[Serial reports] Svanholm Story: Throw Greed Away and Find Happiness


Are you feeling that you are controlling your greed? Mr. Brink said “Yes, somehow.”


Can you be happy if you can freely use only 20% of your income but have to share the rest with your community members? There are people who say “Yes” with no hesitation. Do you want to know who they are? If you open Google Maps and type this address(Svanholm Alle 2, 4050 Skibby, Denmark), you will find a small village surrounded by a forest of green trees. There are about 30 structures, small and large, including a 3-story apartment where 80 adults and 50 children live. This is the Svanholm community, which has been experimenting with economy-sharing and eco-friendly alternative life for the last 35 years.

During the 60-kilometer drive down to the southwest from Copenhagen to Svanholm, I could not find any trace of mountains. This is not surprising considering that the highest mountain in Denmark is just 173 meters tall. Just like the even landscape, the inequality index of Denmark looks very flat. According to recent OECD data, the income of the richest 10% in Denmark is 5.3 times that of the poorest 10%, the lowest among 35 countries. Compared to that of America, which is 15.9 times, you can grasp how narrow the gap is.

Even more equal is the Svanholm community, where the income gap between the haves and the have-nots is almost zero. There is no notion of the richest or the poorest, because 80% of an individual’s income belongs to the community. Several questions arose in my mind as I was driving to the village and looking at endless flatland through the window. What kind of people can control the greed called individual possession in this market economy-oriented planet? Why have these Danes started  experimenting with this kind of ‘extremely sharing’ community, even though they are living in one of the most equal and happiest countries? What  makes them think that current Danish society is not good enough? What energizes them to dream of a ‘perfect society’? So are they happy now?

* To read entire article in English : http://omn.kr/n5c (by Yeon-ho Oh)

* To read entire article in Korean : http://omn.kr/n0h (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim))

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Eunbin Ko

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06 2013

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