Jan 28, 2014
Stockholm: A Clean Place to Raise Children
Two intrinsic reasons that make Stockholm a leading city are its openness and its creativity.
From a very early age, children are encouraged to try their hands at different things. Almost every child learns to play an instrument, perform in school plays, and participate in a variety of sports and extracurricular activities. Trying as many things as possible allows you to begin to figure out what you’re really good at and where your natural strengths lay.
This characteristic value of experimenting from a young age leads to an open mindset and a natural willingness to explore and implement new ideas and trends within all facets of society. From edgy contemporary museums like Fotografiska and innovative fashion and design powerhouses to bold chefs and restaurateurs like Björn Frantzén and Mathias Dahlgren driving Stockholm’s thriving culinary scene to award-winning songwriters, musicians, producers, and entrepreneurs.
This open mindset is what continually shapes Stockholm’s innovative culture and lifestyle. Openness builds self confidence which allows people to be creative and to daringly follow their dreams.
From Anders Celsius creating the thermometer in the early 1700s to Skype connecting the world in the 21st century and prestigious Nobel Prizes handed out every December in Stockholm, Sweden fosters innovation and in 2012, Sweden was ranked by the Global Innovation Index as the most innovative country within the European Union.
Stockholm remains that epicenter of Swedish creativity and innovation. Its educational system incubates and encourages business startups and the city’s natural openness and free democracy encourages research and development.
According to the fDi Intelligence Unit of the Financial Times, Stockholm is one of the top ten European Cities/Regions of the Future in terms of its infrastructure, economic potential, human recourses and business friendliness. Stockholm’s forward-thinking culture fosters innovation which in turn produces popular and globally relevant companies; many of which are headquartered in the city.
Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) brings Stockholmers’ minimalist and practical yet chic style of fashion to the world. Skype continues to bring people living across different continents closer by enabling them to make free voice and video calls over the Internet while Spotifyallows users to freely listen to, stream, and share millions of music tracks to their computers and mobile devices, and with others.
Brand names “Battefield” and “Minecraft” are extremely popular within gaming circles, however many may not know that these games were conceived and developed in Stockholm. With over 50 million game units sold since 2003, multiplayer war action game “Battlefield” developed by EA Digital Illusions CE remains the largest Swedish cultural export since ABBA in terms of revenue.
Another popular global game with millions of players is “Minecraft” - developed by Markus "Notch" Persson who runs the company Mojang. This creative Lego-like collaborative game lets users place and break blocks to create fantasy worlds. With revenues of half a billion Swedish kronor, Minecraft is just one of many examples within Stockholm’s rapidly expanding gaming industry.
Judging by the products these local companies provide, you’ll begin to notice an underlying thread of collaboration, connectivity, and accessibility.
Making everyday things and activities truly accessible to a broader audience remains one of the characteristics that sets Stockholm apart. Not just making public places, transportation, and buildings accessible for those with disabilities, but also thoughtfulness that extends beyond price discounts when it comes to families as well.
For example, parents traveling with infants and babies in strollers ride free on public buses. After all, where would parents leave their stroller-bound child while having to pay the bus driver?
Religious freedom is encouraged in Sweden and providing accessibility to a variety of places of worship to practice one’s faith makes Stockholm one of a few global cities where you’ll find churches, mosques, and synagogues all within walking distance of each other, catering to the city’s increasingly diverse residents.
With over 60 million copies of his bestselling trilogy Millennium sold worldwide, late authorStieg Larsson introduced a different side of Stockholm to the world beyond long-held stereotypes; revealing a more accessible, more contemporary, more diverse, and grittier face of the city through his lead fictional characters – journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker-extraordinaire Lisabeth Salander.
Scandinavia’s challenging weather often cultivates resourcefulness, conservation, preservation, and sustainable projects which lead to inventions that continue to leave a mark globally.
Stockholm is a city that truly practices what it preaches in terms of sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives, and this trait earned it the first ever inaugural “Green Capital of Europe” award from the European Union.
Beating out 34 European cities to win that much coveted European Commission Award; Stockholm’s green initiatives - from purifying rain water to converting waste into biogas for its public transportation system – continually earns our photogenic Scandinavian city recognition for its commitment to green living and as an example of sustainability at work.
Well on track towards eliminating dependence on fossil fuels by 2050, Stockholm has been aggressively reducing carbon emissions since 1990 and the city’s public transportation system runs on renewable fuels.
Stockholm’s residents have found a way to seamlessly integrate eco-friendly living with the modernist style and minimalist designs Sweden is known for without sacrificing taste or comfort. Facets of this can be seen in the most mundane of daily tasks – from reusing and paying for plastics bags for groceries to sorting and recycling anything that can be reused – in a collective effort to lower the city’s environmental footprint.
With 90 hotels bearing the Nordic Swan Ecolabel (“Svanen”) denoting their compliance with strict environmental and health regulations, Stockholm has the highest number of eco-friendly lodging in the world hands down.
From households using low-flush water-conserving toilets and low-energy high-efficiency light bulbs to restaurants serving organic cuisine and fair trade products, residents have a collective stake in making Stockholm sustainable.
In nursery schools and kindergartens, toddlers are already taught how to separate plastics from paper in an effort to instill good recycling habits at an early age.
Walking around Gamla stan and taking in its historic buildings in pastel, burnt sienna, and dark orange colors, you’ll find that Stockholm has been able to grow and expand with modern times by converting, repurposing, and weaving itself around old architecture. A deep respect for the environment means Stockholm doesn’t needlessly tear down old buildings but rather builds and wraps itself around historic architecture.
In essence, developing and inventing the new while protecting and preserving the old.
Besides frequently meeting up with colleagues, family, and friends for fika – coffee breaks complete with pastries like kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), residents are big on privacy and personal work-life balance. Public spaces are designed around maximizing privacy such as shaded trees for picnics and secluded corners to relax, and it’s not uncommon to find businesses closing as early so employees have adequate downtime.
As a big cosmopolitan city, Stockholm benefits from its proximity to nature and clean water. The city itself sits on 14 islands, just a few out of over 30,000 islands in its greater archipelago and about 40% of its inner core is made up of green spaces. You’re always within walking distance from water, lush greenery, and parks; many of which are interlaced by over 760 kilometers of biking routes, walking paths, and canals.
Djurgården is Stockholm’s greenest island in terms of lush forests and parks, but it is also home to unbroken areas of park land - The Royal National City Park – which was designated the world's first National City Park in 1995 and covers an area of 27 square kilometers.
Because most of the city’s residents move in from smaller towns, they bring their love for recreational outdoor lifestyles with them and begin to expect both – modern city living with adequate access to and time for outdoor living.
The government’s institution of “Allemansrätten” allows you to freely and responsibly camp, hike, cycle, canoe, kayak, and pick berries and mushrooms anywhere unless signs prohibit trespassing, making it easier to enjoy nature. So you’ll find visitors and residents alike heading to popular parks such as Djurgården and Hagaparken to unwind.
Not just enjoying nature, but doing so responsibly and in a caring fashion with the city’s collective sustainability in mind.
The city continually tries to find that sweet spot between rich cultural experiences, high quality of life, and a genuine and caring love for the outdoors and its natural resources.
From transforming centuries-old neighborhoods like bohemian Södermalm ("Söder") which was once a 17th century slum into one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods for vintage shopping and offbeat cultural experiences to up-and-coming districts around Hornstull, Mariatorget, and Norrlandsgatan close to Stureplan, Stockholm never rests on its laurels.
Stockholm remains a city in constant change. After all, its openness and accessibility breeds creativity.
Welcome to Scandinavia’s open and creative capital!