28 May 2016

Investment and returns

Slowly things are returning. The beloved, welded and happy hand-holding street art chairs on the bridge, disappeared over winter. They were left there for a long time, but one day they were gone. And then, by some miracle, they returned. In a fresh lick of paint and with a slight alteration, but still the sweet, happy faces. Squealing-good!


Return of the happy street art chairs

Welcome back my sweet friends, you were missed!

Return of the happy street art chairs

This time they are signed, by Urbansteel_Cph.

Return of the happy street art chairs

And we have seen major development on the tree front. Relentless pressure from citizens and NGOs finally paid off: Copenhagen has adopted its first Tree Policy (as of May 2nd 2016). It is not a quick fix, the obstacles for the remaining street trees are still massive, but it is a big step in the right direction.

Summer under rescued bunker trees

When the heat sets in the best place to be in the city, is under a big tree. Remember how we saved these bunkers and trees, with all the blog noise? It was how it all began. Incredible how much has happened since then.

Another big event was the liberation of the Ladytree. The majestic ginkgo in my street, miraculously spared in the new construction plans on the grounds. It was so close to being completely swallowed by ivy that on the day they removed it, they all agreed that it would have died in less than two years. My sweet tree. Five men climbed six floors up, and meticulously removed the ivy. It took them a full day.

Liberation of the Ladytree

Liberation of the Ladytree

Freeeeeeeeeeedoooooooooom.

Before (same time last year):

The Ladytree before

After:

Liberation of the Ladytree

And it is only just in spring mode. It is going to be interesting to see how it will act unrestrained.

Seriously, I can't think of anything more meaningful in the entire world, than to fight for and save trees. I could do without the constant worry, but it seems to be a package deal. Still trying to work that part out. 

And you know what else returned?

MY CAMERA! 

Lilacs

Ooooooh, I had no idea just how crippled I have been, until the flip-n-macro returned.

Let the fun commence.


18 April 2016

A magic moment

This is my street. I take this road almost every day, and usually my eyes wander to the big old trees on the Sølund grounds. I keep telling the big beech and the Ladytree, that they are home free. And to brace for major disturbance in a couple of years, when three blocks of buildings are to be demolished.

But today something else caught my eye. Down the street a crow was walking alongside an old woman with a walker, keeping her company.  


(Side note: Row of cars to the right, used to be a sidewalk. Parking trumps pedestrians. Ugh.)


Halfway down the street, the bird was signalling for a stop, by wandering a little ahead, and giving the stare. 


The old lady obeyed, and pulled out a bag of bird snack. 


Crows are so incredibly clever.


 After dining, the bird and the old lady exchanged looks, and it took off. 

I approached to ask what this was about? "Oh, I have two pairs of crows who follow me around," she said. "It is important to be in contact with animal life, even when we live in the city." 

What a magic moment.  



26 February 2016

Bike parking heaven

The suffering of the trees brought me to the tree (and bike-) mayor’s office, and with that I finally got my ticket to bike parking heaven: The in-house bike parking facility of City Hall, designed by Martin Nyrop and built in 1905.

There are no signs leading the way. If you have business there, you know the way, otherwise it is a well-kept secret. I located a ramp at the back of the building, and confirmed with a guard that I was on the right track. Entering City Hall with your bike. I hope they get a kick out of that every day..

I pulled my bike up the ramp, and entered a fancy, guarded reception area. Surely I was not supposed to bring my bike here? But I was. Continuing into the “parterre”, the bike parking level. Pretty sure that my bike let out a squeal.

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

Employee bike parking facility at Copenhagen City Hall.

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

Daylight seeping in through a matted glass ceiling, travelling five stories down. They really knew how to design with daylight back then, by the use of balconies.

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

Sturdy brass-lined ramps, no banging metallic sounds here. Sounds are muffled, with acoustics like a cosy living room. Oh, how I love good acoustics.

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

No bike parking against the wall. As if anyone have the heart to lean a bike against a corduroy upholstered bench?

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

(major repressing of backup-camera-whining here, ugh)

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

Pampering continues with polished copper faucets.

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen 
Adding a new word to my vocabulary: parterre. Between the basement and the ground floor.

Bike parking parterre, City Hall in Copenhagen

Looking down the in-house bike parking facility, from the ground level, not a bike in sight. Perfectly planned in 1905, you have to wonder why they didn't continue this way of thinking? Today bike parking is a mere afterthought, in Copenhagen. Even train stations are still built with insufficient bike parking space and outdated solutions. They should know better. After all, they park here every day.


18 February 2016

Listen and learn

Something extraordinary happened this week. Remember the 35 year old retirement home Sølund, just down my block? A huge yellow lake view structure in three parts, surrounded by old trees? The city planned to demolish it all and start over, and three years ago they had already picked a winner: a curb-kissing monster sucking out all light and killing all trees on the grounds. Your basic nightmare. They conveniently skipped the part where you ask the neighbors for input, and had already initiated the process of relocating the elderly. At the info-meeting three years ago (almost to the day) the neighbors were not happy.

Sølund i regndråber

Mini reflections of current Sølund retirement home.

The neighbors object
At the meeting a young girl stood up and asked why all these vacant apartments (from the relocated elderly) were not used to house students? This question received condescending smiles. My objections related to the trees on the ground. Why could they not be incorporated? At least the oldest, facing the street? Move the line back to the current position? More smiles. As the winner had already been chosen, this meeting was merely considered a formality.

The neighbor-resistance persisted but what finally put a halt to the project, was a few political parties who vetoed the plan due to insufficient parking. Imagine that? Saved by cars. For a long time, half of the apartments were left vacant. The neighbors pushed for homeless students to be allowed in until the city finally caved, and let them in on a two-year lease. This was the beginning of an experiment: would the two generations be able to coexist?

Plejehjemmet Sølund

The city decided to start over with a new competition, and this time the neighbors were heard. And, interestingly the concept of mixed generations turned out to be so successful that it became part of the new plan: a mixed facility. By listening, they learned.

Save the Ladytree
My job has always been to save the trees. With 70+ on the grounds, I had to pick my battle, and I focused on the 154 year old Ladytree and the old corner beech. I could just have called it by its formal name: ginkgo biloba, or temple tree, but it is more than that. It is a piece of Copenhagen history, the very soul of the street. No two trees are alike, and they all have their own personality, they should all at the very least be named. To make people care about this tree, I figured it needed an identity.

Step one: create an identity
Being a female (oh yes, they come in genders), I named it the Ladytree. Now she needed exposure. I cut out a giant tree hugger from cardboard, painted and dressed her. 


Step two: exposure
The Ladytree (Dametræet) and the tree hugger climbed into the news here and there. The tree was registered by The Danish Dendrological Society (with her proper name, of course) and finally in November last year, the Ladytree made it to the national radio, and was even introduced in a small video.

The outcome
Yesterday the winner was announced for the new Sølund. From the online material I could tell the old beech was safe, but what about the Ladytree? I called the architect, and asked if they had spared the old ginkgo. His reply: “of course we incorporated the Ladytree”. Oh sweet holy mission, so very accomplished!


Saved!

Last night I browsed the winning architect's website, and discovered a picture from one of my roaring Sølund posts. They read my posts!? And they got the message. Ha!

Previous Sølund posts:
Feast your eyes, (the good) May 23 3013
Something rotten (the ugly) May 27 2013

23 January 2016

A nice touch

The city of Copenhagen has invested in a little pampering for cyclists. Not something that would make a dent in the budget, slanted trash cans along the bike lane (for easy disposal on the go) and a few nice railings with a foot rest, for leaning and hanging with the (bicycle) family, at a red light. Still, there are stingy voices complaining that this is a waste of public funds, arguing it is not really a necessity. Unlike getting around by car, I assume? That toxic waste of space, claimed by too many, to be something they can't do without?

Yeah, I say spend the funds pampering the cyclists. And watch the goodness evolve. 

I like

I like

the way

the way

you

you

touch me

touch me.


31 December 2015

The year in pictures

I have been asking myself where the year went. What happened? The pictures bring it all back. What an utterly hellish year, this has been. Globally, locally and personally. No sugarcoating that one. It all ended with the death of the camera, perhaps to punish me for so infrequently pointing it at anything interesting.

January.

Red

Signed Redie.

Plywood decoration on one of the many constructions site fences in Copenhagen. Behind this wall a high rise in the making (Panum Institute), visible from nearly every angle of Copenhagen. This painting is breathing somehow, compared to the neutered versions found on the many metro construction sites, where artists go through a screening process and everything is neatly organized. And boring. Sorry, but it is.

February.

Poetry

Snow. At this rate, I am not sure we will see that again in Denmark. Reports of blooming cherry trees. In December?

March.

Hold that car

In a picture, the struggle to stay afloat in a world that is crumbling around you. The horror of the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen taking its toll. 

April.

Children's urban garden

From a school yard, just across the happy house. A bittersweet encounter. The human need for nature and watching things grow, is why children cut out soda bottles, strap them to a fence and plant a vertical garden with watercress.

May.

Running

For my own sanity, I need to get out of Copenhagen more. Current mood is that of one being swallowed by a whale (December speaking).

June.
Come June things picked up. Five street artists were commissioned to work on a handful of Copenhagen murals, and my camera was zigzagging between endangered trees (that we miraculously managed to save, yay!) and mad talent firing at five huge walls simultaneously.

Local street art is dying, there is so few traces left now. One of the many sad effects of gentrification. The more reason to cherish the parking guard turned stone snake, on Vesterbro.

Head of the snake

Stone snake

Mad love for this creature. Next to it another breath of fresh air. 

Copenhagen graffiti

This one made it to my selection of street art pictures, in my first solo show. On exhibit in Edinburgh, Scotland City Link Festival, earlier this year. The one I forgot to tell you about. I may have to brush up on my horn tooting skills too.

July.

July was the month where I decided to give the dating thing a shot again. Took this picture during it.

Slow down

Slow down.

Dating wasn't as bad as I remembered. It was worse.

Wild things

Wild things.

And what may be my favorite shooting moment of the year. Pregnant woman bringing home the crib.

Pregnant woman bringing home the crib

Poetry in motion.

August.

Midnight in Paris

Seine spider in Paris, by night. 

September.

Ivy heart

October.
(Camera died)

November.

Ungentrified

A rare ungentrified patch of Copenhagen, Stengade on Nørrebro. As misunderstood by my replacement camera, but in a totally acceptable way.

Skinny moon under a rescued tree

When it all sucks, the trick is to find something you love and appreciate the crap out of it. Like a skinny moon under a rescued bunker tree.

December.

Heart shaped tree!? <3

This one blew my mind: a heart shaped tree!? Oh.

That's it. Only hours left of this year, I beg of the next one to be gentle with me. With all of us.


 

20 December 2015

I salute thee

This week, my scarf escaped both my bike basket and my attention, and behind me I heard “lady, lady!” (in English). A man came running after me with my precious scarf. So sweet. The next day, as I was taking a really shitty picture with my backup camera (yes, my camera died on me, hence the lacking updates), my bike fell over. A man stopped to help me. A foreigner, as well. Today, I was at the flea market with my Italian friend, and when I got home with all the horribly heavy stuff, my downstairs neighbors, the sweetest couple from Poland, carried it up to my door. Like they have the last three times.

It was then I fully realised how I would not want to live in a city, or even a country, with no foreigners. They just make everything better. 



18 December 2015

Mission Maple Tree

While it is fair to call me a tardy blogger, I have been a really busy treehugger, with Red Byens Træer (Save the Urban Trees). Yesterday was a milestone for the citizens tree movement in Copenhagen. A sign of a new kind of democracy, with citizens leading by example.

Two weeks ago we learned that nine trees were about to be cut down in a park, for yet another metro line. Red Byens Træer contacted the Metro Company to see if any could be moved. Something that the city is reluctant to try and do not believe will work for big trees, despite evidence to the contrary. We met at the park, where a heartbreaking eight trees could not be saved. Some were simply too big to move, others were entangled in stupid floor lamps. What kind of moron deliberately place electric wiring in the root zone of a tree? Ugh!

The only tree that could be saved was a tall and beautiful 20 year old ash, that we at the time mistook for a maple tree, and that later initiated Mission Maple Tree (Mission Ahorn). 


The tree made the front page of a widely distributed local paper, with a plea for adoption, but there were no takers. The Metro Company handed us a deadline: Friday at 11AM it goes. That was last week. The night before my favorite park manager, allowed us to plant the tree on city soil in Fælledparken, but the city would not pay for the move. A nervewrecking twenty minutes before felling time, we managed to delay the deadline until Monday, leaving us the weekend to flash-crowdfund the move. By Saturday the citizens had pulled together and funded the move at 7500 DKR, expecting to save the tree before the deadline. 


Summer version by Google. Alle the trees in front and to the right are gone. Precious canopy cover lost.

Just as we thought we were home free, came the chock: a ramp needed to be built, and it was not, as we were misinformed, included in the moving cost. The Metro Company, missing the huge PR moment completely, would not assist us in any way. Best they could do, was to postpone felling one last time.

In another two days, we amazingly managed to raise the same amount again, to buy six tonnes of gravel, and the assistance of a paving and gardening company. Putting up signs, planning for the ramp, booking, coordinating, blocking parking spaces, everything had to work out, or we would lose the tree. And like magic, it did. Here is the big day in pictures:








Apart from that fence from hell, with everything properly coordinated, the move itself was smooth. Until we hit the streets, and had forgotten to factor in the low hanging Christmas decorations... The moving truck found a way out, but at Østerbro's busiest intersection we were sabotaged.


In black and white because: drama.

The amazing gardener, refusing to be beaten, jumped out of the truck, ran into the intersection and climbed the tree. Along with the treemover, they gently tied the crown down, and managed to just slip under the wire. Not a single honk from drivers, despite blocking the street for several lightcycles. Pretty cool, Copenhagen.


By some miracle I had chosen the right contractor for the assignment. Who else would have gone to this length? I am so grateful. Shortly after, we reached the destination. 


The damages were controlled.


And the tree lovered into its new home.




 Mission accomplished!

All that remains now, is to see how it handles the move. If it goes well, the city is... urged to admit, this could be a viable alternative to the senseless fellings. My dream is to create an urban forest of rescued Copenhagen trees. All with their own story, on a big map. Fingers crossed for the beautiful ash. I know it is a survivor. You can just tell.

Links:
Save the Urban Trees, blog (Red Byens Træer translated into English)