Protesting corporate greenwashing & the privatization of public space by Subvertising Norway. Oslo, Sept 2019.
(This text was written by Subvertising Norway and is published in full here at SplitCity Magazine)
On Wednesday morning at 9 o’clock we (Subvertising Norway) picked up a rental van and started collecting electric scooters from around Oslo. We chose to install the scooters in one of Oslo’s oldest and most picturesque streets, Damstredet, home to the celebrated Norwegian poet and polemicist Henrik Wergeland. After installing and photographing the installation we redistributed the scooters along nearby Fredensborgveien.
Not only are e-scooters a nuisance and a danger to personal health (both for riders and pedestrians) they are also bad for the environment (manufactured and transported from the Far East; powered by non-biodegradable lithium batteries, charged on the city’s electricity grid; distributed around the city in petrol-guzzling vans etc.)
Add to this the concern that they represent a shift from public to “private” transportation and it´s clear that e-scooters are not environmentally-friendly “last mile” transportation solutions so much as the greedy tentacles of Silicon Valley brands and unscrupulous start-ups wrapping themselves around our public sidewalks.
The wealth created by the city in which we chose to live, work and play is extracted from it by a small handful of shareholders and investment bankers often thousands of miles away. The California-based company Lime (which operates in Oslo) was valued at $2.4 billion on its last share issue. Yet the reluctance of Oslo Municipality to curtail the influence of private actors in our shared public spaces is an increasing source of concern and frustration for the city’s inhabitants, ourselves included.
We have tried to engage the Oslo European Green Capital 2019 Secretariat on these issues but our requests for a hearing have so far fallen on deaf ears. It seems that this dubious honour is more about greenwashing and environmental tokenism than tackling the root causes of the ecological and social problems, not least multi-national companies and speculators appropriating our public spaces for their own financial gain to the detriment of local people and the planet.
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