Gorenjska region, Slovenia. Cross-border collaboration and citizens engagement to preserve traditional house and field names
For centuries, Slovene field and house denominations, originating from local rural life, have been a way of identifying people, craftsmanship or geographical features of a certain area.
During the 20th century, the socio-economic changes put Slovene house names at risk of oblivion. However, cross-border collaboration between the Gorenjska region (Slovenia) and southern Carinthia region (Austria) have created a joint database and a joint multilingual web-portal to map this intangible cultural heritage.
The collective efforts of more than 40 municipalities and thousands of citizens have increased awareness and engagement of local communities to preserve and keep using their traditional Slovene house names. The initiative is inscribed, since 2010, in UNESCO’s Austrian commission as part of their intangible cultural heritage selection; and it is included in our catalogue as an excellent example of participatory governance in cross-border rural areas.
Many lessons can be withdrawn from this good practice:
- Cross-border networking of stakeholders and heritage professionals contribute to finding common solutions.
- Developing and disseminating user-friendly data collection methodologies understandable by citizens facilitates replicability in other regions and municipalities.
- Make sure to involve associations representing senior citizens in projects addressing preservation of oral history, dialects and languages.