Tag archives for culture

A film that makes you laugh – and think

Just another ordinary sushi... Photo from the film Blue Marble Café.

Crisis, crisis, crisis. Climate change, crashing economies, oceans depleted of fish and other natural resources fading away under human pressure.
We certainly live in times of great changes, some of which can be quite hard to grasp. And usually culture is a good companion, that can help us process and understand what is going on around us.

But when it comes to the environment, I’d say that culture hasn’t really kept pace with the course of events. At least in Sweden, rather few theatre plays, films and books take on the subjects of climate change and resource scarcity.

But there are a few. When I went to the festival Uncivilised earlier this summer, I happened to talk to the film maker and actor Håkan Julander. Together with Björn Engström he has taken on the difficult task of making films about our time’s big crisis – with a sense of humour.
– We certainly need heavy, expensive film projects like “Home” and “The Planet” , but it must also be possible to make entertainment about these issues.We can joke about everything else, so why not his? he tells me.

One beer coming up! Photo from the film Blue Marble Café.

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Festivals that deal with the big issues

Festivals can be a good opportunity to step outside of the everyday bubble and think more freely. Entrance to the festival Ociviliserat (Uncivilised) this Saturday. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

“Welcome to the end of the world as we know it.”
Those words started the invitation to a festival which took place in Stockholm this past weekend. A festival called “Ociviliserat” (Uncivilised) may sound a bit apocalyptic, but this was not a crash course in how to survive in a bunker. Rather, it was a cultural response to the converging crisis the world stands before: the ecological crisis, global warming, a dwindling world economy… the list could be made very long.

Karin Bradley, Assistant Professor in Urban Studies, leading a talk with people who are constructing alternatives. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

When everything around us start to shake, we can’t just pretend that everything is fine and that things will be ok if we keep on with our current lifestyle, argues the Dark Mountain Project, which originally started in the UK, but which now has a Swedish branch. (English website here, the Swedish version here)

What we need, they say, isn’t more of the current civilisation that got us into these problems in the first way. So, if we don’t need more adverts, traffic jams, mass consumption or stress, what else is there? They propose something as simple – and difficult – as  new stories about our time that could help us understand what is happening, deal with our worries and move forward,

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How to share precious land in Laponia

Sarek

The Sarek national park is part of the Laponia World Heritage, a place that is important both for its nature and cultural values. Photo: Peter Cairns/imagebank.sweden.se

In 1996 the area of Laponia in the very North of Sweden was put on the UNESCO list of World Heritages. Laponia is a 9400 square kilometre area of practically untouched nature, the largest in Europe.
But at the same time, this land is far from uninhabited: it is very important for the people who live here, among them the native Sami population, who needs the land for reindeer breeding and other activities.

The dilemma between protecting nature and at the same time making sure local native peoples can continue their way of life can be recognized from many nature reserves all over the world.
To sort out how these different needs can co-exist, something called the Laponia Process was set up. Read more » >>

Music festivals that go green

Way-Out-West

The people behind Way Out West do their best to think green when they fill the park Slottsskogen in Gothenburg with music. This year with artists like Prince, Kanye West and Robyn. Photo: Sima Korenivski / GFC

The Swedish holiday season is soon about to take over this country. After having celebrated Midsummer on Friday, most of the country tunes into summer mood.

One sector that tunes up its level though, are the music festivals. Summer is the time to enjoy live music in the open, whether it’s classical music or rock, whether it’s at a big city festival or a small obscure independent thing in the middle of a forest.
Lately more and more of these festivals have started putting a bigger focus on the sustainability aspects, considering that gathering thousands of persons at one place, providing food, drinks and sanitation for everyone, can mean quite a big environmental impact.

Here are some of the ones that have put an extra effort in an environmentally conscious profile:

* Mossagårdsfestivalen (web site only in Swedish) June 17-19. This summer’s first green music festival took place already last weekend. Mossagården is an organic farm in the South of Sweden selling vegetable food-boxes, but once a year they arrange a music festival at the farm with free horsecarriage-taxi from the local bus station and organic food.

* Urkult August 4-6. One of the first green music festivals in Sweden. This year will be the 17:th time that the festival will be held above the ancient carvings at Nämforsen rapids in the North of Sweden. Urkult has urine separating toilet, all food served there is organic and all tdisposable products used are compostable. The festival has its own compost at a nearby field.

* Way out West August 11-13. This festival, held in the largest park of Gothenburg, is active in the development of an environmental certification system for eventmakers. The food is organic, the energy renewable and as a city festival Way Out West doesn’t even have a camping, partly with the argument that a city provides a lot of good existing green infrastructure, so why not use it instead of transporting people and material to a distant place to construct something temporary?

* Saltoluokta folkmusikfestival August 10-14 . One of Sweden’s few festivals in “roadless land” at the Saloloukta Mountain Station on the border of Laponia, with focus on Sweden’s Northern cultures. Get there by a small boat, sleep on a reindeer skin in a sami tent and learn how to joik , (the traditional Sami way to sing).

* Kosterfestivalen July 23-29. Chamber music in the Koster Gardens, that normally serve organic slowfood produced in the gardens. The idea is to combine art, music and nature at a beautiful spot by the sea on the Swedish West coast.

Saltoloukta-folkmusic-festival

Saltoloukta Folk Music Festival couldn’t get much closer to nature, literally speaking. Photo: STF.

Like a table ready laid

Katrinetorp-estate

The estate of Katrinetorp is one of the places that Natur- och kulturbussen points out.

As many other weather-obsessed Swedes I’m eagerly following the progress of spring. Light mornings and days of sunlight don’t only make me wake up insanely early in the morning, it also awakes my longing for making excursions. I’m longing for wild forests, peaceful canals, old parks surrounding castles, small secret cafés… well, I simply want to get out of the city.

In most places it’s perfectly possible to do this without a car, it just requires some research. Where exactly is that field filled with dancing cranes? And what bus stop would be the right one to get off at?
In the province of Skåne in the South of Sweden, there’s no need for that research. A few years ago they started a project called Natur- och kulturbussen (”the nature and culture bus”). The project’s web page (some information in English) lists interesting nature areas, places to visit and nature and/or culture related things to do, all within the reach of public transport, and with a link to the public transport planner, showing how to get there.

Dalby-field

Dalby hage. Photo: Lotten Pålsson.

When I speak to Sofie Norrby, who is project leader for Natur- och kulturbussen, she tells me that the idea behind this project is to encourage people to get out more, and quotes various studies showing how well-being and performance increase when we spend time outside. She also tells me that the arranged activities, where people can visit a new place together with others, works as an easy way to discover places where many wouldn’t otherwise dare to go to. Having been showed once how to get there, where to find the toilets/food/best spots, its easy to come back, bring your friends and become their guide.