Alsunga is one of two villages in the second smallest municipality in Latvia with 1 390 inhabitants. The local community is mainly made up of people with old cultural traditions – called suiti. The Suiti Cultural Space was inscribed in UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2009.
Alsunga is a good place to live, but ongoing depopulation is reducing available resources , thereby changing the living environment and the need for services. The main priorities are to develop sustainable local food and a craft market to increase marketing volumes for home-based producers. Another initiative is to develop the local school.
Due to administrative reforms, the Alsunga municipality will be incorporated into a much larger municipality and will become an outskirts parish. This will require the development of a strong village strategy and team to keep the development of Alsunga.
For us, ‘smart village’ is a community of people who work together to address their challenges through a variety of methods – the whole community benefits from cooperating with residents and entrepreneurs. The smart village is a process rather than a static state.
Therefore the ‘smart village action group’ was set up as a voluntary association involving representatives of both the Chairman of the Municipality Council, representatives of NGOs, representatives of local authorities and residents. The group is open and calls on all citizens to participate with ideas and concrete actions for the development of Alsunga village.
Alsunga – a European-level Smart Village
A comprehensive newspaper article about Alsunga, the Latvian Smart Rural 21 selected village, and its participation in the project’s final conference, 17-18 October 2022 in Sopot (Poland), together with other Latvian communities was published in the Kurzemnieks regional newspaper.
Alsunga Youth Days 2021
Young people in Alsunga are in the process of organising the village Youth Days for the third consecutive year. It is them who come up with the programme, write a project application to get funding in order to implement their ideas, such as invite artists and interesting people, as well as young people from across the country.
The Alsunga Youth Days 2021 will be hosted by the local Tea House (Facebook: @Sapnotava), which also houses the Youth NGO ‘Creative Quarter of Liepu Street’ (Facebook: @RadosiAlsungai). The Youth NGO aims to motivate young people to be active and acquire the necessary skills to implement their ideas.
Alsunga locals get familiar with virtual reality
The Alsunga Smart Village Initiative Group organised an augmented reality programming training for schoolchildren, teachers and villagers, taught by fellow villager Kristaps Vitolins. Participants learned some of the basics of programming, while at the same time, a model of the solar system was developed as a result of the training, whose aims is to get students interested in science.
The virtual solar system has been distributed to everyone in the village and is accessible via the school door through a QR code.
One of the objectives of Alsunga's Smart Village strategy is to make the village school more appealing to schoolchildren and young families. To this end, digital technologies are being integrated into the school.
New Alsunga village market gains popularity
The Alsunga Smart Village Initiative Group created the Suiti market in 2020. It quickly grew in size from 20 traders early in the summer to 60 in late September 2020. The market is organised like a festival where you can meet people, hear news, listen to the special suiti singing, and children can play and participate in creative workshops.
Traders gather in the village square every Sunday and offer local products: saldskabmaize (special local bread) and sklandrausi (carrot pies), handcrafts, seedlings, vegetables, etc. The Suitu market has quickly become popular in nearby and remote areas, while allowing local residents to increase their income.
Find out more about it on Facebook at @SuituTirgus.
Spring cleaning of Alsunga river and its banks
Alsunga locals have started cleaning up the Kaulinupe river running across the village from landfall trees and beaver-built dams, aiming to maintain the paths of the river banks and create picnic sites and walking routes. The spring cleaning has revealed glimpses of the river curves and the mighty oaks on its shores.
The Kaulinupe river forms a picturesque gorge that dates approximately 12 000 years back, when the coast of the Baltic Ice Lake stretched along Alsunga’s current border and most of the village surrounding was the seabed. The gorge is a popular walking route for both locals and tourists.
Alsunga celebrates national independence online
The village of Alsunga will join the virtual processions of folk costumes, celebrating Latvia’s independence on 4 May, as all in person gatherings are still prohibited due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Located in the Suiti cultural space, which is on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage list, Alsunga prides itself on the glamorous folk costumes that locals wear on occasions such as the independence day celebration.
The legend goes that Baron von Schwerin introduced the folk costume in the 17th century, as a symbol for those who converted to Catholicism, allowing cultural uniqueness to be preserved.
Have a look at the processions, check out #tautasterpugajiens2021, #Alsunga and #suiti on Facebook.
Village strategy :
Smart Rural Journey
Follow along with our Village Roadmap here :
Young people participate in training on smart solutions and programming. The participants not only familiarise themselves with the various smart solutions and learn the fundamentals of programming, but also became aware of the village's problems, seek solutions and develop and implement a smart solution.
Step 2/4 : Training in smart technology
During the series of training sessions, young people will not only familiarise themselves with the various smart solutions and learn the fundamentals of programming - IoT (Internet of Things) (google translated English version) and AI (artificial intelligence) (google translated English version) - but will also be aware of the village's problems, seek solutions and develop and implement a specific smart solution
Step 3/4 : Smart action with youth
The youngsters were building a sensor station in Alsunga with the aim to find out real-time air temperature, atmospheric pressure, air humidity and light intensity, accessible for everyone online. The weather station got ready on Latvia’s birthday.
Alsunga activities in 2022
Find out what Alsunga and its residents have been up to in 2022!
Stories of Smart Villages – Alsunga
A video produced by TUESI.LV (YOUARE.LV), an online platform dedicated to telling inspirational stories of young Latvians through short videos. "A smart village is a process where we can come together and do good things so that we can have a 'long and happy' life here." Daiga Kalniņa, representative of Alsunga smart village community.
A journey through the Internet of Things
Young people from Alsunga participated in a programming training which taught them the fundamentals, as well as smart IT solutions that could be deployed to address issues the village is facing. Trainees explored village issues, sought solutions and jointly developed one Internet of Things (IoT) device - a miniature weather station.
Alsunga activities in 2021
Find out what Alsunga and its residents have been up to in 2021 – a wide range of activities, from a joint training for the development of a smartphone app to the annual Youth Days in the summer.
Get a flavour of Alsunga