02 August 2015

26 July 2015

The superheroes

Back in 2012, I had my first mobile injection room spotting. A cream colored ride, with a yellow cross and the word “Fixerum, førstehjælp” (injection room, first aid) on the sides. It launched in September 2011, and I meant to write about it then, but the subject is so hard and depressing that I kept putting it off. An approach I at the time shared with the city administration, turning a blind eye to the problem.

The injection room was a guerrilla initiative by a small, frustrated group of locals, led by social innovator Michael Lodberg, who could no longer stand by and watch the struggle of the drug addicts, criminalized and left to inject and often die from an overdose, in public. As the city refused to run or even allow an injection room, Michael Lodberg raised the money for an old ambulance, and staffed it with volunteer nurses and doctors.

Fixerum The Mobile Injection Room
The Fixelance on Vesterbro, March 2012.

As the ambulance set out, they didn’t know what to expect. Maybe they would get arrested? Maybe locals would chase them away? Instead, the initiative was widely embraced. It was obviously a better solution for everyone, to have drugs administered in a designated space, where used needles would be collected, and kept off the streets. It offered a measure of dignity for the users, clean needles and someone there to revive them, if they overdosed.

From the book Fixerummet der fik hjul (the injection room that got wheels). A hard but good read.

Another ambulance was later donated, lives were saved and one year in, the mobile injection room was such a resounding success that the city finally caved, and took over the project. This is now a part of Copenhagen history, and the first ambulance has even become a part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of Denmark.

Michael Lodberg's mission to restore dignity to society's most vulnerable, continues. We met at his office in the meat packing district, to discuss his latest project: Pantringen, the deposit ring. A garbage can accessory, shaped like a half-moon shelf, where you can leave the deposit bottles for collectors. Unlike the case of The Test Tubes (a cup-stacking device by yours truly), this idea was embraced by the cleaning department, who have entered a trial period with the deposit ring, in selected areas.

Pantring / Deposit ring

Giv din pant videre / Pass your deposit on. 

Pantring / Deposit ring

Pantring / Deposit ring

The purpose of the ring is double: it spares deposit collectors the humiliation of digging through garbage, and it helps save the environment. Last year alone deposit bottles worth 166 million DKR were never returned. An incredible waste of resources, and a strain on the environment. We agreed: people who collect deposit bottles are really environmental heroes. Instead of being treated like a pariah, they should be dressed in capes, and saluted for the work that so many can’t be bothered to do themselves.

Pantring / Deposit ring

I don't know about you, but I am tempted to throw in a super-cape for Lodberg too.

The mobile injection room Fixelancen
Pantringen, Kbhpant  (in Danish)
Fixerummet der fik hjul (about the book, in Danish) 

19 July 2015

Silent Sunday, inhale



01 July 2015

To Henry

So. Remember the big trees on Nørrebros Runddel that we managed to save a few weeks ago? The city is remaking the street, and planned to cut down all the old trees, and start over with a fancy new square. We managed to limit the damages, but still out of the six, three was deemed not salvageable, and it just didn’t sit right. I was happy about the three big trees, but at the same time it felt like a betrayal to the last two, only “on their way to becoming risk trees”. You don’t want to be ungrateful when they did spare three, but on the other hand you can’t let that feeling go...

One of the great things about the tree group, is that a lot of tree experts and biologists are following. Some of them inspected the trees, and didn’t agree with the city’s verdict, or reasons for felling. Our mayor of trees Morten Kabell is reading our posts too, and told us he would look into it one more time. A week later he returned with the good news: another two would be spared. Bringing the felling down to one. Imagine that? This mayor gives me such hope for the Copenhagen trees.

Now my gut is finally at ease. I knew that Runddelen was where Danish artist Henry Heerup grew up, so at least one of the trees would have had to be “his”. I looked into the age of the trees. They are from 1907. I looked into when Henry Heerup was born. 1907. Goosebumps! Everything somehow fell into place.

 I have a feeling that Henry would have approved.

If you are (or read) Danish and love trees, join us: 


29 June 2015

Run and roll

The Copenhagen mural bonanza continues. Besides the wired eagle mural by Dal East, this one hit me hard. I followed the progress, while zigzagging between the other five murals, and when I returned for the final result, I let out a big yell. Holding those in, is bad for you. Conor Harrington gives you an idea of what graffiti would have looked like in the 18th century.

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

I got there in time to see the groundwork. The artist was off to fetch 12 liters of bottled water. I was later to understand why.

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Reference points. You can already tell, this is going to be good...

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Here is where the water comes in.

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Run and roll.

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen
Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

I get a secret kick out of shooting this with my small camera, while all the male photographers pull out their big.. equipment to compare. I know what kind of magic my beloved camera holds, you can keep your pointy hardware, guys.

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Mural overlooking a parking lot, in Tullinsgade on Vesterbro. Some old guy had the audacity to question this use of public space. To my face. I detonated on the spot, pointing to the parked cars: "Look at all this ugly metal, taking up our public space? You should drop to you knees and thank this artist for the contribution!". It's okay, you can go ahead and call me crazy, yelling lady.

Conor Harrington mural, Copenhagen

Thank you, Mr. Harrington!

More Conor Harrington:  
Instagram @conorsaysboom


24 June 2015

The perfect gift

Copenhagen has been graced with no less than six fantastic mural paintings. We used to have a tradition for this, both (beautiful) commercials and art, but it sort of died out. The occasion of the six murals, is Danish photographer Søren Solkær’s new book “Surface”, portraying street artists from around the world. I couldn’t possibly care less about the hype surrounding this project, for me it is all about the art. Roaring, temperamental art on a massive scale, reviving the public space, otherwise pimped out to advertisers.

I followed a few of the murals as they evolved, this post is all about the one that for so many reasons made the biggest impression on me. The big bird by Dal East.

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

First shot, note the greenery interacting with the bird. This is how it was planned. If you know even a little bit about how “green Copenhagen” works, you know what is coming...

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

Dal East working his magic mid-air, in short, precise bursts, one eye on the sketch.... pst...pst...pst.

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

This is obviously not something you sneak in and do at night without anyone noticing, as it takes a huge, noisy lift, and a couple of days to finish. So permission is properly asked and granted, before anything (I still love the idea of not asking anyone’s permission, ha!).

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

Calling the murals “public” may be a stretch as they are all on private properties and fenced in, but you can see most of them from the street. They are all concentrated on Vesterbro, two even on the same block. Lucky bastards.

During a break, I started talking to Dal East. It was supposed to be about him, but somehow we ended up talking about trees, and my fight to keep them around. He told me a story: An old Chinese man summoned his sons to his deathbed, and they asked if he had a final piece of advise for them. He told them to go to the kitchen and bring him all the chopsticks. First, he took one, and broke it in two. "Do you see how easy that was?" Then he took the whole bunch, and tried unsuccessfully to break them all. The point he was making to his sons was to stick together, this way they would be strong.

This is certainly true of citizens groups, uniting to save nature. Still get goosebumps from that story, oh. On the last day, I had the nerve to ask if I could take a ride in the lift, and get some good bird shots. My wish was granted. Fear of heights be damned, six stories up we went.

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

You know I am a sucker for the close-up's, I couldn't help myself. But I was reminded by the lift operator, that it was made to be watched from a distance. To me it is just as magic up close, tattoo good!

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

Flare positioned to match the sunset angle. Details matter.

And the final result. Notice anything missing, compared to the first shot?

Dal East mural, Copenhagen

Someone mistakenly thought that nature was obstructing the art, and cut the branches down. Classic Copenhagen.

As we passed this point Dal East, clearly touched, pointed to the window across the street and said: "look, how sweet". A small family with a fresh view of the magnificent bird, had pasted thank you notes to the window, gathered the children, and was waving and smiling.

Dal East mural, Copenhagen 

We love our new view, thank you!

A perfect picture of how grateful we all feel, for this gift to Copenhagen.

The mural is at Oehlenschlagersgade 76 (link to map).

21 June 2015

Silent Sunday, survivor




17 June 2015

Save the trees!

Friday I was alerted to notes stuck to the six big trees on Nørrebros Runddel, right next to Jagtvej 69, stating they were all about to be felled. Reason given: insufficient planting holes and old pruning damages. And while they are remaking the new Nørrebrogade, they would replace all the trees with young ones, in a few days. Architects and project planners like nothing better than starting fresh, and working from a clean slate.

Endangered Copenhagen tree

From my experience, they will say anything to justify felling. They will lie and call them sick or a danger to people. Blindly trusting this reason was not an option. With the support of the citizens in our tree group Red Byens Træer, we managed to raise a storm, and the mayor of trees reached out to let us know that he would look into it. What a cool move.

Doomed tree

The trees are being felled.

Træerne skal fældes

Favorite graffiti beast, looking horrified by the prospect of losing his leafy friends.

Five banners and two sleepless nights later, our mayor returned with the good news/bad news: We managed to save three magnificent old trees. One other was a so-called risk tree, the two others heading in that direction. I only aged with about ten years.

(Reads: Three endangered trees saved at the last moment) 


But it was totally worth it!

It was a good thing that it was cleared up so fast because the race is on to save another fourteen big, healthy Nørrebro trees that were also lied sick, in order to force a plan through. Just started my first petition today, to see if the citizens have a say in what happens to their own neighborhood. Fingers crossed. Look at these beautiful trees that my city wants to cut down.

Guldbergsgade endangered trees


When they come for your nature, you wake up and defend it. These trees clean the air, and absorb some of the particles from traffic that would otherwise go to our lungs, and stay there. And, we know that once nature is taken from the urban space, it is never returned. Another reason why we should not accept street trees being replaced in nearby parks. Oh, I could go on, haha. Here is a rare patch of un-fancified Copenhagen.

Right around the corner from this, is one of the most incredible murals I have ever laid eyes on. We had a handful of murals made by street art masters from all around the world, just last week. Coming soon on a blog near you.