Surfing Under Northern Lights

Adventure photographer Chris Burkard is an expert at photographing surfers who ride the coldest, most punishing waves on the planet. He's used to battling the elements in order to get the perfect shot, but one fateful storm in Iceland nearly broke him. Still, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to capture an epic adventure under the greatest light show on earth.

Antarctica

This movie was shot during a 20 day trip to Antarctica in December 2014 to January 2015.

Kalle Ljung started from Ushuaia in Argentina and went to Port Williams in Chile, rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Drake Passage towards the Melchior Islands in Antarctica. She spent 16 days in the Antarctic and got to experience the most amazing scenery and wildlife before she returned back to Ushuaia.

Degrowth and Christiania – I saw How Copenhagen’s Collective Living Experiment Can Work

Community post office, Freetown Christiania. Helen Jarvis. , Author provided

Community post office, Freetown Christiania. Helen Jarvis. , Author provided

Since the first squatters arrived in 1971, the self-proclaimed Freetown of Christiania has inspired radical thinking and social experimentation. Affectionately described as “loser’s paradise”, the squat became a haven for young people unable to access affordable housing in Copenhagen, and activist pioneers from all over the world.

In July 2012, Christiania struck a deal with the Danish state to “normalise” its status. The change was fraught: after 40 years of illegal occupation, a community of activists fiercely opposed to the idea of private property had to establish a foundation and purchase the entire site, with the exception of some features, which were heritage listed.

The deal enabled Christiania to buy itself free of speculation, as a common resource for everybody and nobody. Today, Christiania receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, making it the most popular tourist destination in Copenhagen after Tivoli Gardens and the statue of The Little Mermaid.

Growth and the good life

It’s considered normal for cities and states to measure success in terms of economic growth. But critics point to the treadmill of addictive consumption, property speculation, long working hours, debt, waste, one-upmanship, fast food and short-lifespan technologies that unending growth sets in motion. Opposing this trend, communities such as Christiania pursue “degrowth” by prioritising human relations over market relations; maximising sharing, togetherness, social justice and the health of the planet.

The pressures to conform with mainstream society can be divisive for the 800 or so residents managing their lives communally in Christiania. Big decisions are made through a decentralised democratic structure: 14 area meetings and a “common meeting” must reach consensus between artists, activists and cannabis dealers on Pusher Street.

A self-built home.  seier+seier/Flickr. ,  CC BY

A self-built home. seier+seier/Flickr., CC BY

In 2012, a minority of residents wanted to be allowed to buy and sell homes that they had built or renovated for themselves. The final deal with the Danish state prevented this. Residents have the right to occupy, but not to buy or sell their homes or businesses. The whimsical variety of domestic architecture that has evolved makes Christiania visibly distinct from surrounding up-market neighbourhoods.

The residents’ resistance

I know from my brief time living in Christiania as researcher in residence in 2010 that degrowth values were practised there long before this term became associated with a broad movement of alternative, ethical and ecological actions.

From the outset, it was the Christiania way to renovate and adapt rather than to tear down existing buildings, and to build with reclaimed materials at minimum costs. This also made it possible to get by on a low income, with reduced hours in paid employment, giving residents a way to resist the earn-to-spend treadmill.

Christiania is known as a place where nothing goes to waste. Numerous craft skills and social enterprises thrive on a culture of making do and mending. Elsewhere in Copenhagen similar local livelihoods fail to flourish under profit maximising conditions. The community has won prizes for comprehensive garbage collection and recycling. The collectively run Green Hall trades in salvaged and repurposed building materials.

Stage made from compressed cardboard for ‘Dancing at the Trasher’, 2010. Helen Jarvis.

Stage made from compressed cardboard for ‘Dancing at the Trasher’, 2010. Helen Jarvis.

Six years on

This summer, Christiania hosts a festival of degrowth, to show that it is ethical and green to resist the burden of conspicuous consumption. The festival coincides with an exhibition of archives on the history of the place, which forms part of the sixth International Degrowth Conference taking place just across the Öresund Bridge in Malmö, Sweden.

Social investment with the Christiania people’s share. Helen Jarvis.

Social investment with the Christiania people’s share. Helen Jarvis.

One example of grassroots degrowth since 2012 is the 12.8m Danish Kroner (£1.5m) raised from a social model of investment: the “People’s Christiania Share”. The scale of this crowdfunding (shares are symbolic and have no financial value) outstrips previous experiments with alternative currency. These include payment of a Christiania wage for community jobs – for example, working in the bakery, gardens, laundry, waste collection or machine hall – which functions much like the degrowth policy of basic income, where everyone is paid a minimum stipend.

By comparison, police estimate the cannabis market on Pusher Street to be worth 635m Danish Kroner (£74m) annually. While social models of investment benefit Christiania, profits from the hash market drive growth and speculation elsewhere. Recognising this conflict, residents chose in May this year to shut down Pusher Street temporarily. Younger residents are driving this shift from individual freedom (to profit from criminal activity) to mutual responsibility (for future generations and the planet). This coincides with broad based support for the recent crackdown on intimidating cannabis markets in Christiania.

The festival of degrowth will introduce visitors to a “village of alternatives”. My research shows that Christiania is an inspirational space to think differently about conventional standards of living, precisely because of the absence of private property. A collective shift in mindset can be achieved here, which would not be possible in neighbourhoods of conventional single family homes.

Making the magic

Yet puzzles remain, when it comes to practising sustainable degrowth at scale. One reason why Christiania’s car-free landscape is so “magical” is that residents live at remarkably low density: at first glance, they seem to live in a public park.

Low-density living.  Shutterstock.

Low-density living. Shutterstock.

While this site might otherwise be expected to accommodate several thousand people in high density social housing, the legal safeguards of the 2012 deal endow Christiania exceptional experimental status. This allows residents to take risks with living creatively on a low income, enjoying close friendships in place of material consumption.

There are lessons here for places where degrowth is dismissed as impossibly Utopian, limited to fringe green debates and reduced goals of “sufficient living standards”. In the UK, state sponsored private property and ownership impose smaller private homes, rather than collective ownership of private and shared spaces.

But from Christiania, we learn that smaller private spaces only benefit sustainable degrowth when combined with collective ownership and generous community space for shared use: people come together to share skills and collectively manage scarce resources to reduce consumption. The hope is that as young green activists gather in Christiania this summer, thousands of visitors will look favourably upon collective living as the new normal.

HELEN JARVIS is a Reader in Social Geography at Newcastle University.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE CONVERSATION

The Netherland’s New Burqa Ban is a Sign of Hostility Towards the Dutch Muslim Community

The discriminatory law violates both religious freedom and freedom of movement.


Photo of Library Hall in the Rijksmuseum by  Will van Wingerden  on  Unsplash . This is one of many buildings now off limits to people wearing burqas or niqabs.

Photo of Library Hall in the Rijksmuseum by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash. This is one of many buildings now off limits to people wearing burqas or niqabs.

Last June, the Upper House of Parliament passed a ban on face-covering garmates such as burqas and niqabs by 35 to 40 votes. The law came into effect early this month, banning those wearing such garmates from entering public places including government buildings, public transport, hospitals, and schools.

Amnesty International has released a statement calling the ban an infringement on women's rights to dress as they choose. The ban follows similar laws throughout Europe and will make the Netherlands the 6th country in the EU to ban burqas and niqabs in public buildings. The law does not apply to streets and other outdoor public spaces.

While the exact number of women impacted by the law is unclear, the Guardian writes that according to a 2009 study by University of Amsterdam professor Annelies Moors, an estimated 100 women routinely wear a face veil and less than 400 sometimes wear a veil. Moors, a critic of the bill, states that it has the power to interfere with women's daily lives. It restricts their access to hospitals, police stations, and schools, preventing them from accessing education, reporting crimes, and other necessary abilities.

While the Dutch government has stated that the law is a non-discriminatory effort to ensure public safety, the far-right has been quick to cite the ban as a party victory. "Finally, 13 years after a majority in the Dutch Parliament voted in favor of my motion to ban the burqa, it became law yesterday!" Geert Wilders of the far-right Freedom Party tweeted last June including the telling hashtags #stopislam #deislamize.

Al Jazeera writes that Wilders hopes to go even further with the ban."I believe we should now try to take it to the next step," he told the Associated Press. "The next step to make it sure that the headscarf could be banned in the Netherlands as well."

Under the new law, someone wearing a banned clothing item must either remove it, or face a fine from 150 to 415 euro. Police and transport officials, however, have expressed a reluctance to comply with the ban. 

After a statement from the police saying that enforcing the law is not a priority for them, transportation authorities announced that they would not be enforcing the law as police assistance would not be readily available. 

“The police have told us the ban is not a priority and that therefore they will not be able to respond inside the usual 30 minutes, if at all,” Pedro Peters, a spokesman for the Netherlands transport network told the Guardian. “This means that if a person wearing a burqa or a niqab is challenged trying to use a service, our staff will have no police backup to adjudicate on what they should do. It is not up to transport workers to impose the law and hand out fines.”

Hospitals also stated that they would continue to treat patients regardless of clothing.

The Muslim community has rallied to support those affected by the law. The Nida (Rotterdam’s islamic party) has stated that it will pay all fines imposed on those wearing niqabs. The party even created a community account where people can donate money to be used for fines. Algerian activist Rachid Nekkaz also offered to cover fines.

Despite the lack of enforcement surrounding the ban, its existence alone is a sign of hostility towards the Dutch Muslim community. According to Al Jazeera, Nourdin el-Ouali, who leads the Nida Party, called the ban a “serious violation” of religious freedom and freedom of movement, and warned that it will have far-reaching consequences.




EMMA BRUCE is an undergraduate student studying English and marketing at Emerson College in Boston. While not writing she explores the nearest museums, reads poetry, and takes classes at her local dance studio. She is passionate about sustainable travel and can't wait to see where life will take her. 

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The Threat to America that’s been Growing Inside America

While the Middle East and the border crisis get all the attention, Charlottesville and El Paso remind us that America’s worst threat is right here at home.

White supremacists gathered for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. By Anthony Crider. CC by 2.0.

White supremacists gathered for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. By Anthony Crider. CC by 2.0.

August 12th 2017, fresh out of my first year at the University of Virginia, I sat in front of my TV horrified, watching white supremacists marching through a place I had recently starting calling home. Headlines on every major paper ran with Trump’s quote regarding “fine people on both sides.”

When classes started in the fall, my peers and I returned to Charlottesville deeply unsettled by what had happened on our grounds. Our community was rocked to its core. However, the rest of the world quickly moved on without us.

 The past two years, this weekend has marked a time for remembrance, but also caution and fear in Charlottesville. The dates, August 11th and 12th, have become something of the towns very on 9/11, and the police presence during these two days isn’t easy to ignore. The events that took place to years ago are on our minds, however, not on the mind of the nation.  

The march on Charlottesville was the last time I saw white supremacy dominate all the major headlines, that is, until this weekend’s mass shooting in El Paso. We, as a nation, let ourselves become distracted and forgetful of a real problem that’s been growing in the heart of our country. We can point to how the nation has so eagerly embraced the narrative of the “dangerous outsider” to explain why.  

 A decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security released a report on the growing threat of right wing extremism, correctly predicting “the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.” However, this warning was not given serious merit by the Trump administration. President Trump’s transition team made it clear to the DHS that it wanted to focus on Islamic terrorism and reorient programs meant to counter violent extremism to exclusively target international threats like al-Qaeda and ISIL. These Islamic terrorist groups have stayed in the headlines, despite the fact they no longer pose a serious domestic threat. It should come as no surprise that this June the FBI reported a significant rise in white supremacist domestic terrorism in recent months.

 President Trump’s rhetoric has also turned American’s attention away from the alt-right matter at hand, and turned our attention to what he would call an “infestation.” Searching through theTrump Twitter Archive, I failed to find one mention of domestic terrorism, white nationalists or the growing menace they pose to our country. After all, why shouldn’t Trump protect his loyal voter base? It’s no secret that white nationalists are Trump supporters; alt right leaders have even been spotted at his rallies.

President Trump says immigrants “infest” our country. Via Twitter. June 19, 2018.

President Trump says immigrants “infest” our country. Via Twitter. June 19, 2018.

The president has protected these terrorists by turning the national discussion elsewhere -the southern border. As a result, liberals have kept themselves busy investigating the disgusting conditions of border control centers and “children in cages,” while conservatives call for further border restrictions. These leaves no one time for anyone to wage war against the real domestic threat --white supremacy. 

Trump denounced “racist hate” Monday after the shooting this weekend. He blamed violent video games, mental health and, ironically, internet bigotry from prompting the Dayton and El Paso attacks. He failed to make mention of any real action that might be taken against white supremacist terrorism, let alone endorse gun law reform. 

 Had the attackers been Black, Hispanic or Middle Eastern, the White House would surely be taking extreme action. However, just like during the aftermath of Charlottesville, nothing serious is being done to combat alt-right violence. 

 Now,in light of the two year anniversary, I can’t help but wonder if our country truly took notice of the event that shook our little community two years ago. I still pass by the street where Heather Heyer was killed by a domestic terrorist who drove his car into a crowd of people two years ago. The street, now named Heather Heyer Way, remains adorned with chalk writing, flowers and crosses dedicated to her memory. How many more memorials must we lay in El Paso, and the rest of the world, before we address the white supremacist threat?  






EMILY DHUE is a third year student at the University of Virginia majoring in media. She is currently studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. She's passionate about writing that makes an impact, and storytelling through digital platforms.

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