Dec 18, 2006

Koselig dugnad

I can tell I'm well again. I'm stir-crazy and bored. I no longer want to rest up; I want to do something!

Right now, I do have something to do: A task I must do every 6 weeks (it's actually 5 since I swapped with the neighbor, thinking I wouldn't be here during my week).

Norwegian has a few words that are impossible to translate properly - not even into other Scandinavian languages. One is "koselig": The catch-all phrase for anything nice, whether it be a visit, a knick-knack, or chit-chat while in line. The other word is "dugnad", which is a type of volunteer work, but more akin to barn-raising than to candy-striping. It is the favorite word of co-ops everywhere. The joint property gets tended thanks to dugnad, or rather, a dugnad committee in charge of organizing said dugnad, which includes lawn mowing, hedge trimming and handrail painting. There are other tasks that are handled in the spirit of dugnad, like letting each condo owner repaint a bit of the foundation of the building they live in, or plant flowers in front of their respective main entrances, or the weekly washing of the communal areas of each apartment building. And that is what it is my turn to do.

I shall now don my raingear, old gloves I no longer care about, unravel the communal hose, and go outside in near-freezing but rainy (and dark) weather and hose down the bit of road that goes in front of our apartment building, and also hose down the bit of path that leads from said road to our main entrance. Then I'll wash the lobby floor and the stairs that run from my landing down to the lobby (1 flight). I'll also wash the hallways that lead into the basement locker areas. I always procrastinate, and yet, once I'm out there, preferably with my iPod in my ears, it's rather meditative.

As a condo owner I am required to perform this duty as part of my contract with the co-op. But it's still a type of dugnad because else we'd either ignore it or pay someone to do it. So here I am, "volunteering" my services so as not to bug my neighbors. And they had better reciprocate. Complaints about neglected regular chores are Number 1 in all co-ops. "Community spirit" is best maintained in Norway by having a good "dugnad" spirit.


Tim said...

Stord - according to my neighbor - USED to have a great "dugnad spirit", but it seems it has diminished over the years. One in particular I've been trying to get the community involved on is cleaning up the creeks and bay areas. Outside of the water during the cooler / colder months, and in the water during the warm months. What you didn't see from the pictures I posted yesterday were a few areas of wonderful creeks, marshes and stream-pools scattered with litter such as tires, pvc pipes, etc. For being such a beautiful island, there seems to be a percentage of people that do not give a fu....dge what the appearance is. This I cannot understand. Perhaps exposure and embarrassment is needed.

Keera Ann Fox said...

That sort of clean-up is not in the Norwegian nature. When I was a kid in school here, we had an annual so-called "miljĂždag" (environment day) and had spend it walking on the roadside, picking garbage. We hated it. And it never did a thing to reduce said garbage.

As for caring about surroundings because it could matter to someone else: I haven't observed much of that, either. Around here, the only ones who will pick garbage (as part of the annual "environment day" - now called Earth Day) are the kids. Adults just don't care. To put it a bit strongly: The downside to a socialistic form of doing things is that it pulverizes personal responsibility.