“Going Glocal:” Environmental Sustainability Night at the Swedish Embassy, Washington D.C. — The North Star Reports – by By Marin Ekstrom and Meredith Morgan. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

“Going Glocal:” Environmental Sustainability Night at the Swedish Embassy, Washington D.C. — The North Star Reports – by By Marin Ekstrom and Meredith Morgan. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal


[Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

Sweden commands honor and awe throughout the world in a variety of ways. It consistently ranks near the top of “Nations with the Highest Standards of Living” and “Happiest Nations” lists, it is the birthplace of the Nobel Prize, and has bestowed the world with such treasures as IKEA, dala horses, and ABBA. Therefore, what better way to honor this fine nation than by attending an Embassy event in Washington, D.C.? That is precisely what we decided to do when we went to the Embassy of Sweden’s Grand Opening of 2014 Theme Program: Going Glocal on February 18, 2014. This program was the kickoff to a series of yearlong events to encourage environmental sustainability, global efforts with climate change, resource scarcity, and other related issues. Sweden holds this focus in particularly high esteem: the country is one of the top nations in the world for sustainability, recycling, clean air standards, and adherence to the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. They have ingrained these green initiatives into their society for generations now, putting them ahead of most of the world’s nations that have just recently jumped on the “green” bandwagon. Its proven history of implementing eco-friendly practices and the high regard in which the country is held worldwide make Sweden’s the ideal Embassy to share ecological seminars and get information out to the public.


[Courtesy of SwedishScene.com ]

The first thing that one notices about the Swedish Embassy in D.C. is its heavy emphasis on organic materials. The exterior is made from exquisite glass —a “crystal palace” of sorts— and the interior employs heavy use of wood and stone embellishments. Sweden’s love of nature was reflected in the architecture and (coincidentally) further set the mood for the specific “Going Glocal” event. When we entered the lobby, we were treated to reindeer meat hors d’oeurvres and salads that were literally composed of wildflowers and local plants– we uprooted these grasses from a terrarium to “grow” our own meals!


[Courtesy of SwedishScene.com ]

The first floor also featured an artwork display featuring beautiful and tragic pieces that highlighted the need for a healthy planet. Two musicians provided music for the event; they looked like a cross between Bjork, woodland fairies, and Pippi Longstocking and they played on crystal bottles while singing long, warbling chants. After we dined, admired the pictures, and listened to the music, we descended the staircase. We decided to join in on the fika (a Swedish coffee break) and indulged not only in fine coffee, but an array of desserts including princess cake, chocolate balls, and cardamom buns. We then strolled by art exhibition showing photographs of the von Echstedska Gården, a breathtaking 18th-century Rococo manor house that exemplifies Swedish style: simplicity, an appreciation for nature, and fine craftsmanship. We decided that that was an apt finale to our excursion, and after scouring some free literature (which included art books of the country and Swedish language magazines and journals describing the country’s valuable business partnerships in the U.S.), we said “Hejdo” (Bye-bye) to the embassy and headed back towards American University.


[Courtesy of SwedishScene.com ]

As Suecophiles, we were ecstatic to attend such an event. The embassy embodies its country’s national spirit, and the fact that this particular event focused on the very relevant issue of environmental sustainability made it even more intriguing. The additional perks of fine art and scrumptious food established this as one of our finest D.C. memories. Therefore, we raise our glasses and say “skål” (cheers) to Sweden and our embassy event experience!

Marin Ekstrom is a student at the College of Saint Scholastica and a double-major in Global, Cultural, and Language Studies and Russian Studies. Meredith Morgan studies at Presbyterian College and is majoring in International Studies. They both attended the Washington Semester Program at American University and were classmates for the Spring 2014 Foreign Policy Seminar. Meredith learned about the Going Glocal event at her internship, the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce (SACC-USA).

Further Links about the event:



Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:


The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu


Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

31 responses to ““Going Glocal:” Environmental Sustainability Night at the Swedish Embassy, Washington D.C. — The North Star Reports – by By Marin Ekstrom and Meredith Morgan. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

    • DyAnna Grondahl

      Marin and Meredith,

      I envy your experience at this event. It sounds like it was truly delightful and authentic. My ancestors are Norwegian immigrants who settled right next to the northwest angle in Minnesota (where Swedes and Weges constantly heckle each other over their nationalities, no matter how similar). I have always been interested in the manifestation of Swedish roots that I saw growing up in comparison to the values and ideas of Swedish culture today. The people of Roseau, Minnesota, are good to brag about their Scandinavian heritage, but they aren’t necessarily strong environmentalists. I would love to see a sort of side-by-side comparison of the evolution of Scandinavian values in northern Minnesotans versus those of populations in Norway, Sweden etc. Can we even call our values “Scandinavian values?” What happened in these last few generations that led one group to go one way, and the other to go completely opposite? Is it due to detachment from roots and adoption of melting-pot-style Americanism? Is it due to something completely different? The Northwestern part of MN has been conservative since the state’s settling, so, like I said, I am curious.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Ashley Hamilton

      Marin and Meredith,

      Thank you for sharing your experience while attending this event! I am of Swedish descent so it was nice to read about all of your thoughts and experiences, it sounds like it was a fun event to be at. In my world history class right now, we are learning about how climate had such an impact on the people who lived during 2000 BCE. You mention in your journal article that during this event at the Sweden there was discussion about climate change and how Sweden is making an effort to promote clean air and promote environmental sustainability. In our textbook it explained that there was an extreme climate change and dry spell during this period of time that led to the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt (Tignor et. al, 2018, p.83). I think it is great the Sweden is making such a great effort to bring forth the issues regarding climate change and other environmental factors that are impacting our world. Thank you for your post!

    • Claudina Williams

      Marin and Meredith,

      I have developed an interest in addressing environmental issues, so reading that initiatives are being taken is exciting. In your writing, it was mentioned that the Swedish lifestyle is simplistic and shows an appreciation for nature. I think that is something all nations should adapt. It would contribute towards the effort to achieve sustainability. If all people live a simple life, less would be consumed. And if people are in tune with nature, they would more likely adapt pro environmental behaviors. Thank you for sharing your experience at the Swedish Embassy.

  1. Carley Henning

    This article now makes me what to take a trip to Sweden to see just how lovely this country is. Very well-put and great information to take from this. The pictures added a good visual prop as well.

  2. Tyler Winkelman

    These pictures also make me want to visit Sweden. My brother and my grandparents visited Sweden, they said it was just beautiful there! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Karn Pederstuen

    Sounds like you had a great time at what seems like a very interesting event! Have you had the chance to visit Sweden or did this event make you want to visit there one day?

  4. Chelsey L

    Wow! all the different kinds of foods must of been amazing to try. Find it interesting that you were willing and very grateful that you got to go to such a cool event. I love seeing the pictures as well..

  5. Kaitlyn Young

    This sounded like an awesome experience! Everything you described made me want to visit Sweden. I liked the part about the music. It sounds interesting that they played crystal bottles. Very cool!

  6. Evangelista Chicheko

    Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing and it seems like you really had a great time and an awesome experience too! I am now considering visiting Sweden, such a cool country!

  7. Benjamin Carlson

    I have always wanted to visit Sweden and this just adds to the list of reasons why. I think all countries, including the United States..ok, mostly the United States, could learn so much from the Swedish philosophies on “reduce, reuse, recycle” and I hope, for everyone’s sake, We do sooner than later.

  8. I’m interested on what themes the embassy chose to feature as opposed to what traditions they chose to omit. This is a way for the country to showcase what they want to show, while pretending like others don’t exist. In a way, it’s creating identity for the people of Sweden. If not an identity, it’s creating or manufacturing a desired image.

  9. Austin Kindt

    I probably would have gone just for the food and music even though I’m not a fan of socialism. Sounds like a fun educational experience. For once I am reading an article that has food mentioned and fortunately I already ate.

  10. Mike Lehmann

    In my opinion Sweden is one of the countries in the world that really seems to have it figured out. They have one of the highest standards of living and in one of my classes at the high school they have some of the happiest people in the world living in their country. I think that if other countries model Sweden’s policies then the world could possibly be a better place.

  11. David Miller

    This article is a great insight to Sweden and the initiatives they are taking to protect the environment. We talked the other day about sustainability in my sociology class and the amazing thing is that we talked for a long time about what other countries are doing like Sweden.

  12. I never knew that Sweden was one of the top countries, I would love to visit and see what a beautiful place it is. The pictures that you shared are really neat. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Bao Vang

    Your article is an inspiration for me and many readers, from previous comments, want to visit Sweden now! Looked like you had a lot of fun attending the event and the photos looked phenomenal. I also didn’t know that Sweden was one of the top country for protecting the environment. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Luke S

    Everyone loves the chance to try new foods from another country, right? Really though, it takes some bravery to bite into something without knowing what it is, and your photos help give us a glimpse of the awesome Swedish food.

  15. Eleni Birhane

    I like the fact that Sweden is one of the leading countries fighting for the enviromenal health of the world. Events like these encourage other countries to be practical about how they use the resources of the world. You are lucky to have had the chance to experience this event with all of Sweden’s glory.

  16. Michel Doege

    Sweden has always been very intriguing to me so to hear all these things about them was wonderful. I like the idea that one of the leading countries in standard of living and overall happiness is also one of the most environmentally conscious ones too. The embassy sounds like it was an amazing experience. I would love to see other countries try to follow in Sweden’s footsteps.

  17. Breena Alfredson

    Your descriptions were so vivid I felt as though I was there. While it sounds like Sweden has got the jump on most of the world as far as living standards and going green are concerned; I wondered what this event did as far as convincing people to do the same? Observing their cultural practices and enjoying the “green” fare is all well, but what is Sweden doing to show others that this way of life is possible?

  18. Marissa Mikrot

    It’s so exciting to be thrown into a culture unlike our own, even if you are just visiting their embassy. You experience so many different ideas and views unlike our own. I think there’s a lot that we can learn from other countries, both developed and developing. I’m curious to know what the embassy has contributed to our cultural practices. What do you think they should be contributing?

  19. Kendra Trudeau

    This article makes me want to travel to Sweden even more than I already do! I think that it’s so great that the Swedish government has made so many steps in the right direction when in comes to becoming a sustainable society. My grandma is 100% Swedish and my grandpa is 50% Swedish (on my dads side). We have always participated in many Swedish traditions like eating lutefisk for Christmas dinner. When I was younger, some of my dads cousins actually flew to America from Sweden and we had a family reunion. I would love to travel there someday. I will always hold Swedish culture close to my heart and I enjoyed this article because I learned about some other aspects of the culture. Thanks!

  20. Megan Gonrowski

    I think that promoting environmental sustainability is a wonderful idea and Sweden and other northern European countries are leading the fight against environmental damage. I think that “Glocal” stands for global and local, but I guess I am not sure. Based off this idea that word is clearly ironic. Also, I found it ironic that they brought sustainable foods and methods to D.C. which does not make it local. Despite that fact, I really appreciate that people are trying to learn from each other globally because the environmental issue affects us all. Very interesting article and I would love to attend an event like this.

  21. Andrew Bailey

    Hello Marin & Meredith, your time in Washington DC sounds amazing and how cool that you were able to visit the Swedish Embassy on such a special occasion! It sounds like they really rolled out the red carpet! I have had the pleasure of getting to know a few international students at CSS who are from Sweden, and they are certainly a happy, healthy, joy filled people! I can only imagine that the atmosphere at the embassy had a few of these characteristics the night of your visit. I think the most intriguing part of your visit to the embassy is that it seems as though the Swedish people celebrate their environmental sustainability achievements. In the United States, I feel like it is an ongoing project to encourage businesses, organizations, and universities to update their environmental practices, and something many businesses/corporations feel like they are obliged to do. I think the U.S. could learn from Sweden in this regard.

  22. Nicholas Burski

    The going global event seemed like it was a very interesting and informative thing to attend! In my hometown we have a huge dala horse because we have a sister city in Sweden. Scandinavian seems like a wonderful place and I did not know that it was one of the happiest countries in the world! It makes sense that a place that is so environmentally conscious would be a joyous place to call home. In my hometown we had many Swedish exchange students and they spoke very highly of their home countries. The experience seem like a very good one thank you for sharing!

  23. Diana Deuel

    Marin & Meredith,

    Thank you so much for sharing about this experience! This is really awesome in my eyes. I think that the embassy looks like it was very beautiful and the eco-friendly theme of the night is amazing! I am wondering how the reindeer meat snack tasted and I think the idea of eating salads made of wildflowers and local plants is really awesome! It would be really awesome if the United States could start implementing more eco-friendly laws and habits. It is so cool that Sweden is ranked high in happiness and green initiatives. I hope you two brought back ideas or became motivated to help create a greener world!

  24. Alexandra Erickson

    Wow, this sounds absolutely wonderful. I hope someday I get to experience something like this as well. I really admire Sweden for its green initiative as well as being labeled one of the “happiest” countries. I am curious to learn more about how they achieved these excellent attributes. What aspects can the U.S. adopt to mimic Sweden’s desirable qualities? The building itself looks very beautiful, and I like the nature-inspired decor. It is important that we welcome diplomacy and embassies from other countries so we may all learn from each other and cohabitate more peacefully once we are aware that we are much more alike than we are different. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Cassandra Mahlberg

    Marin and Meredith, what a wonderful experience for you to look back on.Two days ago would have been 5 years since you went to this event at the Swedish embassy in DC. I think it is really fascinating to see an event like this being so important 5 short years ago and raising questions about globalism and locality with regard to sustainability (I wish you could have written more about the ideas you experienced at the event, but the event is really neat too). How was the embassy event supposed to be used by its guests? To encourage more modern ideas about recycling and green energy? Or just to kick off the chain of events about those topics without really discussing them that day? It seems like it did a good job of awakening curiosity through its food and art which were related both to the Swedish culture and sustainability practices. I wonder how this event would fair today considering the current political climate in the US and abroad.

    An interesting connection to this is in my other class I’ve been listening to and reading about the Sami people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. There is an artist from the Swedish Sapmi lands who sings about the Swedish government invading her home to mine in her people’s mountains (her most recent album is 2016). I think it is very frustrating that we are celebrating green living while governments are still allowing corporate mines to do what they want behind closed doors and especially in indigenous lands. It would be cool to go to an event like this today and ask about why they are allowing these things when they are trying to make sustainability progress.

  26. Natalie Johnson

    Wow, what a great opportunity you had. I liked how the emphasis was on a healthy planet. It is awesome how the arts and food were brought up in relation to Swedens sustainability practices. In Worlds Together Worlds Apart, climate change was happening as early as 2200 BCE. “Both archaeological and written records agree that across Afro-Eurasia, most of the urban, rural, and pastoral societies underwent racial change,” (Tignor 74). There was much disruption and this was all due to climate change.

  27. Jane Kariuki

    Marin and Meredith,
    The article covered various issues that we need to act on as humans. It is interesting to compare the US to Sweden and their effort to tacking the issue of climate justice. Whereas the US is still trying to convince people of the dangers and visibility of climate change there are various counties that are already taking action. Another thing that is a concern in the US is the issue that climate justice is categorized as an individualistic issue. Whereas people would solely choose to take action on an individual scale rather than communal. For instance, as an individual, I may claim to be doing my part simply because I am using a reusable straw, bags, etc. While the change truly does start from within, I think we have a long way to go. on a different note, I like how the embassy choose to use food to symbolize nature, food is truly a remarkable element. Thank you for sharing and making space for such a crucial topic.

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