculture towards more healthy and sustainable food production and consumption in Nepal.

I think I should begin with a short story of how I came to the position to write this to you. I wanted to switch my career from a pretty normal sales assistant job to something that would be align with my values and have the feeling of doing something meaningful, as much of a cliche as it sounds. Anyway, I have been interested in environmental and social (inequality) problems for years and years, until about a six months ago I decided to take the leap to unknown; I quit my solid job, moved back to my home country Finland and applied to study again (environmental sciences). Well, I didn’t make it to the school, which I discovered while traveling in South-East Asia. Just days before the result I was on a Malaysian island and I faced my only real fear: water. Yeah, I went scuba-diving! Started with a heart rate in sky-high from the anxiety, I successfully finished the open water course, which after I had to do it more and more, it’s addictive! A week later from Malaysia, I was diving once again in Bali. We hit it off with my dive-buddy Joanne, not just about diving, but also about our personal and professional aspirations. A few weeks later I was joining the crew for the Scale School program for Nepal. Quite unbelievable way to find a dream job!

 

A team building evening at Paris before I leave for Nepal with Sokha, Mathias, Sonja, Tijana and Joanne(from left)

 

For the month of September I joined the team in Paris to work on the Scale School for Spiral Farm House in Nepal. I have been having daily calls with Sudarshan, the owner of Spiral Farm House, worked on planning, learning to understand the Scale School methodologies, learning about Nepal and the Nepalese culture. As it is the first time the Scale School is applied to a physical project, there were many learning moments. I had good time. I had a moment of frustration. I had a moment of desperation. I had a moment when I had to face cultural differences, (oh yeah, also with the french first-time-we-meet-we-do-french-kisses which was so not natural in the first days). We had moments of commitment. We had moments of trust. We had collective enthusiasm – and that carries on.

 

I’m now embarking for my flight to Kathmandu, my year long journey in Nepal begins. Before you hear more about the journey itself, I will highlight some of the reflection and learnings from the intense first month in Paris.

 

In constructive manner I would say, for the projects following our pioneer, it would be beneficial that before we start prioritising the actions, we make the commitment first and dig deeper into what it means. It was probably our first and most obstructive mistake. The advantages of having an official start and mutual commitment for the project were evident the day after, as everyone were finally giving their efforts. Secondly, spending much more time on planning and seeing the different connections and components together would have saved us a great deal of time. Of course, every new project goes through it’s trials and errors, and we are learning from this for the projects to come.

 

Despite of some technological difficulties and cultural differences between France, Finland and Nepal, we managed to lay the mutual commitment of both parties, which is crucial for the continuation of the project. I felt there was excitement and expectations from all participants. But what do we actually expect? From my part, as the Startup Manager for Spiral Farm House, I expect intensive first month of work with Sudarshan. We need to learn to fully trust each other for the best of the project, we need to be open and respectful of each other’s opinions and knowledge, we need to plan a lot, practice a lot, research a lot…

 

If we can do that, I believe we will have wonderful journey towards the common goal: Sustainable and healthy food production from farmers to consumers, that have positive impact for the people and the one and only planet Earth.

Sonja Stedt
Sonja is the Scale School Nepal startup manager, travelling to the locations where projects emerge to the entire world. With education in arts, Sonja has worked on several projects that provoke to question our current ways of existence and their impacts in the environment, health and social well-being. Her curiosity for the world, concern for the future on planet and optimistic approaches are the drivers of her work both in her own work and at Open Team. To her, learning is a life-long journey and discoveries big and small make her excited to take on with new challenges.

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