My fascination with hip, beat and hipster culture begins with a warning in the early 1960s, not to have anything to do with the social misfits living in a large, black house at the north-east corner of Ash Street and Fourth Avenue in New Westminster, about 160 meters from the house where I grew up. On the odd occasion I did meet with these residents they were friendly and kind, even if they were dressed mainly in black, the men wore beards and the women had long straight hair. I am less certain about the other components that comprised the beat uniform: turtle neck sweaters, berets and dark glasses.
This was followed by reading a book borrowed from New Westminster Public Library, about beatniks and especially the tribe living in San Francisco. In particular it mentioned two beat landmarks, the City Lights Bookstore and its neighbour across Jack Kerouac Alley, the Vesuvio Cafe. These places were visited earlier today, although we stopped to eat ice cream at the nearby Baked Bear.
In the early 2010s, I found myself enjoying the first season of Portlandia. At the same time I was accused by inmate pupils, in particular, of being a hipster or metrosexual. Personally, I thought I was at least forty years too old for these labels. Yet, I can understand what they were getting at. I dress outside of the mainstream, wearing non-standard coloured chinos and brightly coloured shirts, often pink. Knitting at the prison probably didn’t help. This identity was not universal. New inmates/ staff at the prison also mistook me for an inmate or the prison chaplain, rather than a teacher.
Wikipedia lists some hipster accoutrements, provided here along with some personal comments: a beard (yes, I have worn one for most of the past fifty years), veganism (yes, most days now and during periods in the past before children), certain aspects of post-Christian New Age philosophy (not quite certain what this refers to, but I have read and discussed books written by Alan Watts), urban beekeeping (yes, if this includes showing films and discussing high-tech beehives, and at one point when we first moved to Norway we owned two (2) beehives, but no bees!), specialty coffee (yes, that is why we have a fredag fikka or Friday coffee), taxidermy (not in the usual sense of the word, but our house houses many stuffed animals from armadillos to raccoons), fedoras (yes, if Stetson is an acceptable substitute), and printing and bookbinding (yes, we even had our own family publishing house, Fjellheim Institutt). As for the ubiquitous single-speed bicycle, walking or a Mazda 5 will have to substitute, even as I dream of replacing the latter with an appropriate electric vehicle, possibly a Stavanger, Norway built podbike.
MoveHub and www.iheartradio.ca locate many of the most hipster-centric cities in the Pacific Northwest. In USA these include (with their rank): Vancouver, Washington (1); Boise, Idaho (4); Tacoma, Washington (6); Spokane, Washington (7); Portland, Oregon (12); and, Seattle, Washington (20). In British Columbia, Canada the top ranked hipster cities are: Victoria (1); Kelowna (2); and, Vancouver (4). The closest place to Norway in the Top 20 world rankings is Helsinki, Finland (9).
The reason for this post is to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to attend the year’s first Fredag Fikka, 2020-10-30 from 10:00 to 14:00 at Cliff Cottage, Ginnunga Gap. This marks the end of the construction season. The theme is living hip, and people are encouraged to present arts, crafts and other creative works. Coffee and cinnamon buns will be served.
Note: This post was written on 2020-02-27 and 28 in San Francisco, California.
Inderøy, in Trøndelag County, Norway, is my Amenia, in New York, USA, my Bournville, in Worcestershire, England, or my Powell River, in British Columbia, Canada. These are, in their various ways, manifestations of the Garden City movement. These places are mentioned, because much of this weblog post involves the name dropping of people who have contributed to my understanding of the importance of the rural environment, along with some of the books they have written, and the concepts they have developed.
I will begin with a distant memory of a monologue by landscape architect, Clive Justice (1926 – ). During dinner he berated the people present, for regarding agriculture as a benign intrusion on nature. Creating farm fields while destroying the natural environment was not something that should be done unless it was absolutely necessary. That dinner was probably held over fifty years ago, and other people who were present may have had completely different memories from the event.
The firm of Justice & Webb, landscape architects, worked on many divergent planning projects, including the village of Gold River. The site of Gold River is in the traditional territory of the Mowachaht and Muchalaht peoples on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In the 1860s Chinese gold miners were attracted to the area, and started panning for gold. The name Gold River first appeared on maps in 1871. In the early 1960s the Tahsis company logged at the mouth of the Gold River, before building a pulp mill there. The site was chosen because of the flat delta land, deep-sea access for freighters, and an adequate supply of fresh water needed to make pulp. With a population of about 1 500, it is too small to be considered a Garden City. Yet, some might regard it as an almost ideal retirement location – apart from the rain!
The nominal starting point for the Garden City movement begins with the publication of Edward Bellamy’s (1850 -1898) novel, Looking Backward: 2000 – 1887 (1888). It tells the story of Julian West, who sleeps for 113 years, waking in 2000, to find a transformed America, that has become a socialist utopia. Guided by Doctor Leete who explains life in this new age, including reduced working hours, low retirement age, an almost instantaneous delivery of goods and free public kitchens. The book discusses problems with capitalism, the nationalization of industry, the use of an industrial army for production and distribution and the free delivery of cultural products and experiences.
A more practical start for the Garden City movement begins with Ebenezer Howard (1850 – 1928), an English urban planner, with the construction of Letchworth Garden City in 1903. Before this, Howard had written To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898), which described a utopian city in which people live harmoniously together. Howard was inspired by Belamy’s book to include the benefits of both the natural, rural and urban environments while avoiding their disadvantages.
Howard was also an advocate of Georgism, also called Geoism, proposed by the American Henry George (1839 – 1897), and described in Progress and Poverty (1879), a book that investigates the paradox of increasing inequality and poverty amid economic and technological progress, the cyclic nature of industrialized economies, and the use of land value tax (rent capture) and other anti-monopoly reforms to resolve social problems. After deciding against gold mining in British Columbia, George worked as a printer and sometime journalist for the San Francisco Times. Georgism was only one of a number of alternative economic systems proposed over the years. Two others that have been influential were the Social Credit movement, and Technocracy.
Yet, Howard was not alone in his aspirations. Patrick Geddes (1854 – 1932) was a pioneering town planner, a Francophile with roots in Scotland. His contributions include the introduced the concept of region, and invented the term conurbation. Later, he explained how neotechnics could remake a world freed from over-commercialization. He was influenced by Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), explaining the evolution of society using Spencer evolutionary biology’s metaphors, and Frederic Le Play (1806–1882), using Le Play’s analysis of the key units of society as constituting Lieu, Travail, Famille (Place, Work, Family), but changing Family to Folk. Both Geddes and Le Play regarded the family as the central biological unit of human society.
The English planned city that I am most attracted to is Bournville, near Birmingham. In the early twenty teens, I had even arranged for twenty pupils and myself to visit it, a nearby Cadbury factory, and several other facilities including the Lode Lane Jaguar/ Land Rover plant in Solihull. However, these plans were scuttled when the pupils decided they would prefer to visit southern Spain. Since the school could easily see that there was no real educational purpose to this proposal, they didn’t get any school trip in the end.
Bournville village started in 1893, with George Cadbury’s purchase of 0.5 km² of land close to the Cadbury works, with the view of creating a village that would ‘alleviate the evils of modern, more cramped living conditions’. By 1900, the village consisted of 313 Arts and Crafts residences on 1.3 km2 of land. These houses featured traditional exteriors, modern interiors and large gardens. They were designed by William Alexander Harvey. These designs became a blueprint for many other model villages. Currently, there are 7 800 houses on 4 km² of land with 0.4 km² of parks and open spaces.
Lewis (1895 – 1990) and Sophia (1900 – 1997) Mumford bought 5.5 Ha of property in Amenia, along with a house and a remise/ carriage house/ cart shed (later modified into a garage) in the late 1920s, originally as a summer residence. By the mid-1930s, and for the rest of their lives, they lived there permanently, apart from sojourns for teaching purposes. This experience of living in a rural area influenced Mumford’s thinking about cities.
Among Mumford’s circle of friends was Frederic Osborn (1885–1978), who was influential in the British garden city movement, especially his direct involvement with Welwyn Garden City.
Another friend was Clarence Stein (1882 – 1975), who was intimately connected with the North American garden city movement. This found expression in the British Columbia city of Kitimat, a town that came into existence in 1951 after the British Columbia government invited Alcan to develop an aluminum smelter, including a dam, a 16 km connecting tunnel, a powerhouse, 82 km transmission line, a deep-sea terminal in addition to the smelter. Stein was engaged by Alcan to design/ plan Kitimat so that it would attract and retain workers. Stein’s design separated industry from the residential community, with large areas for expansion. The design featured looped streets surrounding a mall linked with 45 km of connecting walkways. With a population of about 8 000, an area of about 242 km2, it is located on the coast in a wide, flat valley. At 54 N 128 W, it represents an almost ideal retirement location – apart from the snow!
The third and (in my opinion) best retirement location to be mentioned here is Powell River. With a population of about 13 000 people in its 29 km2 city, and 17 000 in total throughout the area (occupying about 800 km2) it is a comfortably sized small town. It provides a Mediterranean climate of the warm-summer type (Köppen: Csb), not normally found so far north. Its historic townsite was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995, “recognizing the exceptionally well preserved early 20th Century planned community, rooted firmly in the Garden City Design Movement and the Arts and Crafts philosophy.” It is home to the Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously operating theatre, built in 1913 and rebuilt in 1928 a Spanish renaissance-style which gave it good acoustics. It also hosts the first credit union in British Columbia (dating from 1939).
Trish and I visited Inderøy in 1979, at the age of 29 and 30, respectively. We moved there permanently ten years later, at the age of 38 and 39. The question many ask, most notably myself on numerous occasions, is why? Once again, it is a location that provides the benefits of both the natural, rural and urban environments while avoiding their disadvantages.
This reasoning comes into conflict with the two most important answers to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. The answer may be 42 (at least according to Douglas Adams, 1952 – 2001) but according to Geoffrey West (1940 – ), author of Scale: the universal laws of growth, innovation, sustainability, and the pace of life in organisms, cities, economies, and companies, the most important urban number is 115%. To understand it better, some people may prefer the TED talk explanation.
This answer uses an exponential function where x is raised to the power of y, often written x^y, but better understood using pizzas. Say that a city of 10 000 people has one pizzeria. In a culturally similar city of 20 000 people (a doubling), there should not be two pizzerias, but 2.2191, if fractional pizzerias were allowed. At a population of 40 000 this becomes five (4.9245) pizzerias. At 100 000 it is up to 14 (.1254), This magical number comes from: finding the increased population ratio: 200 000 / 100 000 = 2. Then using this population ratio, the current number of pizzerias, and the magic number: x^y is x to the power of y = 1.15.
This series of numbers continues, so that a city with 400 000 people has not 40 or 46 pizzerias, but 53. Yes, this involved a rounding to the closest whole number from the calculated result of 52.9, as does the calculation for a city of 800 000 people, which ends up with 122 pizzerias, when the calculation yields 121.67.
These extra pizzerias are regarded as an advantage because they increase choice. Then, along comes COVID-19, and these same cities face the negative consequences of this number game. Following the logic of the first example (but without any science), if a city of 200 000 experiences 23 deaths, then a city of 100 000 (half the size) will experience 10 deaths. In this case it is more advantageous to live in a smaller city. Some people might be astute enough to understand that it might be better not to live in a city at all.
My response to Geoffrey West is that people do not need more choice, but less. Tranquillity and simplicity are two of the most important virtues to be valued, if only because it gives people more time to indulge their interests, including the enjoyment of the natural environment, and craftspersonship.
Some of the most important books of the twenty-tens are about economics and society. These include: Rutger Bregman’s (1988 – ) Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-hour Workweek (2016), Thomas Piketty’s (1971 – ) Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013) and Capital and Ideology (2019), as well as Kate Raworth’s (1970 – ) Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist (2017). Bregman’s and Raworth’s ideas were discussed in a Keywords weblog post.
Full disclosure: I have not actually read any of Thomas Piketty’s major works. However, my dear wife Patricia has read the entirety of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and I have received the benefit of breakfast summaries of its content.
I have read Raworth, and she writes: “Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials (from food and housing to healthcare and political voice), while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend – such as a stable climate, fertile soils, and a protective ozone layer. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.” (p.
So much for the necessary theory. The next step is to operationalize it. On 2020-04-08, The Amsterdam City Doughnut was launched by Raworth and others, including Janine Benyus (1958 – ). This turns the Doughnut into a tool for transforming Amsterdam, downscaling the Doughnut to a manageable level.
Even the metropolis of Paris is undergoing a form of ruralization. Anne Hidalgo (1959 – ), re-elected as mayor on 2020-06-28, made the creation of the “ville du quart d’heure” – the quarter-hour/ 15-minute city – a pillar of her campaign. This concept was developed by Carlos Moreno (1959 – ), who believes the core of human activity in cities must move away from oil-era priorities of roads and car ownership. To do this “We need to reinvent the idea of urban proximity. We know it is better for people to work near to where they live, and if they can go shopping nearby and have the leisure and services they need around them too, it allows them to have a more tranquil existence.” Moreno’s chrono-urbanism involves or having leisure, work, and shopping close to home, especially “changing our relationship with time, essentially time relating to mobility.”
This plan has been criticized for its urban planning policy that favors cycle paths at the expense of cars, and its proposal to make Paris a “100% bicycle” city, with new bicycle paths created by transforming parking spaces. It also wants to create new links between the Paris itself, and other cities in Greater Paris. Under active consideration is the creation of urban forests, on the forecourt of the town hall, the Gare de Lyon as well as behind the Opéra Garnier. In addition there is a proposal to create two large parks, one in the Bercy-Charenton district and another in the 15th arrondissement. To pedestrianize the centre of Paris, traffic in the first four arrondissements will be strictkly limited. It also promises to make the canteens 100% organic and to develop two large vegetable gardens in the woods of Vincennes and Boulogne. Hidalgo wants to transform the gates of Paris into squares, starting with the Porte de la Chapelle. The share of social and intermediate housing is to increase to 25% compared to 22.6% in 2020. Hidalgo is very critical of Airbnb, which she accuses of depriving Parisians of housing. To ensures that the city is clean, its budget will be increased from 500 million to one billion euros per year.
The weblog post will end with a quotation from Lewis Mumford that inspires reflection: “In the name of economy a thousand wasteful devices would be invented; and in the name of efficiency new forms of mechanical time-wasting would be devised: both processes gained speed through the nineteenth century and have come close to the limit of extravagant futility in our own time. But labor-saving devices could only achieve their end-that of freeing mankind for higher functions-if the standard of living remained stable. The dogma of increasing wants nullified every real economy and set the community in a collective squirrel-cage.”
Except for a few trees that have existed for a millennium or more, hydrazoans that can regress to a larval state and regrow into adults multiple times, and single-celled organisms that replicate through cell division, most living organisms are young. Some live days or weeks, others a single year, still others decades, and a few a century or more.
My mother celebrated her 103rd birthday this past week, but what I notice is her lack of friends, something she has commented on since before she was 90. They have all died off. The last one lived to 102.
Reflecting on this I have decided that it makes most sense to seek out friendships with younger, rather than older, people. If people were 30 years younger, then when I reach 90, they will still be a youthful 60 (or less). Hopefully, most of them will still be alive.
This means that I am prioritizing friendships with people who are born in 1975 or later. Yet, I do not intend to be fanatical. If I find someone interesting born in, say 1947, or earlier, I will also offer them friendship.
For various reasons, some people choose to have pets (companion animals). Are these creatures substitutes for friends? In many cases it appears so. I feel absolutely no need to complicate my life co-habitating with a cat or dog or even a Guinea pig, and especially not a younger woman.
Data: The world’s oldest individual from a clonal tree is Old Tjikko, about 9 550-year-old. This Norway spruce located the in Fulufjället Mountains in Sweden, according to Leif Kullman, Umeå University. Old Tjikko is suspected to be the only living trunk of an ancient clonal colony.
The tree’s age was revealed by carbon-14 dating its root system. Four generations of spruce remains were found at the site, all with the same genetics. Spruce trees can multiply by cloning, so while the individual trunk is younger, the organism has existed for at least 9 550 years. There is a cluster of about 20 spruce trees in these Swedish mountains estimated to be over 8 000 years old.
The oldest known living animal is a nematode, recovered in 2015 near the Alazeya River, in Siberia, Russia, and revived. It was dated at approximately 41 700 years old – making it more than four times older than Old Tjikko.
Note: This post differs from some other tidbits. It was written 2019-10-30.
A tidbit is can be defined as: 1: a choice morsel of food. This usage dates from about 1640; 2: a choice or pleasing bit (as of information). In this weblog, most tidbits will refer to shorter draft posts, that have been awaiting editing and expansion for at least six (6) months. Today, I am flaunting these rules, and exposing myself once again as a rebel.
Volunteer activities, such as membership on a board, should, ideally, last five years. During the first year, one is relatively clueless, and contributes little productive. There is a steep, year long learning curve. During the second and third years, one is into an energetic, innovative period. One experiments. Some things actually work in this period, while others fail. The fourth and fifth years represent an optimal period of activity, and leadership. One is actually able to mentor others. Beyond these years, one’s activity level gradually sinks, as one becoming tired of everything, and the activity becomes habitual. It is time to get out and do something new.
It is necessary to create a system so that volunteers can easily scale their commitment. This includes creating a visible exit strategy, that is always available. Commitments need to be at low intervals OR one can commit to a limited period for more intensive activity. This should increase the number of people involved, even if it does result a more arbitrary attendance.
Every activity should have six characteristics. It should be fun, meaningful, an opportunity to learn something new, social, an opportunity to eat food together, and end up with a feeling of mastery. It should also avoid emulating other parts of the regular daily/ weekly/ seasonal/ annual rhythm, especially school, family, sports and other commitment-focused cultural activities.
This entire blog is based on material sent to me by Alasdair McLellan. Thank you, Alasdair.
Determining priorities is always difficult. It is much easier if someone else decides, such as a boss or a spouse. When one actually makes a choice one also has to take responsibility for it and its consequences.
The antithesis of a priority is a distraction. Some distractions may be harmless fun, other may have serious consequences that could lead to regret. Yet, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish a distraction from a priority, because they can look alike. Said another way, one person’s priority, can be another person’s distraction.
There are different forums for priorities, that vary with age. Somewhere in the distant past boatbuilding and photography were priorities, as was reading. This was followed by a phase where activism, and dating young women had priority. Later, in adulthood, priorities shifted to work (where bosses have some influence) and family (ditto spouse). With retirement, and children well into adulthood, new priorities emerge.
Recently I have realized that I have been distracted by something that I thought was a priority. Now I am working on adjusting my priorities, once again.
On 2017-10-21 I attended bicentennial celebrations of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh (1817 – 1892) in New Westminster, Canada, where I grew up, and where I became a Baha’i. It also inspired me to do something similar, but on a smaller scale, for the bicentennial celebration of the birth of the Báb (1819 – 1850) to be held 2019-10-29/30 in Inderøy, Norway.
This reappraisal of priorities, is encouraging me to work on the bicentennial project. Other priorities include a house renovation process, where I am reconfiguring a house, making it habitable for a couple of old people. While physically tiring, it has other rewards, not the least of which is exercise, important for a longer and healthier life.
Lots of priorities only involve a few minutes a day, each. These include daily prayers and meditations. Some, such as reading and writing, may involve a bit more time. Others do not involve any time at all, such as showing compassion and kindness.
Welcome to a Norwenglish lesson, designed to help you learn a few Norwegian words, and some aspects of the Norwegian culture.
Personnummer (identification number) This 11 digit number is the equivalent of an American Social Security number or Canadian SIN. It provides the owner’s date of birth in clear text in the first six digits, but cannot distinguish the century. It also codes for binary gender in the ninth digit – odd numbers for males, even numbers for females. Not particular appropriate in a society where people face age and sex discrimination.
Folkeregister (population register) This is a database that tells where every resident lives. One of the newer iterations of this was to encode street addresses, so that emergency services could find their way to every building in the country. From the start of a street, odd numbers are on the right hand side, even numbers on the left. Our house number, 82, indicates that our driveway starts somewhere between 820 and 840 meters from the start of the road, on the left hand side.
Hus (house) also referred to as an enebolig (single family dwelling) is the standard occupancy unit for families. Apartments are far less common than in Sweden, for example.
Hybel (dorm room) takes what would be storage space in a house and transforms it into rental accommodation, typically for students. In addition to providing a place to live, it also gives the house owner a number of tax advantages.
Garasje (garage) is a building used to store anything and everything, with the exception of a car. Building a garage is a side effect of renting out dorms.
Bil (car) is a public display of outdoorsmanship, rather than wealth. While Norwegians are increasingly becoming more European, and buying more SUVs, they have for many decades prioritized station wagons, where other nationalities would choose sedans, or at least hatchbacks. In an idealized world, a car is used to transport people to the mountains or the seashore – for recreational purposes. Unfortunately, in the real world, it is most often used to commute. The word bil itself shows how many Norwegian words are created. In this case take automobil, discard the front, and use the tail of the word. In contrast, Germans use the front, Auto.
Tilhenger (trailer) has two related meanings. Literally, it means follower, sometimes translated as believer. However, it also refers to a poor person’s pickup truck. Most cars are equipped with a krok (literally hook but implying hitch or tow bar). These are used for trips to the local recycling center as well as visits to Ikea. One would never dream of buying a car, without knowing the mass of trailer it is allowed to pull. Ordinary mortals are allowed to pull 700 kg, but with a special license higher weights are permitted. We have a trailer with a weight limit of 2 000 kg, but our Mazda 5 is only allowed to pull 1 200 kg. The trailer weights almost 400 kg, so we can take 800 kg of junk to the dump at a time.
Båt (boat) today usually refers to something made of fiberglass, powered by a 9.9 hp outboard motor. Fishing is the common excuse used by people to explain their presence on the water. People born in 1980 or later, need to have a boat operator certificate. Those born before are grandparented in.
Naust (boathouse) comes from an age before boat trailers became common. It is a building at the edge of the shore used to house boats, fishing equipment and all things nautical. Nausts don’t like to be alone, so there are often several of them in a line. Like a garage it has an alternative use as a bar and dance floor used specifically on Sakthans (Saint John’s Eve). Celebrations start at sunset on 23 June. This closely coincides with the Midsummer solstice. In addition, the celebration features burning of pyres, the higher the fire, the better.
Ski (skis) are wooden sticks used to propell a person across the countryside during the winter. Purists will only reluctantly admit alpine (or downhill) skiing, favouring a Nordic (or cross-country) variety, or ski jumping or the biathon which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. Many of the best competition skiers come from Trøndelag, including Inderøy.
Hytte (cabin) is home away from home. If this is to be used at Easter (or during the winter) it should be located in a mountainous area. If it is to be used during the summer, it should be located by the sea. Increasingly, people are finding it more convenient to rent an apartment in the mountains for a week, or to buy a boat with live-aboard accommodation. Since we live in a hyttefelt (cabin community) we feel no need for an extra cabin.
Julebord (Christmas party) is one of those obligatory events featuring excessive amounts of traditional Christmas foods, that vary according to the region, and – optionally – excessive amounts of almost anything else. Foreigners are never quite sure if jul (pronounced yule) is a Christian or a pagan celebration, for it seems to accommodate liberal amounts of both.
Postkontor (post offices) have closed down, but reopened as post-i-butikk (post-in-the-shop), moving to a large grocery store in each area previously served by a post office. Hours have expanded to match that of the shops, which for us means from 7:00 to 22:00 (10 pm) Monday to Friday ; 9:00 to 21:00 (9 pm) on Saturday; closed on Sunday. This is where we come to pick up most on-line purchases, although if we were willing to pay more, some can be delivered to the door. Yes, we still have mail delivery, but this has been reduced to five days a week.
Bank (bank) size and services are being reduced. First, the bank bok (bank book) was eliminated. Kontanter (cash) is seldom required any more. Bankkort (debit and credit cards) are used in stores and for on-line purchases. While there was a period when a minibank (ATM/ cash machine) was to be found outside any bank, these have been reduced in number. Most food stores offer cash back when making purchases, since each and every bank card has approved picture ID on its reverse. Sjekk (cheque/ check) was a payment system that was in use when we first moved to Norway. The last check we wrote in Norway was in 1992. We have two 10 kroner mynt (coins) in the car to use at stores that require a coin to be inserted in order to use a handelvogn (shopping buggy). We only shop at one store now, that has this prehistoric condition. In addition, there is Vipps which is cell-phone based payment system.
Fasttelefon (landline) is dying fast. When we first moved to Norway in 1980 there was a ten year waiting list to receive one. When we moved to Bodø in 1985, we were able to get one installed in two weeks. The number of landlines reached a peak of about 2 million in 2001. Since then numbers have deteriorated to 200 000. Last month the telephone company announced that they would no longer repair service to the remaining phones, and said the last ones would be eliminated in 2023. This anouncement was met with outrage. We have not had a landline since the beginning of 2019.
Fjernsyn (television, literally distant vision) is doomed. Nobody under the age of 40, some would say 50, watches programs according to a television schedule. That is performed as a matter of public service to the elderly. Most of the population stream programs at their convenience. The exception, of course, is sports.
To the best of my knowledge, my First Nations heritage can be traced to the Lenape (Lunaapeew) People of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown. The community is located on the southern shores of the Thames River, near the small town of Thamesville. The 13 km² Moravian 47 reserve (Munsee: Náahii, literally ‘downstream’) is in Chatham-Kent municipality, Ontario. First Nation membership totals over 1,000 people, with 457 living on the reserve, and 587 living off it. People such as myself are not included because we have far too little DNA (1 – 2%)!
Lenapehoking is a term for the lands historically inhabited by the Lenape in what is now the Mid-Atlantic United States. New York City, Newark, Trenton, Princeton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware, Atlantic City, the Jersey Shore, Pine Barrens, the Sourland Mountains, the Delaware Valley, Poconos, and parts of the Catskills and numerous other areas are in Lenapehoking today. The Lenape have occupied parts of what is now New Jersey for 10 000 years (since 8 000 BC).
The Munsee were the Wolf clan of the Lenape, occupying the area where present-day Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York meet. The first recorded European contact occurred in 1524, when Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed into what is now New York Harbor. The Munsee were quickly devastated by European diseases such as smallpox and influenza, and those who survived were forced inland.
Some of the Munsee were converting to Christianity through the efforts of Moravian missionaries. In 1772, David Zeisberger led them to Gnadenhütten, in Ohio Country, which he hoped would isolate them from the hostilities of the approaching American Revolution, and free them from European settlers in the east. The mission villages were separate from both European settlers and from other native people. The Munsee were pacifists, although they had some weapons for hunting purposes.
However, on 1782-03-07, a force of Pennsylvania militiamen, in search of Indians who had been raiding settlements in western Pennsylvania, happened upon a group of Christian Munsee and rounded them up in the village of Gnadenhütten. Although the Munsee truthfully pleaded their innocence, the militia took a vote and decided to massacre them all. Ninety-six innocent Munsee men, women and children spent the night in song and prayer knowing they would be slaughtered the following morning 1782-03-08. The surviving Christian Munsee left that area later, led by Moravian missionary David Zeisberger.
A new community was then established at Fairfield along the Thames River. There they lived in relative peace for twenty years, supporting themselves with their farming and industry, until American soldiers burned their village to the ground during the War of 1812 Battle of the Thames. The battle is well known historically as a victory for American General (and later President) William Henry Harrison, and for the death of the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh. The Munsee fled into the wilderness for safe haven until hostilities had ceased, then returned to build a new Fairfield across the Thames River to the south, which is now known as Moraviantown.
Among many Algonquian peoples along the East Coast, the Lenape were considered the grandfathers from whom other Algonquian-speaking peoples originated.
The Lenape have a matrilineal clan system, where children belong to their mother’s clan, from which they gain social status and identity. The mother’s eldest brother was more significant as a mentor to the male children than was their father, who was generally of another clan. Hereditary leadership passed through the maternal line, and women elders could remove leaders of whom they disapproved. Agricultural land was managed by women and allotted according to the subsistence needs of their extended families. Families were matrilocal; newlywed couples would live with the bride’s family, where her mother and sisters could also assist her with her growing family.
The Lenape assigned land of their common territory to a particular clan for hunting, fishing, and cultivation. There was no individual private ownership of land although women often had rights to plots for farming. Clans lived in fixed settlements, using the surrounding areas for communal hunting and planting until the land was exhausted. In a practice known as agricultural shifting, the group then moved to found a new settlement within their territory.
Companion planting was also practiced. Here, women cultivated many varieties of the Three Sisters: maize, beans, and squash. Tobacco was also farmed by the men. Fish such as sturgeon, pike and a variety of shellfish such as clams, oysters, lobsters and scallops were an important part of their food supply. The Lenape men also provided meat from deer (venison), black bear and smaller game like squirrel, rabbit, wild turkey and duck. The Lenape food also included nuts, vegetables, mushrooms and fruits (plums, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries).
The people were primarily sedentary living in longhouses in villages that were heavily fortified with palisades due to attacks by the Mohawks. They moved seasonally to summer campsites for particular purposes such as fishing or hunting. Here they built wigwams with wooden frames that were covered with woven mats, sheets of birchbark and animal skins. Ropes were wrapped around the wigwam to hold the birch bark in place. During the 17th-century, European settlers and traders from colonies of New Netherland and New Sweden traded with the Lenape for agricultural products, mainly maize, in exchange for iron tools.
The Lenape built canoes made from birch bark over a wooden frame. These canoes were broad enough to float in shallow streams, strong enough to shoot dangerous rapids, and light enough for one man to easily carry a canoe on his back. The Lenape also built heavier dugout canoes.
This weblog post is not being written for residents of democratic countries, where respect and prosperity for all, are guiding ideals. Rather it is written to give hope to those who either live under a dictatorship, or imagine that they soon could be living under one, or more generally, live in countries where large segments of the population live undignified and impoverished lives.
Gene Sharp (1928 – 2018) was born in North Baltimore, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences in 1949 and a Master of Arts in Sociology in 1951 from Ohio State University. He chose imprisonment for nine months between 1953–54 to protest Korean War conscription, and discussed this decision in letters to Albert Einstein. Einstein later wrote a foreword to Sharp’s first book, Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power: Three Case Histories. He then worked as factory labourer, guide to a blind social worker, and secretary to the American pacifist, A. J. Muste. Between 1955 and 1958 he was Assistant Editor of Peace News in London, a weekly pacifist newspaper. From here, he helped organize the 1958 Aldermaston anti-nuclear weapons march and demonstration.
While the English language is renowned for its variety, it continually imports new terms to augment denotations that prove to be inadequate. Such is the case with the phrase passive resistance. Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948) dismissed that phrase because it “is different from satyagraha in three essentials: Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatsoever; and it ever insists upon truth.”
Sharp spent two periods living in Oslo, Norway. The first was between 1958 and 1960 when he was engaged as a Research Fellow, at the Institute for Social Research. He studied and researched Mohandas Gandhi’s Satyagraha Norms, under Professor Arne Næss, and with Johan Galtung.
Between 1964 and 1965, immediately after he had undertaken doctoral studies at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford (but before being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1968), he combined work as an Assistant Lecturer at the Institute for Philosophy and the History of Ideas, University of Oslo, Norway (part-time) with a role as Fellow for the American Scandinavian Foundation.
After 1968, Sharp spent most of his life working in the Boston area, and living in East Boston. He had academic positions at Harvard, University of Massachusetts Boston, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Southeastern Massachusetts University (now University of Massachusetts Dartmouth). From 1983, he was affiliated with the Albert Einstein Institution, until his death in 2018.
An aside: In 2020, I hope to present many of the keywords used by Chomsky, Galtung, Ghandi, Muste, Næss, Sharp, Thoreau and Zinn, with respect to Satyagraha in the weblog: keywords.mclellan.no
Sharp’s 1973 book, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, was based on his 1968 doctoral thesis. This book is a practical political analysis of nonviolent action as a means to apply power in a conflict. One key to understanding Sharp is that he regards power as a non-intrinsic quality of people in power. He says that their power is not monolithic. In the past, kings were notorious for asserting their divine right to rule.
Political power is dependent on the obedience of the state’s subjects, normally its citizens and other residents. If subjects won’t obey orders, then rulers don’t have power. This insight comes from Étienne de La Boétie (1530–1563). Sharp cites his work frequently in both The Politics of Nonviolent Action and From Dictatorship to Democracy.
Sharp contends that all effective power structures have systems to encourage or extract obedience. States are particularly complex, devious and effective in keeping subjects obedient. Mechanisms include institutions (police, courts, regulatory agencies), but also include more subtile, cultural dimensions. These institutions with a system of sanctions (imprisonment, fines, ostracism) and rewards (titles, wealth, fame) which influence and encourage obedience.
Sharp’s writings on Civilian-Based Defense were used by the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian governments during their separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Sharp’s 1993 handbook From Dictatorship to Democracy has been translated into at least 31 other languages. The book served as a basis for: the Serbian Otpor! (Resistance!) 1998 to 2004; The Rose Revolution in Georgia supported by the Kmara civic resistance movement in November 2003; The Orange Revolution followed the disputed second round of the Ukrainian presidential election in 2004 involved Pora! (It’s time! ) a Ukrainian civic youth organization and political party; The Tulip/ (sometimes Pink) Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, a more violent protest than its predecessors, that was supported by the KelKel youth resistance movement following the disputed Kyrgyz parliamentary election in 2005; the Jeans revolution in Belarus involving the student group Zubr in March 2006; and, the Saffron revolution in Myanmar (Burma) in August/ September 2007.
In general, if subjects identify and understand the working of political forces, they can gain a window of opportunity to cause significant change in a state. However, this also applies to other power players in society, not just national politicians or dictators.
Big Music and Big Movies have concentrated their efforts on promoting superstars, to the detriment of equally talented, but less visible people. Many of these superstars have behaved immorally, and treated almost everyone in their presence with derision. Fortunately the #MeToo movement has caught up with both these industries, with Michael Jackson as the latest person to come under scrutiny. In a two-part, four-hour exposé, Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck allege that they were abused as children by Jackson.
The time has come for people to stop being fans, and to start becoming connoisseurs. One can no longer just play music because it sounds good. An entire set of ethical considerations has to be fulfilled, before sound should be allowed to stream from a loudspeaker.
Not everyone agrees with Gene Sharp.
Egyptian writer/ activist, Karim Alrawi, finds Gene Sharp’s writings more about regime change than revolution. According to Alrawi, revolution has an ethical and material dimension that Sharp deliberately avoids.
Sharp has been accused of having strong links with a variety of US institutions including the CIA, the Pentagon and Republican-related institutions. He has consistently denied these claims, and received support from Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn and others in 2008, “Rather than being a tool of imperialism, Dr. Sharp’s research and writings have inspired generations of progressive peace, labor, feminist, human rights, environmental, and social justice activists in the United States and around the world.”
Correction: The photo of the Harbour transportation centre claimed that a catamaran runs between Namsos and Trondheim, almost at the southern end of the map. This is not true. The catamaran runs between Namsos and Rørvik, further north.
Namsos is a municipality in Trøndelag county, Norway. It is part of the Namdalen region. It occupies 779 square-kilometres (301 square miles) and has a population of 13,051. The town is located on a small bay, about 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the sea, near the head of Namsenfjorden and at the mouth of the Namsen River, one of the richest salmon rivers in Europe. The municipality also includes the islands of Otterøya and Hoddøya and the south-western half of Elvalandet island.
Patricia and I decided to play hooky on Wednesday, 2019-02-20 and drove off to Namsos for the day. For those unfamiliar with our dialect, playing hooky is skipping school. At our age, no one actually cares what we do, as long as we are civil and law abiding. We contributed to the local economy by buying two books and lunch.
The climate in Namsos is generally maritime. The average temperature in January is −2.4 °C (27.7 °F), in July it is 13.3 °C (55.9 °F). The mean annual temperature is 5 °C (41 °F) and the annual precipitation is 1 340 millimetres (53 inches).
Many Thanks to Wikipedia for providing detailed information.
Lotta Hitschmanova, CC (1909-11-28 – 1990-08-01) was a Canadian humanitarian. In 1945, she founded the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, an international development organization that began as a small group of aid workers sending supplies to war-torn Europe for relief and reconstruction.
She was born in Prague, where she earned a Ph. D. She worked as a journalist, and was an outspoken critic of the Nazis. Both of her parents died in the Holocaust, while she had to flee Czechoslovakia in 1938. For four years she wandered over Europe, eventually finding her way to Marseilles, where she helped refugee support groups.
In 1942, after a 46-day voyage on a converted banana boat, she arrived penniless in Montreal “with an unpronounceable name” as she said, and feeling completely lost. Three years later, she founded the Unitarian Service Committee (USC Canada). Her mission from the mid-1940s into the 1980s, was to educate and mobilize Canadians. “I experienced personally how much it hurts to be hungry. To be a refugee, to be without a home, to be without country, to be without friends. And this is something dreadful; you have no more roots, you have no one to turn to.”
Her work took her first back to post-war Europe, and then to Africa and Asia, to conflict zones and newly-independent nations, where the need was greatest. She urged Canadians to become aware of the living conditions of people living far away, and calling upon them to take action and help: “Charity begins at home…and then it goes on to embrace next door neighbours and all those who need help.”
Yet, Lotta’s influence went well beyond her work with USC Canada. Her educational efforts over four decades, provided a foundation for the Canadian public’s ongoing support for international humanitarian aid and development assistance. I remember listening to her talk about her work, and admiring her unique army nurse uniform, complete with military-style hat. She spoke with a thick Czech accent, but it never detracted from her message.
Each year she travelled to poor and strife-torn towns and villages of the world, in need of Canadian assistance to recover from drought, war, disease and poverty. Her message was sincere, and received as such by many thousands of Canadians. People from all faiths and occupations responded by becoming lifelong supporters. USC’s address 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa became the most recognizable address in Canada.
Nova Scotia author Joan Baxter wrote: “It was Lotta Hitschmanova who shaped my values as a Canadian, and the type of Canada I believe in. She helped give us our identity.”
I am neither the first person, nor the last who was moved by Lotta. The CC after Lotta’s name refers to her merit as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest grade after that of the Monarch and the Governor General, given her in 1980. She has received numerous other awards and honours from countries and organizations on four continents.
In 2007, the Canadian Museum of History included her as one of the founders in its Canadian Personalities Hall. In 2013, when the Museum conducted a poll, she received the most votes as the person who had shaped Canada’s history most, ahead of Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox and Pierre Trudeau.
Her greatest legacy remains is the deep, emotional reverberation of her values in the memory by hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Her background as an articulate refugee impacted and enriched Canadian society. Today, Canadians – especially – are awaiting the next Lotta Hitschmanova, who may be arriving soon in Canada. Let us welcome each and every one.
In Vancouver, folk singer Vera Johnson (1920 – 2007) commented for decades on political events starting in 1949. Her humorous, original songs spanned every conceivable forbidden topic: censorship, divorce, family life, liberation, politics, religion and sex. Her most famous song, The Fountain, described the Vancouver hippie protests of 1968. She also attended the Vancouver Unitarian Church, although in periods of her life she also lived in Penticton BC, Stratford Ontario, as well as in Britain and Mexico.
Johnson writes, [While in Ottawa for a singing engagement at the beginning of September 1968] “I wrote Nagamma and, next morning, went into Lotta’s office and sang it for her. She cried. I cried. She phoned CBC. They didn’t cry but made an appointment for me to record it at 1:30. Then Lotta used it as the theme song for [her next] campaign.“
I have tried to find Nagamma on YouTube, without success. In fact, I have been unable to find anything sung by Johnson, anywhere. She was a generous person. Royalties for Nagamma, went to the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada. For The Fountain they were given to the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. That’s What I Believe royalties went to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver. We’re Gonna Make His Dream Come True, went to the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, Martin Luther King’s organization. For Pierre Trudeau, they went to UNICEF.
Lotta is one of many Unitarians who have influenced my life positively. Others include: Tim Berners-Lee (born 1955) – inventor of the World Wide Web; Ray Bradbury (1920–2012) – author; Brock Chisholm (1896–1971) – director, World Health Organization; Charles Darwin (1809–1882) – English naturalist and biologist; Charles Dickens (1812–1870) – English novelist; Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) – inventor, engineer; Ashley Montagu (1905–1999) – anthropologist and social biologist; Isaac Newton (1642-1726) – English physicist and mathematician; Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007) – writer; Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) – architect; and, N. C. Wyeth (1882–1945) – illustrator and painter.
For more information on Lotta and USC-Canada, visit: