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[Serial reports] Founding a co-operative in 45 minutes in Denmark (1)

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Interview with Eric Christiansen (Head director of Middelgrund Wind Power Co-operative)

*This article is one in a series regarding where happiness comes from and what makes a happy society written by Yeon-ho Oh, who did an in-depth report in Denmark.

“Do you know where happiness comes from? Please listen to my words.”

The World Bank conducted some research and every year the top score, when it comes to happiness, is Denmark. On the fourth day in Denmark, I met Eric (56) who is a CEO of EBO consultants. He discussed happy Danes in detail with a Powerpoint presentation.

“We have a strong networking history. There is a saying that if you leave the central station in Copenhagen and go to the outskirts of Copenhagen, it is a 45 minute journey and if you have 2 Danes sitting and talking for the duration, they will establish co-operative before the final station. That’s the common attitude.” he explained.

He pointed out that there are neighbors who trust each other, which contributes to the creation of citizen-driven co-operatives and meetings in Denmark.

“My own son, he is a part time musician and his band is also part of a co-operative too. They trust each other so they make the rules on how to run the band. So it is something which is actually in our hearts from the very start of our lives.”

Eric compared this trust to social capital, which is one of the valuable factors in Denmark. He became a lawyer right after finishing school. However, before long he changed his career to be a co-operative manager. He is a CEO who runs a company of 11 workers, who also work for related co-operatives. In addition, he is a director of the Middelgrund Wind Power Co-operative and has volunteered in several co-operative projects. He volunteers for 2 hours for everyday; he works another 5 hours for his own company.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/18tL5Br  (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim)

10

06 2013

[Serial reports] Founding a co-operative in 45 minutes in Denmark (2)

Mr. Cristiansen and Mr. oh

Mr. Cristiansen and Mr. oh

 

This writer was curious why he quit being a lawyer who earns lots of money and is socially prestigious, and instead directed his passions to co-operatives. His answer was clear.

“First I participated in an apartment house co-operative, because I lived in that town.”

From him, we can learn that joining co-operatives is not a rare occurence but simply their own culture. Then how could the Danish have this culture?

He explained. “Trust does not come from God. If you meet your neighbor and you have an idea, put them together and you will have confidence. A group of citizens made the first co-operative, the farmers made the first co-operative and they just met and were networking before they made this kind of co-operative. This has something to do with the tradition of networking and knowing people.”

Resident participation in Denmark contributed to a remarkable change in the energy industry environment. Denmark once imported 99% of their energy, but now they are over the figure of 100% self-sufficiency. Eric said that participation in the co-operative helped the Danish to have sense of ownership, which is also associated with democratic actions. Because regardless of the amount of their investment, they follow the principle of one man, one vote.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/18tL5Br  (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim)

10

06 2013

[Serial reports] Founding a co-operative in 45 minutes in Denmark (3)

Head director of Middelgund Wind Power cooperative, Eric Christiansen

Head director of Middelgund Wind Power cooperative, Eric Christiansen

 

“All the authorities in Denmark can be trusted. No corruption. So it was a wonderful combination between the citizen’s initiative and the central parliamentary control by legislation. We influenced each other, and I think it is very important that citizens feel that they can influence politicians.” he said.

With these words, there are no complaints from the Danish against paying high taxes. Eric also pays 56% of his earnings. He added that he is paying it gladly because his education did not cost a single cent, and his children were also educated by a social welfare society.

This writer asked about the difference between the American and Danish dream and he answered without any hesitation, that the American dream is you can fulfill your own desires and you can do it if you work hard. but that’s not how Danish people work. The Danish say, “Of course I am interested in having a good life, but I am interested in living in a society where we take care of each other.”

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/18tL5Br  (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim)

10

06 2013

[Serial reports] A taxi driver is just as important as a doctor (1)

Copenhagen

Copenhagen

 

A taxi driver is just as important as a doctor

Why does Denmark rank first in happiness ratio all over the world? There are various factors from Danish society that support this status, and among them I could find a clue to the answer from taxi drivers who I met while staying in Copenhagen for a week. I met about 15 taxi drivers and they looked so tranquil and peaceful. Most of them said they were happy and only one person had a slightly different view, saying that he was not completely happy since he was from another country so he was a little bit homesick. In conclusion, there were hardly any taxi drivers who complained about Danish society itself.

Taxi driver Milbo

The most memorable taxi driver who I interviewed in Denmark was named Lasse Milbo (46); once he was an electrician and a worker for a moving company. He has driven a taxi for 22 years. He speaks English so fluently that many asked him why he did not have a more professional job in which he could use his English.

“Driving a taxi definitely isn’t well paid, but I meet everybody from all over the world, this is an interesting job. I am truly enjoying this job now,” Milbo said.

He works nearly 8 hours a day, earning $3310 per a month. This amount of money is less than that of trained workers, but more than those unskilled labors.

- Have you ever longed to be a doctor or a lawyer like your friends who got bachelor’s degrees?

“No, because one of the main reasons is that in Denmark we found out that both workers and employers are equally important. Of course, without any workers, the employer wouldn’t be there. And without the employer, the workers wouldn’t be there..”

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/10xqcmp (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim)

20

05 2013

[Serial reports] A taxi driver is just as important as a doctor (2)

Mr. Milbu (46)v

Mr. Milbo (46)

 

Milbo has 3 children and his philosophy also influenced their future.

“I don’t have ambitions for them. Of course I wish a good education. I am happy that they have a good education and live well, But most of all, I wish them a good life. And if pressure in them into being a lawyer or a doctor, maybe they will make money. But money is not important issue. My eldest son wants to be a cook and my eldest daughter now has her own store. She started her job when she was 16. My daughter works at a hospital. But she’s a little bit high ranking because they are pointed in the direction. But as I say, we don’t tell them what to become, because that is not my choice. It’s their choice” he said.

This writer could recall what an elementary school principal mentioned during an interview for a previous article. Danish schools help students to find their aptitude and decide what they can enjoy. Also, they point out that they should never compare themselves to others and be proud of their own job.

I met Mr. Milbo coincidently on the way to have an interview with a related professor for the subject ‘happiness’, but I felt as though I already got the answers I needed. When I had almost arrived at my destination, I asked a final question: what is happiness?

“In my world, what is happiness is basically roof over my head, good friends, a good family, food full in my tummy and I don’t have any complaints. For me and I think for many people, happiness does not own, happiness is life.” he said.

He didn’t forget to give me his home address, email and phone number and invited me to his home when I came back to Demark again.

“The professor who you are meeting soon will probably give you a better theoretical idea about why we are happy here. Because he had much time to sit down and collect relevant information about this issue. I just go by heart because that is what I feel, that is what I see.” he said.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/10xqcmp (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim)

20

05 2013

All Citizens Are Reporters

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Nine citizen journalists

 

April 03, 2013, the meeting of nine citizen journalists who wrote “I Am a Citizen Reporter”, which was published by OhmyBook was held in Sangam-dong OhmyNews Conference Hall in Seoul. The CEO of OhmyNews presided over this meeting and shed light about better writing to 100 individuals who aspire to be writers. ”I Am a Citizen Reporter” was contributed by 12 OhmyNews citizen reporters, who were freelance writers, but have other professions such as housewives, farmers, teachers, public officials, researchers, pastors, professors and businessmen.

The book depicts their own stories of remarkable activities as a citizen reporter as well as writing fairly extensive subjects from mundane life to professional views. They agree that excellent writing should start from different views of significant matters and anger against unreasonable incidents. OhmyNews is an online newspaper website with the motto, “Every citizen is a reporter,” which is also based on citizen journalism. About thirty percent of the articles on this website are written by full-time reporters, while most of the articles are posted by ordinary citizens (freelance contributors).

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/12F3u9j  (by Jung-hee Lee)

 

07

05 2013

Where Do Happy Danes Come From?

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Mr. Oh and three highschool students (From left)

 

OhmyNews representative journalist and CEO of OhmyNews visited Denmark to make serial reports about happy Danes.

The serial articles were inspired about where their happiness came from. It is known that Denmark ranks the highest in the level of happiness all over the world. His visit aimed to research about the happy Danes as well as the Denmark society. In terms of these subjects, he not only visited relevant places such as public institutions, the press and enterprises, but also interviewed Danish citizens and experts to bring in-depth stories.

There were six key words related to happy Danes. They were freedom, stability, equality, trust, neighborhood and environment.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/12TNT9j (by Yeon-ho Oh and Min-ji Kim)

06

05 2013

An officiator at my student’s wedding

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I took some rest after finishing my class in the 7th hour. My phone rang with an unfamiliar number, and I was afraid of disturbing other teachers around me, so I answered it.

“Teacher, it’s me from 0th graduate class, 000.”

It was only after I had conversed with him a good while that I remembered who he was. It transpired that he wanted to ask me to become an officiator at his brother’s wedding. His brother was also my student and he plans on getting tied up this
August.
“Both my brother and I longed to take you in-charge of this position. Please do it for us.
When I heard my student’s request, I was in a flutter because I never thought that I would officiate at my student’s wedding in my over fifty years of age, which is slightly young to do. However, it was not easy to reject from his earnest request. There was some time left until his wedding, so I suggested that he may find other proper one but if he cannot, then I would think about it.

After parting with my student, all kinds of thoughts went through my mind like a flash. Above all, I was wondering whether I was a good teacher enough to bring some impressive speech there. I saw many officiants’ messages but I never ever thought that I could by myself. However, my student’s visit made me look back at my past life as a teacher, and I made myself a promise that I would become a great teacher so that I can willingly take my student’s request to be the officiator at their wedding.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/ZUN2A5 (by Hwan-hui Kim)

29

04 2013

Journalism and Twitter

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Is it possible to be protected from the press without notice to use my Twitter? Not long ago, Jeong-eun Seo (24) was embarrassed to hear that her tweet was quoted in some articles because no one from relevant press asked her permission and even they have not reported any other notice. Twitter is a useful material to write articles because of simplicity but the problem often arise when considerably high rate of journalists writes a story using tweets without permission from the users.

Some argue that such behavior obviously infringes intellectual property rights. However, it seems to be very difficult to solve this problem due to vague laws in terms of Twitter property rights. The latest judgment of federal district court in the US implies the significance of property rights in which contents posted in Twitter also must be protected as a property right.

It seems that it should be undertaken to have profound discussion and agreement to protect the Twitters’ property rights. Base on public opinions, enacting law related to SNS service platform such as Twitter should be an urgent priority.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/Y5ND7A (by  Yeonghun Kim)

 

26

04 2013

Have you heard of an Apology Day?

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Apology Day is on every 24th at Yacksan Elementary School in Incheon. This event aims for helping the kids to build a good relationship and conciliate with each other through exchanging handwritten letters, which also contribute to school violence prevention and personality education. For this event, the teachers sent a school newsletter to the students’ family a week before the event.

Two hundred students voluntarily handed in apology letters to ‘Wee class’ and the counselors in there delivered their letters to relevant friends. These conciliatory letters helped to create friendly atmosphere among each other  in school, and they invited 400 students to the reception on an Apology Day.

Byeongryong Jung who is the  principal in the school said that I was so proud of my students to grow up  through making and accepting an apology to promote their friendship.

It has been expected that this event contributes to create a healthy school culture and keep  a pleasant school life.

* For the original article in Korean: http://bit.ly/10ywh55 (Gyeongsuk Mun)

25

04 2013