she launched the Icon a day project, with yummy daily slices of Copenhagen. Sometimes I wonder if a place is not seen
more clearly, through the eyes of someone who didn’t grow up in the
midst of it? I invited Emma to introduce herself:
I started illustrating Copenhagen about a year ago - my first piece was a cycle infographic featured on Copenhagenize.
Then I moved on to buildings and Danish designed lamps… last Christmas I
found myself taking my 8 year old son to Tivoli to photograph different
design elements… I was definitely starting to display the kind of
obsessive qualities necessary to run a blog, but didn't have the time. I
was leaving my full-time secure job to go back to freelancing and
needed to focus on that. A year on - I have a bit more time, but not
masses. I wanted a project that would build, grow, change direction. I'm
hoping that the Copenhagen, icon a day project, will be just that.
This reminds me that I have to tell you about DØP, the organic hotdog vendor. Soon.
The Icon a day series launched on November 1st 2013, and are scheduled to go on for at least a year. I'm always exited when people make gutsy moves, and follow their dreams, only good can come from that. And I have a feeling that we are going to be hearing a lot more from Sivell Ink, in the future.
Sometimes I will see something, and it will turn into a thought (that will turn into a train of thoughts). Sometimes it will just ignite a word or a feeling, a memory or even a song. And I have zero control over these things, I am just strapped to the ride.
Like it was the case with this piano. I passed it right before dusk, knowing it was too shitty to shoot. But I still had to dismount, and show the poor thing some appreciation, as it stood there, gutted and exposed. All I could think was: thank you for the music. And then ABBA started singing in my head.
Wow. I have to say: I never thought a local election would be such a roller coaster ride. Today is the day, and this is the most informed I have ever been, on the parties and candidates. I even attended my first election meeting (which was such a letdown that I for a while seriously considered making a statement, by not voting at all).
With all the work I have done with Cykelrepublikken (the NGO for bike friendly cities) and the trees, I have become aware how important it is, to have the right people calling the shots, locally. But it doesn’t end there. The thing about democracy, is that you can’t just cast a vote every four years, and then let others do the work for you. You need to be involved, keep an eye on things and let them know if they have gone astray. You need to participate actively, to keep democracy healthy. It is not so much a duty as a right: don’t let anyone take your city away from you.
Especially not this guy, hahaha.
All of the posters from this party pretty much crumbled one week in, and they just left them like that. It tells you a lot, right there: a bad decision (on the cardboard), and no follow-up to correct your mistake. Well, at least you know what to expect.
On the opposite end of the scale you have Denmarks most famous welfare client, running for office as "Dovne Robert" (Lazy Robert) a nickname invented by the press. He promises to work for more cake. The strange thing about this is, that candidates must pay for their own campaign material. And welfare will not even buy you busfare, let alone costly, weather resistant posters.
Rebellion from below. Lazy Robert. Something is fishy here. Worst case scenario: someone is using him to divert attention and votes from a party that could actually make a difference for the less privileged.
Back on the "right" side of politics (as in wrong, obviously), this guy has the audacity to demand more space for cars. Here, they have three rows and around the corner they are demolishing homes to build a parking facility. What's the magic word, then? "More." Unbelievable.
Sign reads: About time with more parking space. Vote for Rasmus Jarlov.
The easiest on the eye is not surprisingly the ones who are not trying to sell you anything, but just make you think. Ah, I missed you street art.
Consume without responsibility, List $, the Greed Party.
Today it is exactly four years ago Classic Copenhagen was born. I could call it a blog, but to me it is so much more. A lifeline, perhaps. A self discovery tool. Through writing about Copenhagen, I have grown to love it more than I even thought possible. About two years ago, something changed: I went from writing about Copenhagen, to getting actively involved, and now there is no undoing it. This is what I want to do: fight for my city. To preserve what needs to be preserved, improve what stands improving and better what needs to be fixed.
And as half of blogging is the interaction with you, and knowing that you are still around after all these years (some of you have been along for the ride, from the very beginning), I want to thank you. It feels like a joint effort, somehow. Is that weird?
So far, I have been thanking you by not whining about the evil dungeon. I am not sure how much longer I can hold it in, though. Most nights start at four in the afternoon, and mostly it goes straight from grey to black. But once in a while, we get this: sunset on the bunkers, and the beautiful old trees, you helped save.
On my way to the sweet tree-signs the other day, I caught some really cool house-action out of the corner of my eye. It was built by a foundation back in 1895, by the publishers and brothers Soldenfeldt. Back then the workforce in Denmark carried around a book “Skudsmålsbogen” in which employers made notes and graded the labour*. The book was mandatory and as the brothers had cornered the market, they made a fortune.
The Soldenfeldt brothers were famous for their great sense of social responsibility, helping out the poor, leaving instructions in their will to create a foundation, and build this house for women in need. “De Soldenfeldtske Stiftelser” was built by architect H.B. Storck, and the sad terracotta women, representing the female virtues at the time, are sculpted by Carl Aarsleff.
I find it suspicious that moderation, diligence, patience, purity, humility, faith, hope, love, peace, vigilance, wisdom and truthfulness, are all passive characteristics. Don’t make waves just mop the floors. Clearly I would have sucked as a woman, at that time.
The master plan was to return on a brighter day, but the wait got too long (failing at the third virtue, right there), so we have to make do with grainy shots.
Hiding in plain view, making me feel blind for not seeing them before. Sneaky house.
Behold a selection of the virtues:
Flid / Diligence. Incidentally the only woman who look even remotely happy. Check the yummy copper detail.
Reenhed / Purity.
Ydmyghed / Humility.
Tro / Faith. (I like that women were accepted to the house regardless of religious belief)
Fred / Peace.
Klogskab / Wisdom.
Sandhed / Truthfulness.
I found a lot of information about this house (in Danish, of course) at the Soldenfeldt.dk site. It is a pleasant surprise to see Copenhagen history preserved to this degree, not just the house, but also the detailed background story. These guys deserves to be remembered, for their generous contribution to Copenhagen.
In case you want to see it for yourself, here is the address: Sortedam Dossering 85 (with a view of the lakes), link to map here.
* Unsurprisingly the Skudsmålsbog led to abuse by employers, and by 1920 the dreaded book was abandoned.
With the local election coming up, it is nearly impossible to take a decent picture of Copenhagen, that doesn’t include poster spam. It is everywhere! As a change from the last time around, the spam ceiling is lifted, and anything goes. One really obnoxious guy, from a party I refuse to advertise here, easily posts up to thirty in a row. Somehow they have got it in their minds, that saying something repeatedly and REALLY LOUD, makes you listen more. No wonder people are starting to take them down. No wonder there is mocking.
Det jo altid det samme, smil lidt mer / It's always the same, smile a little more.
Jeg tror selv på det, smil lidt mer / I believe in it, smile a little more.
Stol på mig! Smil lidt mer / Trust me! Smile a litlle more.
Only three days after mounting day, we had a monster storm that was later upgraded to a hurricane. It got rid of some of the spam, but it also took out at least 400 trees in Copenhagen alone. Bunker trees and Ladytree is still standing, but five of the transplanted cherry trees didn’t make it.
A moment of silence for our friends who fell victim to the storm October 28th 2013. VerdensSkove.org
It's crazy to think some people were out in a weather that could do this to a tree. I even saw people on bikes, from my window.
Scaffolding peeled off buildings, this one on the roof across the lakes, looks like a sneeze would finish it off.
A fall storm is nature's way of pruning. Any tree that survives this shitstorm, should be preserved with everything we have got.
Here's the thing: I have set myself a goal that is deemed impossible by almost everyone I talk to. Give up, they say. One person can't make a difference. I will just have to prove them wrong, because there is no way I am giving up on the urban trees.
Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree. Not balding: the leaves were never there to begin with.
It is beyond me, how preventing and fixing this is not the highest priority of the city.
The goal, in two parts:
One: the city must cease salting the roads in the wintertime, and look to an alternative method of keeping them safe. It is done in cities like Stockholm and Berlin, where the use of salt is forbidden for this exact reason. If they don't, we will lose all our road trees, already withering in large numbers.
Two: the city must implement a tree plan. Other cities in Europe, even in Denmark, have one. In Copenhagen it is the wild west, besides the dying trees, healthy ones are cut down for any reason you can think of. Copenhagen trees are not mapped, and enjoy no special protection. The ground under them is hugely attractive to real estate developers, and a giant tree can be cut down and replaced by a twig, without any objection. This has to end!
I just wanted this on the record, as it is something that all started here on the blog, with the trees on the bunkers. I promise not to spam you with too much tree stuff, but if something major happens, you will know about it.
It was not until I saw the trees in Ørstedsparken that I fully realised what is missing. This young tree below never bloomed. And all the others like it down the road, and along many other roads in Copenhagen have been twiggy since spring. Crippled by salt, a damage that stays for years. Another hit may be the end of it.
Saltskadet træ / Salt damaged tree.
Suffering trees by the lakes in the summertime:
Left side: reasonably healthy, right side: dying. The poor trees never stood a chance. Same spot now:
This is one of many reasons that young urban trees don't make it past the age of seven: living conditions are impossible. How would anyone sustain life on a diet of saltwater, really? Last year you would still see larger patches of yellow leaves in the streets. Today there are
almost none. People don't know what is missing because you don't see
what you don't see. It needs to be pointed out.
Only when people join efforts, push for and demand action, we stand a chance. So I will absorb knowledge on the subject, inform people, make the damage visible and gather support. Make some noise for our beautiful, suffering trees.
I had a golden opportunity to talk about the oversalted trees and the city's bully tactics on urban oasis Sølund and ladytree, in the magazine Where2Go. It is available online as well, but only in Danish, here: link.
If you are in Denmark, and want to support the trees, I hope you will join me on Red Byens Træer.
Of all the parks in Copenhagen, Ørstedsparken is the wildest. Hilly and diverse both in vegetation and clientele, embracing everyone from dog walkers and families to famously so, gay men in the after hours. It has crooks, wilderness and statues, lots of benches, a lake, a romantic bridge and a cafe. And it is one of the few parks where you are allowed to barbecue.
I don’t go there nearly often enough, and during my last visit, a few things really struck me: we have so little wilderness in Copenhagen. For some reason the city planners are obsessed with neatness, keeping things at an even height, and manageable. Grass is better than trees, and asphalt is better than grass. The other thing that hit me, was that I had completely forgotten what healthy trees are really supposed to look like. Look at our beautiful friends:
Part of the attraction is the location. Right around the corner from the busiest train station in Copenhagen, Nørreport (the one with the floating green roofs).
The surrounding real estate may be high end, but Ørstedsparken is for everyone.
You get that I like trees, don't you? Ha. If you don't, you may want to look the other way for what comes next. Or not, actually...