Leaving London

I came to London 5 years ago to study. I was meant to study a combined degree in language and do a 4th year in abroad. Instead I applied to do Ba Music full time and continued on to do Ma Creative Economy.
My time in London has been like a long-term romantic relationship with drama, passion, love and exitement.
Now it’s time to break up. It’s truly been a love/hate relationship. And I am wondering if I will ever move back. All I know is that I am ready to leave.
I pretend it is not goodbye but I think I know that I won’t come back. If I do, I know it won’t be the same. In London things are changing so fast and everyone I know seems to be here on a temporary basis. I guess that’s the nature of a big city. Besides friends there’s a few things that I will really miss:

Southbank: Going to the riverside always did something to my mood. And I have watched some really good gigs at Southbank Centre. And I always loved to go for a walk along the river, no matter the weather.
Often crossed Waterloo bridge and walked to Covent Garden.

Borough market: Food heaven-pure indulgence, watch your money spending!!

Southwest trains: I became a SW Londoner and took the train to London for leisure and work. It always made me thoughtful to drive that bit from Waterloo past Vauxhall, Clapham and Battersea. The view is really interesting and I sometimes watched the sunrise/sunset along this route, so beautiful. You get to see London Eye, The Battersea industrial derelect building. Whilst I lived here a tall building was buildt at Elephant and Castle. That reminds me of the first time I ever went to London which was to Elephant and Castle.

Brick Lane and Spitalfields: Spitalfields market – just to watch never bought anything. A huuuge vintage store – bought lots. A really good health store – would go there from SW London just to get a particular kind of pasta.
Of course curry!! Exhibitions and drinks..one too many drinks.

Green Parks: A good friend and I once walked from Little Venice through Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. It was an amzing, sunny and warm day. I always loved that London has so many green parks. I lived near Richmond Park for many years. I remember the first time I walked through the gates and saw a massive field in front of me with lots of big, brown, proud deer! It was like being in Jurassic Park 1.

Krispy creme: Speaks for itself, compulsory at Waterloo station.

Health food/organic/eco-friendly: The fact that you can chose to live a certain lifestyle and find reasonable products, even in the supermarket!

Pimms!! With strawberry, mint, cucumber, orange and lime…mmm..

Sunday roast: Never was a big fan really but think I’ll always miss it as the super-british thing it is.

Cornershops: Another super-british thing but which has made my life super convenient especially when I was hungover or had the pregnancy cravings.

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February 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

My green sins

Source: WikipediaSource: Wikipedia

I keep noticing things I do which I shamefully have to admit are very non-eco and which could easily be avoided…these every day habits that are so hard to get rid off. If I publish them here I might find it easier to overcome them once and for all!!

  • Do the dishes under running, hot water rather
  • Brush my teeth under running water
  • Forget to bring shopping bags when leaving the house, come home with lots of plastic bags
  • Take super long and very hot showers, actually, unnecessary long showers
  • Forget to turn of radiators and heating when not at home
  • Leave my laptop and mobile charging after full
  • Leave the TV and other equipment in standby mode when not in use
  • Forget to bring a water bottle and buy bottled drinks

I’m sure there’s more..I’ll add when I remember them

 

Source: Custom Grocery Bags

November 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

A breastfeeding nightmare: Experiencing a understaffed NHS

So I am now a parent and I want to share some of how I experienced the very first days as a mother as I am sure so many others must have been in the same place. It is also to show my own, personal, encounter with an understaffed NHS service where one can easily be overlooked and personal consierations can not be prioritised.

Source: NHS

I was determined and looking forward to breastfeed my newborn as this is what I was used to in my family and where I come from. They big day arrived, I had a good birth and we were ready for the first feed. The baby wouldn’t latch on. From this first moment staff looked at me with a worried face and nearly doomed my ability to breastfeed. I was still exhausted after giving birth and didn’t really understand or had the ability to cope with a breastfeeding troubleshoot, it just hadn’t crossed my mind that I could have a difficulty with it, was it just not something that would happen naturally? Apparently not.

Later on that day a midwife came to check on feeding and we hadn’t really fed as the baby had been sleeping almost continuously since birth. The midwife said the baby would get low bloodsugar levels and that I had to wake her up and feed her. She asked how the feeding went earlier and I explained she had trouble latching on. The midwife looked worried and said we would have to feed her formula top-up if she wouldn’t feed properly and that the baby’s tiredness was probably due to low blood sugar. I said I didn’t want to use formula as it had been advised against on the antenatal class. The midwife then asked me why they had advised against that. The course was held at the same hospital, by a midwife, and it felt awful to be asked as if she was in disbelief of what I had been taught. I was still exhausted and tired and wasn’t able to remember the details nor explain myself. At this stage it was also made clear that the sooner the baby fed properly we would be able to leave the hospital.
We tried breastfeeding again but with little success. When another midwife visited later and I said we had tried to breastfeed but failed what she did was to grab my breast, squeeze it and put it into the baby’s mouth. I felt powerless and run over by these people who were supposed to be professionals. I am sure they are but they didn’t have time to act like it. I was overwhelmed by the experience. However, I was taught how to express the colostrum and at least managed to feed these valuable drops to the baby.

I just wanted to leave the hospital. I knew if I persisted to keep on trying with the breastfeeding the baby would be hungry and I would not be dismissed. I gave in. The midwife introduced formula and cup-feeding. I asked if they had organic formula (that would at least make me feel less councious) but they didn’t have that. In think I was desperately trying to find ways of justyfying using formula at this stage. The baby was hungry and drank fast. I was happy for her and happy to know I could go home soon. I kept expressing still and fed however much I was able to get out in addition to the formula.
My hospital stay was a huge disappointment. The midwives who were at the ward had little time to help and showed little sensitivity towards the fact that I was a first-time mum. They had no time to sit down and take their time to help and some of them were quite short and unfriendly. At the end of my stay I spoke to one of the friendlier midwives (just a little bit of chit chat meant a lot and I almost feel silly saying that now) and learned that they, the midwifes, were exhausted and understaffed. They had two midwives on and 18 bed ward. That’s NHS for you.
I understood why I had received so little support but I became even more upset that these valuable first hours with my child had been dominated and affected by this.

Source: Sciencephoto

Back home we brought formula with us and the first night went well. The following day a midwife visited. I explained how we had solved the breastfeeding issue which she was not very encouraging about. She asked: “Did you not go to any antenatal or breastfeeding classes?” Yes I did. “But did they not tell you that you should not mix formula and breastmilk?” Yes…. (the two creates in-balance of the stomach culture and makes it harder to digest so the baby is likely to get wind, constipation and tummy aches). Again, I was receiving completely different advise from health professionals and it was very upsetting. The midwife did not have time to stay very long (she explained thisnfirst thing when she entered the room) but said that we should try to breastfeed only for another couple of days and that quality was better than quantity since the colostrum is very rich.
But, two days later I was crying and the baby was crying. I had blisters on my nipples. I needed help or I would give up the whole thing entirely. I did a google search and found Let’s Breastfeed run by Geraldine Miskin, a breastfeeding specialist. I called her at 9am and she was at my door 10.45am the same day. She sat down and listened to me. She was gentle and warm. Without going into detail Geraldine had a quick look at the baby and me and identified what had gone wrong. I was introduced to nipple shields and we have now been successfully breastfeeding since-pain free! This consultation was expensive and way over my budget but it was worth it.

Source: Medela

Breastfeeding is promoted through the NHS and their leaflets and guides shows how you simply position the baby nose to nipple so that the baby can grasp breast tissue and not just nipple. I received little info or preparation at antenatal care about what to do when this doesn’t go as smoothly. What they should have said in the antenatal course and written in the leaflets is that this idea about breastfeeding being easy and natural is a myth. I guess they don’t want to scare anyone off breastfeeding, but I personally would have liked to be prepared. I know there is info available, also on the NHS web-pages, but talking to family and friends and reading comments in various forums online I realised how common it is to have trouble breastfeeding. I guess because it portrayed as a natural and simple task I nevder thought it would be an issue and therefore didn’t do my research.
Most women who have breastfed will know what it is to have sore, cracked and bleeding nipples. It is not supposed to be like that and these are signs that the baby is not latching on properly. Ironically, as I experienced, they don’t have the resources to give you proper support and there must be so many women who just give up. I was actually told by midwives that many do give up, sadly. My breastfeeding experience became a true nightmare, it was even worse and more painful than giving birth. Not to mention how frustrating and maybe distressing it was for the baby, being born is in itself a big trauma for the baby. I truly hope the understaffed maternity wards will see a better future (unsure how likely that is in times of financial crisis) and until then I recommend for any first time mum to hire a doula or speak to someone professional, who have got time, if anything doesn’t go as planned. Or to do the research in advance and be as prepared as one can be. The emotional state after birth is hard to predict. I felt weak and unable to stand up for my self. The staff who was supposed to be there to support me ended up walking over me and it was not pleasant.

November 9, 2011 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

Depressing future prospects – money is the clue (???)

I’m looking for a new place to live. I’m a student, employed in two part-time jobs to make the ends meet. With my partner we’re trying to find a one bedroom flat that is cheaper than where we live now. Also there are other considerations, commuting possibilities, shops etc.
We have currently looked around at agencies and I was reminded by a whole procedure that we went through last year which begins with: money. I am guttered and demotivated by the fact that these high street agencies have taken over the letting market and completely suck out every single little penny from people. In most cases you only speak to your agency twice: Before you move in. When you move out. They all charge unreasonable admin fees. Not only that, sometimes an inventory check-out as well. In addition you are expected to be able to pay out 6-10 weeks deposit plus the first months rent.
The example breakdown will the look like this for say, a 1 bed flat, furnished, 950 PCM:

Admin fee: £200
Inventory check out: £95
Deposit, 8 weeks: £1314
First month rent in advance: £950

Total to pay before move in date: Approx £2500

They also run credit scores on you, employment references and full investigation of your financial position. Last year i had a big loan sitting on my account and only reason why I managed to rent a flat was by offering 3 months advance rent. I paid about £4000 before I moved into the flat!
And I was, and still am one of the most poorly financially positioned citizen next to those who are unemployed. I have no potential of applying for mortgage or loans. Who has got this kind of money available at the blink of an eye?
I am not eligible to take up a loan, let alone applying for an overdraft requires sufficient income.
So, here I am, 26 years old. I have lived on my own since I was 15 years old. I have paid my bills, monthly rent.
I am expecting my first child and yet, this system forces me to find a studio which can hardly fit the three of us (partner, baby and I) and conditions that are not suitable for a family.
I am finishing a degree in Business and Law next year and all that I see is that I wish I just didn’t go for higher education and instead worked my self up earning a capital that would allow me to provide my family with what we need.
The private market is there, barely, but less accessible and much fewer options.
I know most of us keep saying money is evil. But it is true. Apparently financial status equals reliability, which is not entirely the whole truth.
The students who have wealthy parents will probably sort themselves out facing few challenges. Whilst all the others who have worked hard for years and years just have to continue to settle with second or third best because there is no way in. Imagine looking for flats when you first move to UK! You need to have UK bank account, employer referees, UK guarantals, credit history… It just becomes such a protected marked, unavailable to so many. I am not prepared to move to a London council estate because I lived in one for two years and I want to bring up my child where I don’t feel scared to walk alone after dark. It was loud and full of dangerous dogs that were hanging from trees being trained to work on their grip or biting skills or something… Sorry to generalize, but that was my experience. I heard gun shots, shouting and arguing all night.
I thought by getting an education I was investing in my future. Turns out my loans are getting higher and jobs fewer. And prices increase.
It is going to take me probably 30 years to pay back my debts that even a decent-paid job will barely do. Mind you I paid international fees for three years.
Meanwhile, people at the same age as I are now well sorted with self-owned flats and houses. Paying down debts and will be done with that much sooner than I probably will. They have a good income. Perhaps not their dream job, but how many in our money-focused society can actually pursue their dream job? I’m prepared to do whatever job I can and then what is left of time after family and all, could be devoted to my interests. Family life is simply not easily doable working in the arts. Policies doesn’t exist, working hours are uncontrolled, often late. I went to a conference where it was brought up that women after their 30’s were hardly non-existent in the creative industries. The field was dominated by single women or women who had the opportunity to live their job.
Not to mention the amount of students who are let down of the possibility to gain work experience as all these internships offered are literally free labor, only available for the higher class who can afford to work for free. Also, free labor is actually illegal – and should be prevented, in the way that it is developing. It is not OK to wipe someones ass, full-time, for 6 months without getting paid..no matter how much you learn. You should be able to gain that knowledge and being paid for that. And it is not OK to create an even higher gap between classes, which is is the result of this.
There are so many systems that we think we need to comply with. Well, that is not entirely the truth either. A lot of work can be done by ourselves, it just requires a tiny bit more effort. We have to stop letting things just pass, queue politely and accept the current surroundings. I say hand’s up for riots! (i don’t support violence).
London is on one side such an attractive place to live and work as the opportunities seems endless. And it is such an exciting city with unique places to go and see. There are lots of green “lungs”, parks and tourist attractions. And the creative industries are majorly represented. But it’s becoming a love-hate relationship. Do I want to live in this city where people work themselves to exhaustion to survive and hardly ever have time to enjoy life, quietness and peace?
Observing people on their way to work, they are so agitated, aggressive and tired. They look literally pissed off. They seemed to feel bothered by the smallest thing. Everyone is so busy…too busy. It surprised me the other day how happy i had felt when someone smiled and had a little chat with me, a stranger. Human interaction! And it reminded me how easily we cocoon ourselves into our own little bubbles and put on our side-blinds.
We just keep tuning out, away from everything else. And these systems and rules we just accept only offers benefits for those who can afford to or who wish to sacrifice and compromise. For the rest, there is little flexibility or willingness to think differently.
We become remote-controlled.

June 25, 2011 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

Reflection on Integrity And Values

This blog is a reflection on topics that I have written about in previous blog-posts throughout the year and will incorporate some of the thoughts that I made myself during the year and the Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship in Practice module whilst studying Ma Creative Economy. Part of the assessment for this module was to set up a business of which I experienced a very challenging dynamic between the members of the team Shakers Creative Communications. This post will discuss how I find that much of what I wrote about on my blog has become visible through the process of setting up a business. As the title implies, I have reflected on integrity and values, both in our overall society but also within my business team. I would like to add that any information and thoughts shared about my team is based on my own, individual experience and may not be reflected in the team as a whole.

The Dance by Henri Matisse

Source: The Guardian

Where has our curiosity gone?

Before the Ma Creative Economy I did a Bachelor in Music. During the years of my Bachelor I became more aware of artistic values and integrity and became more assertive of my own, personal values. I created networks, links and collaborations with people who inspired me. I performed in my own music duo, performed with other artists and organised a mini-festival. However, with a Masters in Creative Economy I wished to define my career path further and create a more attractive, even valid (I thought) resume for myself. I felt that my artistic background was insufficient, I needed to get some approved credentials to provide me with a solid income.

Now, looking back after this year I realise that the actual credentials are less important to me. The course rather gave me more confidence and belief in values than what I used to have when I was at the end of my Bachelor, fearing to face the big world lying ahead of me. I thought that a Masters in music wouldn’t get me anywhere so I had to choose differently. Now, all of these thoughts have become quite irrelevant. A piece of paper may give me a job and solid income, but, will it make me happy? I have the power to make sure that it will, but that takes more than a neat resume.

It is worrying how easily we let titles, credentials and physical achievements define and evaluate our potential. If we do not try to seek happiness in other places that physical achievements the credentials only represents broken values and lost integrity.

In a previous blog post Virtual Reality: Defining Identity or Losing It I talked about how, as our technology has developed, our desperate need for everything to happen by the speed of a click has become a reality. This means less effort and less time-consumption. We buy more, we produce more and we want more, quicker and quicker. Slow has become equivalent to poor delivery. We move into the cites where we think that our life will become more meaningful, get a job, earn lots of money and buy lots of stuff. The video Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard illustrates our fast-growing development through the light of its various impacts upon us human beings and how we have to take control of the outcome:

The Story of Stuff

Source: Youtube, The Story of Stuff Project

Happiness has become evaluated upon quantity, not quality. The side-effects of this is an immense time pressure that we create in order to meet the standards we set ourselves and this valuable time that we have available is spent on completely physical and anti-spiritual activities. The cost is that we have less time to cook a meal, spend time with friends and enjoy our mere existence. I included the following video in my RSA Animates post but also wish to display it here because it manages to pin-point so many crucial aspects of how the modern human being is living their lives and my concerns as discussed in this paragraph:

21st Century Enlightenment

 Source: Youtube

As everything becomes so accessible to us, we stop thinking ourselves, we just adapt and accept and go with the flow. We become lazy and it is very convenient to be in that position. It is more so a comfort-zone and safe place to be. Adorno and Horkheimer talked about this fear of mass-culture and criticized the development of commercialism, capitalism and popular culture in a chapter of Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader:

‘The masses, demoralized by their life under the pressure of the system, and who shows signs of civilization only in modes of behavior which have been forced  on them and through which fury and recalcitrance show everywhere, are to be kept in order by the sight of an inexorable life and exemplary behavior. Culture has always played its part in taming revolutionary and barbaric instincts. Industrial culture add its contribution. It shows the condition under which merciless life can be lived at all. The individual who is thoroughly weary must use his weariness as energy for his surrender to the collective power which wears him out’ (Adorno and Horkheimer in Redmond and Holmes, 2007, p. 41)

Source: Ecomwire.com

As we become more and more focused on individual, material success we often sacrifice time with our family and loved ones. I went to a conference at City University on Cultural Workforce Issues where it was revealed that the majority of women who worked in the creative industries in the UK are below their thirties and does not have children. It was brought up to show how this industry is more convenient for those who are single or can simply ‘live their job’. But the need to belong to a social group is still hard to avoid. Our claim of individual success contradicts itself in the way we act. Social interaction is not disappearing, it is just being transferred to coexistence in cyber-space. Almost like a desperate attempt to maintain human interaction we expose ourselves, uncritically, in extreme ways. I am thinking of people who, for instance, share absolutely anything about themselves in virtual environments such as Facebook. The screen has become our café, office and supermarket because we are constantly jaded by time. But the way our primary needs manifest themselves in these external channels and extreme ways, does after all, mean so very little. We fail to seek the truth, live together, listen to our needs, share and being empathetic towards each other. Where has our curiosity gone?

Source: Favim.com

My experience is that artistic and creative ways of thinking often challenges the mainstream. Rather than creating a standard first, the artist create his or her own standard. To create on artistic merits and values can because of this be very liberating. But I do appreciate how an artistic way of thinking could also be seen as completely anarchist and self centred, all though I believe that most of the time the result is that it is not. We can only understand ourselves in order to emphasise with and understand others. And artistic products such as music, dance, art and more often trigger a reaction in us based on certain feelings, emotions, experiences and passions that are projected onto us by the artist. These reactions may be negative as well as positive, but the important aspect is that for the uncommercial artist it will be less important to comply with the unwritten rules of acceptance, because he or she have a strong confidence in and focus on novelty and artistic value. Importantly, as discussed in my previous blog post Creativity and Innovation, I do not mean that these skills are just dedicated to artists or creatives, but anyone: ‘An artist is not a special person but every person is a special kind of artist’ (quote by A.K Coomasawari in Kumar, 2009, p. 47). What the “artist” successfully manage to do is to create an environment for themselves that nourishes creativity: 

‘creativity’ is actually a much more complex, demanding process than simply coming up with bright ideas, being ‘inspired’ or indulging moments of spontaneous invention. Accordingly, while ‘creativity’ is not the possession of a precious handful of geniuses, nor is it something we all have within us, if only we dared follow our impulses. Rather it depends on a combination of processes and personalities which might appear contradictory. Creativity requires that we think irrationally and rationally, that we cross boundaries between different ways of thinking, that we do not only have the ideas but also the resources and inclinations do to something with them. Creative individuals have the ability to hold these different, often contradictory impulses in equilibrium. But the ability to combine different thinking styles and processes is not the sole possession of creative individuals – it is, if anything, more likely to be found in groups of people working together, in teams, networks and systems, bringing together complementary competencies and personalities’ (Bilton, 2007: p. xiv)

The main barrier is that all though we all have this potential most of us are so scared of what other people will think and we are scared to make mistakes. Instead, we act controlled and put on a role in which there is little flexibility left to be adventurous. Piers Ibbotsen claims that if one is not allowed to make mistakes, contribute with new ideas and thoughts without feeling humiliated and mad, there is no or little room for creativity to happen (2008, p.69).

Is Business Not About Making Money?

Much of what is discussed above contributed to, what I saw as a negative development within the business team I was part of during the Design Thinking module. This is not to say that we were a failure, because we did succeed in many ways. We managed to get a client, we delivered a product that the customer was happy about and managed to get a profitable income. But, I dare say that we failed to nurture creativity together. There were various reasons for this.

At the very first stage we were playing with many excellent, different and fun ideas such as cooking course for children, secret pop-up events, old-style chain-letters, mobile app (application software for mobiles) to locate random parties and social get together’s, interactive map app, artist promotion, eco-tourism web-site, real-life social networking facilitator and more. We all felt enthusiastic very soon, but the enthusiasm was also killed just as soon because we were critical to any idea. Instead of a “yes” culture we created a “no” culture. We evaluated and judged our ideas before even trying. I remember that most of the arguments were based on us not having the appropriate experience or tools to do certain things. The brainstorming sessions became a painful process of finding this one, great, brilliant idea that everyone felt passionate and confident about. We forgot to see that the idea would have to be shaped by us, not the opposite. Already in early November we had established that we wished to take advantage of modern technology to enhance social interaction.

Our experiences and skills ranged from technology, events-management, live-arts, publishing and advertisement. You may read more about the team profiles on the Shakers Creative website. But these skills were soon ignored and we were instead looking for what could possibly be done within restrictions we decided upon, before we had even tested and prototyped. By not following up on our common goal we did not create a team identity where we all could exploit our talents and together create a unity. Amabile (1988) suggested that mutual understanding could only be achieved if motivation, resources and management practices would be reflected trough ‘freedom or autonomy in the conduct of work, provision of challenging, interesting work, specification of clear overall strategic goals, and formation of work teams by drawing together individuals with diverse skills and perspectives’ (1996 pp.1156).

 I overall felt that we lost confidence in ourselves as a team. There was no core value defined and enough consistency to stay connected as a team. A lot of the time we operated individually. Contributions of original or creative character were very often dismissed because they were not seen as what a “professional business” would do. Tasks that the team had delegated would be taken over and finished by another team-member in order to present them in a fashion or format that was seen as the common standard, but we rarely discussed what standards we wished to set as a team. In the end, we had no standards because we adapted to those in the team who were more articulate and who claimed to know better. We lost our integrity as a group and we constantly struggled to have all our voices heard. A quote by John Berger in John Berger: A Life in Writing illustrates very well the danger of inflexibility in collaboration with others:

‘The only rule in collaborations is that one should never strike deals and never compromise … If you disagree on something you shouldn’t yield and you shouldn’t insist on winning. Instead you should just accept that the solution is not right and carry on until it is right. The temptation to say ‘you can have this one and I will have the next one’ is fatal’

 All though I have learned a lot from it, I have to admit that I have never experienced to lose my confidence as much as I did within this project. Having to live up to the standards of individuals without achieving consensus as a team became a constant compromise in order to move on and progress somewhere. Realising that your work is never good enough is extremely demotivating. Sadly, we developed a dis-cooperative trend of approaching tasks individually and not as a team. It seemed more important secure profit and deliver our product successfully than actually running a team with its values and integrity intact. Creative inputs were met with scepticism and fear of being seen as unprofessional. In my point of view, these were the most unprofessional, counter-creative and innovative choices we made. 

Christiania – An independent state in Denmark, built on creative and collaborative principles.

Source: Denmark Travelguide

The final days of our business, before a business plan submission and presentation was due, the atmosphere was tense and it was difficult to avoid conflicts. It was announced that certain individuals were not trusted in to present the material, and if necessary, those more competent would do the full presentation alone. This constant anxiety of failing, doing mistakes, not living up to standards and not having the confidence to take risks poisoned our team and our project. It made a lot of damage and prevented collaborative dynamics between us which could have had a much different outcome if we all agreed to let go of our ego:

‘At its most banal, the discipline of the ensemble is the discipline of good manners; it is rooted in humility, restraint and mutuality. The surprising truth is that if you all agree to surrender control then action emerges abundantly and creatively. If you all agree to indulge one another then no one is indulgent; all become energised by the task in hand because space is no longer taken up with the struggle of egos’ (Ibbotson, 2008, p. 36).

I believe that if we had dared to create our own, common, rules we would have identified ourselves as a team more easily and also felt a much stronger ownership of what we were doing. We would have had to listen to each other and tune in with one another. Also, to make assumptions and shape our product on behalf of what we thought that the stake-holders and shareholders wished to receive and what is commonly accepted, did not only underestimate them and their ability or desire to be presented for something unconventional and new, but also our own creative potential. I would have much rather appreciated to split as a team with a product that we were all proud of, no matter if we made any money at all.

I do not claim that to accomplish a successful and creative group dynamic is an easy task. On the contrary, I have experienced that it is a very challenging and hard task to take on. As we become more and more focused on physical and individual success, we forget and even ignore the importance of worshipping values and maintaining our integrity.

In the future I know that I will look for a job that complies with my values and I do not wish to compromise my or any one elses integrity to meet the standards and rules of mass-consumption and popular culture. To avoid challenges and taking risks in favor of the scenario that a product may not follow the mainstream is for me the opposite of creativity and innovation.


An Allegory of Prudence by Titian:

‘From [the experience of] the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoil future actions’

Source: Wikipedia


References:

Amabile, T. M. (1988) A model of creativity and innovation in organizations‘, Research in Organizational Behavior. Vol. 10, pp.123-167. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press

Amabile, T.M (1996) Creativity in Context: Update to The Social Psychology of Creativity. Oxford: Westview Press

Bilton, C (2007) Management and Creativity: From Creative Industries to Creative Management, p.:xiv. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Ibbotson, P. (2008) The Illusion of Leadership: Directing Creativity in Business and The Arts. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kumar, S. (2009) ‘Art For Earth’s Sake’, Resurgence. 257, pp. 46-48. The Resurgence.

Adorno, T. and Horkheimer, M. (2007) ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment and Mass Deception’ in Redmond, S. and Holmes, S. Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader, pp. 34-43. London: Sage.

May 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

Gastroanthropology – The Norwegian ‘Vaffel’

Does anyone know WHY waffles are SO popular in Norway? From a food anthropology kind of angle….

Tweeted by  Scandinavian Kitchen, deli in central London, April 18th 2011.

This was a very interesting question that I am going to elaborate on further but first I’ll explain to you what waffles, or so called vaffler are.

Source: Handelsbanken FK

They are similar to Belgian waffles but softer and thinner, and the texture is rather fluffy as opposed to dense.

A standard recipe will include eggs, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla sugar and sometimes sour cream or melted butter. They are fried in a special iron – ‘vaffel jern’ or waffle maker. They come out with a nice pattern and the iron does so that they are divided (still attached) in 4 little squares or heart shaped pieces, easy to split and share. The vaffel-iron can be bought in the UK at Clas Ohlson, see http://www.clasohlson.co.uk/Product/Product.aspx?id=153070034

Source: Get an hour for Cooking

How do you eat vaffler? Vaffler can be eaten with anything you like or plain. It is very common to have them with butter, jam, brunost (brown cheese), sour cream, nugatti (chokolate spread), sugar, ice cream, clothed cream and more jummy stuff I am sure.

Source: tmorkemo’s photostream (Flickr)

Any Norwegian knows their vaffel and they are indeed very popular. Well, actually not popular as such, just compulsory. Vaffler are served for community events, national celebrations (17th of May), sports gatherings, festivals, family gatherings, weddings and similar types of social events.

Scandikitchen’s question is interesting because it made me think about how certain products have sentimental value and will survive merely because of that. That is not to say that vaffles are not tasty or has a gastronomic value, yes they do. They are delicious! But there is a gastro-anthropoligical aspect about vaffler. They are there when people gather and they are related to festivities, fun, enjoyment and celebration. They make you feel good and they bring people together. If you move away from Norway vaffler are one of the ultra-Norwegian things that brings back so many memories. Perhaps a birthday, first day at school, football match and so on.. Vaffler are just a national treasure and special treat.

So are anyone not earning big money off of this unique product? Yes, the people who sell them at events do. But they usually don’t charge much, 10-15 kr a vaffel I think (please correct me if this is incorrect). And, also, of course the super marked chains have seen an opportunity in this product. I was quite upset the first time I saw an ‘ easy to make’ vaffel bag in the shop. They are really easy to make and if you can afford a vaffel jern, you can also afford (time-wise) to make them from scratch. I think people buy them but don’t think it ever became a huge success. Luckily I have not come across ‘ready-made’ vaffles to this date. Has anyone else? (I really hope not). If so, I can’t see how that would be popular, and that’s for a few reasons:

  1. It is very nice to buy a vaffel from an older lady who knows her recipe, fresh from the iron!
  2. You usually support a local community, sports team, charity or similar with your purchase.
  3. If not served straight from the iron, they are made fresh on the day. A dry, stiff vaffel is a ‘no-no’
  4. Vaffle’s are meant to be eaten on a special day, you don’t pick them up from a shelf in the local supermarket to have for lunch.

Reading Scandikitchen’s tweet I felt homesick. I could feel the taste in my mouth. And I promised myself that my next kitchenware purchase will be a vaffel-iron so that I can serve them to my friends, because everyone should try them! Just like crepes, they could be more or less international, no?

But there is one thing that those who haven’t grown up with vaffler can’t taste, that is the taste of nostalgia. And because of this I assume it must be very hard to make success out of products like vaffler, they just don’t work as well on their own, they need to be served within their context. Well, that is, I would pay quite a lot for a vaffel right now, being thousands of miles from home….but it wouldn’t be the same.. (good thing it is May 17th tomorrow and there are celebrations outside Norway too). And some types of food are meant to be seasonal, in this case, occasional. That is what makes them so special.

I came across the picture below at Kristins Reiseblogg,  a blog about Kristin’s travels where she talks about how she spent 17th of May in Brisbane with her friend. They are both enjoying a vaffel and Norwegian-style hot-dog (another food-phenomena).  The picture just speaks for itself…

May 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

Human Trafficking

Source: http://www.compassion2one.org/

In one of our classes we had a visit from Compassion2One. They were looking for us to contribute with ideas for how to save one life at a time, especially focusing on London 2012 where the sex trafficking is expected to increase drastically.

I was already aware of how severe and serious this topic is but I guess when you really start to think about it, it is a very touching subject.

It is touching because you are reminded about one of many cruelties human kind is capable of. Ruining children’s and young people’s lives. It is not just those who organise human trafficking who are sick, also those who take advantage of young girls and boys sold as sex slaves. What makes adult human beings think this is OK?

I can say nothing more than that they are driven by ignorance, arrogance, selfishness, inhumanity and cruelty.

Source: myguidestar.blogspot.com

After talking with my friends we had some ideas for what could be done. Actually, we had many ideas.

But it all seemed so complicated! How do you get the bad guys? How do you know who the victims are? Why don’t people act? What will you do to make people change? CAN you make people change? What can each and single one of us do?

We compared with the anti-terrorism campaigns on the London tube where we had seen signs saying for everyone to report anything suspicious. But this only came up after the terror attacks. And how many people did actually report? Well, the TFL website confirmed that in fact they had seen an increase of calls after this. Interesting. So did this mean that we are more likely to act when we have been directly or personally involved? We thought so and agreed that campaigns like these could be effective but maybe first after the crime has affected them. But then it is already too late and someone’s life may never be the same again. In the worst case, they may not survive.

So what does it take for us to open our eyes, become more human and share our sympathy, even when we’re not directly concerned! It is sad to realize this and sad that not all of us are capable, yet, to take a bigger responsibility for our actions.

A big problem my group and I thought is that as cities and the population is growing, especially in industrial and developed countries, we become less aware of what is going on in our neighbor hood. We had all heard about “know your neighbor” schemes and thought this could be a good start to stop human trafficking and inhumanity because a lot of the time we don’t know what is going on behind closed doors and we close our eyes and ears for what does not immediately affect us. If we can collectively become more aware and support our local communities we can perhaps prevent that illegal actions and crime happens. If we start caring about others they way we wish that they would care about us, things would change, I am positive. But, I do not wish to sound naive. Cruelty is part of humankind and will always be. The trap and danger is when we start accepting it because we are too preoccupied with our own well-being and success. With this kind of ignorance, passivity and irresponsible thinking we fail.

Source: http://bit.ly/mKSsv7

One way a charity such as Compassion2One could approach helping one life at a time is by collaborating with local charities/community centers/churches and other insitutuions across London. This, I am sure they do already. In my group we talked about how one could set up activities such as talks, meeting people on the street, fundraising events, street parties and so on. All to get to know the local community a little bit better and express collectively what is not socially, morally and ethically acceptable.

Source: http://skpd1033fssk.blogspot.com/

We also thought it was important to understand where those involved are located, where they operate, how they move and generate a clearer understanding of how this network is organised, especially during the run up to London 2012. In this way one would be able to create a map with hot-spots and perhaps detect a pattern. This information could also be valuable for the police. As we were explained to in class, there are times when you observe something suspicious and you regret that you never did something about it or found out more. But how to do that without insulting someone and what if you approached someone innocent?

One way that a map could be made, is by creating an application for smartphones. This application would link all users to the same map of London, for instance. Trained individuals or employees could then browse through London on a daily basis and registering any time they saw something suspicious. In order not to make this into a “witch-hunt”, detecting any young girl accompanied by a wealthy, older man (I do apologize if that stereotype may offend anyone), it would have to be done only by someone experienced. There could be various options, say three buttons to choose between when adding a location to the map: 1. High 2: Middle 3: Low. This would allow for color codes such as red, green and yellow in order for the map to be read easily.


Source: http://bit.ly/jOwAT2

Such a map could help understand where the affected areas are, as I certainly believe, they are probably where you least expect them to be. It can be registered with a quick, simple click and the person on “duty” does not have to feel that they are spying or interrogating someone’s privacy. Say, if one saw something suspicious on the tube, this information could be registered unnoticed, after one leave the station or at any point later, avoiding anyone to take offend of the activity (if the assumpton was wrong). It could also be that each person would have separate maps for their area and that these would then be synchronized at the end of a desired period. With smartphones there are endless possibilities!

Perhaps actions like these could save one life at a time?

Source: http://www.cyclingnomads.com

April 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

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