I spent a wonderful week in Sweden, thanks to my friend and colleague Sue Senecah who has an appointment at SLU university in Uppsala. She took such good care of me and I had a great time getting to know students and faculty in the environmental communications and conflict resolution field. My only disappointment was that the city is pronounced oopSAla rather than OOPSala, which is so much more fun to say.
As I explained in my last blog, understanding each other’s “landscape” in all senses was my goal. So, here are some glimpses into the Swedish landscape.
In mid-March it was dark and gray and wet. It reminded me of my hometown Seattle on steroids. But I was there for the equinox on March 21, when the temperature shot up to near 50, the sun came out, and everyone went nuts. After a long, very dark winter, here was proof that the long, bright summer was in sight. Restaurants had outdoor seating, with giant heat lamps, and people bundled up and sat outside, faces upward toward the precious sun. Some bikers and runners even donned shorts. Surprised babies were unzipped from their mummy-bag-strollers, like little butterflies coming out of cocoons. (more…)
My advice to anyone entering a conflict, either as a party or a conflict resolver, is to learn about the landscape — not just the geography, natural resources and climate, but also the cultural landscape. What values guide decisions? What are the economics, politics and history of the place?
And, so when I was invited to Uppsala to speak to graduate students studying environmental conflict resolution, I immediately turned my attention to the Swedish landscape. I began, of course, by binge-watching Swedish TV shows and movies. There is a wealth of nail-biting Swedish entertainment out there — “The Bridge,” “Johan Falk,” “Beck,” “Modus,” “Wallander” – all excellent.
We just finished the “Sandhamn Murders,” which I highly recommend. A troubled policeman with an ex-wife in the wings meets a gorgeous, bicycle-riding, flower-arranging, gourmet-cooking woman, mother of two supremely healthy children, who is unhappy in her marriage. As they flirt and misfire with each other, horrific murders are committed by the last person you would suspect. The setting is an island of summer homes owned by vacationers who wear very natty, color coordinated casual wear and poor locals who mostly repair boats and drink a lot of beer. All this screen time in the interest of understanding the Swedish “landscape” has been perfect for a non-academic, TV addict like myself. I admit that this style of immersion is like learning about the US Southwest by watching John Wayne movies and “Breaking Bad.” But I have come a long way from my previous “landscape of Sweden,” which was pretty much limited to pickled herring, Santa Lucia with candles on her head, winter sports and Northern Lights. (more…)