Adaptation and all that jazz

My first full day in Longyearbyen yesterday was a jam packed one. First up was a meeting with a fellow social scientist, Dina, with similar interests as myself and who is connecting the growing group of us working in Svalbard, which is a great new development! Next a trip to the library, which since my last visit has a new fancy and larger home where I might have gotten lost to the polar collection for a couple of hours (some things don’t change).

A new experience for me was being here for the Polar Jazz festival, which some warn is taking a hit in terms of ticket sales with the ongoing changes in population and employment patterns here meaning reduced audiences. Between times are snippets of conversations as to the recent changes in the town. If I had any doubts as to how visible or vocal the demise of the coal mining firm has been, then JG Hansen sorted that out with his first song of the night: ‘Coal mining problem in a tourist town’. Later, he had the ‘longwall blues’ -longwall is a kind of coal mining used at Svea Gruve – as ‘times are changing, for a coal miner, there ain’t no more use’.

The message doubly hit home as I realised I was listening to the gig in a hotel that was just being built last time I was here. I am then handed a local newspaper with adverts warning of heavy equipment being transported from Lunkefjell mine as they start the clean up operation to permentantly close and remove it. In fact those are next to my ad about the talk I’m giving next week 🙂 Tomorrow, I am heading to another old mine being repurposed to listen to more mining company musicians: the Store Norske Mens Choir. For now though, I’m honing my 99,000 word thesis into a 40 minute presentation…

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