Beds are Burning

One week to go until Copenhagen. Here's a little pump up video in preparation of the conference.

Obama's heading to Copenhagen

Obama announced today that he will be traveling to Copenhagen for the climate change discussions after numerous complaints from other countries and environmentalists about his lack of committment to climate change. He will be arriving to the talks early on in the two week period, on Dec 9, which will hopefully create more movement in the discussions during the beginning stages, rather than waiting for the last day or two as often happens.

In addition, Obama has announced some targets for greenhouse gas emissions, despite the Senate not acting on the current bill.

"Mr. Obama will offer to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, a 30 per cent reduction by 2025 and a 42 per cent drop by 2030, the White House said." (Times Online)

Obama's suggested targets are based on previous figures outlined in the House and Senate during the past year.

"In June, the House passed a bill calling for greenhouse gas reductions of 17 percent below 2005 levels. Last month, a Senate committee passed a measure calling for a 20 percent cut, but that is expected to be weakened as the legislation moves through other Senate committees and onto the floor, perhaps next spring." (New York Times)

This will hopefully put more pressure on countries like China and India to also put significant targets on their reduction levels. Only two weeks to go, we'll see where things go from here.

Charter for Compassion

How often have you heard that religion is the root cause of most wars? When and why has religion got associated with such tragedy and problems in the world and how does this relate with the core principles that religion is intended to stand upon?

It is sad to see so many potential bodies of good relabeled as the cause of unhappiness in the world. Having grown up in the church, I have met countless individuals working to create a better place in and for this world. Each of them deeply inspired and moved by the calling of Christ and desperately wanting to live that message out in their own lives. Many of these individuals have significantly influenced me in how I carry on day-to-day.

But historically, and recently, Christianity (along with many other religions) has sadly taken on a different image. I'm not proud of such an image, and I am often confused at how the central teachings in the bible can so easily be interpreted as uncompassionate teachings. We need to begin moving Christianity back to it's original intention and purpose.

Yet the shear size and weight of the issue is daunting - where do you begin to start unraveling that label?

Recently I came across a group called the Charter for Compassion, which works to bring together individuals from numerous faith traditions to stand united around compassion. Check out the videos below to hear about the conviction and motivation for starting up such a group.

Charter for Compassion:

Motivation Behind Charter for Compassion:

There's a lot that can be discussed around this issue and I think Karen Armstrong, the creator of the group, makes some important insights on the issue. In the video, she states "A lot of religious people prefer to be right, rather than compassionate." Perhaps we need to start there.

"The task of our generation, whether we are religious people or secular people, is to build a global community where people of all persuasions can live together in peace and harmony."

In the Know for COP15

For anyone interested in learning the basics revolving around the upcoming Climate Change discussions taking place in Copenhagen in December (COP15), check out the GOOD Guide to COP 15.

It provides easy to understand explanations of the key issues, players, the treaty, and much more. I often turn to GOOD for their graphical representation of issues and data. For example, this illustration shows some of the big players involved at COP15 and how the countries are split up.

Change in Looks

After 2.5 years, time for an updated look for this blog...

Answers in the shadows

Dark, black, and flat.
All that differentiates it from beyond is the ripple of water,

A steady wind meanders through the scattered islands,
Softly yet forcefully sweeping along the water,
Causing an endless series of ripples moving from the shadows to the dock.

Car headlights.
Illuminating the motion of the wind
A chain emerging from the water, clinging to the dock above.
The weight of its links pulling heavy,
Longing to sink into the flickering light below.

It’s amazing how the darkness can completely change a landscape. So quiet, so mysterious. Constantly challenging our perception and view of our surroundings.

I find myself sitting here alone on an abandoned dock for the season. The boats have been removed from the water as winter approaches, and all that remains is this empty bench. The sky is dark, with a purple hue outlining the horizon. The water surrounding me performs a magical lightshow, reflecting glimmers of light from the town beyond.

Cars rush by in the distance and the sound of passing footsteps is muffled by the rushing wind. A heavy chill sinks into my bones, reminding me of the cold hard bench beneath me. I have no desire to move.

For in the cold and darkness, I find a beautiful peace resonating around me. It’s as if the water on all sides of me contains the keys to a long sought after question. The water stretches out into the distance, disappearing into the night sky, and a smile creeps across my face.

For what happens past those shadows I do not know. Where the water flows to and what other people are sitting on docks much like this one is beyond my understanding. Yet it’s reassuring to know that I have no idea how big or in which direction the water goes.

My problems, my challenges. My desires, and my ambitions, all currently reside in this town.  On this dock. I carry them wherever I go. 

I often like searching for answers. Running off to some new country to learn about their cultures and values. To gain a new understanding for the world around me and challenge my views to that point. Yet sometimes when a challenge arises, I too quickly feel the urge to run off somewhere else to find that answer.

How rarely do I take the time to find the abandoned docks around me and watch the dark water pass by. What if I started searching directly around me more often. What if the answers we are looking for are sitting right next to us, just disguised by the shadows, and waiting to be discovered.

Sometimes finding answers doesn’t come from searching for new land, but rather when we rediscover the land we’ve always walked upon.


A reminder to slow down once in awhile...

I know I can get caught up in the habit of always working. Working and being busy is surprisingly relaxing for me, and when I want to get my mind off of something I start editing a movie or playing in photoshop to take a break.

But I'm beginning to realize that relaxing and taking a break are two different things. Perhaps what I'm really doing is relaxing by distracting my mind with another project. But taking a break is as it implies, stopping everything that's going on and soaking in the silence. Giving the mind time to fully recharge and recenter on what God may be trying to speak towards us. This is far different than relaxing.

But that's tough for me. Heck, even after watching the above video I found myself posting it on here first rather than taking a break from the computer and actually doing what the video said. Perhaps I should do that after I write this up...

Anyway, it's one of those things that I hope to improve upon, especially over the next few weeks as projects get more intense here in Sweden. But for now, it's time to go take a break :)

Are you the next sustainability leader...

So who wants to come live in Sweden for a year or two...  (and learn some pretty awesome stuff while you're at it)

Well now's your chance, the application period is opening up for the next year's Master's programs here at BTH. In addition to the Master's of Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS) program, there will be a brand new 2 year program entitled Master's of Sustainable Product-Service System Innovation (MSPI).

Both programs are intended for early- to mid-career professionals. MSLS is for indidivuals with any background and lasts 1 year (this is the program I am currently in). MSPI is intended for industrial designers, industrial economists, engineers, or other similar fields and lasts for 2 years. 

Education here at BTH is far different than what I was used to in the US. There is a heavy focus on learning from your fellow peers which involves lots of group work and projects. At first it took some getting used to, but after a few months in, the program has proven to be extremely beneficial and practical. A few people have described students leaving the program as the Swedish mafia, because graduates travel all across the globe and spread a contagious energy about the framework and ideas learned here at BTH. I'm quickly beginning to understand that feeling...

Anyway, there's lots I could go on to talk about with the program, but I'll save that for now. If you are at all interested or know of people that may be, please feel free to contact me and ask me questions. I love to talk about it! (and if you look closely in the brochures to download online, there's a few pics of me scattered throughout)

Applications must be submitted between Dec 1st and Jan 15th.

350 Videos!

So after a month or so of editing and touching up, our 350 video from Karlskrona is finally complete! A few of the students in our MSLS program organized a human graph demonstrating where our current global CO2 emissions are, 389ppm (parts per million), and where they need to be for a safe level, 350ppm.

We were able to get a bunch of the members from the community involved and our footage was even shown across the world as part of the larger 350 movement (see some of the videos below).

A big thanks to everyone who helped out and made the event such a success! Now it's time to start working on the next film...

350 Karlsrkona - Human Graph Compilation Video (with Karlskrona in it at 1:35)

Another Compilation Video (with Karlskrona in it at 0:50)

And here's the original video I posted on the day of the event (for nothing special it already has 2,400 views!)

And lastly, a few bloopers...


It's been awhile since I've shared some lyrics that stick out to me, so I thought it was about time to list another song. The one currently in my head is called "Bring the Rain" by MercyMe. This song was actually far more important a few years ago and helped remind me to take the time to lift my head and look around. Today I was reminded of it after it started raining outside, one of those reminders of the Swedish winter quickly falling upon Karlsrkona. So I started writing a bit to remind myself of the importance of rain, of difficult times, and what they have taught me in the past.

Once in a while the rain falls outside my window
The clouds deepen and the walls darken.
Beyond the pane of glass I can imagine the wind rushing through the trees,
Gliding swiftly amidst the buildings and over the cobblestone roads.

Yet within these walls, there is such peace
No rush of wind, no drizzle of rain.
And as the grass outside drinks in the rain falling upon it
I sit and soak in the stillness.

Sometimes we forget to acknowledge the walls all around us
Sheltering us from the rain and wind beyond.
For most of the time, the walls stand still 
And we walk on by consumed with our tasks at hand.

But I've been in the rain before, 
And I remember how desperately I longed for these very walls.
As I peer through the glass,
I can easily see all the areas outside offering up shelter.

From the tree at the bottom of the hill,
To the overhang across the street.
From the pavilion down in the park,
To the elderly lady walking with an umbrella.

Sometimes when we're standing in the rain
Our vision becomes obscure.
Rain drops falling upon our eye lashes
And the wind forcing our eyelids shut.

As the rain beats all around us
Our focus narrows.
We long so strongly for the walls
That we are blind to the temporary ones all around us.

Now here's a few of the lyrics from the song:
"I am yours regardless of the clouds that may loom above
because you are much greater than my pain
you who made a way for me, suffering your destiny
so tell me whats a little rain
Maybe since my life was changed. long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord, my only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times"
It's so easy to get caught in the rain, and to forget the larger picture of life. We live in the middle of a beautiful creation. We are blessed in more ways than we can comprehend. There are times that cause us to stumble, and times when we get wet. But after a while, you realize that those times come and go, and they are equally a part of this creation.

For more related to this, check out Rob Bell's video below. (split into two parts)

Leah Visits: Day 3 and 4

(picking up from a previous post)

Day 3:

After a day full of hurdles and unexpected changes to our plan, Leah and I decided to spend the next day to relax and hang out around Karlskrona. We woke up later on Saturday and around lunch, went down to Wayne's Coffee. This was the first place I found internet in Sweden when I first arrived so it was neat to eat lunch with Leah at the place where I had originally talked to her so much.

After lunch, we walked into the center of town to explore the farmer's market and check out one of the churches. Next, we went to check out a small museum which I had heard a lot about since living here but had yet to visit. The museum is a single room and belongs entirely to a private collector. The owner of all the pieces was apparently interviewed by the film crew for the DaVinci Code and they traveled to Karlskrona before filming to ensure that they had all the details correct - this guy must know his stuff.

When we got to the basement, we were blown away by all of the art he had in this tiny space. Everything from Rembrant to Picaso to Cezanne to van Gogh to DaVinci, and we had the whole place nearly to ourselves. The owner even walked with us for a bit and explained some of the hidden details in the DaVinci piece. Go figure - Karlskrona has some pretty cool stuff hidden in all the random little buildings!

After that museum, we walked up to the Naval Museum where Leah was quite entertained by the spiral staircases, giant ship figureheads, and the underwater section of the museum (where you could walk underneath the museum and look through windows out to the ocean water). From there, we walked around more of the island and came across numerous odd signs that required a picture being taken with them.

It was a nice day of just walking and exploring areas of the town that I hadn't seen.

That night, we went to a local pizza shop where Leah experienced her first egg-on-a-pizza, in good old Swedish style! Because we were eating later than normal, the small pizza shop was completely empty so we had the chance to talk with the cook a lot, who tried to convince Leah to come live in Sweden, haha. After stuffing our stomachs, we came back to the apartment to rest - knowing that the following day would be quite busy.

Day 4:

On Sunday, we got up quite early, packed up all of the luggage, and jumped on a train to Copenhagen. After seeing all of Karlskrona quickly and efficiently, we decided to tack on a second country to the trip and go visit Denmark for the day. We booked a hostel in the center of Copenhagen and arrived by train just before lunch.

After dropping the bags off in the hotel room, we got out on the streets and started the long process of wandering. Having not researched the city one bit before leaving, we had no idea what there was to see or where to go. Despite this set-back, we managed to cover nearly the entire city in just a few hours.

Throughout this journey, we ran into...
- an entire village of people re-enacting the medieval period
- a man dressed in a cow-suit riding on a scooter
- a massive (and quite impressive) botanical garden with a beautiful conservatory
- a statue of the Little Mermaid that looks nothing like the Little Mermaid
- lots of kids in super-puffy snowsuits
- a buffet with unlimited amounts of bri cheese (Leah was a fan, sadly the ice cream was not included)
- and best of all, a huge halloween-themed amusement park (which unfortunately cost money so we didn't go in, and we had no time)

That night we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and then the following morning, we loaded our stuff back up and got on the train. The first stop was the airport where Leah got off and prepared herself for the long trip back to State College (in comparison to my relatively short train ride back to Karlskrona).

So for four days, we managed to squeeze in more stuff than I had ever originally imagined. It was nice to see that our spontaneity hasn't disappeared and we picked things right up from back when I left in August. To get a better idea of our trip, check out the picasa site for pics of each day.

Needless to say, it was quite the worthwhile trip :) Now its just another month before I head back home for Christmas!

Understanding Climate Change Communication

Here's another Grist article explaining why developing a legal-binding agreement (in comparison to a politically-binding agreement which does nothing) in Copenhagen is so crucial for developing countries. Unfortanetly it doesn't appear to be moving that direction largely due to the lack of speed put forth by the US.

To address the slowness of dealing with climate change (and on a more basic level, simply getting the general public to understand it), the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions recently released a comical manual outlining how to communicate climate change to others, and what goes on inside people's head to better understand the problem. Click here to download the manual - I'm reading through it now and will post interesting thoughts from it later.

Problems ahead for Copenhagen

As explained in a recent Grist post, the unfortunate reality is that it's not looking likely that the hoped-for treaty will come about from the Copenhagen talks this December. This is mostly due to the lack of progress made by the UN negotiations and failure to pass a climate bill in the US.

Instead, negotiators are hoping to at least agree upon a politial framework to approach the climate issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented: “Copenhagen was supposed to be a post-Kyoto regime. Now we are talking about a political framework, and negotiations will drag out longer until we get a treaty.”

Denmark has forged ahead and begun drafts of their own proposed text for the conference. We'll have to stay tuned to see what will ultimately emerge from the talks in just a few weeks.

Leah Visits: Day 1 and 2

So two weekends ago, Leah went out of her way (by roughly 4000 miles) to come visit me in Karlskrona for a few days. She was on the plane for nearly as long as she was here, but it was definitely worth it. While here, the two of us walked almost non-stop for four days, getting the most out of our short trip together. Needless to say it was quite the adventure, here's just a few of the stories...

Day 1:

Today Leah arrived by train in Karlskrona around noon. After a long journey, we went back to my apartment to unload her luggage and get some food. As we were walking into my bedroom (no more than 30 minutes has gone by since arriving in Karlskrona) Leah managed to trip through my doorway. It's good to see that things haven't changed much since I left :)

After getting things settled in the apartment, we walked down to the town square where we went to a tiny kebab shop and both got falafelrulle (a wrap with falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a hidden pepper that you always have to be on the lookout for).

After lunch, Leah surprisingly felt up for walking around a bit and seeing the town so we went outside to see the one half of Karlsrkona. We explored a few places of the town that I have yet to see which was a lot of fun. We also explored (and identified) many of the plants in Karlskrona - most deffinitely something I haven't done yet.

After walking around a bit and taking a bunch of pictures, we came back to the apartment where we had homemade pizza with the rest of the gang. That night a few folks came over for karaoke but the trip from State College was beginning to catch up with Leah so we went to bed soon after.

Day 2:

The next morning, Leah and I jumped on a train to Kalmar, a town 1 hour north of Karlskrona along the coast. I had been planning on taking Leah there because they have an old Viking castle and a neat church, two things that Leah had mentioned she'd like to see while here.

Well, much to my surprise, the trip went slightly different than I expected. We arrived first at the castle and started by walking around the outside and then eventually, making our way to the inner courtyard. As we walked around, we noticed that it was surprisingly empty. Well I soon realized that unlike every other shop in Sweden, the castle is only open on weekends and closed throughout the rest of the week. stop number one was a no-go.

That's alright, we made up for it by taking some really cool pictures of us outside the castle (because we had the whole place essentially to ourselves).

Next, we went to the nearby modern art museum, with much higher hopes after getting locked out of the castle. We went inside, bought our tickets, and proceeded to the first floor of exhibits. What we found was a room full of paintings and videos that, well, simply put, made no sense. Perhaps that was because all of the descriptions were in Swedish, but I still claim that none of the art made any sense. When a man jumping up and down naked on a TV mooning the camera is considered art, I simply shake my head.

But that's alright, because there were still two more floors ahead of us and we could only assume that it would get better from here.

On the next floor, there was a single door, which we went on through. It turns out that all there was was a library and office space for a few people. Most deffinitiely not a place where visitors were supposed to be walking around - so we quickly got out and proceeded to the final floor.

On the upper floor was supposed to be an exhibit about polar bears and seals...

When we opened the door, only one wall was covered in art and it looked like a random collection of children's paintings which sadly, did not include either a polar bear or a seal. Hanging from the middle of the room was a sheet which on it was projected a seal being stuffed by someone, being played on a loop.

Needless to say, it was the poorest museum I have ever been to, which is a shame because we were both big fans of modern art up until that point. (But we're still holding out hope for other places...)

After the museum, we walked to the center of the town where we passed by some neat old streets and shops and even a glassblower.  Eventually, we found the church which we were quite excited to see. As the day would have it however, the door was locked for lunch so we took the forced break to grab some food at a nearby cafe (in which they were playing Star Trek - strange) An hour later, we walked outside and went inside the church, excited that we were finally about to see something.

But, as luck would have it, upon walking through the doors, we were greeted by the largest sheet of white plastic I have ever seen hanging directly in front of us. Confused, we walked up towards a section which had a clear window inserted and looked through to the other side - only to find that the entire inside of the church was being renovated and was nothing but dust and construction equipment.

At this point, we were beginning to feel slightly defeated so we headed back to the train station. We managed to arrive just in time and barely made it onto the train heading back to Karlskrona.

Slightly relieved that we were now heading back to 'home,' we found some seats and took a little rest. Amidst our rest, our train decided to take its good old time to get to where it was going, and by the time we had to get off halfway to switch trains, we were running 30 minutes behind schedule. That being said, we had missed our connecting train and were now stuck in a random town that no one has ever heard of, Emmaboda. So we talked to the train lady working there and she said we could grab a bus home but it wouldn't be another hour before it arrived.

By this point we had given up and were completely ammused with how the day was going and decided to hang out at the nearest (perhaps the only) cafe in town. Turns out the cafe had a thing for the 70s and it felt like we had stepped back in time to some disco place, but the food was great so we didn't mind.

A few hours later and we found ourselves finally back in Karlskrona, relieved after the craziness of the morning.

To make sure that we were somewhat productive for the day, we decided to head to my school to show Leah where all the studying happens (sort of). To get us there, I was planning on renting a tandem bike for the two of us, but as the day had shown, our luck wasn't going to get us the bike. So instead, we decided to do it like all the Swedish teenagers do - one person riding while the other sits on the carrying rack behind and holds their feet out to the side.

Who would have thought such a task would be so difficult. But let's just say that Leah's lack of grace when it comes to walking (ie tripping all the time) also carries over to her ability to sit behind me on a bike. We made it all of 50 feet before giving up and deciding to walk the bike to school, and somehow, in those 50 feet, Matt happened to ride by on his bike to witness the whole ordeal. I guess that's one task we're going to have to work on more for the future.

After getting to school, I realized that there really wasn't much to show - BTH is about the size of PSU's football stadium, well maybe slightly bigger, but you get the idea. So, I got the idea to show Leah our bike coop room in the basement. As we were heading to the basement door, I went to open it at the same time as a series of indivudals dressed in all black with road signs hanging around their neck emerged from the same basement door. Both of us jumped back as the group filed out of the basement followed by a man carrying a video camera and halloween axe. Oh the things you come across in Sweden... Turns out the bike room was locked but that incident alone was worth heading to the basement.

Satisfied that we had actually seen something for the day, we walked back to the apartment.

That night, we went out to dinner with Ali and Matt where we happened to run into our head professor of the program. Everything was fine until we realized that we were sitting under a bunch of pictures of naked girls at our table, slightly awkward, but oh well. The food was great and Ali and Leah even decided to try out their Swedish moves on the dance floor (granted it was just the two of them and their moves were more like a sprint around the dance floor while Matt and I continued walking by).

(stay tuned for more about Day 3 and 4...)

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