Is Torna Hällestad a village, or is it a small town? This question must surely vex some regional official somewhere in an office in Lund, to whose kommun the place belongs… and perhaps it vexes visitors from elsewhere, for whom the relative sizes implied by such categories are a poor fit for Sweden’s vast landscape and relatively small population.
It vexes Torna Hällestad’s residents not a whit, however; they have much better things to discuss. Discussion—which our hypothetical vexed outsider might want to label as “direct democracy”, “participatory local politics” or somesuch thing—is a big part of what goes on here. That’s a tradition which can probably be traced back to the founding of the Torna Hällastad lanthandel three decades ago: a decision which had a profound effect, not just here, but all over Sweden as the idea spread and became a movement.
Torna Hällastad still stands out today as a community that is highly engaged in shaping its own fate and living in harmony with its surroundings… and with surroundings like this (particularly the Gryteskog nature reservation), you can understand why!