Transit Town

A couple of weeks ago, Peter LeMarc was the guest in Tomas Andersson Wij's music show on TV. Having gone through some troubling times, he still put on a wonderful performance. Apparently Tomas didn't tell him that the last song, Little Willie John, was to be included. The audience gave a standing ovation in 15 minutes.

A song that stirs up all that longing
A bird returns to my heart
Feelings nobody can stop
I hear the words, remember the joy
Feel the pain,
Peter LeMarc, Little Willie John

One of the things Peter LeMarc told the audience during the show was that the saying that you write your best songs when you are feeling the worst simply isn't true. When you're really down and out, you can do nothing else than try to survive.

It reminded me of how wrong the Swedish translation of the saying "Necessity is the mother of invention" is. In the Swedish version, the word "necessity" is translated into "nöden" which is more of an equivalent to a sever form of "need". It's hard to be inventive if you lack water, food, clothes and a safe place to sleep. It's hard to be creative if your loved one is fighting for her life.
Since visiting Trollhättan again on a regular basis I find myself hearing Peter LeMarc's music in my head. He's depicted his hometown in his songs and I walk through the avenue, across the square, past the kiosk and into the cobbled street. I remember what it was like to visit the town in the beginning of the 90's, when I was heading into a new relationship looking for something out of the ordinary and found it. Always be careful what you wish for.

I played the CD I bought back then called "Hittegods" (Lost Property) and found that I still remember most of the songs.

He said: Where're you going?
She said: Wherever!
He replied: I know where it is. Come into my vacant heart and look for yourself."
He says: Where is our life? What have we done?
Tell me, how could we become so old so soon?
The one staring back at me in the mirror is not I.
Do we have to fight for weeks in order to love one day?

Peter LeMarc, Sången dom spelar när filmen är slut (The song they play at the end of the film)

I'm looking forward to listening to his new record "The Thin Line", released yesterday.

I need someone's hand, to lead me through the night
I need someone arms to hold and squeeze me tight
When the night begins an' the dew remains
I need your love so bad
I need some lips to feel next to mine
I need someone to stand up an' tell me, when I'm lyin'
When the lights are low, an' it's time to go
I need your love so bad

Little Willie John, Need your love so bad


Nature Calling

The UN Sustainable Development Goals was the theme for this year's Lights In Alingsås. Every year students work together with professional light designers to create thought-provoking installations. I very much enjoyed the walk in the dark, especially where the lights were reflected in the water.

The first station "A Time to Reflect" was at the church and aimed at making us think about "Peace and Justice. I wonder if they chose the purple colour deliberately.
By pressing "The Red Button" at the river we could change the paradise into an inferno, reminding us of our actions have an immediate impact on the goals regarding Life on Land and Life Below Water. The nicely lit tree in the other direction provided a provoking contrast.
Next stop was at the Abandoned House, referring to goal number 10 regarding reducing inequality within and among countries. Here the lights told us a story of what it's like to be an outsider, only vaguely seen by others.
The installation "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" put the spotlight on the first goal: "No Poverty. Here the refugees were hiding in the bushes, but we could see the trail they left behind in terms of bags and books. We could also experience what it's like to live in a rescue tent.
 The very long installation along the river, illustrating the past, the present and the future of gender equality was both somewhat scary and beautiful. The colour red was frequently used, sometimes as a warm glow but also as a cold warning signal.
"Climate Action" was the goal related to the installation "Nature Calling". With so many people gathering at the spot, it was somewhat difficult to hear what it said. I think it was "Go away!".
The last station was a rather long (in time) but also very beautiful installation called "Life Below Water", providing both insights and hope. The red lamps just below the surface looked rather sinister, like the Nautilus was trapped there.
Since not all of the UN goals were used, this makes room for our own creativity at home. I use a lot of lights in my home, on my balcony and even up the stairs to my apartment. They welcome me and my visitors during the dark part of the year, why I consider them contributing to the goal of ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.


Management By Chocolate

When I was working at Innovationsbron, my then colleague and now friend Maria commented that I did something she called "management by chocolate". I had a habit (still do) of bringing chocolate or cookies to all my meetings to share with the participants, since it made the process much smoother. If you use really good dark chocolate, you get satisfied with only a few bits (in theory at least) making you benefit from the antioxidants without getting fat from the sugar.

Being a chocoholic it's good to learn that the chocolate industry seems to work harder and harder on sustainability issues, both social and environmental ones. While browsing the Swedish JournalChocolat I found out that there are several large initiatives going on such as the Cocoa Horizon foundation started by Barry Callebaut, one of the largest cocoa producers in the world. Together with another major chocolate player Mondelèz they have started Cocoa Life, helping the cocoa workers in Africa to improve their situation. They are also a member of the World Cocoa Foundation who support "support cocoa communities, education, field programs and scientific research". This organisation also partner up with other funding agencies such as the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation in order to create a bigger impact.
Also small producers such as the Swedish Gefle Choklad make their own sustainable products and Scottish Chocolate Tree is famous for their bean-to-bar concept (although I'm a bit hesitant to their Haggis Spice bar...).

In a chocolate shop in Gothenburg I came across a sign saying "Strength is the ability to break off four pieces of chocolate but only eat one". True, true!


Pivotal People

Back in the 90ies when I did my dotcom journey we started working with business intelligence for municipalities in a novel way. For example, displaying on the web the results from evaluations of the care for the elderly in different parts of a city. That's when I learned about pivoting tables and how to use them to change your perspective on data. Now this kind of work is part of the big data and smart city movement, providing local government with useful data to base their decision-making on.

People can be pivotal too. They can make you change your course and have a really big impact on your life. Sometimes you don't realise that until long after. Often they have no clue of their impact on you.

One of my pivotal people is Birgitta. She gave me books about Appreciative Inquiry to read when I was planning on starting a consultancy business. Not only did I start the consulting company Apprino with two of my friends, I made a lot of new friends in the AI community all over the world. I have also continued using the approach in many new ways.

Another pivotal person is Michael who recruited me to the IT company LINQ. I'm not sure I would have left academia if it weren’t for him. I continue to use what I learned during those turbulent five years, since they provided a good foundation for starting companies as well as working with innovation and industry-academia collaboration.
My sister Maria has also had a major impact on me, in many ways. She started playing football with club with a strong policy against smoking, alcohol and other drugs. Quite a few members were also vegetarians. I, of course, wanted to do everything my big sister did why I also joined Sjövalla Frisksportklubb. I still don't drink any alcohol and I've been a vegetarian for 30 years. It's very much a part of my persona.

What I have noticed is also that not many people talk about what their pivotal people have meant to them or the moments when they have had a big influence on somebody else. This often means that their children or even their spouses don't know about this, although sometimes they get a glimpse at the funeral which is very sad.

With many holidays coming up and with them often family dinners, I strongly recommend bringing the subject up. Ask everyone at the table to talk about a person who had a major positive impact on their lives. I think you'll be surprised!