27 September 2013

Burn bridges, burn

With the upcoming local elections, people are in all seriousness asking me if I plan to run for office. The answer is no, of course. The main reason being I have zero faith in the political system, and believe I stand a better chance of making real changes from my current position. Besides, if I did, I would not be able to say what I am about to say: our city is being run by the incompetent. From the cleaning department to the mayors office. The current lord mayor is a man not native to Copenhagen, whose idea of progress is adding more cars to the mix. He is anything but a visionary, and under his supervision my beautiful city is being gutted, and stripped of all vegetation. New projects are financed by selling off our harbour to real estate developers, allowing them to fill it up. It is as bad as it gets.

And then there is the cleaning department. I have personal experience with them from the test tube project (it ended by them laying it to rest, as "we have no cup litter problem”, did I even tell you about that?). Keeping the city clean is something that really interests me, I observe, document it and talk to street cleaners frequently. The cup litter denial thing is not news to them. On Vesterbro they pick up 600 kilos of syringes a year, but the official line is “there is no syringe problem”. New ideas are not taken under advisement, and the general approach is denial.

So how do they tackle the cleaning problem in Copenhagen? Instead of acknowledging that the trashcans are outdated, and not covering the needs of a big city, they take a condescending approach:

Giant Vipp

Is it an advertisement for a beautiful piece of Danish Design? Or do they really think we are idiots?

Ground control

With loud yellow footprints leading up to the trashcans, they sort of answered that, didn’t they?

They uglify:

Vandalism (no, I am not talking about the chair)

Every single trashcan in the city is covered with this crap. Try this out: cover the green part with your fingers and see how much nicer it looks, instantly. Seat of the nice chair chained to the bench:

Place to wait for the future  
(Seat reads) Place to wait for the future.  Unfortunately we can't afford to just sit around and wait.

The garbage situation, the construction mess gutting the city, congestion and pollution, the insane amount of advertising screaming at you from every angle, I can handle all that. But what happened yesterday, broke my heart. Our local construction site beautifier Bert, left a note in the comments section of the last post, urging me to check out the National Museum of Denmark. The spot with the giant lilacs:


I got a really bad feeling...  and it was warranted: the ancient trees, the giant lilacs, the wilderness and beautiful garden was gone.

Statens Museum For Massakre

The same spot before, below. It is not a joke when I say, that if you want to see Copenhagen nature, you need to go on Google Street View.

I got there in time to see the last standing tree. To get an idea of how big it was, check the man standing at its foot. If you are curios to see exactly what they destroyed, check out this link to google street view (if you allow it to load, it will switch to street view and the right angle, although you may want to skip the exercise altogether, as it is utterly depressing).

Det sidste træ / The last tree

And why did they rip it all up, at this busy intersection, with eight lanes of cars on each side? To create a new museum garden, consisting of a lawn with a water mirror. For this mirage, they destroyed an irreplaceable piece of Copenhagen nature:

En græsplæne ud til en motorvej

Note the convenient and total absence of cars or bikes in the rendition, facing a highway. I am convinced that future generations will hold us accountable for this massacre. Especially since the only old trees they will ever get, are the ones that are here now. Newly planted trees have not developed the resistance of the old ones, and as such they tend to succumb early, in the toxic urban soil. The expected lifespan of a newly planted urban tree is seven years. Seven.

This is one of those posts that you are advised against publishing. Do not piss off the wrong people, and all that. But I say: burn bridges, burn!

19 September 2013

The Ladytree and the rotten potato

Remember the urban oasis and lake view retirement home Sølund? 400 affordable apartments built in the late 1970s, ingeniously offering everyone a lake view. To the horror of our community, someone got the great idea to demolish the whole thing, an entire block of buildings and 100+ trees, bushes and plants, and build a fortress reaching all the way to the curb. Destroying something that works, and chopping down a small forest of trees, many of which could easily have been worked into the new proposal. The new, and utterly unnecessary proposal.

Students by the thousands are homeless in Copenhagen, while at least a couple of hundred perfectly fine apartments are vacant just down the block. For the upcoming local election, this is not just a hot potato, it is a rotten one. Perhaps for this reason, they have decided to let students move into the vacant apartments for a period of three years, while they contemplate their next move.

I feel so sad for the elderly, now stuck in one of the city's new “super retirement homes” by a highway on outer Østerbro. They should not have been uprooted in their final years just because someone had a wet dream. But rather than see the buildings demolished, I would like to see them lived in. Renovated, and put to alternative use. Imagine what can be done with this complex: small businesses could fill up the ground floor, studios, workshops, daytime cafes and vintage shops. The area would come alive, and the oasis could turn into a public garden or a small park. It’s all right there. My head is spinning from ideas for this place.

But my main goal have all along been to save the Ladytree. No one will ever be able to justify chopping down that majestic piece of Copenhagen history. Last Saturday she got a full page in the Danish newspaper Politiken:

The more people who get to know the Ladytree, the better. After this was published, I received a call from the former landscape architect on Sølund, who had instantly recognised the old tree. He was telling me how everyone back then worked hard to secure it, keeping it free from cranes and construction. It was only thirty years ago, and yet the city’s respect for trees was so much greater, then. Even though we need them more than ever.

If the city is looking for a "super green climate plan", I suggest they prioritise taking care of the trees we have left. And in case they should forget, I am here to remind them.


17 September 2013

Wonder full Copenhagen

How often do I see rainbows? Not often enough. Maybe once a year. But I always look for them, and when I finally see one, no matter how faint, I will stop everything and stand in awe.

Rainbow piece

As I was taking this picture, along with one other woman who had pulled over her bike, someone sneered at us: "seriously people, it’s only a rainbow, jeez". Mocking people for taking in a wonder of nature, has it really come to that? I did let her feel the lash of my tongue, in case you were wondering.

Mini rainbow close up

I really thought that was it, as in I couldn't possibly ask for more. It was raining and my camera was almost out of battery. I got home and looked out the window and BANG: double rainbows. Whaaaaat?

Double rainbows

Yes, I talk to my camera, I say: "please, please, please let me get this, hold on just a tiny bit longer", as I was hurrying down to see if I could catch the Ladytree with a nice hat. Look at that magnificent tree. I love it so much.

Ladytree with a nice hat

By the way, I have Ladytree news for you, maybe I will fill you in tomorrow, and just let the rainbows shine for today. Besides I owe you like a hundred posts, with something like a day apart, haha.

Copenhagen lamp w. rainbow backdrop

The Copenhagen Lamp, retiring version. 

There is no such thing as “only a rainbow”. Jeez.

09 September 2013

Classic fall

No sitting on the bridge

Images Festival is finally over. I am sorry but no, occupying the bridge for two weeks is not okay.

The best things in life are free

  The best things in life are free. One guess which one I brought home, haha.

The key

Inserting very tired face.

Dumpster watch

The changing seasons are hard. Something shifts inside you, and the energy evaporates...

Cyklist shadow

...only to re-emerge, eventually. Fingers crossed for sometime tomorrow.


06 September 2013

Green roofs

The busiest train station in Copenhagen Nørreport Station, is undergoing a long overdue make over. It is still a work in progress, but you can see the structure taking shape. Forget about the timid and morgue like design of the Metro, this project has got personality. Okay, they had me by the floating roofs, but they just topped it. Literally.

Nørreport Station

Green roofs!

Stenurt på Nørreport Station's nye tag / Sedum roof on the new Nørreport Station in Copenhagen

I crashed the party. As if anyone would have been able to stop me.

Stenurt / Sedum

Sedum, or as we call it here "stenurt", a rainbow colored blanket, by Veg Tech.


And it is not just for show. The green roofs absorb water, preventing the sewage system from overflowing. 50% of the rain that lands on this, will be absorbed and parts of that will evaporate. And, as an added benefit, it absorbs noise, much like our trees, only more due to the soil. 

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Copenhagen will implement these roofs in more public projects. Even though they may not always be visible from the street. And, as Europe's Green Capital 2014,  encourage the use of them for private contractors. Copenhagen need this.