Earth Week

 Hello there. It’s me, Marius. Last week was Earth’s week. Here in Växjö we had many event to promote it and I was holding a speech in one of them comparing Sweden and Lithuania regarding recycling. I want to share this speech with you.

 I came to Sweden around 10 months ago to be a volunteer through Erasmus+ program in Nätverket SIP. Sadly, after all this time I still can’t speak Swedish, so please forgive me for this. But During my stay a was able to get to know a bit about Swedish culture and environment. Consciously or not I was always comparing everything I saw here with Lithuania. And there is quite a lot of differences. I was surprised by many things.

 This is only my personal opinion so please do not accept everything I will say for a fact.

 One of the things that surprised me is environment and the mindset of Swedish people regarding it, especially when it comes to recycling. Literally the first thing I noticed when I arrived and just got out of the train in Växjö Station was millions of bicycles and how clean the streets are.  Later I saw many beautiful Forests, parks and all kind of green spots. You can find a peace of nature even in city centers. And now when I am thinking about all I can say is: Wow, you guys genuinely care about environment. And it is not just government who cares about that, it is the people in Sweden.

 Another surprise, maybe even a challenge that I needed to adapt to, here in Sweden for me was recycling. And I mean it. Back when I was in Lithuania all my life I was throwing everything in one bin and never really cared about it, what happens with my trash and what harm it causes. So you can imagine my reaction when here in Sweden every time I was visiting Swedish person in their home instead of one trash bin I saw recycling station with many bins for different kind of trash. Once I even volunteered in Växjö recycling station where I saw a lot of people coming with their cars just to throw something away in the right container. Honestly I never saw something like this in Lithuania. For you I am guessing this is very natural and you don’t even think about it but for me it was something very new and I think I needed a few months to adapt to this change and start sorting trash.

 For you to understand why I was so surprised and why I think that you guys have totally different mindset regarding environment and recycling you need to know the situation in my country, in Lithuania.

 This photo (Photo in the beginning) was taken in 2015, so it is not some old photo from the internet. And actually this is my hometown. As you can see there is recycling bins: blue, yellow and green but people still just throws everything in the common containers. Honestly, back in Lithuania I did the same.  Majority of people in Lithuania just don’t care about it at all. We don’t understand why we should spend extra time on doing something like sorting when we can just throw everything in the same bin. We were raised like this and lived all our life like this so why change something. I believe that’s how majority feels like. Maybe this mentality is still left in us from occupation times, I don’t know.

 And it is not that government doesn’t care. They care and they are trying to make people sort the trash. There are many various campaigns, commercials, all kind of advertisements and places where you can find information about harm of not recycling and so on. They are trying to increase awareness of this issue as much as possible. There are even various projects for youth and kids in primary schools and kinder gardens to teach about recycling. You can find recycling bins pretty much everywhere in the bigger places. In some cities there is even a tax difference between those who recycle and those who don’t.

 Gladly all these methods and effort is giving results, little by little. We are moving forward: In 2013 90% of all trash in Lithuania went to landfills, today this number is lowered to 60-70%. That means that 30-40 % of all trash in Lithuania is recycled. I think that is quite good improvement from year 2013. Younger generation is more aware of this situation and they are starting to recycle. I remember when my friend started to sort trash at his home and his parents were confused and asked him questions like: what are you doing and why. So you can sense the difference between generations and mindsets.

 In conclusion I think in the last 20 years Lithuania made a huge progress regarding recycling and it keeps getting better and I am very happy about it. But compared with countries like Sweden we still need to learn a lot more and most importantly and hardest to achieve we need to change our mindsets. Because it doesn’t matter what technologies we have and what government is doing, in the end it all depends on each of us what we decide to do with our paper from a candy or an empty pack of chips. So please Sweden keep up your amazing job with recycling and teach more people, like you taught me, how to change our mindsets and start recycling.

Omvärldsbevakning: Internationella kvinnodagen

Ett återkommande tema här i Drömmarnas kontors blogg kommer att vara en mindre form av omvärldsbevakning. Vi kommer hålla koll på saker som händer i världen och då och då skriva en reflektion om något vi tycker är extra viktigt, intressant, galet eller kul.

Tidigare den här veckan, den 8 mars, var det internationella kvinnodagen. En dag som Drömmarnas kontor tycker det är viktig att uppmärksamma. Internationella kvinnodagen finns för att uppmärksamma att världen ännu inte är jämställd, att kvinnor utsätts för fysiskt våld och strukturell diskriminering just på grund av sitt kön, och på grund av en uråldrig föreställning att mannen är överlägsen kvinnan.

Det finns egentligen så himla mycket att säga om internationella kvinnodagen men vi vill knyta an den till ledorden som vi jobbar efter i Drömmarnas kontor – normkritik, mänskliga rättigheter och samhällsnytta. För det är just detta det handlar om. Jämställdhet är en mänsklig rättighet. I den allmänna förklaringen av de mänskliga rättigheterna som antogs av FN 1948 säger första artikeln att ”Alla människor är födda fria och lika i värde och rättigheter.” Därefter innehåller en mängd följande artiklar skrivelser som säger att kvinnor och män ska ha exakt samma rättigheter och skyldigheter i alla möjliga aspekter och situationer som kan uppstå i livet.  Inget land i världen är jämställt, vilket betyder att hela världen bryter mot de mänskliga rättigheterna.

Tillsammans har vi alla en skyldighet att se till att våra samhällen blir mer jämställda. Detta är inte något våra politiker kan sköta själva, och det är inte alltid de är särskilt bra på det heller.  Ett bra steg på vägen kan vara att ta på sig de normkritiska glasögonen och börja ifrågasätta alla dessa föreställda skillnader mellan kvinnor och män som används för att rättfärdiga diskriminering och våld. Vem har bestämt att män ska vara hårda och i kontroll och vem har bestämt att kvinnor ska vara mjuka och omvårdande till exempel? Om en sätter sig ner och börjar fundera kring dessa typer av frågeställningar är det inte svårt att fylla flera sidor med frågor som inleds med ”Varför…?” Inte heller blir det då svårt att upptäcka att jämställdhet och ett normkritiskt synsätt är något som både kvinnor och män drar nytta av, eftersom normer och ideal begränsar båda partner att uppnå sin fulla potential som människor.

För oss är samhällsnytta alltifrån att påverka en endaste person till att påverka hela samhället i stort. Det börjar alltid någonstans och bara med denna korta lilla text (som hade kunnat bli en hel bok) hoppas vi kunna plantera ett litet frö för er att sprida vidare. Med samhällsnytta menar vi alltså att göra något gott för någon annan och genom att uppmärksamma frågan om jämställdhet mellan kvinnor och män hoppas vi kunna göra hela världen lite bättre!

Möt Aria, volontär i Drömmarnas kontor

Hej! I go by Aria, and I'm a 21-year old writer, designer and lover of travelling. Given that what I wish to someday do is to write for a living, I was hoping to be able to make my own presentation somewhat interesting and eye-catching-- but talking about oneself is never the same as talking about fictional characters. (If you ever participated in one of those "name your hero and their characteristics, and explain how they relate to yourself and your life" kind of exercises, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about.)

Other than the aforementioned, when it comes to me in a nutshell, I suppose I'd say that I’ve done things from fencing to singing in a band, from counting cards to magic rituals, volunteered in various projects, helped to organise Equality Pride, was and remained a part of the editor team for an international writing journal, raised a bearded dragon named Calypso (who, sadly, couldn’t accompany me to Sweden), and taught myself different methods of bookbinding. I’m also the type of person who takes a 24-hour long bus trip over a short flight because nothing compares to seeing all the different people and sights along the way. Here på Drömmarnas kontor, I enjoy the title of the Social Media master/boss/wizard/whatever, which might come around as a bit ironic if I admit that I'm rather terrible at keeping my *personal* social media up to date-- but I digress. My tasks, similar to the ones I had in På Ingång, the project I was involved in before this one, include coordinating the various social media accounts of Drömmarnas kontor's (blog, facebook, twitter, instagram... you name it. Just look them up, I'm sure you'll find us) and coming up with interesting and witty ways of saying stuff. Okay, we all do that part, and I'm not really good enough in Swedish yet to be especially witty, but I do come up with weekly prompts, occasional press releases and some random inspirational messages, and that's something, right? I'm also usually the go-to person for research and art projects, and my favourite goal of our project is the "norm criticism" part -- be it having office-wide discussions on topics such as microagressions and social media in relation to LGBTQ* matters, or drawing charts explaining various gender identities to hang on the wall of our office.

As I write this, and as a part of Drömmarnas kontor and Projektor Ideel förening in general, I'm also in the process of organising and designing my own equality-inspired fashion show, that is planned to take place sometime during this year's Pride week. There's something about being responsible for a project and delegating tasks to the lovely members of my(!) team that lifts my mood whenever I think about it.

Greetings from the dark side,