I’m in Minden, a fascinating historic town in the North Rhine Westphalia region of Germany. The main reason for my visit is to take part in an art exhibition as part of a cultural festival celebrating the relationships Minden has with its twin towns, one of which is Sutton. I’ve been made to feel very welcome here – and I’m enjoying being a tourist, wandering around town appreciating the history, which sits alongside more contemporary aspects of the place.
While I’ve been here, the political shambles in the UK has continued to unravel, and the people I speak with In Minden are completely bemused as to why we are trying to leave the EU. I don’t have any answers for them. Something I have noticed and am continuing to notice, is how often people who voted to leave, factor narrative around the first and second world wars into their rationale. It’s depressing.
I’m bringing this up now, because Minden was a prisoner of war camp in WWI, and suffered heavy bombing from US forces in WWII. These things are parts of our history, they’ve happened, they cannot be changed, and we learn from them. What we shouldn’t do is colour everything else we know and experience about something, based on awful events which happened many decades ago.
The exhibition preview is in a few short hours, so I’m off to get ready for that. Until I write again, I’ll leave you with a new piece of art titled ‘Arohanui’, a Maori word meaning, much love, with deep affection.
These past few days have been an interesting first trip to Riga, the capital of Latvia. I’m heading home today and giving a talk on social media in the workplace in London tomorrow. Shortly after that I’m heading to Louisiana with Neil Morrison before returning here to Latvia again later in April. There’s something about the letter L featuring large in my life just now. Enough already.
Something we have been focussing on in our work here is the importance of visual media, and as I enjoy writing occasional travelog type posts I thought I would use some of my photos to help illustrate my short trip here.
7 Reasons to Visit Riga
Number 1 – The Sun Rise
This is the view out of my bedroom window, taken just after the sun peeked over the horizon. You can see a church tower in the distance and snow on the roves. The temperature had been very mild until this weekend when a sudden cold snap returned.
Number 2 – The Architecture
There are lots of interesting buildings here. This is Riga Cathedral, taken at night. It was built in 1211 and has undergone several modifications since. I was lucky to find a pause in people wandering through the square to get an uninterrupted view.
Number 3 – Design
I spotted lots of interesting design touches when I was out and about. This old door handle really caught my eye, I’m glad I don’t have a screw driver on me otherwise I might be taking a few of these home. And this restaurant chair has lovely curves, it feels good and is comfortable to sit in too. I’m a bit nerdy about these small things, and when done well – they make a difference.
Number Four – The Food
It’s a good job that Riga is an easy city to walk around, I’ve eaten dangerously well here and the subsequent strolls have hopefully prevented me from putting on too much weight.
Number Five – The Art
Riga is the 2014 European Capital of Culture and on this short trip I’ve barely managed to scratch the artistic surface. There is loads to see here and on my next visit I will have more time to explore what Riga has to offer. For now though, here’s a wonderful, modern interpretation of The Venus of Willendorf.
Number 6 – Kronvalda Park
Kronvalda Park is a small open space in the town centre. It has many pathways wandering through it and this pretty canal. I like open space in a city – it’s great for stretching the legs and clearing the mind.
Number 7 – The People
I’ve let the side down here, no picture I’m afraid. Everyone from the border control guy, to the taxi driver, hotel and restaurant staff and particularly the people I’ve worked with, have been lovely. Friendly and attentive, and when we’ve worked together, curious, enthusiastic and helpfully challenging. I enjoy work so much more when it flows, and when we need to rethink and shift our perspectives based on emerging information. Thanks folks.
I’ve enjoyed my short time here and I’m already looking forward to returning. My work with employees of the Latvian Government on smart use of social media is useful and enjoyable, and after I’ve concluded my second visit I will share more of what we’ve been learning about.