LADIES INTERNATIONAL NETWORK KØBENHAVN
Today I traveled to Malmö (Sweden) with an amazing international group of women that I am so happy to have met here, part of the planned tour was (apparently) a visit to one of the dozens of saunas scattered on the beach. The concept: A huge and spectacular wooden pier that creates natural pools also includes a sauna space.
As an Israeli who got caught up in this situation, I was surprised (well… actually more like terrified) to find out that there is no option to use Facilities other than in full nudity.
To make a long story short, I ended up going for it and also got into the water between 3-8 degrees (depending on whom you ask) and found that it is totally reasonable and possible! It also gets better and better from dip to dip, as in between you go back to a pampering sauna or hot tub overlooking Copenhagen.
Back in the sauna, I talked to an American friend about the perception of nudity in our cultures - about the gap between social puritanism (sponsored by institutionalized religion), sex consumption and the legitimacy of the female body only when it serves a certain purpose of a third party. The amazing thing is that although we know it’s silly and wrong, it’s so deeply embedded, even in us - pretty sensible and quite cool women.
A big part of embracing the Nordic life is jumping into the (freezing) water and truly experimenting with living by their philosophy - a major aspect of it is having a very natural and pragmatic view of our bodies.
I must say I would NEVER have done this leap of faith without meeting the LINK tribe. Having this quiet reassuring support in that specific moment allowed me to experience and unlock something new and liberating - and I’m grateful for that!
In the picture: the sauna Club symbol - two quite ordinary people who happen to be a man and a woman, having a fairly ordinary conversation while they happen to be naked.
A small selection of the colorful knitwear that will soon be adorning the trees in front of the Bellevue theater. Press photo.
Written by Jesper Bjørn Larsen for Villabyerne, 11 January 2023
Translated to English
From Friday, you can experience hundreds of knitted butterflies, mini-beasts, flowers and granny squares on a row of trees in front of the Bellevue Theatre. We met the women behind the event, which will celebrate life, love and community and at the same time raise awareness about breast cancer.
"Den, som kun tar spøg for spøg og alvor kun alvorligt, han og hun har faktisk fattet begge dele dårligt."
(Translated: The one who only takes jokes for jokes and only seriously, he and she have actually got both parts wrong.)
Piet Hein's wise words resonate brilliantly when you sit opposite the women in the knitting club 'Stitch & Bitch'. Because they probably all sit with a knitwear in their hands, but you don't have to spend many seconds in their company before you realize that the knitwear is just a prop. It is about infinitely more than right and wrong when these women meet.
Stitch & Bitch - a subgroup of LINK (Ladies International Network Copenhagen) - meets several times a month, with South African Karin Mattioli, the group's leader, who this Friday morning has again opened her home on Hellerupvej to 10 of the group's members.
She defends herself by the title of 'leader', but she does not escape it if you ask English member Danielle McCutcheon.
"Karin is the most loving and inspiring person with absolutely fantastic energy. She is good at bringing people together. A true cheerleader.” There are nods at the knitwear all around the table.
Karin rushes to send some love back into their heads.
"I always feel inspired and in a better mood when I've been with you," she says.
Lost her mother
Danielle - or Dan, as she prefers to be called - moved to Denmark in October 2020 with her husband Pete and their three children Alfie, Maya and Tully, who are currently 7, 5 and 3 years old. After only a few months in the new and, to her, rather foreign country, she lost her mother, Mary Gravells, to breast cancer, and the ground disappeared from under her.
Fortunately, she had heard of LINK and had joined Stitch & Bitch beforehand.
"This group was a "lifesaver" for me. Just that there was someone who showed care and empathy. It meant everything to me. Right from the very first time I met them. We laugh and support each other in a very casual way," she says.
It is “flowers” like these that will be displayed in the yarn bomb. Press photo.
It was Dan who, just over a year ago, suggested to the group that they should make a yarn bomb to raise awareness of the fight against breast cancer. And the other women immediately seized the idea, which unfolds on Friday, when a row of trees in front of the Bellevue Theater will be decorated with all the pieces of knitting in exuberant colors that the women have produced in the past year. There are butterflies, minibeasts, flowers and lots of granny squares in the pool.
“In my eyes, the project is a celebration of so many amazing things: Love, community, friendship, women and all the little things in life. It is intended as an explosion of colors to brighten people's lives a little. That's why we're doing it now. On an ordinary dark week in January. We want to lift people's spirits. That's how my mother was too. It was not with big hand gestures, but with small, everyday gestures, that she lit up my life and that of many other people. She never sought attention for herself, but was a quiet savior,” says Dan.
The yarn bomb project has proven to be the perfect starting point for Stitch & Bitch, which has been in existence for two years.
"We have often talked about the project being a celebration of all that women are. How we see each other as individuals with each of our passions and interests. We see each other's strengths, even when we don't feel them ourselves.
We reach out to each other and hold each other - metaphorically, but also literally - when we need it most," says Dan.
A butterfly variation for the yarn bomb. Press photo.
And then there's the thing about the name... Stitch & Bitch? If it can't be perceived as a slightly derogatory term for the female sex, the Villabyernes emissary tries to be careful.
"Well, it's a shame it's not us who are bitches. We just bitch about other bitches when we meet," laughs Karin Mattioli. Laughter rolls freely around the table. She puts more words on the importance of the group.
"When you have come to a foreign country, as we are, you have to that extent come out of your comfort zone. Living in a foreign country can be quite lonely, especially if you don't have school-aged children. We help each other find a footing, and then we teach each other new things. I have e.g. learned the joy of winter bathing," she smiles.
"Even if you have school-age children, it can be lonely," interjects Dan.
This Friday morning, Karin Mattioli is visited by women from South Africa, England, Ireland, India, Ukraine, Canada and the USA, but there is also Vibeke Freitag from Charlottenlund.
From the left is the leader of the group, Karin Mattioli from South Africa, who has been in Denmark for nine years. Next Danish Vibeke Freitag who lives in Charlottenlund, Liesl Viljoen from South Africa who has been in Denmark for one year, Charlene Gerber from South Africa who has been in Denmark for two years, Gráinne Bowell from Ireland who has been in Denmark for seven years, Dan (Danielle) McCutcheon from England, who has been in Denmark for just two years, Amy Feasey from the USA, who has been in Denmark for six years, Mylène Bhargava from Canada, who has been in Denmark for five years, Magda Foster from England who has been in Denmark for eight years, Shalini Torbøl from India who has been in Denmark for seven years and Nataliya Chernyuk from Ukraine who has been in Denmark for 10 years. Photo: Jesper Bjørn Larsen
She has joined the group via her Scottish friend Karren Probyn, who couldn't join the day the Villabyers came by.
Even though LINK primarily consists of foreign women, Danish women like Vibeke - whom the others also rate as the 'knitting master' among them - are more than welcome.
There are several reasons for this. One is that they can help with many of the everyday questions that also fill the group: How should you sort your waste, where do you pick up your parcels, what is e-Boks, etc. But it is far from just advice and guidance , the Danish women contribute, says Dan.
"They bring a piece of Denmark to us, and in that way they help us to become better integrated into Danish culture. And it's just a really good way to get into the lives of Danes and get to know them."
It's not to be sentimental, but do you also become friends in the network?
"Of course," says Karin resolutely. "We are a life support for each other, so I dare say that it also works therapeutically when we meet."
Dan nods eagerly.
"You are full of doubts when you settle in a foreign country. 'Have we done the right thing', you ask yourself all the time. It's just wonderful to meet other people, and when you have a lot of common threads on top of that, it's just even more important. I feel like part of a community.”
The Stitch & Bitch women stopped by Gentofte Municipality's park and road department to ask permission to set up the yarn bomb on the trees in front of Bellevue. From here, they have met only goodwill. 'Yes, that's fine, as long as you take good care of the trees', was the reply.
If you would like to see Stitch & Bitch's tribute to life and everyday heroes, you just have to pass the park in front of the Bellevue Theater in the period from 13 January to 23 January.
If you would like to know more about LINK or Stitch & Bitch, click here.
The amazing team collected over HALF A TON OF GARBAGE in just three hours! A total of 343 Cleanup Heroes - families, friends, neighbors, classmates, young and old - were on a mission to clean the streets and nature from trash and litter. And what a feat to come back with 518 kg of garbage!
The LEA team were delighted to see familiar faces from previous cleanups, and so many more who came to support the global movement in our local communities. The atmosphere was fantastic, and many happy faces were sent off with gloves, garbage bags and litter pickers.
Skeptics might think that the litter will come back in less than a weeks time, and maybe even overnight. But that is not a reason to give up - instead we can prove them wrong! The message is strong and clear as we join millions of people around the world in over 170 countries: ENOUGH with careless litter! It ends up in nature and in our precious seas.
To keep our Denmark ‘clean, green and beautiful’ we are calling for:
and yes, to start being politically correct and confident to ask litterers to kindly pick up their litter and use a trashcan!
More than ever, we need LINK and LEA women power to fight against trash pollution to save and protect Mother Earth.
A huge thank you to the Gentofte Kommune Team for their positivity, and for supplying the stations with cleanup equipment, posters and candies for the kids. Thank you to the two supercool garbage men who spent their day off supporting us by very visibly driving around a huge garbage truck collecting trash from all the stations. Thank you to all the establishments, schools and sports clubs that supported and promoted the event with posters and in social media. And a special mention to Michael H Bakery in Gentoftegade for offering free coffee to all cleanup participants!
View the gallery to see many wonderful photos from our LEA stations in Charlottenlund and Gentofte Torv. Thank you to all the participants - you are all heroes!
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