Friday, July 1, 2016

Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic Field Notes: June 27th by Brittany Hancock-Brown and Mark Patterson

This article and the images originally appeared on KTH's Environment and Society in a Changing Arctic blog. 

There you can read about the Arctic course taking place in the summer of 2016! The participating students from KTH Royal Institute of Technology together with the students of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are writing about their experiences throughout the course.

June 27th by Brittany Hancock-Brown and Mark Patterson

We have arrived in the Arctic!

Today started bright and early, as all the Illinois students and Enrico got up to catch the 5:12 bus from Universitetet. We then hopped on the train to Arlanda and met up with Dag, Kajsa, Martin, and Karl. We checked our bags, printed our boarding passes, and headed to the gate. As we boarded, we got good news that there were empty seats on the plane and that Enrico, Saloni, and Laura wouldn't have to wait until the afternoon to fly to Kiruna!

We landed in Kiruna, checked into our rooms, and went out for pizza. After lunch, we reconvened with Dag and Mark to start the day's activities. First, we met Dan Lundström from Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården and hopped on to start our bus tour of Kiruna. Our first stop on the bus tour was near the base of Luossavaara, which is where LKAB originally wanted Kiruna to be relocated to. Dan went on to explain that the political leader in office chose not to have Kiruna relocated there, but rather to the east of town. As we took in the views near the base of Luossavaara, Mark pointed out a peak in the distance and identified it as Kebnekaise. We continued on our bus tour and Dan pointed out several different areas and buildings. One of these areas was a former block of houses that had been torn down and replaced with art pieces and a park to preserve the memories of those who lived there. We continued on past the site in which the new city will be located and then looped around back towards town.

We got off of the bus at the Kiruna church. Dan gave a brief history of the church before we entered. He explained that the church was built to be more of a meeting place rather than a church, which is why the church does not contain any religious symbols. The inside of the church was breathtaking. We had a discussion regarding the church's significance to the people of Kiruna and how it may change when it is taken apart and moved.

Our tour of Kiruna continued on to the inside of City Hall. We covered a variety of topics including the art within city hall, the four different deformation zones of Kiruna, Sami mittens, and the demolition of old city hall and construction of the new city hall in 2018.

We continued onward to the Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården where we ate reindeer, salmon, or vegetarian sandwiches with coffee and tea while Dan wrapped up material for the day. Some of the points he made during his conclusion that we found particularly interesting were that the people of Kiruna have more faith in LKAB than the community and that if the mine were to close, one-third of Norbotten's 250,000 inhabitants would be affected in some way or another. He also described his organization and how it acts as a sort of middle-man between LKAB and community leaders.

Our day together concluded with the group eating delicious pasta and talking about the days events. Everyone is exhausted from a long and busy day, but excited for tomorrow starting off with a hike on the Midnight Sun trail!

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