Last Day of Summer

Yesterday evening was magical. After days of rain pouring down, the weather turned sunny and warm. The wind was completely still and the audience silent. There were two events at Gunnebo that night. First, Music on Water with lots of melodies from the musical stage, then Acid Jazz with Cantaloop. All with the castle as a backdrop, cleverly lit by Torbjörn Eliasson who’s been very much involved in Lights in Alingsås.

I have a kind of tradition of making a list of the nice things I did during summer and putting it on my fridge. That way the feeling of summer stays with me longer. Since I will be travelling a lot, I thought I’d write the list here instead. Perhaps another category of blogging metaphors to add to blog by Liz Strauss’s list!

Perhaps the summer started with a visit to Stensund in the beginning of June. The view from castle is stunning, where you can stand and watch the blue sea forever. Traditional Midsummer festivities were next on the agenda, with lots of nice excursions in the vicinity of Ulricehamn. Kayaking off the coast of Orust was quite an adventure, but I managed to stay dry. During summer, I visited three of the four gardens participating in the Gardens of Göteborg programme: Gunnebo, The Botanical Garden and Trädgårdsföreningen. This year the annual Frisksport camp was in Hestra and I went to the top of Isaberg with my brother-in-law. I spent lots of time at my parents’ place in Upplid, and one day my Mother and I went hiking at Stora Mosse.

Next, I visited some friends at Öland and had dinner at Kackelstugan and bought a painting of a hen. One of the best days were when I went to Läckö to look at the garden, and then spent some time at the beach at Hindens Rev. We had a great family party in Slottskogen in Göteborg, arranged by my cousin Mats, and shortly after that I had a warm and sunny day at the coast visiting Stora Amundön. I had a nice weekend in Stockholm, taking the opportunity to swim in the outdoor pool at Eriksdalsbadet. Last week I went to Copenhagen to participate in an excellent course arranged by Resonans, but also managed to take a stroll at Strøget. And much much more.

Thank you, friends and family, for making my summer very much worth remembering!


Herding Cats

You might have spotted the video “Herding Cats” at the bottom of my blog. It is an extremely funny commercial from EDS, especially if you are a cat lover. My friend Thomas Verner pointed out to me that EDS actually did a series of videos, all using the same kind of metaphorical approach.

According to Gerald Zaltman, consumers use seven deep metaphors in order to orient themselves in the world. By understanding them, companies can frame their marketing better. These deep metaphors are balance, transformation, journey, container, connection, resource and control. He has described these and a method for extracting them in his book “Marketing Metaphoria”. The method requires people to collect images that they think relate to a specific product and are used as a point of departure in an interview.

In cognitive linguistics, deep metaphors are a well-researched area and the book “Metaphors we live by” by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. The former is very much engaged in demonstrating how metaphors are and can be used in politics. His latest book is called “The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 20th Century American Politics with an 18th Century Brain” and he has used some of his findings when analysing speeches made by Barack Obama.

When looking into what voters seem to try to understand about a politician (Values, Authenticity, Communication, Judgment, Trust and Identity) it seems to me that they are very similar to what you want to understand about companies. There is a great trend towards looking at yourself as a brand, so why shouldn’t companies see themselves as persons?

Take a look at the EDS videos. They are witty and still very accurate illustrations of what it is like working in the software consulting industry. And the comments are quite interesting too.

Looking at these I was reminded of the now classic Norwegian Helpdesk video, where a monk is instructing a fellow brother in how to use a book. Hilarious!

If you want to learn more about how to combine metaphors and storytelling, there is no better way than to go on a Metafari!


Slow Food – Big Business

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me Carl Honore’s book “In Praise of Slow”. I haven’t taken the time (!) until now to read it, but I must say I like it a lot. He describes his conversion towards a more “slow” approach to life in various ways in a very down to earth and funny way going through topics like cities, food, sex, work, medicine and children. His own wakeup came when he realised that he was toying with the idea of buying a collection of “One-Minute Bedtime Stories” for his children at an airport.

Already in 2003, USA Today stated that the slow movement meant big business. Lots of companies and cities have joined the slow movement since then. Of course, research has not been slow to pick up. For example, Dr Philip Howard at Michigan State University has investigated the consolidation of the organic industry and illustrated this in very telling graphics.

The Slow Food movement has also started to look into research and education, and founded in 2003 a University of Gastronomic Sciences. The Swedish equivalent I suppose would be the Department of Restaurant and Culinary Arts at Örebro University, in Grythyttan. They received funding from The Knowledge Foundation as part of their “Creative Industry” program.

In West Sweden we are also oriented towards slow food. The local chapter, Slow Food West, is collaborating with the great “Paradise Gardens” exhibition in Göteborg. Last week I had a healthy snack in Göteborg Botanical Garden, and we also had a big family lunch at my favorite garden, Gunnebo. The restaurant at Gunnebo is part of the consortium “Västsvensk Mersmak” guaranteeing the use of local and organic products and great care in both cooking and presentation.

However, the first city in Sweden to be accepted into the Citta Slow is Falköping. This small city in West Sweden has pledged to the Citta Slow philosophy, festina lente: to haste slowly, to seek the unique and special, to respect the small and local in a globalised world, and to seek sustainable solutions. It will be very interesting to see how they will integrate this into their action plans for regional development and how they relate it to the overall vision of the Västra Götaland Region: “The Good Life”.


Smoke in China

In China, not only the smoke from cars and factories seem to be a problem in relation to the Olympic Games. China has 350 million smokers, a third of the world's total, and a million Chinese a year die from tobacco. Although smoking in public places has been banned in Beijing before the Olympics, it is no wild guess that smoking will continue to be an issue.

The initiative from Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates is therefore very welcome, launching a $500 million dollar call on governments to implement proven interventions to reduce tobacco use, save lives. They emphasize the use of the World Health Organization’s program MPOWER:

Monitor tobacco use and the policies to prevent it
Protect people from tobacco smoke
Offer people help to quit tobacco use
Warn about the dangers of tobacco
Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
Raise taxes on tobacco

They will support complementary efforts to reduce high rates of tobacco use in countries such as China and India, as well as to help prevent the tobacco epidemic from taking root in Africa.

Of course not everybody is happy with this development. Russian Pravda calls Bloomberg and Gates naïve. According to the Chinese Embassy in the US, China will ban all forms of tobacco promotion by January 2011. Since China is both the largest tobacco producer and consumer, this is an important and not uncontroversial step.

In Sweden around 1,3 million people in Sweden smoke, out of a 9 million population. About 6 500 individuals die every year because of smoking. That is more lives than taken by traffic accidents, hiv/aids, drugs and suicides together, according to Cancerfonden.

A really interesting website is The Tobacco Documents Online, where you can find the documents that the tobacco industry uses in trials in the USA. The website is a search engine, making search through various databases possible.

If you want to get a complementary view of China, watch the wonderful movie CJ7.