robertogreco + scandinavia   46

Joy [Still Processing] - The New York Times
"Inspired by Netflix’s “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” we decide to KonMari Wesley’s Brooklyn apartment. We ask ourselves what sparks joy in our lives and examine whether Marie Kondo’s philosophy extends into the metaphysical realm.

Discussed this week:

“Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” (Netflix, 2019) https://www.netflix.com/title/80209379

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (Marie Kondo, 2014) https://konmari.com/products/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up

“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” (Margareta Magnusson, 2017) https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Gentle-Art-of-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/Margareta-Magnusson/9781501173240 "
jennawortham  wesleymorris  mariekondo  legacy  2019  impermanence  konmarimethod  death  possessions  materialism  decluttering  mindfulness  scandinavia  clutter  tidying  organizing  sweden  cleaning  meaningmaking  joy  gratitude  life  living  self-awareness 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
On making work in new surroundings Visual artist Cory Arcangel discusses leaving NYC and moving to Norway, the change in process and perspective that results from having a child, and how he will always be just a media artist from Buffalo.
"Yes. It’s like everything else. It`s always worse before you jump. It’s been liberating to let things go, especially all the things that I’m not really good at. And the Scandinavians are such chill people. They’re very talented, and really understated.

It’s the opposite of New York in a way. In New York, there’s a focus on money or success. It’s what a lot of culture is built on, and all arrows are pointing in those directions. In Norway, and in Scandinavia as a whole, everything is built for family life."
norway  nyc  money  priorities  coryarcangel  2019  family  slow  small  scandinavia  success  culture  society 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy.
"It’s the holidays, and you long to be cozy.

You want to curl up in a plush armchair next to a crackling fire. You want the softest of blankets and wooliest of sweaters. You want to devour grandma’s pecan fudge, get tipsy on eggnog with your cousins, and watch Miracle on 34th Street — mom’s favorite — for the thirty-fourth time. Or maybe neither Christmas nor family gatherings are your thing, but you like the idea of sipping hot toddies and playing board games with a few close friends while outside the snow falls and the lights twinkle.

But you can’t have it, because you couldn’t spring for a plane ticket. Or relatives are in town, but times are tight, and it seemed irresponsible to pass up the Christmas overtime pay. Maybe everything circumstantially fell into place, but you can’t relax. You’re eyeing your inbox, anxious about the work that’s not getting done. You’re last-minute shopping, pinching pennies, thinking Scrooge had some fair points. Or you’re hiding in your childhood bedroom, binge-watching television and scrolling social media, because a rare break from the pressures of daily life feels more like an occasion to zone out than to celebrate and be merry.

Either way, you feel terrible, because you know that someone somewhere is literally roasting chestnuts on an open fire, and you’re missing out.

The Danes have a word for the thing you desperately want but can’t seem to manifest: hygge.

The word isn’t easy to translate. It comes from a Norwegian word that means “wellbeing,” but the contemporary Danish definition is more expansive than that.

In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author Meik Wiking writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allowed to let our guard down.”

You can have hygge any time, but Danes strongly associate it with Christmas, the most hyggelig time of the year. When asked what things they associate most with hygge, Danes answered, in order of importance: hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, sweets and cake, cooking, and books. Seven out of ten Danes say hygge is best experienced at home, and they even have a word for it — hjemmehygge, or home hygge.

But Wiking stresses that while hygge has strong aesthetic properties, it’s more than the sum of its parts. You don’t just see it, you feel it.

“Hygge is an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are,” he writes, “that you have expanded your comfort zone to include other people and you feel you can be completely yourself around other people.” The opposite of hygge is alienation.

It’s no coincidence that this concept is both native to and universally understood in the same country that consistently dominates the World Happiness Report and other annual surveys of general contentment. On rare occasions when Denmark is surpassed by another country, that country is always a Scandinavian neighbor.

What makes people in these countries happier than the rest of us is actually really simple. Danes and their neighbors have greater access to the building blocks of happiness: time, company, and security.

Scandinavians don’t have these things just because they value them more, or for cultural reasons that are congenital, irreplicable, and beyond our reach. People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy.

The Politics of Hygge

Denmark is not a socialist country, though like its neighbor Sweden, it did come close to collectivizing industry in the 1970s. That effort was driven by “unions, popular movements, and left parties,” write Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl in Jacobin. “It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world.”

A strong capitalist offensive stopped this Scandinavian coalition from realizing the transition to socialism, and the legacy of their efforts is a delicate compromise. The private sector persists, but taxes are both progressive and high across the board. The country spends 55 percent of its total GDP publicly, making it the third-highest government spender per capita in the world. Meanwhile, the power of employers is partially checked by strong unions, to which two-thirds of Danes belong.

This redistributive arrangement significantly reduces the class stratification that comes from capitalism. As a result, Denmark has one of the highest degrees of economic equality in the world.

All of that public spending goes to funding a strong welfare state. Everybody pays in, and everybody reaps the rewards. This egalitarian, humane, and solidaristic model allows the values associated with hygge to flourish. It also gives people more opportunities to act on them.

In Denmark, health care is free at the point of service. Same goes for education, all the way through college and even grad school. Twenty percent of the Danish housing stock is social housing, regulated and financially supported by the state but owned in common by tenants, and organized in the “tradition of tenants’ participation and self-governance.” Denmark offers year-long paid parental leave, and guarantees universal child care for all children beginning the moment that leave ends, when the child is one year old.

Similarly, due in large part to the past and and present strength of unions, Denmark has worker-friendly labor laws and standards which make for a more harmonious work-life balance. Danes get five weeks’ paid vacation, plus an additional nine public holidays. Unlike the United States, Denmark has a national paid sick-leave policy. Denmark also has generous unemployment benefits and a wage subsidy program for people who want to work but, for reasons outside their control, need more flexible arrangements.

The normal work week in Denmark is set at thirty-seven hours, and people tend to stick to it. Only 2 percent of Danes report working very long hours. In a survey of OECD countries Denmark ranked fourth for people spending the most time devoted to leisure and personal care. (The US ranked thirtieth.)

All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

For one thing, there are only so many hours in a day. And there are some activities that make us happy, and some that make us unhappy.

The Princeton Affect and Time Survey found that the activities that make us happiest include playing with children, listening to music, being outdoors, going to parties, exercising, hanging out with friends, and spending time with pets. (These are also the activities that Danes associate with hygge.) The ones that make us least happy include paid work, domestic work, home maintenance and repairs, running errands, personal medical care, and taking care of financial responsibilities.

Everyone has to do activities in the unhappy category in order to keep their affairs in order. But it makes sense that if you take some of those responsibilities off people’s plate and design the economy to give them more time to do activities in the happy category, they will be more content and lead more enriching lives.

Many working-class Americans don’t have much time for activities in the happy category, because they work multiple jobs or long hours and also have to keep a household in order without much assistance. Many more are afraid that if they take time away from their stressful responsibilities, they will overlook something important and fall behind, and there will be no social safety net to catch them — a pervasive anxiety that creeps up the class hierarchy. This breeds alienation, not intimacy.

Additionally, working people in highly capitalist countries, where economic life is characterized by cutthroat competition and the punishment for losing the competition is destitution, tend to develop hostile relationships to one another, which is not very hyggelig.

The social-democratic model is predicated instead on solidarity: my neighbor and I both pay taxes so that we can both have a high standard of living. We care for each other on the promise that we will each be cared for. By working together instead of against each other, we both get what we need. Universal social programs like those that make up the Scandinavian welfare states are thus engines of solidarity, impressing upon people that their neighbor is not an opponent or an obstacle, but a partner in building and maintaining society.

By pitting people against each other, neoliberal capitalism promotes suspicion and animosity. This frequently maps onto social divisions and manifests as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and so on. But it also just makes people guarded and antisocial in general. People who live in social democracies are far from invulnerable to prejudice or misanthropy, but the social compact remains more likely to promote kindness, trust, and goodwill among people than neoliberal capitalism — and indeed the Danes are some of the most trusting people in the world, of friends and strangers alike.

One of these political-economic arrangements strengthens people’s connection to the fundamentals of happiness, and of hygge — time, company, and security — while the other severs it. The abundance or scarcity of these fundamentals forms the material basis of collective social life.

The Ambiance Agenda

Hygge is not just a cultural … [more]
hygge  meaganday  2018  denmark  socialdemocracy  socialism  socialsafetynet  politics  policy  happiness  comfort  us  coreyrobin  scandinavia  solidarity  wellbeing  responsibility  uncertainty  anxiety  neoliberalism  capitalism  risk  civics  qualityoflife  pleasure  multispecies  family  trust  intimacy  peaceofmind  leisure  work  labor  health  healthcare  unions  time  slow  fragility  taxes  inequality  company  security 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | The New Socialists - The New York Times
"Socialism means different things to different people. For some, it conjures the Soviet Union and the gulag; for others, Scandinavia and guaranteed income. But neither is the true vision of socialism. What the socialist seeks is freedom.

Under capitalism, we’re forced to enter the market just to live. The libertarian sees the market as synonymous with freedom. But socialists hear “the market” and think of the anxious parent, desperate not to offend the insurance representative on the phone, lest he decree that the policy she paid for doesn’t cover her child’s appendectomy. Under capitalism, we’re forced to submit to the boss. Terrified of getting on his bad side, we bow and scrape, flatter and flirt, or worse — just to get that raise or make sure we don’t get fired.

The socialist argument against capitalism isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree. When my well-being depends upon your whim, when the basic needs of life compel submission to the market and subjugation at work, we live not in freedom but in domination. Socialists want to end that domination: to establish freedom from rule by the boss, from the need to smile for the sake of a sale, from the obligation to sell for the sake of survival.

Listen to today’s socialists, and you’ll hear less the language of poverty than of power. Mr. Sanders invokes the 1 percent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez speaks to and for the “working class” — not “working people” or “working families,” homey phrases meant to soften and soothe. The 1 percent and the working class are not economic descriptors. They’re political accusations. They split society in two, declaring one side the illegitimate ruler of the other; one side the taker of the other’s freedom, power and promise.

Walk the streets of Bushwick with a canvasser for Julia Salazar, the socialist candidate running to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Senate. What you’ll hear is that unlike her opponent, Ms. Salazar doesn’t take money from real estate developers. It’s not just that she wants to declare her independence from rich donors. It’s that in her district of cash-strapped renters, landlords are the enemy.

Compare that position to the pitch that Shomik Dutta, a Democratic Party fund-raiser, gave to the Obama campaign in 2008: “The Clinton network is going to take all the establishment” donors. What the campaign needed was someone who understands “the less established donors, the real-estate-developer folks.” If that was “yes, we can,” the socialist answer is “no, we won’t.”

One of the reasons candidates like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Salazar speak the language of class so fluently is that it’s central to their identities. Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton struggled to cobble together a credible self out of the many selves they’d presented over the years, trying to find a personal story to fit the political moment. Today’s young candidates of the left tell a story of personal struggle that meshes with their political vision. Mr. Obama did that — but where his story reinforced a myth of national identity and inclusion, the socialists’ story is one of capitalism and exclusion: how, as millennials struggling with low wages and high rents and looming debt, they and their generation are denied the promise of freedom.

The stories of these candidates are socialist for another reason: They break with the nation-state. The geographic references of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez — or Ms. Tlaib, who is running to represent Michigan’s 13th District in Congress — are local rather than national, invoking the memory and outposts of American and European colonialism rather than the promise of the American dream.

Ms. Tlaib speaks of her Palestinian heritage and the cause of Palestine by way of the African-American struggle for civil rights in Detroit, while Ms. Ocasio-Cortez draws circuits of debt linking Puerto Rico, where her mother was born, and the Bronx, where she lives. Mr. Obama’s story also had its Hawaiian (as well as Indonesian and Kenyan) chapters. But where his ended on a note of incorporation, the cosmopolitan wanderer coming home to America, Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez aren’t interested in that resolution. That refusal is also part of the socialist heritage.

Arguably the biggest boundary today’s socialists are willing to cross is the two-party system. In their campaigns, the message is clear: It’s not enough to criticize Donald Trump or the Republicans; the Democrats are also complicit in the rot of American life. And here the socialism of our moment meets up with the deepest currents of the American past.

Like the great transformative presidents, today’s socialist candidates reach beyond the parties to target a malignant social form: for Abraham Lincoln, it was the slavocracy; for Franklin Roosevelt, it was the economic royalists. The great realigners understood that any transformation of society requires a confrontation not just with the opposition but also with the political economy that underpins both parties. That’s why realigners so often opt for a language that neither party speaks. For Lincoln in the 1850s, confronting the Whigs and the Democrats, that language was free labor. For leftists in the 2010s, confronting the Republicans and the Democrats, it’s socialism.

To critics in the mainstream and further to the left, that language can seem slippery. With their talk of Medicare for All or increasing the minimum wage, these socialist candidates sound like New Deal or Great Society liberals. There’s not much discussion, yet, of classic socialist tenets like worker control or collective ownership of the means of production.

And of course, there’s overlap between what liberals and socialists call for. But even if liberals come to support single-payer health care, free college, more unions and higher wages, the divide between the two will remain. For liberals, these are policies to alleviate economic misery. For socialists, these are measures of emancipation, liberating men and women from the tyranny of the market and autocracy at work. Back in the 1930s, it was said that liberalism was freedom plus groceries. The socialist, by contrast, believes that making things free makes people free."
coreyrobin  socialism  liberation  capitalism  latecapitalism  freedom  2018  canon  dsa  wageslavery  billgates  markzuckerberg  liberalism  neoliberalism  taxes  society  anxiety  socialjustice  democrats  us  politics  economics  markets  berniesanders  sovietunion  nordiccountries  scandinavia  domination  alexandriaocasio-cortez  rashidatlaib  kevinphillips 
august 2018 by robertogreco
New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017 by Will Wiles
"With 2016 coming to an end, Will Wiles doses out his New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017, which include resisting the hygge trend and finally taking responsibility for the climate.

I suggested New Year's Resolutions for architecture and design at the end of 2015, and the response was great. So, one year later, I've made some more:

1. An end to TED's glib solutionism

Consider president-elect Donald Trump's proposed wall to keep out Mexico. It was the most consistent pledge he made during his precedent-smashing election campaign. Trump admitted that it was his secret rhetorical weapon for when he sensed a crowd was getting bored: "I just say, 'We will build the wall!' and they go nuts," he told the New York Times.

The wall is a strong pledge to make: it's a simple, easy-to-understand design solution to a perceived problem. It's also crass, offensive and impractical in the extreme, but that didn't matter to the target audience. They got it. They went nuts.

There was a lot of this in 2016, the year zealots of various stripes promised to sweep away the knotted, stifling problems of globalisation with no more than a wave of the tiny hand. Build the wall, make America great again, drain the swamp, vote leave, take back control.

Architecture and design, which is well populated with experts and systems-thinkers, might regard itself as being apart from all this. But, in fact, one of the throbbing nerve centres of the post-expert, hand-wave era lies closer than you might think: TED, the wildly popular talks series.

TED, of course, presents itself as a hub of expertise and intelligence. And in criticising TED, I don't mean to denigrate the vast majority of its speakers, or to imply that TED equals Trump, or anything so dim. It's the format that's the problem, and the kind of intellectual legerdemain it encourages.

TED is the golden cap of the yaddering pyramid of hackism: that every wicked problem has a nifty workaround or backdoor, that it's all got a glib little design solution that'll bypass all the waffle and the smoke, and make everything OK. Ted Everyman, outsider genius, has cracked the problem that has the eggheads stumped, and it was so simple.

Trump's wall is very TED. So is his insistence that generic "smartness" on his part means that he can do without the expert advice previous presidents have relied upon, such as intelligence briefings.

The trouble for democratic opposition to these forces is that complexity and intractability make for very unenticing messages. Even more problematic is the fact that "it's complicated, let us experts handle it" is the way the globalist managerial class has ushered in many of the problems that Trump and others now claim to have solved.

Where architecture and design might be able to make a difference in the coming months is by shunning hackism and solutionism, and demonstrating instead its remarkable ability to research, explore and expose.

2. Take personal responsibility for the climate

With Trump's administration stuffed full of climate-change deniers and oil men, concerted international state action to address the warming planet looks unlikely. Worse, existing measures, such as the Paris Agreement that came into force this year, might be in peril. American leadership isn't essential for progress on the climate, but its active obstruction and wrecking of vital research could be a disastrous setback when renewed effort is needed.

The abdication of governments from climate action serves, at least, as a reminder that they can't be relied upon to enforce change. The long-awaited economic breakthrough of renewable energy has at last arrived: solar is now the word's cheapest form of energy. Simple economic forces might now drive down carbon emissions while national governments are preoccupied. Texas, a place strongly associated with oil and gas, now gets as much as half of its electricity from wind, and is anticipating a solar boom. China may also be a source of surprises.

These are changes that may yet halt the incipient climate catastrophe: not grandiose treaty-signing, but aggregated individual decisions. Be part of it in what you make and build.

3. Health warnings for the whimsy

Another Trump-related one, sadly. Trump's victory has also sparked a debate over so-called "fake news": the growing welter of misinformation, disinformation and scurrilous falsehood online. This risks crowding out more reliable sources of information and overwhelming civil society's already overtaxed critical faculties.

Again, you might wonder what that has to do with architecture and design. But of course architecture and design has a long history of generating its own "fake news" in the form of the more fanciful speculative proposals and vapourware.

There's nothing wrong with speculation, paper architecture and design fictions, of course – they're all useful endeavours and we'd be hugely poorer without them. It suits architecture and design to propose their own forms, as well as to simply deliver the proposals of others.

Even the grubbier end of that kind of activity isn't inherently bad. Here I'm talking about the completely senseless floating lilypad cities or vertical farms that get pitched out as blog-fodder for no practical purpose than showing off a designer's rendering skills and get their name about. They probably belong on Deviantart rather than Dezeen, but no one's harmed.

Really what's needed is appropriate labelling: making it clear what is speculation for the purposes of debate, what's a real proposal that's seeking backers, what might actually have a chance of actually appearing, and what's just a bit of hey-look-at-me fun. That's where the ethics get murky. Remember that Chinese straddling bus concept that turned out to be little more than a scam? Or that kooky London Garden Bridge concept that also turned out to be little more than a scam. Whimsy can be costly, people!

But seriously, knock it off with the floating cities and the vertical farms.

4. Leave "hygge" in 2016

Financial Times critic Edwin Heathcote has already done a sterling job of debunking hygge, the ubiquitous pseudo-Scandinavian lifestyle craze. Like many ubiquitous lifestyle crazes, it's a subtle blend of total common sense (fires are nice in winter) and complete balderdash.

Anyway, it's upon us now and resistance is futile – the tie-in books have already been given as presents, and they already sit amid the Christmas wreckage of many, many living rooms. And I'm sure they look harmless enough. So it's time for a word of warning.

The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins has already shown how hygge was confected within the publishing industry. I think the part played by architecture and design has been understated, though. For a start, the sector has done much to import interest in Scandinavian lifestyles by importing lots of Scandinavian people. No one in their right mind would think this was anything other than a tremendous boon, and I can only apologise to my Scandinavian friends and colleagues for the way Britain is presently making a travesty of their culture. That, and Brexit.

Let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist
It truly has been a terrible year. Architecture – specifically, architecture publishing – was also making something of a fetish of things hygge before hygge was a thing, with its recent boom in cabins and log piles. I attribute this more to an interest in consumer survivalism, rather than Danish culture, but nevertheless "cabin porn" was very much the gateway.

Anyway, here's the warning. Already, thoughts will be turning to next year's endeavours, and fun ways to present them to the public. The eye will blearily cast around the living room for ideas. Thanks to architects from Jan Gehl to Bjarke Ingels, the Danish way of making cities is already rightly praised and emulated. But let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist. No hygge placemaking. I beg of you. Just don't."

[via "These resolutions from @WillWiles are all worth considering, especially the one that equates Speculative Design and Fake News."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/815242847095951361

"There's a subtle but not so subtle difference between projects that are intended as critique, click bait, or outright hoax.

The hoax, as @bruces says, is in the territory of the Black Arts, and almost always maliciously and dangerously deployed.

I say this as someone whose proposal to launch manatees into space was reposted w/ straight seriousness by the Daily Mail & their commenters

The project, intended as critique (&, to be honest, clickbait!) was weaponized by DM, in the genre of "goofy eggheads wasting tax dollars""
ted  tedtalks  solutionism  climatechange  2016  2017  willwiles  architecture  design  hackism  government  governance  policy  economics  energy  renewableenergy  fakenews  news  media  specualtivedesign  fredscharmen  brucesterling  hoaxes  clickbait  critique  hygge  responsibility  speculation  whimsy  edwinheathcote  charlottehiggins  scandinavia  fetishes  publishing  cabinporn  bjarkeingels  jangehl  hyggeurbanism  urban  urbanism  placemaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The American Dream Isn’t Alive in Denmark - The Atlantic
[I guess I wasn’t aware people in the US point to Denmark mostly for social mobility. I look at Denmark more for the democratic socialism, its social safety net, and the resulting well-being. Maybe this title was poorly chosen, that’s why I m quoting the part at the end.]

"But just as Denmark’s policy may have its own unintended consequences, the American philosophy of opportunity has its own dark side. For example, high income inequality in the U.S. makes a college degree more valuable in America than in similar countries. This may encourage more poor Americans to enroll in college.

For many, college pays off. But the recent rise in college attainment in the U.S. has come at a terrible cost for some. Student debt has exploded, particularly at for-profit colleges serving older, poorer students, the majority of whom drop out with student loans that aren’t dischargeable in bankruptcy. So the social siren of American inequality—join the rich! go to college!—lures many first-generation students to put tens of thousands of dollars toward a degree that they never get. If they default on their student loans, they won’t be able to get a loan to buy a house. Which means the housing market is constrained by student debt defaults. Which means other industries that rely on a healthy housing market—furniture, cars, plants, kitchen appliances, apparel—are also affected.

Denmark doesn’t have all the answers, and apparently its leaders know it—that’s why they have such a strong public assistance system in the first place. But the U.S. mythology of social mobility is also self-defeating, in ways that are exceptionally American."

[Tyler Cowen's "Denmark's Nice, Yes, But Danes Live Better in U.S." also seems sloppy.
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-08-16/denmark-s-nice-yes-but-danes-live-better-in-u-s

As I noted on Twitter:

Is it me or is this very sloppy thinking?
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/765752853268877312

Wouldn’t a Dane in the US be at an advantage (less worry, more tolerable of risk) because they still have a safety net to return to?
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/765753071569739782

Wouldn’t the Danes that come and earn more be more likely to stick around and be included in stats, but those that earn less return home?
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/765753389485481984

I was similarly perplexed by this http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/the-american-dream-isnt-alive-in-denmark/494141/ Why would social mobility be a big concern if everyone were taken care of?
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/765754780962533376

Maybe it’s a commitment to certain measures (like growth and GDP per capita) and a lack of interest in the value of civility and well-being?
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/765755398334754820 ]
denmark  education  scandinavia  nordic  inequality  socialmobility  us  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Scandinavian School
"Welcome to The Scandinavian School San Francisco!

The Scandinavian School is a community center and preschool in San Francisco. We bring our background of Nordic languages and culture to the wonderful city of San Francisco - combining the best of the US and Scandinavia.

Over the last decade, The Scandinavian School has transformed from a small preschool into a comprehensive preschool and cultural center with classes for all ages, as well as adult language courses for different skill levels."
schools  sanfrancisco  preschool  sfsh  scandinavia  swedish  norwegian  danish 
july 2016 by robertogreco
7 Things Nordic Countries Are Totally Doing Right, According To 'The Nordic Theory Of Everything' | Bustle
"1. Balancing Federal Budgets …

2. Curbing Income Inequality …

3. Bringing Equity To Education …

4. Closing The Gender Gap …

5. Supporting Families …

6. Aiming For True Work-Life Balance …

7. Insuring Everyone …"
nordiccountries  scandinavia  policy  socialism  equality  us  inequality  education  gender  women  families  paternityleave  work-lifebalance  well-being  health  healthcare  universalhealthcare  finland  sweden  norway  iceland  denmark  2016  government  qualityoflife  anupartanen  middleclass 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Here Comes Hilda - The New Yorker
"It began, as adventures often do, with a trip: a family holiday in Norway, parents and their teen-agers, that seemed entirely straightforward at the time. “My imagination was really going for it on that trip—the landscape of the place stuck with me,” Luke Pearson, the British author of the Hildafolk series of graphic novels, told me. “At the time, I was reading about trolls and daydreaming, knowing I wanted to do something with that one day.”

Next, there was a map. “When I was at university, everyone who studied illustration was given a project to do an illustrated map of a country, and I was given Iceland,” he said. “I made a map of Icelandic folktales—you can still play it.” Move the digital clouds on Pearson’s “Hidden Iceland” and see, in their shadows, the giants and sprites and Viking ships just beneath that country’s peaks and fjords.

Finally, there was a girl: Hilda, now the star of four (soon to be five) comics. Netflix is planning a twelve-episode animated series, based on the first four books, for early 2018. The fifth book, “Hilda and the Stone Forest,” comes out in September.

When Pearson was still in school, in 2009, he submitted a one-page drawing to a competition run by Nobrow, now his publisher. “She’s basically wearing her outfit”—beret, scarf, red top, blue skirt, and big red boots—Pearson said, of Hilda. “She’s standing at the end of a pier, with a Scandinavian-esque city behind her and all kinds of creatures around, including a giant troll and a zeppelin in the sky.” A similar scene occurs in the third Hilda book, “Hilda and the Bird Parade,” but at the beginning Pearson didn’t have a story, just this “curious image” of a small girl with blue hair and a question: “Where is she and what does she get up to?”

What she gets up to is a string of adventures, first in the Heidi-esque hills above Trolberg, and then in the city itself—a move made (spoiler alert!) after a giant steps on the cozy ancestral cottage that she shares with her mother. That Hilda herself has long been a giant to a set of thumb-size invisible elves, living on the same patch of grass that her cabin sits on, is just another part of a life in which mythical creatures hide within mountains and behind bureau drawers. (There’s a lot of unused space in Hilda’s house, you see.)

For such a small girl, Hilda is about to get very big, and I am not at all surprised. My five-year-old daughter brought the first book home from a friend’s house, and it took reading only the first few pages, beautifully laid out, with the rich color palette of a Nordic sweater, to know that Hilda was something special. Trolberg may have a complex of bell towers (bells keep trolls at bay, we learn), but it also has a glassy downtown à la Houston. “All of these stories are riffs on folktales that are as old as time, that have taken a hard left turn through Luke’s imagination and all of these contemporary pop-cultural sensibilities,” Kurt Mueller, the executive vice-president at Silvergate Media, which will produce the Hilda series, said. (The company’s other series include “The Octonauts” and “Peter Rabbit.”) “Like the movies of Miyazaki, she feels totally of the moment, but she’s reacting to something that feels ancient and archetypal,” Mueller said. The nostalgic Northern European setting recalls Miyazaki’s romanticism, while Hilda’s communion with the conjoined natural and spirit worlds recalls San from “Princess Mononoke” or Satsuki from “My Neighbor Totoro.”

My first point of comparison was Lewis Carroll’s Alice, though Pearson said that he never thought of her. But, greeted by a little girl in an unchanging outfit, who is confronted with all manner of creatures great and small, in landscapes giant and miniaturized, who else are we to think of? What’s markedly different with Hilda is the attitude with which she greets her wonderland. She does not fall down a hole but strides, prepared with sketchbook and satchel, into the wind and weather. The first words of the first book, “Hilda and the Troll,” are delivered by a radio announcer: “But tonight clouds rolling in from the east . . . temperatures remain mild . . . with the likelihood of heavy rain.” Hilda, reading a tome on trolls at the breakfast table, rushes outside her red, peak-roofed cabin to see storm clouds forming over an adjacent peak. “Mum! Mum! It’s going to rain tonight! Can I sleep in the tent?” And Mum says yes.

Pearson’s aesthetic is sophisticated for the often candy-colored world of children’s animation, and the plots fit neatly into a number of present-day parenting preoccupations. Do children need dream time or organized activities? Nature or urban exploration? Pearson himself is too young to have friends with kids, so one suspects that his sensitivity to children’s desire for independence, combined with a need for a secure nest, may stem from his own childhood. Hilda’s mum wants her to have friends, to go to school, to participate in organized activities, but Hilda is always wandering off, learning Scout lessons on her own terms. Pearson says the scenes of the Sparrow Scouts were taken directly from his own Cub Scout experiences, down to the design of the church hall in which they meet (made of Nordic wood rather than Tamworth brick).

In the countryside, Hilda runs free, but the city brings greater conflict between her and her mother—who works from home at a drafting board, perhaps as an architect or an illustrator. Pearson’s panels are filled with such suggestive details, rewarding the close and repeated reading of small children. One of my daughter’s favorite spreads is at the back of the paperback version of “Hilda and the Troll”: a glimpse of Hilda’s realistically messy desk and shelves, stocked with Easter eggs from this and future tales, allowing young readers to put a few things together for themselves. Pearson extends the respect he has for Hilda to his audience, giving it room to discover the good kind of troll for themselves.

Pearson’s utter lack of pretension keeps Hilda feeling fresh, while his reading of folktales and Tove Jansson’s Moomin series embeds Hilda in the long history of children’s stories. Spunky heroines abound, but they don’t always speak to the present day. Hilda’s dilemmas, while fantastic, also feel real: Does she throw a rock at a pigeon to fit in? Does mother know best? Can one, or both, of them draw their way out of their latest adventure? Pearson has found a lovely new way to dramatize childhood demons, while also making you long for your own cruise down the fjords."

[See also:
https://islingtoncomic.blogspot.sg/2012/05/hilda-and-midnight-giant.html
http://www.tcj.com/i-wanted-a-character-who-was-very-positive-an-interview-with-luke-pearson/
http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2014/09/how-to-read-hilda/
http://comicsalliance.com/learning-and-inspiring-in-luke-pearsons-hilda-comics-review/
https://thebookwormbaby.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-amazing-world-of-hilda.html ]
books  childrensbooks  childhood  alexandralange  2016  lukepearson  comics  graphicnovels  toread  hilda  nordiccountries  hayaomiyazaki  girls  heroines  aliceinwonderland  lewiscarroll  play  maps  mapping  parenting  sfsh  iceland  pippilongstocking  tovejansson  princessmononoke  myneighbortotoro  studioghibli  scandinavia  illustration  folktales  moomin  childrensliterature 
june 2016 by robertogreco
I'm an American living in Sweden. Here's why I came to embrace the higher taxes. - Vox
"It seems that Americans would rather have inaccessibility to public places and crumbling infrastructure than pay more in taxes, right? After all, every American seems to know that taxes in Sweden are high and that they want nothing to do with high.

My wife and I have been dividing our time between jobs in Sweden and Wisconsin for the past dozen years, and I'm here to tell you that taxes in Sweden are not that high. To my surprise, I found that there are lots of things to love about the Swedish tax system. Swedish taxes are easy to pay, rational, and efficient. Best of all, rather than take away opportunities, Swedish taxes expand them.

Here are six reasons I have come to love Swedish taxes."
sweden  taxes  economics  2016  scandinavia  healthcare  healthinsurance  policy  politics  freedom  choice 
may 2016 by robertogreco
I live in Denmark. Bernie Sanders’s Nordic dream is worth fighting for, even if he loses. - Vox
"There is no question that America — heck, the world — would be a better place if it more resembled the Scandinavia that Sanders evokes. Even I, a British transplant to Denmark and sometime-Scandiskeptic, can see that America is badly in need of a little Scandi-therapy. But Scandinavia doesn't offer a quick fix for what ails the United States — and in recent years even Scandinavia itself has been backing away from some of the qualities that Sanders praises it for.

Scandinavia is more equal than the States

In terms of economics, the gap between richest and poorest, measured by the Gini coefficient, is far smaller here than in the States; in terms of gender equality it has a greater proportion of women in the labor force and more women in positions of power, and there is absolutely no question that women should have the right to decide over the inhabitants of their own wombs. Sweden was recently ranked the best country in the world in which to live as a woman.

And Scandinavia is more equal in terms of opportunity. It is far easier for a working-class Scandinavian kid to achieve a university education and attain professional qualifications than it is for a child from a similar background in the USA. Social mobility is far, far better here than in the States. As I only slightly grudgingly conclude in my book The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, these are the true lands of opportunity.

As Sanders rightly points out, America badly needs a dose of wealth redistribution. Rapidly spiraling poverty, unemployment, and homelessness with record repossessions, while billionaires pay 17 percent income tax? That doesn't tend to happen up here "beyond the wall."

Scandinavia's multi-party system works better than America's two-party system

America's political system would also benefit from a little Scandi-style transparency and multi-party consensus. Both help temper the extremes of political dogma that have afflicted the US political landscape. "But doesn't that lead to political stalemate?" I hear you ask. Like Washington, you mean? No, it's not that bad.

But really it all comes back to equality, the bedrock of the so-called Nordic miracle and Sanders's campaign mantra. The awkward truth about capitalism is that without proper equality of opportunity, the market cannot distribute wealth fairly or democratically, nor can it provide a safety net for the vulnerable. That's the role of government, and I'm afraid it requires everyone to pay their taxes.

But prosperous, Scandinavian-style societies don't happen overnight

Though Scandinavia has much to teach the world, sadly there is no quick fix to be found here. As with any region, Scandinavia has attained its current state of almost near perfection as a result of decades, perhaps centuries, of evolution, conflict, and change. The region is a product of its history, climate, and topography — not to mention of living so close to Germany and Russia.

You don't impose tax rates like these overnight; they creep up on you like bindweed without people really noticing until, whoops, you have five weeks of holiday a year and free health care, and young people are paid to go to university — but you are also paying more than half your income to the state.

You don't pick up democratic systems like this at the checkout. These levels of political and corporate transparency, devolution, equality, and accountability are formed following decades of debate and negotiation. Decent public transport takes long-term cross-party will; consensus politics require multiparty systems free of interference from large-scale corporate interest; effective labor relations are only possible if trade unions remain strong and are integrated into the decision-making process.

Even as Sanders praises Scandinavia, Scandinavia is becoming more and more like America

The great irony in all this is that while Sanders advocates Scandinavia as the default reset for America, the region itself is busy changing and reforming itself in the face of regional crises and global challenges — often making itself more American in the process.

In my book, I explain why these societies are so successful and happy — but I also spend some time explaining why Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (plus Finland and Iceland, for the full Nordic spread) are not the utopias the global media has made them out to be this past decade or so.

I live in Denmark of my own free will and find a great deal to admire about the Danes and the society they have built, but I felt there was a need for a counterbalance to the Scandimania that has characterized much of the reporting on Denmark and Scandinavia.

In many ways, Scandinavia has had enough of being Scandinavian. It has certainly had enough of socialism. As the Danish prime minister said in a recent speech at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, "I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy."

In many ways, Scandinavia has had enough of being Scandinavian. It has certainly had enough of socialism.

These days, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are all mixed economies with relatively low corporation taxes, for instance. Many former state-run services are now privatized, and a large proportion of the population has private health care. Denmark regularly ranks high in global "ease of doing business" surveys, and Sweden in particular is currently experiencing impressive economic growth. Goldman Sachs recently bought a large stake in the Danish state energy company. Economies don't get much more mixed than that.

Some argue that high taxes are a disincentive to risk-taking and innovation and that generous welfare benefits engender a sense of complacency and entitlement, and I am sure there is some truth to this. There have been high-profile cases of able-bodied Danes playing the unemployment benefit system for years, and I once overheard a Danish parent complaining that her son's first choice of university did not have the surfing degree he wanted to take. Still, the region has given birth to a notable number of innovative global brands: Skype, Spotify, Novo Nordisk, Carlsberg, Ikea, and Lego to name just a few.

And Nordic governments are cutting back on their welfare states

Meanwhile, all of the Nordic governments have curbed the expansion of their welfare states over the past years to varying degrees, and many inhabitants of the region have opted out of their struggling state health and education systems. Politically, these countries began to move to the right 10 years ago, to the extent that far-right parties are now among the most popular with voters.

Neither do any of these countries have the "free" health care or "free" university tuition that Sanders wishes for. Bernie, let me tell you, we who live here pay for those free services with tax rates that would make your hair turn white. In Denmark I pay around 56 percent income tax, along with 25 percent retail tax, the highest energy taxes in the world, a veritable smorgasbord of property taxes, huge tariffs on alcohol and cars, and even a tax on air. (Soft ice cream is taxed based on its volume after the air is mixed in.)

And all of these countries have problems: Norway's oil income, upon which so much of its prosperity relies, has fallen off a cliff; like the teenager who advertised a house party on Facebook, the Swedes are now somewhat dismayed that tens of thousands of refugees and economic migrants have turned up on their front lawn; and with its own modest oil revenues dwindling, Denmark is facing up to the fact that the growth of its much-vaunted welfare state is no longer economically sustainable.

Believe me, get a Dane talking about the country's school system or to ask a Swede about immigration, and you will unleash a torrent of moans, gripes, and complaints that would make a New York cabbie blush. But — and it's a big "but" — all of these countries remain highly affluent, well-educated, free, democratic, "happy," and relatively equal. So that's why I'm rooting for Bernie and his vision for a more Scandinavian America."
denmark  socialism  scandinavia  2016  politics  policy  society  inequality  equality  welfare  sweden  norway  economics  taxes  berniesanders  transparency  accountability 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Scandi Crush Saga - Curbed
"Scandinavia’s focus on the home and family, assertions of democratic principles, and emphasis on traditional craftsmanship fit in well with consumerist ideals of the postwar period. Gordon, a staunch critic of the radical direction American modernism was taking, published a series of articles lashing out against the International Style—another name for the modernist architecture and design that emerged out of Europe in the 30s—which she referred to as "totalitarian," and those responsible for it as "dictators in matters of taste." Such sentiment played on Cold War era politics of the period."



"Today, Scandinavian design is once again riding a wave of success that many say stems from a wider fascination with Nordic countries. Kjetil Fallan, professor of design history at the University of Oslo, attributes the present popularity to the greater visibility of the Nordic lands during the period after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

"When a lot of large stable economies like the U.S. were having major problems, they discovered small Nordic countries were hardly affected by it at all," said Fallan, barring Iceland, of course. He cites a renewed interest in what is commonly referred to as the Nordic model in governance and society, which is typically categorized by a strong welfare state and an emphasis on individual autonomy. Just in the past year, Sweden’s flirtation with six-hour workdays and Finland’s planned experiment with universal basic income have grabbed headlines, further piquing the world’s curiosity. Such publicity may have had trickledown effects on the design field. "There is a tendency," Fallan says, "to equate Scandinavian design as a reflection of Scandinavian society."

Nordic arts and culture, too, have become increasingly popular abroad. "I think it started with a mix of different furniture, interiors, food, music, and film," says Poul Madsen, co-founder of Normann Copenhagen, a Danish interior design brand. "Danes were announced as the happiest people in [the] world a couple of years ago and even Oprah was talking about it," he added. "Suddenly, everything we did in Scandinavia really echoed." Indeed, increased media coverage, the popularity of Danish TV in the UK, and Copenhagen’s cache of Michelin-starred eateries, like world favorite Noma, have been rolled into what Madsen describes as "one big mass of Nordic living."

Even 2009—a shaky year for consumerism in the West—was a success for the firm. Normann Copenhagen’s New Danish Modern furniture series designed and produced within Denmark included Jesper K. Thomsen’s molded beech wood Camping set, which was awarded the Good Design award by the Chicago Athaeneum later that year.

Since then, business has been booming. The company, which sells to 82 countries, has seen export markets up 45 to 50 percent per year for the past two years, although Madsen admits that their pieces are still most successful within Denmark."
design  furniture  architecture  history  materials  scandinavia  sweden  denmark  finland  norway  iceland  nordic  arnejacobsen  eeroarnio  alvaalto  pouladsen  normanncopenhagen  jesperthompsen  kristianbyrge  muuto  peterbonnén  kjetilfallan  nadialassen  olewanscher  hansbretton-meyer  iittala  kajfranck  artek  oliviaöberg  tappiowirkkala  mariannegoebl 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Fight on to preserve Elfdalian, Sweden's lost forest language | ScienceNordic
"OPINION: Secret language has preserved linguistic features that are to be found nowhere else in Scandinavia."
languages  language  sweden  2015  scandinavia  linguistics  history 
october 2015 by robertogreco
14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden | A Cup of Jo
"On the Law of Jante: There’s an interesting cultural principal here and in a few other Scandinavian countries called the Law of Jante. It essentially means that one individual is not more special than any other, and you’re not to behave as if you are. When I was teaching ballet in Stockholm years ago, I noticed that my students were, indeed, reluctant to stand out. For example, they were quite timid when I asked them to demonstrate steps or propose new ideas to the class."



"On food: One of the funniest food customs I’ve observed here is the national tradition of having split pea soup and pancakes for lunch on Thursdays. The first time a Swede told me that, I thought he was joking, but the opera house where I work serves that meal every Thursday. I think all Swedish schools do it, too, and you’ll see it in restaurants. When Americans think of split pea soup it’s green, but here it’s more yellow, with white and yellow beans, and the meat is a pork sausage that’s sliced into the soup."



"On candy: Swedes eat more candy than anybody else in the world, something like 35 pounds of candy per person per year! Huge candy shops with impressive sections are everywhere. What intrigues me most about the Swedish sweet tooth is lördagsgodis or “Saturday candy.” Every Saturday, kids and often their parents fill bags with their favorite candy. Gummies and licorice are big favorites. Before I became a parent, I thought this was a great idea, but now I’ve seen what sugar does to my daughter!



On coziness: The Swedish word mysig is hard to translate, but technically means “to smile with comfort,” or be cozy. It’s an important concept here, where the winters are long and cold. You see candles everywhere, year round. When I first moved here, it struck me as a major fire hazard! But they’re everywhere and so beautiful. Sometimes we go to IKEA on weekends (“It’s cold and rainy, so let’s go to IKEA!”), and everyone buys their candles there! Everyone has candles in their carts at checkout.

Swedes even have a special word to describe curling up indoors on a Friday night: fredagsmys. You light candles, cuddle under a blanket on the sofa, eat candy and watch a movie. I love that there’s a verb for it."
sweden  coziness  parenting  families  children  astridlindgren  candy  food  pippilongstocking  alfonsaberg  alfieatkins  mysig  napping  fredagsmys  play  cold  climate  outdoors  motherhood  childcare  daycare  parentalleave  lawofjante  collectivism  community  summer  winter  scandinavia  via:jenlowe 
october 2015 by robertogreco
An Ancient Design in a Modern Age by Per Kristian Bergmo (Works That Work magazine)
"The lávvu served for centuries as portable housing for reindeer herders. Its practical, efficient design and cultural heritage are attracting new users across Scandinavia."



"More than just a functional shelter, however, the lávvu is also important as a gathering place, a structure that creates community. As Reider Breivik, a 72-year-old Norwegian teacher and lávvu enthusiast, says, ‘I fell in love with it in 1980 for its use as a social arena with people sitting in a circle inside, facing each other. The feeling is very similar to sitting around a campfire, and in a way, that is what you do in a lávvu. It creates a great atmosphere where everyone is equal. It is a structure people from all over the world will feel at home in. I once hosted colleagues from Kenya, and as soon as they entered the lávvu they said that it reminded them of their grandmother’s house. They ended up choosing to sleep there instead of in the house for the duration of their stay.’For Herman Rundberg, the drummer of Violet Road, one of Norway’s most popular bands, the lávvu that his family puts up every year at the Riddu Riddu music festival is a connection to fundamental values: ‘I love the silence when you wake up in the lávvu on the tundra, or in the mountains, or at a festival camp. The sound of my father lighting the fire at dawn is a moment beautiful beyond words. I also really appreciate that even in these busy, fast-paced, modern times there is a place where you can do something as simple as sitting in a circle around a fireplace and just talking and feeling. It heals your soul and calms you.’"
architecture  design  portability  culture  perkristianbergmo  sami  sweden  finland  scandinavia  nomads  nomadism  lávvu 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
- A crane to lift tears: 17 reasons why Malmö is the best Scandinavian city - A crane to lift tears: 17 reasons why Malmö is the best Scandinavian city
"These days, more than 300 years after Scania became Swedish territory, Malmö is finally coming into its own, again. In an era where packets travel faster by cable than ships, the skies still sustain the heart of Malmö by bringing in people from all around the world. Instead of building ships to send out to the sea, the waters new bring in new residents from all around the world.

An invisible crane still oversees the city and if you stay just long enough, you’ll feel it too when you walk around and talk to the people who make the city come alive. Malmö may be Sweden’s 3rd largest city, but it may win for being the most welcoming and exciting city in Scandinavia. Cities are more than landmarks, they are made by the people who live in it.

Here are17 reasons why Malmö is the most awesome Scandinavian city."

[Tagged 'Copenhagen' and 'Denmark' because of reason number one.]
diversity  denmark  triciawang  2012  scandinavia  cities  malmö  sweden  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
A search engine for unknown future queries · rogre · Storify
Bookmarking myself:

"Among many other topics, we discussed collections, loose tools (like Pinboard and Sagashitemiyo (something related to that, I think), or a simple tin box like the one that is featured in Amélie), pristineness (for lack of a better term), and clutter.

Dieter Rams' house came up (we only liked his workshop*), as did Scandinavian design, the desks of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Mark Twain (with a semblance of a system with what appears to be a mess), and Path (as mentioned here and by Frank Chimero).

Eventually, we made the connection to a scene in Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter, in which Ray's office is discussed. She essentially uses it as storage. No one else dares enter because it is overflowing with stuff. But, then, whenever something seems to be missing from a project that the office is working on, Ray mentions that she has just the right thing, disappears into her office, and returns with exactly the perfect object."
georgedyson  scandinavia  cv  onlinetoolkit  tools  play  containers  tinboxes  sagashitemiyo  amélie  frankchimero  path  alberteinstein  marktwain  stevejobs  dieterrams  googlereader  duckduckgo  learning  teaching  2837university  2011  2012  pinboard  del.icio.us  bookmarks  bookmarking  search  audiencesofone  stephendavis  allentan  eames  rayeames  storify  comments  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Iceland never had any bookshops between the... - more than 95 theses
"Iceland never had any bookshops between the sixteenth century and the mid-nineteenth. It also had no schools. Yet by the end of the eighteenth century the population was almost entirely literate. Families in farms scattered over an enormous area taught their own children to read—and the Icelanders read a great deal, especially during the long winter months. Aside from religious works, their reading matter consisted primarily of Nordic sagas, copied and recopied over many generations in manuscript books, thousands of them, which now form the principal collections in Iceland’s archives. Iceland therefore provides an example of a society that contradicts everything in my diagram. For three and a half centuries, it had a highly literate population given to reading books, yet it had virtually no printing presses, no bookshops, no libraries, and no schools. An aberration? Perhaps, but the experience of the Icelanders may tell us something about the nature of literary culture throughout throughout Scandinavia and even in other parts of the world, especially in remote rural areas where oral and scribal cultures reinforced each other beyond the range of the printed word.”
Robert Darnton, “‘What is the History of Books?’ Revisited” (2007)"
nordiccountries  robertdarnton  books  printing  learning  society  deschooling  unschooling  schools  literacy  scandinavia  iceland  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
G.D.P. Doesn’t Measure Happiness - NYTimes.com
"What these societies have in common is that rather than striving to be the biggest they instead aspire to be constantly better. Which, in the end, offers an important antidote to both the rhetoric of decline and mindless boosterism: the recognition that whether we are falling behind or achieving new heights is greatly determined both by what goals we set and how we measure our performance."
scandinavia  nordiccountries  economics  via:anthonyalbright  2011  well-being  happiness  growth  gdp  improvement  society  capitalism  competition  davidrothkopf  measurement  carolgraham  nicolassarkozy  josephstiglitz  bhutan  jeffreysachs  us  china  development  post-development  stability  sustainability  prosperity  wealth  australia  canada  singapore  japan  netherlands  norway  sweden  denmark  luxembourg  europe  fiscalresponsibility  humanism  shrequest1  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
A Tax Day Celebration: Taxes Pay For Necessary Government Services And Make Capitalism Workable. | The New Republic
"The Nordic countries are far more homogenous than the U.S. and it’s an open question whether a society as diverse and unequal as ours would support such a high tax burden. (This is one of the points Douthat makes in his column.) But even if we do absolutely nothing but let current law stand--in other words, if we let the Bush tax cuts expire, allow the alternative minimum tax to remain in place, allow scheduled reductions in physician fees to take effect, and limit the control of health care costs only to the official projections for the Affordable Care Act--it seems likely that our tax burden would still not exceed what the Nordic countries face today, at least not for another 50 years.*"
taxes  us  policy  medicine  healthcare  scandinavia  comparison  2011  education  spending  austerity  austeritymeasures  busherataxcuts  government  nordiccountries  society  via:cburell  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Conditions magazine
"CONDITIONS, is a new Scandinavian magazine focusing on the conditions of architecture and Urbanism. Presenting new perspectives, in the way of conceiving and analyzing designs, works and theory for architecture.In opposition to ignorance and superficiality this magazine is conceived in order to search for knowledge and predicaments of our continuously evolving society. It is organized in a fluctuating network of agents reflecting the present globalized state of a dynamic society, economics, politics and culture which are the motivators of architecture. Through a play of thoughts in an open ended forum, predefined “facts” will be unsecured and constantly reinvented. The forum will gather the architect, client, politician and the public, a communion of ideas creating conditions for evolution."
architecture  urbanism  urban  media  magazines  design  scandinavia  theory  society  politics  culture  norway  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
Mrs Tsk *
"I’m particularly interested in Japan’s image of — and empathy with — Scandinavia. Sitting yesterday in the Finland Cafe in Daikanyama, a basement kitted out with silver birch trees and wall-projected loops of Helsinki street scenes, I was leafing through a big book about Finnish fabric design company Marimekko, perennially popular in Japan, when I discovered that they’d had a Japanese designer in the 1970s, Katsuji Wakisaka. This graduate of Kyoto School of Art and Design was just 24 when he came to Finland in 1968 to pitch his portfolio to Marimekko. He was hired on the spot."
design  japan  finland  momus  marimekko  scandinavia  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
ClubOrlov: America—The Grim Truth [A bit over the top, but there are some major truths in here, especially about the worry that results from the financial precariousness we feel as part of our system, lack of social safety net]
"Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world—by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.

I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

Consider this…"
politics  collapse  us  economics  health  healthcare  expats  2010  via:mathowie  finance  well-being  qualityoflife  food  pharmaceuticals  work  balance  australia  fragmentation  teaparty  immigration  emmigration  canada  newzealand  japan  europe  comparison  middleeast  guns  safety  society  fear  dystopia  unemployment  decline  oil  peakoil  grimfutures  change  policy  freedom  germany  finland  italy  france  scandinavia  singlepayerhealthsystem  government  socialsafetynet  bankruptcy  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Genetic and environmental influences on prereading skills and early reading and spelling development in the United States, Australia, and Scandinavia [.pdf]
"Genetic & environmental influences on prereading skills in preschool & on early reading & spelling development at the end of kindergarten were compared among samples of identical & fraternal twins from the US, Australia, & Scandinavia. Mean comparisons revealed significantly lower preschool print knowledge in Scandinavia, consistent with the relatively lower amount of shared book reading & letter-based activities w/ parents, & lack of emphasis on print knowledge in Scandinavian preschools. The patterns of correlations between all preschool environment measures & prereading skills within the samples were remarkably similar, as were the patterns of genetic, shared environment, & non-shared environment estimates: in all samples, genetic influence was substantial & shared environment influence was relatively weak for phonological awareness, rapid naming, & verbal memory..."
literacy  learning  reading  scandinavia  us  australia  instruction  preschool  spelling  filetype:pdf  media:document 
march 2010 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Could Australia become the ‘Nordic Region’ of the Pacific Economy?
"So with a similar population base, and a similarly useful strategic position, could Australia become the ‘Nordic Region’ of the Pacific Economy? If we assume that this is a broadly attractive proposition - big assumption, but I’d be happy with it - what would we have to do to achieve this? Clearly that missing component is cultural, partly. Can we re-shape the local culture to value design, craft and innovation? Easier said than done, but entirely possible. After all, much of Australia’s culture is engineered to value resources and agriculture, the so-called ‘primary industries’ (a telling phrase, that). Yet an industrial policy - and associated cultural policies, education policies and so on - could instead value the New Primary Industries."
australia  future  europe  education  china  business  history  nordiccountries  scandinavia  sweden  norway  denmark  finland 
march 2010 by robertogreco
National Journal Magazine - U.S. Versus Europe: No Winner
"Which has the superior economic model, the United States or Europe? The question keeps coming up and never gets resolved. It is having another go-round at the moment, with the adversaries lining up as usual. Conservatives say that Europe's social-democratic model is bound for the landfill of history. Progressives defend the model, even if they usually stop short of recommending it outright. As a British import, allow me to join in. My answer, to cut to the chase -- one picks up these expressions -- is that neither model is objectively better. You can guess which I prefer, because like many other Europeans I have chosen to live in the United States. But the European approach is perfectly viable, and I can see why many Americans might like it. (For some reason, not many seem to move to Europe. The traffic seems to be mainly in the other direction. A mystery.) To be sure, each side has things to teach the other."
us  europe  economics  individualism  society  socialism  democracy  taxes  policy  politics  progressives  government  scandinavia  denmark  france  sweden  netherlands  paulkrugman  productivity  work  well-being  employment  efficiency  effort  growth  assimilation  immigration  class  optimism  innovation  competitiveness  labor 
january 2010 by robertogreco
click opera - Raise your spirit, level your society!
"Inequality is bad for us...message of The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better, a new book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, two epidemiologists...draws political conclusions from scientific observations, and as such it's full of fascinatingly counter-intuitive insights, such as the idea that inequality makes the lives of the rich worse as well as the lives of the poor. The authors take up and run with Oliver James's point that capitalism makes you mentally sick, saying that it's not just the poor who suffer from the effects of inequality, but the whole population; mental illness is five times higher across the whole population of the most unequal societies than it is in the most equal ones. It's not being poor per se that sucks, it's living amongst people with very different life outcomes. Mental illness and obesity, drug addiction and violence, teenage pregnancy and the weakening of community life -- all increase in more unequal societies."
culture  spirituality  economics  politics  disparity  inequality  sweden  japan  us  trends  books  capitalism  well-being  health  society  momus  research  uk  portugal  scandinavia  lifeexpectancy  poverty  mentalhealth  mentalillness  stress  gini  equality 
december 2009 by robertogreco
E.D. Kain - American Tory – Christianity and healthcare reform - True/Slant
"This is not to say that everything about the northern European model is desirable. Indeed, many of those nations are scaling back to some degree on public services and trying to push down tax rates, increase competition and choice, and so forth. But their citizens do not have to go without healthcare, nor do they have to worry about raising a family without help, and they seem – in the end – less plagued by out-and-out greed than we Americans. There’s something to be said for a capitalist model that doesn’t place so much emphasis on greed, and places a bit more emphasis on community."
capitalism  socialism  2009  scandinavia  nordiccountries  us  policy  debate  christianity  healthcare  health  economics  greed 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Most unusual college in the world: Ode Magazine, October 2005 [.pdf]
"At KaosPilots, young people (starting at 21) learn how to set up and carry out projects, sell their ideas, put together a business plan, stimulate creativity, work cooperatively, inspire others and themselves, take advantage of unexpected events, remain open to new ideas, bring mind and body into balance, and keep their heads cool and their hearts warm. They learn, in fact, how to realize their dreams." ... "“KaosPilots are streetwise and risk- taking,” Elbaek says. “And above all, they have social compassion and the inclination to adopt a helpful attitude toward the people they work with and for. You should never underestimate that influence.”"

[original here: http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/27/most_unusual_college_in_the_world/ ]
kaospilots  århus  education  altgdp  learning  entrepreneurship  schools  progresive  denmark  scandinavia  gamechanging  deschooling  projectbasedlearning  uffeelbaek  filetype:pdf  media:document  pbl 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Business School for KaosPilots | Fast Company
"Unlike traditional business schools, nearly 30% of the training program focuses on developing each student's "inner pilot," using assertiveness training, stress prevention, group dynamics, and physical training."
århus  education  learning  kaospilots  fastcompany  uffeelbaek  altgdp  business  entrepreneurship  denmark  scandinavia  universities  social  mba  alternative  gamechanging 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Kaos-Think -- This Time, in English | Fast Company
"A new book sharing lessons and ideas from the KaosPilots, a progressive business school in Denmark, indicates that business leaders around the world can still learn from the Scandinavian world of work."
århus  education  business  college  kaospilots  altgdp  entrepreneurship  uffeelbaek  socialentrepreneurship  learning  progressive  scandinavia  denmark 
october 2009 by robertogreco
No Babies? - Declining Population in Europe - NYTimes.com
"A Dying Breed? As the birthrate in European countries drops well below the "replacement rate" — that is, an average of 2.1 children born to every woman — the declining population will first be felt in the playgrounds."
europe  trends  population  demographics  fertility  italy  scandinavia  spain  greece  france  uk  latvia  lithuania  germany  children  future  policy  socialism  families  españa 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Startsida Kulturhuset
"The three rooms are especially designed for children of different ages, with different physical needs and abilities. Here kids will find hideaways, hammocks where they can lie and read peacefully, exciting things to look at."
lcproject  community  learning  art  libraries  studios  workshops  sweden  scandinavia  social  stockholm  music  design  culture  children  activities  travel 
may 2008 by robertogreco
kulturhuset on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kulturhuset "Opened in 1974, (Swedish for The House of Culture) is cultural centre to south of Sergels Torg in central Stockholm; both loved & hated as symbol for Stockholm & growth of modernism in Sweden"
lcproject  education  learning  studios  community  scandinavia  sweden  art  libraries  workshops  social  stockholm  music  design  culture  children  activities  travel  youth  teens 
may 2008 by robertogreco
CoSN Senior Delegation to Scandinavia ~ Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes
"story by now familiar: while no simple explanation for student success in these countries, contributing factors include wider social safety net, high pay & status of teachers, pervasive (& unfiltered) access to internet, much less emphasis on testing."
scandinavia  sweden  finland  norway  denmark  iceland  schools  policy  internet  teaching  learning  stephendownes  society  education  schooling 
april 2008 by robertogreco
214 - The Blonde Map of Europe « strange maps
"This map, indicating the varying degrees of ‘blondness’ in Europe, shows how fair hair gets rarer further away from this core area – towards the south, as one intuitively might presume, but also towards the east, west and even towards the north."
mapping  ethnography  maps  scandinavia  demographics  blonde  visualization  europe  biology  geography  anthropology  genetics 
december 2007 by robertogreco

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