Tag archives for Gothenburg

Bike benefits to the employees of Gothenburg

bikes-vs-carsGothenburg in a year or so..?  Photo (cut): Erik Ekedahl /Flickr (CC: BY-NC)

Last week the local government of Gothenburg [map] pushed through a decision that people like me − who have never needed a car − appreciate a lot: Bicycle benefits for all the people working for the city.

In Sweden it’s very common for employers to offer their employees car benefits, such as free parking space or a car for both work related and private use.
But in order to make more of their employees cycle instead, the city of Gothenburg will now give their co-workers free service on their bikes, up to a value of 1500 Swedish Kronor (about 160 Euro). There will also be possibilities to lease a bike from the city or to buy a new one for a reduced price.
− These benefits make it more economically attractive to choose the bike, but it also raises the status of cycling, says Anders Roth at the Public Transport Authority of Gothenburg to the magazine Vårt Göteborg.

Great! Just waiting to see the parking lots presently  occupied by company cars being filled with bikes, and maybe some sort of bike helmet holders in the workplace entrances, to avoid the hatracks from flowing over..?

Fixing local food – together

Tillsammansodlingen

Staffan Börjesson weeding at Tillsammansodlingen. In the background Christian Gustavsson. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

If you’re looking for the seeds of a more local food future, Tillsammansodlingen just south of Gothenburg [map] is a good place to start.
“Tillsammansodlingen” (meaning something like “the together plantation”) came out of the Transition group in Gothenburg. When they started in 2009 many of the group members saw food-growing as a natural starting point in the work to make their local community less dependant on fossil fuels.
When they heard of an elderly organic farmer wanting someone to take over the land he had rented, the idea started taking shape and about one year ago the first seeds made their way into the soil.

Now Tillsammansodlingen consists of a core group of 5 to 6 persons, and around 20 more who come in and work occasionally. As a member in the association you pay 500 Swedish kronor (about 52 Euro) per year and then you get to pick the vegetables you need for household requirements every time you participate in the cultivation work.
The surplus harvest is sold at a market stand by the plantation and by an organic food shop in Gothenburg.

- Personally it’s both about the environment and about my love for food. It’s simply fantastic to be able to harvest your own spinage and eat as much salad as you want, says Christian Gustavsson.
He sees this as a way of putting less of his time on paid work.
- I think it gives new ways of thinking about economics and food, and we need that.

Looking out at the European highway just a bit further away, he says:
- Right now a lot of the vegetables feeding Gothenburg comes in on this road, with trucks from the South of Europe. And this strip of land along the highway used to be what provided a big part of the city with food in earlier years. Now there are practically no plantations left, but the soil is really fertile so there’s a good potential.

Photo: Sara Jeswani

 

Christian Gustavsson taking away weeds at Tillsammansodlingen. In the background Christian Gustavsson. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Just south of Gothenburg [map] http://maps.google.se/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=sv&geocode=&q=pilekrogen+m%C3%B6lndal&aq=&sll=57.696994,11.9865&sspn=0.722151,2.644958&g=Goteborg&ie=UTF8&hq=pilekrogen&hnear=M%C3%B6lndal,+V%C3%A4stra+G%C3%B6talands+L%C3%A4n&ll=57.63364,12.041016&spn=0.361702,1.322479&z=10 one of the seeds for a more local food future can be found.
“Tillsammansodlingen” (meaning something like “the together plantation”) came out of the Transition group LÄNK in Gothenburg. When they started in 2009 many of the group members saw food-growing as a natural starting point in the work to make their local community less dependant on fossil fuels.  

When they heard of an elderly organic farmer wanting someone to take over the land he had rented, the idea started taking shape and about one year ago the first seeds made their way into the soil.

Now Tillsammansodlingen consists of a core group of 5 to 6 persons, and around 20 more who come in and work occasionally.  As a member in the association you pay 500 Swedish kronor (about 52 Euro) per year and then you get to pick the vegetables you need for household requirements every time you participate in the cultivation work.

The surplus harvest is sold at a market stand by the plantation and at an organic food shop in Gothenburg.

- Personally it’s both about the environment and about my love for food. It’s simply fantastic to be able to harvest your own spinage and eat as much salad as you want, says Christian Gustavsson.
He sees this as a way of putting less of his time on paid work.
- I think it gives new ways of thinking about economics and food, and we need that.

Looking out at the European highway just a bit further away, he says:
- Right now a lot of the vegetables feeding Gothenburg comes in on this road, with trucks from the South of Europe. And this strip of land along the highway used to be what provided a big part of the city with food in earlier years. Now there are practically no plantations left, but the soil is really fertile so there’s a good potential.

New rules for the beloved bike?

bike-jamNot only ordinary traffic jams, but also cycle jams are becoming a more common sight in central Stockholm. Photo: Anders Adermark (CC BY-NC-ND)

cycle-program-in-Gothenburg

Cycles waiting to be used in Gothenburg. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Cycling isn’t something just for students and environmentalists anymore. During the last few years cycling has grown, filled Swedish streets and become a must-have even for trendy citydwellers.
For those who haven’t got their own bike, there are city-sponsored bicycle-programs in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Lund .
In Stockholm you can use the bike for three hours, before having to return it to one of the stations. In Gothenburg you can have your bike for 30 minutes at a time. Lund’s program allows you to rent a bike up to one week.

Cycling has also gone from being “just” a leisure thing to a daily transport vehicle for many people. In Stockholm the amount of cyclists have more than doubled in 15 years and now about 50 000 cyclists use the city’s streets every day. This is great in many ways, but also leads to new dilemmas. Suddenly there isn’t room foreveryone, since roads are mainly planned for car traffic.

This has lead to new ideas. Recently local politicians suggested cyclists in Stockholm should have the right to jump the red lights in right-hand turns or cycle both ways on one-way streets, in order to make the traffic flow better. Some, like the cyclists’ organisation Cykelfrämjandet, are very positive to these ideas, while others (mainly car drivers?) mean that having the right to skip certain laws only would make cyclists even more anarchist than today…

In June, Gothenburg had its own bicycle festival for all kinds of bike enthusiasts. Watch this film from the event, with interviews in both Swedish and English:

More about this in Swedish media (in Swedish):
Not more accidents despite more cyclists
Not enough bicycle tracks
The police is critical against letting cyclist jump the red lights

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.

Not enough waste?

waste-fuelled-power-plant

The waste-fuelled district heating power plant outside Gothenburg. Photo: Renova.

Sometimes actions that were once taken to get rid of a dilemma can actually create new ones. This is now the case in Gothenburg [map], where the burning of waste has become an important way of providing houses with heat, warm water and electricity. So important, that when the amount of garbage that was produced in the Gothenburg region started decreasing about two years ago, there was suddenly a lack of waste!

Now garbage is imported from Norway to fill the gap. Newspaper Göteborgs-Posten reports that 140 000 tons of Norwegian waste is burnt every year at the Renova waste-fuelled district heating power plant outside Gothenburg. In other waste-fuelled power plants in Sweden the situation is the same, and totally about 600 000 tons of waste from abroad is now believed to be incinerated here.

Norway is happy to get rid of its waste since it would otherwise be going to landfill, something that the European Union wants countries to stop doing.
But several environmental organisations are sceptical to waste-burning and mean that we should avoid producing waste in the first place.

The Swedish national environmental objectives has set up the goal of not increasing the amount of waste.
And with ideas like Cradle2Cradle, where the aim is zero waste, the question is what will happen to our waste-fuelled heating power plants in the long run?