My Scandinavian Tour

Over the last week or so, I have been able to take a short break from the research and see all that Scandinavia has to offer (or what I am able to see in a week’s worth of time). My last couple of days on Samso were a combination of summary interviews and outdoor activities. The interviews once again reiterated what I had been already seeing, that Samso is a really special place with really special people. Two men I met, Erik and Lyfe have both invested in renewable energy projects because they were interested in the projects and it was the right thing to do. Erik was so interested in renewables that he converted his tractor to running on rapeseed oil, something he grows on his own organic farm and extracts with his own press using the biproduct, rapeseed cakes, as a feed for his cows. Here is a picture of Erik’s rapeseed press:

From Samso 2

My last day at the academy was spent helping with a presentation they were doing for 100 d
Danish high school students. It was impressive to see the interest of the students and the concerns they had in addressing energy in a way that was interactive with the community. I really enjoyed the Academy’s coordinator for school visits, Malene’s view that we need to be engaging the public by asking questions instead of suggesting actions. Malene believes in the power of asking questions as a way of sharing a story and common experiences. Unfortunately, my time for asking questions at the Samso Energy Academy was ending as I had to move on to Sweden for my next research stop.

I took my final ferry ride and headed to Copenhagen for a day of sightseeing. Luckily, one of my cousins got me connected with her good friend in the Danish capital who spent the day showing me the sights by canal boatride and chatting over a sandwich and a drink. I got a great view of the city from the top of a tower and it really hit me, not only how much history the city has but also how alive the city was for being fairly small by US standards. Here is a little taste of that view:

From Copenhagen

After Copenhagen, I was off to Halmstad, Sweden to reunite with some long lost family friends who were gracious enough to show me a wonderful weekend in their small southern town. I spent the weekend touring castles and exploring the countryside on the families small traditional red farmhouse. My interest was sparked when I went inside the farmhouse and saw the years of history that had been preserved, especially the pair of old wooden skis that were in perfect condition. Here are a few pictures from my time in Halmstad and there is a link in the bottom righthand corner to the album that contains many more:

From Halmstad, Sweden
From Halmstad, Sweden
From Halmstad, Sweden

Following the weekend, I headed to Vaxjo, Sweden a little further to the north to spend time with another member of the same family and also for a site visit with those involved in planning for the “Greenest City in Europe”, as the BBC once called Vaxjo. The first couple of days I spent my time by the many lakes and relaxing with my friends’ two young children, who are getting a kick out of having a real American staying with them. I will share more about my research in a few days when I finish up my interviews and tours around the city. Scandanavians are unlike us in the US in that it is hard to find someone who does not support sustainability for one reason or another. The Swedish are really unique in that they have an everyman’s right law where anyone is allowed to hike, camp, pick berries and mushrooms, or boat anywhere for a reasonable amount of time in the country no matter who owns the property. This has instilled a love for nature and a concern about environmental degradation that almost seems universal. I think the right to public access is an amazing idea and would maybe help us in America appreciate the beautiful surroundings before they are all destroyed.

I can’t believe that I will be home in a little over a week. With so little time left, I have begun to reflect on what an amazing and rewarding journey this has been as well as being cautiously optimistic and excited for what the future holds for myself and society as we begin this transition towards sustainable development. Thank you again to everyone for following me on this journey.