House in Christiania.
Leonie and I left our new journo friend Claus in his apartment at 2am with music blasting and empty bottles of Spanish champagne on his table.
Waking up at 7am the next morning was not an enlightening prospect, especially when it was assignment day. Traipsing around the city of Copenhagen looking for stories and playing the role of foriegn correspondents usually requires a somewhat sober state, which at this point in time I seemed to be lacking.
But with a little coffee and the simple mission to ‘definitely not be late today’, we hopped on the obscenely expensive bus into town.
First up was an appointment with the communications department of the Danish military, where my classmates and I literally made our guide sweat. Large, dark patches crept from beneath his armpits as we fired questions at him from all over the room.
“Don’t you think it’s a little unethical to have defense force journalists who get told what to write? How is that journalism? Isn’t that just PR?”
“Doesn’t this force commercial media to have to pick up the slack and publish potentially dangerous information? Maybe if your own journalists had more opportunities this wouldn’t happen.”
“Do you have a problem with leaks?”
“Doesn’t that show your employees are disgruntled and believe info that should be shared is being withheld?”
“If they want to leak they shouldn’t work here”
“What’s your deepest fear?”
After this we were free to hunt for stories. Leonie and I ended up at the men’s home in the problem area of Istegade, talking with social workers and shop keepers about safe injection rooms.
Wondering what the local primary school thinks of all the needles in the area, we strolled into the playground and I ended up chatting with Christina, a teacher who said she’d like the safe injection rooms for the addicts sake, not the children’s.
“They’re actually poor souls, and we need to care for them.”
“As a teacher, I would be concerned if the drugs were completely hidden. It’s important for children to see that as human beings, we’re all different.”
“The children are very aware of the junkies. But it doesn’t bother them. They made a musical about their hopes and dreams and we had a song called Church of Mariah. This is a church around the corner where lots of addicts hang out and the children were saying; we hope there are less junkies but if there are junkies we hope they don’t sell their body for heroin.”
I expressed surprise at this. Primary school kids know about prostitution for drugs? Isn’t that a little heavy?
“Children can actually cope with a lot more than we, as adults, like to think they could cope with,” Christina said.
Across the hall, the sight of little people in aprons caught my eye. Kids were spilling in and out of the school canteen. A boy of about 5 was scrubbing a set of shelves with vigour as a girl hosed down the soapy floor.
This school is one of 6 in Copenhagen where the school children spend a day in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning and learning about nutrition. The other schools without room for a kitchen get organic meals cooked off campus at the Copenhagen House of Food.
I ended up talking with the school chef about Copenhagen’s initiative to have all public meals (meaning schools, nursing homes, kindergartens) 75% organic. They’re aiming for 95% by 2013, and watching the kids cook and clean was really impressive. They know all about proteins and fats, and think about replacing meat with other cheaper options, whilst still getting essential nutrients.This is all coming from 6 year olds.
The smells of food were making Leonie and I hungry, so we headed to Christiania for a huge vegetarian meal.
For everyone who has been living under a rock, Christiania is a hippy commune in the middle of Copenhagen where pot is legal. It’s kind of depressing now because, like so many idealistic Utopias, it’s turned into a big tourist attraction. When we arrive it’s brimming with drunk teenagers making out amongst empty beer cans and pseudo- gangsters selling weed.
Around the lake though, there are remnants of what it used to be. Crazy treehouses and elvin cottages dot the landscape, all built by the original residents.
Leonie and I stake out our favourite house, one made entirely of windows sitting on the very edge of the lake and ask the owner if we can come inside.
I sit on the floating garden and pat the dog as Leonie has an intense political discussion with the owner.
Later, we’ll have hours of transcripts to pour through, video footage to edit and word limits to meet. We’ll stay up til 3am and drink Claus’ beer and dance around the kitchen in fits of panic.
But for now, i’m 16 thousand kilometers from my problems and from home, in Copenhagen, floating on a lake.
Floating garden in Christiania.
Musicians tribute for composer John Cage. Everyone brought musical instruments and then didn’t play them for 4 minutes.
Saw this guy buying a burger. Loved his colour co-ordination then noticed he matched the burger shop’s door, so we had to ask for a photo.
House in Christiania.