The Criminalization of Poverty

May 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

  There is a debate going on in Norway, particularly in Oslo, about what to do or rather not to do with Romani people. The discourse raging in the media goes more or less along these lines: Romani people come to Norway as beggars organized or not by human trafficking gangs, eat, sleep and defecate in the streets, and lately demand, supported by local actors, that the state should provide a minimum of service to them (like public bathrooms or a roof to sleep). Their presence in the streets either increases criminality or is plainly annoying. People interviewed think that either they should get a job (and not just beg for money), or they think that giving a couple of coins “is not going to solve the problem”. In conclusion, politicians have felt some sort of pressure to do something and in the city of Oslo they have recently introduced a law that prohibits setting up a tent or sleeping in public zones like parks or other green areas. Although this prohibition is mainly targeted towards Romani people camping in public areas, it also affects other groups like drug addicts and homeless who also happen to sleep in the streets.

The introduction, or rather the expansion of this prohibition, has also stormed a lot of criticisms and last night a large group of priests and other people working in humanitarian organizations decided to camp in a public park as a way to show their protest. They demand that if the state is going to penalize outdoor sleeping, they should provide alternatives for those unable to afford a roof. Particularly, it has been argued that there is an ongoing trend to criminalize poverty. Surely there are other ways to deal with beggars or homeless rather than by prohibiting their daily presence in our lives?

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The Hope of Spring – Part II

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

As I wrote in an earlier post, in these northern latitudes spring comes late. It starts out very timidly with a few flowers here and there which suddenly start popping up all over when they realize that the warmth is here to stay. Usually there are just anemones, snowdrops and coltsfoot. They are the ones that are strong enough to make it through a slight layer of snow or a chilly night. I like to think of them as the trailblazers.

However, if you go out for a walk in the woods now, just a couple of weeks later, you can´t decide where to focus your view. There is such an explosion of flowers that is difficult to decide which one is prettier. Adorning the trees, on the ground, close to the streams, nature is hurrying to bloom. The anemones, snowdrops and coltsfoot have drown in an emerging sea of blades and grass, and many other flowers are taking their place. In the area where i live, the indisputable queen of the woods is the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). Although it has not blossomed yet, leafy stems creating large colonies have conquered the underground forest and very soon we´ll have their precious bells enthralling us with their scent!

Lily of the Valley

 

Ornamental Sewers

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Walking around the streets and eventually looking down at your feet, is it not incredible to discover these cast-iron ornamental sewer casings and weave stories about their possible meanings?

Trondheim  Oslo

P.S. The photo to the left was taken in Trondheim (Norway)  while the one to the left in Oslo

The Oslo Opera

April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

  Tons of ink have been used in discussing the Oslo Opera since it was being constructed. It has generated a lot of controversy for different reasons: costs, dimensions, selection of materials, relevance. It has been discussed ad infinitum whether the choice of Italian marmor for the facade was a clever decision or how should the area around it be developed. The opera has as many admirers as detractors. In this post I´m not going to join the discussion, but i would like to highlight something that i find beautiful about it: the coat area next to the bathrooms!!!

It might not be the most efficient or have enough space, yet it has an ethereal quality that coupled with the shiny black entrance to the bathrooms steals a mandatory gasp from the first-time visitor. I have not read or heard ever any comments about the design of this area but here i would like, through the pictures posted below, to give a signal of appreciation to whoever was in charge of it.

Flying Divers

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Is it not incredible that just when you are busily walking down a street, your mind going over a thousand things, suddenly you lift your eyes and see a mini-army of flying divers ready to jump into the water?

This was the surprise waiting for me behind the Radisson Plaza in Oslo. The front facade is very nice, the tallest building in the city a lot of glass and shine, but if you walk around the area behind the hotel the impression is a bit different. The run down neighborhood, some semi-abandoned remodelling projects next to the river (which at this time of the year is rather poor in water) and a lot of grey, anonymous buildings, give an overall impression of decay. Yet amid the squalidness of the area, the flying divers manage to lift up the view and provide something to wonder at.

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