Photo Competition 2012

Looking back at 2012, I realize how many wonderful trips I've been on in Sweden and abroad, most of them in coastal areas. Which one of these eleven pictures do you like the most? Participate in my photo competition and get a chance to win flowers! Open to friends and family until January 31 2013. Send me an email or place a comment!

1. In February, I went to Copenhagen to evaluate a unit at the university. Very cold but I found a quirky downtown café to invigorate me. More pictures...

2. Next stop was Oslo where we had a BlueBio project meeting in February with our Norwegian parters. They took us to the new Opera House in the harbour, which was quite stunning.

3. Late in March, I went to a Horizon 2020 conference in Brussels. I had hoped for a bit of Spring, but the air was was still cold although surprisingly crispy. More pictures...

4. The Blue Bio team also met at Tjärnö, a marine research station in northern Bohuslän where we spent some of the few sunny days in June. More pictures...

5. Before the summer holidays, my boss took the whole Innovationskontor Väst to Varberg for a "work camp". We did lots of planning for autumn activities and in the morning I went out for a long walk down the coast. More pictures...

6. In July, my parents took me on a cruise to some of the most beautiful fiords in Norway. The best part was standing in the bow and seeing the sunrise when we were heading towards Bergen. More pictures...

7. Every year, the exhibition in Pilane changes. The combination of the art and the landscape on the island Tjörn is both tranquil and provoking. More pictures...

8. I'm very fortunate in having friends with passion for and knowledge of canoeing. This time we returned to Ellös in August and worked our way around some of the islands close to Orust. More pictures...

9. Late August, I went to New England on a study tour with a colleague. We spent 24 hours in New York and I had a glimpse Central Park, where I saw these guys. More pictures...

10. In November, me and Mum went to Laem Mae Phim south of Bangkok. One of the first nights, there was a local outdoor concert with a band called Playboy Repent. I think. More pictures...

11. In December I went to Stockholm to do a presentation at a SNITTS Masterclass. I spent some hours wandering about Skansen and Gamla Stan in the snow before it melted awayMore pictures...


A Happy Accident

In 1993, Tommy Emmanuel released his album "The Journey". I attended one of his concerts in Melbourne early spring 1994 and the title suited me perfectly since I was on my first travel outside Europe. I spent almost six months in Australia that "winter", writing my PhD-thesis while staying at research colleagues at QUT in Brisbane and RMIT in Melbourne. Many trips and albums later, "The Journey" is still my favourite and looking back at that time in my life only brings good memories.

Now, almost 20 years later I find myself at my second Tommy Emmanuel concert, this time in my hometown Göteborg. The setting is the same, with Tommy and all his Maton guitars on stage. The tunes are new and they all tell a story in different ways. Some of them you have to design yourself like the not yet released Blood Brothers. A Beatles medley brings memories. Others like Drivetime, Tommy explains himself. And I'm transferred back to the time when CD players started to become common in cars and to trendy St Kilda, outside Melbourne where I used to play beach volleyball with the local party kids.

Tommy also tells us the story of how he started to play the guitar. He got one for his fourth birthday, born into a very musical family who apparently did not believe much in formal training. Listening to records and the radio, Tommy didn't understand that the base was a separate instrument. Instead he taught himself to play both the melody and the base on the same guitar. He called it a Happy Accident. Throw in that he played the drums in the family band and you get a very special and wonderful way of creating music.

He also reveals a more recent fairy-tale, one that develops in front of our eyes and we become part of it. The Youtube video of local guitar star talent  Gabriella Quevedo had caught his attention and after some Facebook interaction, she was invited to play at his concert after almost no rehearsal time together at all. Oh, she was really good and although she was clearly inspired by Tommy's way of playing it became clear to all of us in the audience that she will develop her own way of playing in time.

Leaving the concert, I realise that in addition to listening to remarkable and beautiful music I have also been taught several important lessons. Like "don't listen to people who say that some things aren't possible, especially if you have already done them" and "always encourage young people and let them shine when you can" and "be true to yourself do what you really love, and don't set fame and money first" and "support local brands if they are really good". 

And, of course, "look for stories to tell in various ways"!


Messy Message Loud and Clear

One of our major morning papers in Sweden, SvD, recently picked up what one of our leading management journals, Chef, had noticed, namely that Frank J. Barrett finally has collected his thoughts on how jazz thinking can make you a better leader.

I remember vividly the first time I met Frank. It was in Copenhagen in 2005 ago at a course in Appreciative Inquiry, organised by the consulting company Resonans. It was a three-day course and, as I recall, the content was decided by us, the participants. Frank presented his repertoire from his vast experience and we selected what we thought we liked and needed most. As a good bandleader, he listened and was willing to experiment.

Ha had us do lots of exercises, both in groups and individually, where he made us do new things and step out of our comfort zones. He let us perform solos, making us all shine. He delivered on his words!
The book "Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz" has received excellent reviews. Not surprising, the people buying the book from Amazon also bought books about Appreciative Inquiry, Storytelling and Jazz. Since I've read some of his stuff before, I'm sure that it's a real treat!


New England?

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a business trip to New England. I really miss the long beaches, the catboats and the wonderful houses in the Mystic Seaport and Cape Cod, not to mention the High Line in New York and Beacon Hill in Boston.

However, there's one thing I can't understand and that's why it's called New England. As I see it, when it comes to water taps (faucets), New England is not that much better than plain England. Even in fairly new buildings, the standard tap seems to be a mixer tap with one spout and one tap for warm and cold water on each side respectively. But it's not uncommon to come across the completely useless model where each tap has a separate spout. In Sweden, nobody in his or her right mind would install such a model, not even the most resolute Anglophile. Instead, the single handle style mixer tap is very common in Sweden, since it is easy to use and also more energy efficient.

While I was doing these reflections during my travel, I also watched the National Democratic convention and the comments to each speech. It then struck me that the politics in the US is very much like it's faucets. It's not easy to get a get a good mix and often you end up with either too hot or too cold. Actually, the best political statement I saw during my stay was from the new Aaron Sorkin series The Newsroom, where the main character does a wonderful monolog on why the US is not the greatest country in the world.

In Sweden, we are considered to have a left wing government no matter which party is dominant. There may actually be some truth in that. Our current government just released its budget bill called Investing in the Future. The media concluded that they had picked up quite a number of the suggestions proposed by the social democrat opposition. Not that any opposition would ever admit or focus on that in their comments, of course.

It might be the case that most politicians in Sweden has read John Rawls and likes his Theory of Justice and his emphasis on maximizing the minimum gain. Although that would be to assume too much, I suppose.


Babes in the Wood

When I went to Australia the first time, I stayed with my parents' good friend Trevor the first week. He introduced me to Australian cooking (for example vegemite sandwiches), how to navigate both Sydney and the Blue Mountains (by train), how to dress like an Aussie (I got the boots) but most of all to English proverbs.

This was the first time I really noticed sayings like "it's raining cats and dogs", "I'm not my brother's keeper", "more than you can poke a stick at" and "like babes in the wood". Although I had already begun working with metaphors in my research (interface metaphors) and in research projects focusing on intelligence tests (analogies), this was a new kind of usage. A real treat!


Urban Acupuncture

I found the metaphor "urban acupuncture" very intriguing when I read it the first time in a magazine I flipped through at my local library. A good place to start looking for more information is, of course, Wikipedia:
"Urban Acupuncture is an urban environmentalism theory which combines urban design with traditional Chinese medical theory of acupuncture. This strategy views cities as living, breathing organisms and pinpoints areas in need of repair. Sustainable projects, then, serve as needles that revitalize the whole by healing the parts."
I think the idea of focusing activities to a small number of efficient and effective project that will have an impact in several dimensions is a good one, although it could of course also be considered as a way for politicians to get away will less spending on development. Obviously the approach has been tried and found successful in a number of cases, some of the described at the Casagrande Laboratory, named after the inventor of the concept: the Finnish professor Marco Casagrande.

One of these places is Curitiba in Brazil, where Jamie Lerner, architect and urban planner, has been elected three times. In his Instituto Jaime Lerner he introduces another metaphor the city as a turtle:
"These concepts [sustainability, mobility and socio-diversity] come together in the metaphor of the Turtle embodying life, work and movement — if you break down the shell of the turtle, it will die. So, the "vital" city is one that, as the metaphor emphasizes, provides a protective shell for integrating compatible urban functions and effecting change without breaking down the life-sustaining shelter."
Recently the metaphor has been used in relation to another area: food. Arch Daily writer Vanessa Quirk has used it as an idea for closing the gap between people and food in the concept of Urban Agripuncture. An idea soon picked up by the Huffington Post.

This, of course, made me think. If I were to put needles into my home city Göteborg, where would I start? Some current hot spots are both sides of the river "Göta älv" where the old port and shipyard areas are being turned into something new and the stakeholder dialogue seems to become more sour every day. Of course we have areas with lower average income where jobs are scares, but maybe we should put the pins in the more bourgeois areas just to shake them up a bit. Like the one I'm living in.

But why stop at acupuncture needles? My chiropractor is also a trained in acupuncture in order to have a variety of methods to choose from. Maybe there are places that need some massage followed by physical adjustments? Or perhaps some current flowing into them? Or maybe some new nutritional recommendations? Back to Urban Agripuncture I guess...