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Posts Tagged ‘sweden’

Photo: Graeme Richardson / Ice Music

And speaking of ice hotels, you might want to try an ice concert one of these days. That is, if you get yourself as far north as Swedish Lapland (also known as “the world’s best place for experiencing the Northern Lights“).

Tod Perry writes at Good that ice instruments have an ephemeral quality that is reminiscent of Buddhist mandelas.

“Tibetan Buddhists have a tradition of making elaborate artwork out of colored sand and, upon its completion, blowing it all into a river. The ritual is to show their belief in the transitory nature of life.

“On the other side of the world, a man [from Colorado who is working] in Sweden has created another form of temporary art by making music out of ice. Twenty years ago, Tim Linhart made his first ‘ICEstrument’ on a snowy mountaintop and his obsession led him to create an entire frozen orchestra and chamber hall.

“In Lulea, Sweden, [the ice sculptor] has made his own igloo concert hall where musicians perform with string and percussion instruments made of ice.

“One of the major problems with conducting an ice orchestra is that the instruments eventually fall out of tune due to body heat from the performers and audience. This has led Linhart to create a unique venting system in his ice theater that filters the body heat out of the igloo.

“Linhart’s ice instruments have a beautiful sound that play on our deep connection to water.

” ‘The ice instrument is made of frozen water, we’re made of melted water. And that physical connection opens the door for a spiritual connection,’ he says.”

Read more at Good, here.

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Maria Popova at Brainpickings tweeted recently about artist Marina Abramović’s new production, “The Cleaner,” noting that it incorporated 40 Swedish choral groups. I couldn’t confirm that the choirs were 40 in number, but it looks like they were diverse.

At Deutsche Welle, Julia Hitz reports on her March 2017 visit to “The Cleaner.”

“Visitors had to leave all their personal belongings at the entrance and were allowed to stay as long as they wanted, becoming part of the performance. In fact, they were the actual performance. …

“Choirs and soloists are part of the performance. A group of professional singers connects the different choirs performing one after the other, resulting in a continuous, eight-hour-long musical performance.

” ‘They’re really a reflection of Sweden, like a small Stockholm: There are choirs of immigrants, such as the Iraqi Women’s Choir or the Bulgarian Choir, as well as traditional Swedish men choirs and church choirs, singing classical songs. Some solo musicians are also part of the performance,’ explains Catrin Lundqvist from Moderna Museet, who picked the choirs with Abramović and choreographer Lynsey Peisinger in a months-long process [that also involved] finding the 29 performers who are accompanying and guiding spectators through …

” ‘The Cleaner’ [was] performed daily at the Eric Ericson Hall in Stockholm through March 5, 2017. [Re-performances] of Abramović’s works are held through May 21, 2017. The retrospective will travel to Denmark and then to the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn in Germany next year, from April 20 – August 12, 2018.”

Some critics have called Marina Abramović too egocentric — for example, in the recent MoMA performance that had museum goers lining up for hours to sit and gaze into her eyes. But Maria Popova read her autobiography and feels sympathy for the traumatic childhood that shaped the artist. Popova posts this quote from the book:

‘When one of my baby teeth fell out and the bleeding wouldn’t stop, everyone thought I might have hemophilia so I was put in the hospital for a year. That was the happiest, most wonderful time of my life. Everybody was taking care of me and nobody was punishing me. I never felt at home in my own home and I never feel at home anywhere.’

Read about the Swedish performance of “The Cleaners” here and about Maria Popova’s take on the artist here.

Photo: Moderna Museet/Åsa Lundén
Marina Abramović’s “The Cleaner” performed in Stockholm.

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Photo: SWNS
Annis Lindkvist, right, and her younger sister, Emma Åhlström, with Jimmy Fraser, a homeless Scot they invited for Christmas in Sweden. 

I have never been sure how to react to someone who is homeless, but I have learned smiling is better than walking past, head down.

Mother Teresa said to smile. A woman who runs an excellent Rhode Island homeless agency told me she doesn’t give anyone money but talks to people and tries to see if she can help with a referral or something to eat. A formerly homeless veteran told me he always talks to veterans and tells them where to find veterans services. Once he took in a stranger overnight. Some people will buy a sandwich or a cup of coffee.

Last week as I was talking to an employee of a refugee agency, I became curious about how he was led to his current work. He said, “One day I stopped walking past people.”

He didn’t initially look for refugee work, but he landed there after launching his personal outreach to homeless people and a subsequent stint in Americorps. He used to talk to people on the New York City streets, asked what they needed and delivered food, socks, and as many of their needs as he could.

So many good people out there showing kindness one person at a time!

This Guardian story about a Swedish tourist in Scotland who not only befriended a homeless man but invited him for Christmas with her family (and sent him airfare) is really over the top.

Libby Brooks writes, “A homeless man from Edinburgh has described the ‘incredible act of kindness’ of a tourist who invited him to spend Christmas at her family home in Sweden.

“Jimmy Fraser was begging on George Street in the city centre when Annis Lindkvist and her sister Emma, from Sagmyra in central Sweden, asked him for directions.

“They struck up a friendship and swapped numbers at the end of the trip, staying in touch by text before Lindkvist offered to pay for his flights so he could spend a week with her family over the festive period.

“Fraser, who became homeless following his divorce 13 years ago, said: ‘It’s weird, I know. I was begging on George Street and these two women came up to me and the next thing I knew I was in Sweden. People promise you things all the time on the street but they never materialise.

” ‘But I thought I’m going to go for it as it’s once in a lifetime. I couldn’t believe it anyway at first. People tell you “see you tomorrow, I’ll get you a drink” and then nothing happens. But this did happen, actually, so it was really weird.’

“The 54-year-old former security guard, who went to an ice hockey match, Christmas markets and midnight mass with his host’s family and friends, told the BBC News website: ‘It was a beautiful experience.’ …

“Lindkvist described her own doubts about issuing such an open invitation to a stranger. ‘We give money to charity every month but we have never done anything like this before,’ she said. ‘There were friends and family who thought I was really crazy, but I just opened my home to him and said everything that is ours was his too.’

“The 37-year-old, who works with dementia sufferers, said she had invited Fraser back to stay with the family again over the Easter break, and that he was ‘part of the family now.’ ”

More here.

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My latest photo round-up includes several from family members plus examples of my own fascination with shadows and light.

The first picture is from Erik’s mother in Sweden. I love that a Swedish gingerbread house was rendered in red board-and-batten style. Next is a funny sign about Norwegians that my husband shot in Concord. Then we have Suzanne’s photo of proto-skiers and another funny sign, this time in Vermont.

The old barn is next to the Ralph Waldo Emerson homestead. The house being torn down is the haunted one I have described before. Tearing it down revealed that it was actually haunted by a raccoon.

The six light-and-shadow photos depict a stuffed animal in bright sunlight, our front gate after a recent storm, Plato’s Idea/Form of a trash can and recycling bin, three green windows, chairs in the pocket park, and a surprising pattern of light on a window blind.

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This year, I’ve been volunteering with refugee organizations — four altogether — and am always grateful for positive stories about this population. Here’s a story from Sweden.

Bridie Witton writes at the UK’s Independent, “Immigration has helped fuel Sweden’s biggest economic boom in five years, new figures have revealed.

“The Swedish government, whose policies saw the country take in more refugees per capita than any other in Europe last year, helped lower unemployment rates by increased spending on welfare for asylum seekers from war torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The move helped the Nordic region’s largest economy expand 4.5 percent on an annual basis in the fourth quarter of 2015, the most in almost five years and more than twice the growth of Germany, according to Bloomberg. Increased consumer spending and borrowing and high house prices also contributed to the boom which, although projected to fade, has consolidated Sweden as one of Europe’s success stories.

“National Institute of Economic and Social Research fellow Jonathan Portes said economies benefitted from more workers, but emphasised the difference between immigrants and refugees.

” ‘What the Swedish experience tells us is that even in the short term, even when you have a very large influx of refugees, there is a perception this is an impossible burden on the state,’ he told The Independent. ‘But in the short term it increases growth.’

“He said the Swedish government needed to have a long-term strategy to successfully integrate refugees and continue the growth.”

Careful planning is needed, for sure, but history shows that an influx of workers with needed skills helps countries grow.

More at the Independent, here.

Photo: Getty
Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe in 2015.

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What to do about our throwaway culture? Well, Sweden has a proposal: tax breaks to encourage people to get things repaired.

Charlie Sorrel at fastcoexist.com explains that the idea involves “halving the tax paid on repairs and increasing taxes on unrepairable items. …

” ‘If we want to solve the problems of sustainability and the environment we have to work on consumption,’ Sweden’s finance and consumption minister Per Bolund told the Local. ‘One area we are really looking at is so-called “nudging.” That means, through various methods, making it easier for people to do the right thing.’ …

“The proposed legislation would cut regular tax on repairs of bikes, clothes, and shoes from 25% to 12%. Swedes would also be able to claim half the labor cost of appliance repairs (refrigerators, washing machines and other white goods) from their income tax. Together, these tax cuts are expected to cost the country around $54 million per year. This will be more than paid for by the estimated $233 million brought in by a new ‘chemical tax,’ which would tax the resources that go into making new goods and computers.

“In 2015, France passed a law requiring manufacturers to label products with information about how long spares will be available, and also requires free repair or replacement for the first two years of the product’s life. That’s another step forward, but it’s also cheaper for manufacturers to replace a broken cellphone than to repair it.

“Apple takes a third path—it swaps out your broken phone for a new one, often free of charge, and then breaks down your old unit, reusing its internals if possible, or recycling them.”

More here. Not sure how you benefit if you do the repair yourself. But knowing those Swedes, they’ll figure out something.

Photo: Geri Lavrov/Getty Images

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Here’s something fun from a BBC blog called “News from Elsewhere.” It’s about new, playful street signs in Sweden.

“A town in northern Sweden is encouraging pedestrians to hop, skip and even play air guitar like Chuck Berry as they cross the road, with a series of new street signs.

“Haparanda Council says it’s part of a scheme launched last year to rejuvenate the town centre. …

“Therese Ostling, who runs the Town Makeover project, tells Swedish TV … ‘They have got more attention than I thought — I see people taking photos of them every day, and sometimes they follow the instructions to jump, leap or whatever else the sign suggests.’

“The idea came from local woman Nadja Lukin, who … wrote to the council, as ‘Haparanda has always dared to try something new,’ and officials responded enthusiastically with signs depicting jive dancing and Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

“The makeover, which includes rebranding the centre as the Old Town, has brought new business into the once-rundown area and will continue for another year, but the most important impact of the signs has been to ‘make people smile,’ says Ms Ostling.” More.

Without doubt, if everyone did silly walks across the street, the world would be a better place, a place full of laughter.

Photo: Swedish TV
Swedish TV asks, “Why stroll across the street when you could ‘duck walk’ like a rock’n’roll icon?

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