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Posts Tagged ‘denmark’

Photo: Pattie Mitchell via Upsplash
You can help reduce global warming when you think twice about the food you buy.

The pandemic has hurt my tentative efforts to help the global climate by cutting back on lamb and beef. This sounds lame, but with online ordering, I feel less able to be creative about meatless meals. I need to see the produce up close, not the market’s idealized photo. Guess I better get over that: online shopping looks like being my mode for quite a while yet.

Meanwhile, as Ali Withers reports for the Climate Solutions initiative at the Washington Post, a Danish grocery chain is making it easy for customers to watch their carbon footprint.

A major supermarket chain in Denmark is offering shoppers something extra at checkout: an estimated amount of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from their groceries.

“COOP DK, the Danish cooperative that controls one-third of the country’s grocery market, says it is trying to educate consumers with an eye toward nudging them to cut back on meat and dairy, two categories of food that produce the most greenhouse gasses linked to climate change. …

“Shoppers can use an app that gives them a personalized carbon footprint tracker that displays roughly how much CO2 it took to produce the tomatoes, yogurt or cold cuts in their baskets. The tracker, which rolled out in June, also allows customers to compare their footprint to the average shopper.

“ ‘What people need to understand is just that animal-based products have a higher [climate] impact,’ said Thomas Roland, who leads corporate social responsibility for COOK DK. …

“Animal agriculture is a major source of both carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gasses that are driving the rapid warming of the planet, scientists say. …

“Since the stores stock more than 100,000 items, they took a few shortcuts by selecting a benchmark item — 2.2 pounds of white rice, for example — to be representative of all types of rice because, as Roland explained, the variations in rice production, transportation and packaging are relatively small. Similarly, all pork is counted in the same way, regardless of farming methods. …

“So far, 21 percent of the chain’s 1.2 million app users have checked their carbon footprint, Roland said. …

“When they first discussed the idea of a carbon tracker, top executives at COOP DK were concerned that it could affect the chain’s bottom line. …

“Roland said, ‘Our biggest concern was that we “chased” some customers out of our shops only to find that they buy all their meat at competitors. But that, luckily, doesn’t seem to be the case. Curiosity wins, as customers actually want to see the footprint of their total basket and not “cheat.” ‘

“The average Dane is responsible through his or her food choices for the emission of about 6,614 pounds of CO2, or 18.1 pounds a day, according to COOP DK.

“That’s almost six times the amount recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health. The commission’s 2019 peer-reviewed study by 37 scientists found that a person’s nutritional CO2 footprint should be closer to 3.1 pounds per day, if humanity is to prevent the average global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. …

Barnemad, a cooking site that displays the CO2 equivalence of a recipe’s ingredients, is among a growing number of ‘climate cookbooks’ that are part of a Danish trend to promote low-carbon eating, organic foods and nutrition. …

“Leading meat and dairy suppliers are cautiously welcoming the footprint tracker, although it could result in a decrease in sales. …

“The pork producer Danish Crown doesn’t oppose climate footprint trackers, its top executive said. ‘It’s early days for these tools,’ said Jais Valeur, CEO of Danish Crown, which also exports meat to China, Japan and Britain. ‘But still, it’s a sign of what’s going to come here on the climate path, and we need to pay attention to this. It’s not like we’re against it. Meat has become so cheap here in Europe and in the Western world, and there you see an overconsumption.’ …

“Both [dairy producer] Arla and Danish Crown are trying to reduce their carbon emissions and position their products as low-carbon.

“Arla is aiming to shrink its CO2 footprint by 30 percent by 2030. And Danish Crown says it will halve CO2 emissions from the 12.5 million pigs it raises and slaughters in Denmark by 2030. The company is setting up baselines and individual climate plans for each of its pig farmers. …

“Farmers, for the most part, are embracing the opportunity to lower their carbon footprint, although, as Valeur notes, there are no financial incentives. …

“Kim Kjær Knudsen is a third-generation pig farmer who is trying to cut carbon emissions from his farm of 100,000 pigs outside Copenhagen. He has invested in biogas projects, reduced the acidity of his slurry, installed new ventilation systems and is buying more local feed.

“ ‘I think this will define my future in the next 10 to 15 years,’ Knudsen said. ‘It’s important to make some steps now [that] will move us in a good direction … if I can put a calculation on my meat to say, “Actually, we can produce meat here in Denmark that is 50 to 80 percent better for the environment than they can do somewhere else in the world.” ‘ “

Gotta love those Danes — ahead of the curve on so many good things! How do they do it? More at the Washington Post, here.

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Photo: Visit Samso
This Danish island makes use of woods, water, and fields for school outdoors.

Erik’s Swedish/Danish niece and nephews live in Copenhagen and went back to school quite a long time ago. The youngest went first, taking his seat in a classroom full of Covid-19 protections. Meanwhile, in other parts of Denmark, outdoor learning is getting increased attention.

Rick Noack writes at the Washington Post, “On a balmy Monday afternoon earlier this month, Sebastian Lukas, 27, watched from across a clearing as his third- and fourth-grade students whittled branches into spearheads with sharp knives.

“His gaze turned to another group, who were supposed to be working on math problems. Two students, perched on a log, scrambled to produce their textbooks, just in time to look busy.

“Lukas began the year teaching in a classroom like any other, in Samso Frie Skole, a school on the Danish island of Samso. But when the novel coronavirus pandemic struck, the school, like many across the country, embraced a new way to hold certain classes: almost entirely outdoors.

“Instead of sitting at desks, Lukas’s students wander through a rambling woodland, lush with trees and crisscrossed by dirt tracks. …

“Some countries, including Germany, have a tradition of outdoor preschools and kindergartens, which have begun to catch on in the United States as well. The pandemic may drive more countries to experiment with the model for older students. …

“Samso, a sparsely populated, energy self-sufficient and carbon-neutral 44-square-mile island that was once a meeting point for Vikings, is a windy, hour-long trip by ferry from the mainland village of Hou.

“The Samso Frie Skole — a private school funded, like many others in Denmark, in large part through public grants — first pondered the move outdoors long before the pandemic. Coronavirus accelerated those plans.

“The new, forested area, surrounded by grain fields, includes old farmhouses, where students will be able to take shelter in bad weather, according to principal Anna Mattsson.

“ ‘It’s going to be a combination of indoors and outdoors,’ she said. The aim is to have students learn outside several times a week, with fluctuations based on weather.

“No one at the school said they were worried about the impending winter.

“ ‘We’re used to it,’ said Rikke Ulk, the chair of the school’s support association. ‘It’s a matter of dressing well.’

“Until the new buildings are ready, students must walk or bike more than a mile from their old classrooms to their new forest school. Teachers haul some of the younger children in carts affixed to bicycles.

“Milling about before one such shuttle ride on a September morning, Noa, 11, said she liked the new school setup. It’s ‘just so beautiful — it makes me happy,’ she said. …

“Some said they preferred certain aspects of learning inside. ‘Sometimes, it’s better just being in the classroom, so we can focus,’ said Sally, 12.

“Cian, 9, an aspiring cook or robot engineer, disagreed. ‘It’s better to be here,’ he said, holding his math book. ‘It’s cozier.’

“Lukas said outdoor class works better for some students than others. ‘But some kids who have a hard time sitting love to come out here,’ he said, and some students who struggled to focus on math indoors have shown aptitude outside. …

“One of the most commonly accepted Danish arguments in favor of outdoor schooling centers on health benefits, said Mads Bolling, a researcher at the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen. Students are able to avoid the adverse affects of sitting still all day.

“But he cautioned that potential disadvantages are not yet fully understood, and some research suggests outdoor schooling appears to provide the most for children who are already highly motivated. …

“Even if outdoor class may not be practical for all schools or in all climates, said Bolling, it is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Samso Frie Skole plans to be flexible about which classes meet outside and which do not.” More here.

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Photo: Stefan Sauer/AFP/Getty Images
Amateur archaeologist Rene Schoen (left) and 13-year-old student Luca Malaschnichenko looking for treasures in Schaprode, Germany. The boy made a startling discovery in January, then participated in a professional dig that uncovered a larger trove.

In this National Public Radio story, a young boy working with an amateur archaeologist gets to experience the thrill of a significant find, one that underscores the historical connection between Germany and Denmark.

It wasn’t aluminum trash he found. It was a silver coin.

Camila Domonoske reports at NPR, “An amateur archaeologist and a 13-year-old student have uncovered a stash of thousand-year-old coins, rings and pearls on an island in the Baltic Sea in northern Germany, including items that might be tied to Harald Bluetooth, the famous king who united Denmark.

“René Schön and student Luca Malaschnitschenko were searching northern Rügen island with metal detectors when they found something they thought was aluminum but turned out to be silver, Agence France-Presse reports. …

“The two alerted professional archaeologists, and then helped recover of the rest of the trove — more than 600 silver objects dating from the late 10th century. …

“About 100 of the coins are from the reign of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark: the largest find of such coins in the southern Baltic region, the [archaeology office of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania] office says.

“Harald I — his nickname is believed to come from a dead tooth that may have looked blueish — was a Viking king who united Denmark, conquered Norway and converted to Christianity.

“And based on the date of the stash, the state archaeology office says, it’s possible that the hoard wasn’t just from Bluetooth’s reign, but that it was directly tied to the king himself. …

“In case you were wondering: Yes, King Harald Bluetooth is the namesake for Bluetooth wireless technology. An Intel engineer who worked on the technology, Jim Kardach, was reading about Vikings as the project developed.

“In his words, King Bluetooth ‘was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.’ The Bluetooth symbol is a runic representation of his initials.”

More here.

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Photo: Visit Faroe Islands
Faroese sheep were strapped with cameras in a bid to get the attention of Google Street View. It worked.

If you were a promising but unknown vacation spot with incredibly picturesque sheep wandering through stunning landscapes, what would you do to attract tourists?

Enlist the sheep, of course.

Karin Brulliard writes at the Washington Post, “The Faroe Islands, a remote archipelago that juts out of the cold seas between Norway and Iceland, doesn’t even appear on some world maps. But as of last [November], the verdant slopes, rocky hiking trails and few roads of the 18 islands are on Google Street View — and a team of camera-toting sheep helped get them there.

“When the islands’ tourism board decided last year that it wanted to get the company’s attention, it knew it would need an unusual pitch. It also knew that its rugged terrain would not be easily traversed by those Google cars that ply city streets worldwide, snapping photos. So it strapped solar-powered, 360-degree cameras onto the backs of a few shaggy Faroese sheep and began uploading the resulting, and very breathtaking, images to Street View itself. …

“Sheep are a big deal in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous nation within the Kingdom of Denmark whose name translates to ‘islands of the sheep.’ The islands’ distinct breed is believed to have been imported by Norse settlers in the 9th century, and today about 80,000 sheep live there, far outnumbering the 50,000 people. …

“Locals and visitors were encouraged to share photos of the Faroe Islands on social media with the hashtags #WeWantGoogleStreetView and #VisitFaroeIslands.

“It didn’t take long for the media-friendly story to make its way to Google, which pronounced it ‘shear brilliance.’ Last summer, the company visited the islands and loaned out one of its eyeball-like Street View Trekkers, as well as some 360-degree cameras for human use. In a blog post, the former tourism board employee who spearheaded the campaign, Durita Dahl Andreassen, explained that those would be handed out to locals and tourists alike and that they would be attached to ‘sheep, bikes, backpacks, ships and even a wheelbarrow.’ …

“The tourism board has moved on to a new, sheep-free effort to get Google Translate to include Faroese, which descends from old Norse.”

More here.

Photo: Visit Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands sheep attracted Google Street View — and tourists.

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In Denmark, a beekeeping program is not only beneficial to the environment but a good way for refugee workers to settle in to a new culture.

Jennifer Hattam writes at Take Part about bees atop Copenhagen’s convention center that pollinate crops, produce honey, provide employment, and help flavor a local beer.

“The honey and the beer are the fruits of the innovative project Bybi, named after the Danish word for ‘city bee.’ Its mission: to use urban beekeeping to create a greener Copenhagen, connect residents with the city around them, and bring together and employ people from diverse backgrounds, including refugees and the formerly homeless.

“Syrian beekeeper Aref Haboo is among Bybi’s small staff. He kept dozens of hives back in his home village while also working as a civil servant and agricultural consultant. Like millions of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war, Haboo made the treacherous journey to Europe, part of it smuggled in the cargo hold of a truck, leaving behind his wife and three children to find a safer place for them all to live. A year ago, he was able to reunite his family in Denmark. …

“Haboo recently helped teach a season-long apiculture course to a mixed group of around 20 Syrians, Africans, and Europeans, who produced 450 kilograms of honey from hives in a Copenhagen park. Graduates who want to continue working with bees will receive support from Bybi, and proceeds from the sale of the first course’s honey will help fund training sessions.

“ ‘A lot of our residents have difficulties getting into the Danish labor market, whether because of language issues, skills gaps, or health problems. Working with Bybi is good for them in terms of getting out to meet people and doing something constructive, something they can be proud of,’ says Simon Christopher Hansen, cultural coordinator for the Copenhagen public housing association 3B. …

“With relatively high rates of winter mortality among honeybees in Denmark, Bybi’s urban hives also help ensure that bee populations stay healthy — along with the green environment they nurture and depend on.

“In a way, [social entrepreneur Oliver Maxwell, who founded Bybi in 2010] sees the hive as a model for Bybi and for humanity. ‘We’re looking at ways we can work together that protect our communities and enrich our environment,’ he says. ‘That’s what bees do: They create bigger apples, richer strawberries; they help everything thrive.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Bybi
Beekeeping in Copenhagen helps refugees and the environment.

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Maria Popova at Brain Pickings finds the most wonderful books to blog about. In a recent post she extolled the wonders of fairy tale illustrations by Kay Rasmus Nielsen.

I was surprised to learn that’s a man’s name in Denmark. Wikipedia says, “Kay Nielsen was born in Copenhagen into an artistic family; both of his parents were actors – Nielsen’s father, Martinus Nielsen, was the director of Dagmarteater and his mother, Oda Nielsen, was one of the most celebrated actresses of her time, both at the Royal Danish Theater and at the Dagmarteater.

“Kay … received his first English commission from Hodder and Stoughton to illustrate a collection of fairy tales, providing 24 colour plates and more than 15 monotone illustrations for In Powder and Crinoline, Fairy Tales Retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in 1913. In the same year, Nielsen was also commissioned by The Illustrated London News to produce a set of four illustrations to accompany the tales of Charles Perrault; Nielsen’s illustrations for ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Puss in Boots’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Bluebeard’ were published in the 1913 Christmas Edition.”

This is from Maria Popova: “As a lover of illustrated fairy tales and having just returned from Sweden, I was delighted to discover, thanks to the relentlessly wonderful 50 Watts, East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North … illustrated by Danish artist Kay Rasmus Nielsen (1886-1957), whose work you might recall from [my list of] the all-time greatest illustrations of Brothers Grimm and the fantastic visual history of Arabian Nights. Originally published in 1914, this magnificent tome of 15 stories was recently reissued by Calla Editions, the same Dover imprint that revived Harry Clarke’s magnificent illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe, and features 25 color illustrations, along with a slew of black-and-white ones, in Nielsen’s singular style of haunting whimsy.”

There are more than 20 amazing Nielson illustrations here, at Brain Pickings.

Art: Kay Rasmus Nielsen
The North Wind went over the sea.

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Hours in an icy rain madly cheering family and strangers along with four grandchildren under the age of five. Erik made his best time, coming in under three hours. John looked on the web and found that Erik’s sister was the fourth woman from Denmark to cross the finish line yesterday, and Erik’s cousin was the fourth woman from Sweden. Erik’s mother waved a makeshift Swedish flag, which bled onto everything in the rain but elicited delight from unknown Swedes who also were running in the Boston Marathon.

Mile 19 in Newton was our meeting place, next to the hot-dog vendor. Suzanne got stuck on the wrong side, but the police knew this would happen and had little cards already printed out to tell people how to drive to the other side. She got there in time.

The day was a grand accomplishment for all concerned, not excluding four cold, soggy, cheering children.

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After my older grandson (4-1/2) and older granddaughter (nearly 2) let me play too as they decorated their gingerbread cookies, I went home and pulled out the sugar-cookie recipe from the nursery school cookbook John made in 1975. It’s still the best.

Observation on cookie cutters: Swedes know their moose. I have several moose/reindeer cookie cutters, but the only one that works well is the one from Erik’s mother. It has plump legs and antlers. Why is that important? Because skinny legs and antlers invariably break off.

The grandson, granddaughter, and I have the same abstract aesthetic when it comes to decorating.

The Little Mermaid window ornament is from Erik’s sister, who lives in Denmark.

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In the last couple years, my husband and I have seen so many fiction movies about chefs that now Netflix recommends any film related to food.

Not all films about chefs are equally good, though. High in our pantheon are Babette’s Feast, Today’s Special, and The Lunchbox. I’ll refrain from mentioning a couple recent ones that had too many Hollywood memes.

An article in the NY Times this week tells a real-life chef story that seems to imitate fiction. Jeff Gordinier interviews a pastry chef from the Bronx who has just landed a job at a restaurant in Copenhagen that some folks call the “best in the world.” The reporter, hoping to discover the source of chef Malcolm Livingston’s talent, travels with him to meet a great aunt.

“The person who had the answer, it turned out, was Aunt Alice. Aunt Alice is Alice Pulley, an 83-year-old deacon at Friendly Baptist Church and the sister of Mr. Livingston’s paternal grandmother. …

“Mr. Livingston nodded toward the kitchen as memories of poundcake and pecan pie poured forth. ‘This whole counter — she would have a little cake display,’ he said. When he was 5 or 6, he and his playground comrades became passionate advocates for Ms. Pulley’s baking. …

“Her signature dish, and the one that would wind up being pivotal in Mr. Livingston’s life, was a banana pudding filled with alternating layers of sliced bananas and Nilla wafers. She made the custard itself with eggs and milk, instead of relying on a powder from the supermarket, and she achieved the texture she wanted by way of flour, instead of cornstarch.

“ ‘I’m telling you, that banana pudding, really, it’s life-changing,’ Mr. Livingston said.” More here.

Photo: Katie Orlinsky for The New York Times
Malcolm Livingston II, recently hired to work in “the world’s best restaurant,” with his Aunt Alice Pulley, an inspiration.

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I was all set to blog about Providence PuttPutt, an artist-inspired, Kickstarter-supported pop-up entertainment for kids when I found out it was scheduled to last only for the summer and has just closed. Sigh.

So, sticking to a small-pleasures, quality-of-life theme, we turn once more to Denmark, where biking made a big jump in one year.

 at StreetsBlog Network writes, “For years the bike commuting rate has remained roughly steady at just over a third of trips. Then last year the city’s bike commute mode share increased from 36 percent to 41 percent. Meanwhile, driving declined 3 percent as a share of commuting trips.

“The unexpected increase had a lot of people baffled. But Mikael Colville-Andersen at Copenhagenize thinks he knows what happened …

What has happened is that 17 huge construction sites fell out of the sky all at once. Not something that happens every day. In addition, most of central Copenhagen — between 2012 and 2013 — was under further construction because of the upgrading of district heating pipes under many streets that had to be ripped up. …

Driving was rendered incredibly difficult. Copenhageners, being rational homo sapiens, chose other transport forms. Public transport has increased, too, but the bicycle is clearly the chariot of choice. It’s no surprise at all why cycling is booming.

“There you have it,” Schmitt adds. “If you want to improve cycling in your city, make it an awesome place to bike, sure, but don’t forget make it a terrible place to drive. ”

More here.

Photo: Mikael Colville-Andersen 
Biking in Copenhagen

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On the whole, I believe in having zoos, but I do realize most of the animals would rather not be there.

So I was interested in a zoo concept that was tweeted this week by @SmallerCitiesU. It’s an article about a plan for a zoo in Denmark.

At Good magazine, Caroline Pham asks, “Is there an ethical way to publicly display captive animals? Danish architecture firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) is on a mission to answer that question with a hefty redesign of Denmark’s Givskud Zoo. …

“Their recently revealed plans for what has been dubbed ‘Zootopia’ attempt to mesh nature with inventive design in a 1,200,000 square meter park imagined under advisement from the zoo staff. Manmade buildings would hide within the constructed natural environments and animal habitats would mimic ones found in the wild as much as possible.

“Renderings showcase a circular central plaza with an ascending ramp-like border where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the entire park, which features varying natural environments (that seem to be fairly open-air) connected by a four-kilometer hiking trail. …

“The project is currently in progress, with the first phase set for completion in 2019.” More here.

Photo:  Bjarke Ingels Group

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Klaus’s dad — who, I am told, is a musician in his spare time — recently wrote about enjoying the post on conducting your own orchestra. He lives in Denmark. I told him I have also posted about Denmark a few times and hope to do so often.

So when SmallerCitiesUnite! tweeted this tidbit on Denmark today, I knew it had to be in the blog.

From The Local: “Swimming in the North Sea just got a bit easier, at least near the northwestern Jutland town of Thy. Denmark opened its first sea pool, also known as a lido, over the weekend in Nørre Vorupør on the coast of the North Sea.

“The 50 square metre open-air pool allows swimmers, divers and kayakers to be in the North Sea without worrying about large waves, dangerous undercurrents or rip tides. …

“ ‘It could lead to investments in summerhouses or rental opportunities,’ Lene Kjeldgaard, the mayor of Thisted council, told Danmarks Radio.

“See a gallery of photos from the pool’s first weekend here.”

More here.

 Photo: Sofus Comer

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Here are a couple of Rhode Island sand castles from Crescent Beach (one made by inverting buckets, one made with the drip technique I favored as a kid) and an elaborate castle that Suzanne photographed when she was in Copenhagen earlier this month.

This website promises to teach you how to make the perfect sand castle. It involves keeping the sand moist at all times so the castle doesn’t crumble.

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Suzanne sent me this door from Denmark.
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It made me think of the book The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli. I don’t remember the story, but I do remember the illustration of the door and the scent of mystery: What is behind a door like that?

I started taking photographs of doors.

Behind almost any one of these I can picture Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Princess dining on bread crusts and water in her drafty garret until an emissary from the man who back in India bankrupted her father sneaks through a window (with monkey) while she is out doing chores, and redecorates her space with luxurious fabrics and fittings and a luscious spread of sweets.

Can’t you?

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Suzanne is in Denmark at the moment and sent me a website for something unusual she saw there: a modern Stonehenge.

“The idea of creating The DODECALITH arose in 2006 when the composer Gunner M. Pedersen saw sculptor Thomas Kadziola’s land art project Anemarken (Ancestors’ field) … on the island of Lolland.

“The composer suggested that he and the sculptor create a Stonehenge on Lolland, consisting of a circle of twelve huge menhirs with heads in the open countryside.”

The creators write, “On a hill overlooking the sea, we are creating a singing monument … that will give everyone from near and far an experience of greatness, closeness and beauty, of time’s migrations and settlements. It will express pride and humbleness, times gone by, the present, and, importantly, time coming. …

“The stone figures will stand on invisible foundations and they will sing!
Under a circle of natural sitting stones, a 12 channel sound system will be installed. This system will allow spatial electro acoustic song and music specially created for The DODECALITH to sound inside the circle at intervals every day, all year round. …

“The ancestors [came] from afar, from the land to the south where the waters rose 7,500 years ago and sent the Lolers on their long journey. … Along the coast from Ravnsholt to Ravnsby alone, over 70 burial mounds have survived, several of which are passage graves. … There are now only four mounds … It is here we are re-erecting the Ring of the Lolers, The DODECALITH, to let the new Lolers ancestors sing.” More.

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