Green Light for TARUSA – Home of Russian Literary Dissidents

Maria Ushakova

Thanks to Guy Eames, an expert on green buildings in Russia, I had a chance to take part in a series of very interesting events related to the Moscow Climate Forum, which took place during the first week of September. In brief, I was able to discover my own country, through a ‘Green Building’ perspective, meet prosperous businessmen and art philanthropists, learn new professional ‘green’ jargon in English and fall in love with a very beautiful little town in the Kaluga Region, called Tarusa.

Despite all the current difficulties on the political front between Russia and the UK, Guy Eames managed to secure a grant from the British Embassy for this One Planet Living initiative in Tarusa (Kaluga region). As part of this grant, he was able to pick and choose the best eco-experts in the world and bring them over to Russia for the Russian Climate forum. In this way, he was able to initiate a very important international discussion about sustainable environmental development and low carbon living initiatives in Russia. Experts were able to share their experience and initiate important projects in this area. Let me focus on some of the Forum’s highlights.

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The day before the Forum started, on the 5th of September, on the initiative of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, a key business meeting took place in the ‘Coworking Cabinet Lounge’ in the heart of Moscow. Areas discussed included: investment in ecological tourism, application of business models for the sustainable development of territories and creation of infrastructure in various national parks in Russia with the use of modern technologies.

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The participants of the roundtable included the co-founder of the Council for Environmental Construction and the director of PLANET 2030 – Guy Eames, the expert for sustainable development of the Blenheim Palace of Great Britain – Jacqueline Gibson, the head of the department of Analytical Centre for Protected areas support – Marina Nekrasova and the deputy director for the development of the largest city based National park in the world: Elk Island;’ Sergei Malenko.

The same evening, this international green gang was joined by the Danish Architects, Soren Svare and Palle Bo Rasmussen from KHR Architecture firm; a lovely pair who were able to contribute to the discussion by sharing their experience of evidence-based healthcare design and sustainable healthcare facilities. For the past ten years, these charismatic Danes have been busy building 40 billion’ roubles worth of hospital in Norway and were very happy to take up an offer from Guy to come to explore new potential sustainable building projects in Russia.

Meanwhile, another very important expert came all the way from San Francisco. Marika Ramsden, a Bioregional Eco-school leader, who is responsible for implementing the One Planet Living program in America’s largest high-school. Marika was able to share her experience in educating young children about the importance of being sustainable and looking after the planet to preserve it for future generations.

Marika visited the first One Planet School in Russia in Tarusa, was able to speak to children about what is already happening in their school in conjunction to the One Planet Living initiatives, she was able to speak to the teachers and form personal relations with them. On the way back, Marika visited the amazing Tarusa School of Arts (a gift to Tarusa children by Ismail Akhmetov, local philanthropist and successful businessman).

Another bright green star that lit our discussion was the special expert on the environmental construction of the United Kingdom, Jacqueline Gibson. She shared her experiences in introducing the concept of sustainable development and green technologies in Blenheim Palace, one of the largest and oldest palace and park ensembles in England, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jacqueline made presentations at various events in Moscow, including at the Tarusa House of Literature, also owned by Ismail Akhmetov.

The entire team travelled to Tarusa to take part in this talk and discussion. We enjoyed visiting this lovely town, staying in the state of the ART famous eco hotel in Tarusa ( trying local beer, taking part in an excursion around the town, which was led by the very talented Natalya Lvovna who was able to recite and even sing, beautifully, poems and songs composed by local famous poets. Tarusa is home to some of Russia’s most important literary heroes: Paustovsky, Tsvetaeva, Bella Akhmadulina to name but a few. Tarusa now, with the special help of international experts will become even more popular among tourists both in Russia and internationally. Here are some photos of us having a  great time in this great town.

We can really say that the sky is blue above TARUSA, we will be coming back very soon! Remember: In Tarusa you breath in air and poetry comes out.