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Sometimes I wish I lived closer to where the migrants are pouring into Europe. When I read, for example, about all that Germany is doing, how organized the country is about getting people acclimated, helping with housing and language, it makes me want to sign up. In Samos, Greece, Suzanne’s friend’s family spent weeks buying and distributing food, diapers, and other necessities.

Mark Turner writes at UNHCR Tracks about a chef who acted on his impulse to do his bit. He “packed his knives, drove to Croatia and started cooking.

“After serving up 6,000 piping-hot meals for refugees, the Swedish chef’s big wooden spoon is looking worse for wear.

“ ‘It wasn’t broken when I began,’ says Victor Ullman, a 27-year-old from Lund, displaying a large wedge-shaped hole as he pulls it from a simmering pot.

“But long days and nights serving stew to thousands of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and many others have taken their toll. ‘As long as I am awake, I am cooking,’ he says. …

“We’re in Bapska, Croatia, a few hundred metres from the border with Serbia, where tens of thousands of refugees have [crossed], seeking safety in Europe.

“They arrive by foot, in baby strollers, in wheelchairs, hour after hour, day after day, wet, hungry, exhausted, on an epic trek towards the unknown.

“And all along the way they are met by an army of volunteers from across Europe, drawn by an overwhelming desire to help.

“There’s Florian, the small farmer from Austria; Ghais, a Syrian who made it to Europe last year; Livija, a trainee pizza maker from Berlin; Stefan, a long-distance walker (‘3,200 kilometres in 82 days!”’); Danjella, a former refugee from Bosnia.

“There are activists and BMW workers, students, sociologists and physiotherapists, sporting fluorescent yellow waistcoats marked with their name and spoken languages, reassuring the crowds, united by a sense of shared humanity.”

Victor “also feeds the aid workers and the Croatian police, who he says are good guys doing their best. ‘They call me the crazy Swede,’ he adds.

“Victor shows me a pair of boots given to him by one policeman, after he’d given his own shoes away to a refugee. ‘I love these shoes,’ he says. ‘They’re like a memory from here – one of them. Spread the love!’ ” More here.

(Jane D: thanks for the lead on twitter.)

Photo: Igor Pavicevic

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Most of my family (other than me) does a lot of biking. John, for example, biked from Arlington, Mass., to Syracuse, N.Y., last week just because he felt like it. It took several days.

My husband bikes most weekends in good weather. And he reads a biking magazine where he saw a story he thought would interest my Swedish readers.

Writes April Streeter at Treehugger (reprinted by the biking magazine), “If you want to find an unassuming place where bicycling is a way of life and nobody makes a big deal about it, head south. The south of Sweden, that is, where the small university town of Lund has a big bicycle habit. They just don’t advertise it.

“In Lund, 60% of the populace bikes or takes public transport to go about their daily tasks. And then there’s Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city — only 20 miles southwest of Lund. Malmö also doesn’t have a reputation for fantastic biking. But some [Swedes] say it is the country’s best biking city — ahead of both Stockholm, the capital; Gothenburg, the second largest Swedish metropolitan area, and a host of smaller bike-friendly burgs.

“Just across the Øresund sound from Copenhagen, Malmö has always lived a bit in the shadow of the Danish capital. But in the last few years it has done a lot to take a place among the great biking cities of Northern Europe, mostly by its investment in infrastructure and pure commitment to get people on their bikes. That has paid off — cycling has increased 30% each year for the last four years, while car trips under five kilometers have dropped.

“Now Malmö is upping the stakes by putting up 30 million Swedish crowns (about US$4.1 million) toward the building of a four-lane super cycling highway between it and its bike-happy northern neighbor city Lund.” See the article here.

Here is a slide show on Lund, at the NY Times.

Ramboll/Screen capture

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