Via US Embassy Sweden: Ambassador and Mrs. Barzun visited Luleå April 6-7, 2011 as part of the Embassy's outreach to cities throughout Sweden. The Ambassador spoke to students at Luleå Tekniska Universitet, met with Mayor Karl Petersen, visited with the organizers of the Luleå Art Biennial, and made a long-term loan of two artworks by native artists from Alaska to highlight the cultural connection between Sweden and the United States through indigenous peoples. Ambassador and Mrs. Barzun also enjoyed the hospitality of one of the region's newer and most innovative attractions, the Tree Hotel in Harads.
The following is an excerpt from Ambassador Barzun's blog post in Blog Om: Leaving the Ground to Appreciate Roots | April 13:
We had made a reservation to stay in one, so Sofia took us there, along the way mentioning that our house weighed seven tons. Upon arrival at the treehouse the first thing one notices as this giant thing hangs in the air tethered to trees is, “Wow, these pine trees are tall, but not very thick.” Americans might picture a sequoia—don’t. Instead, start with a thick Christmas tree and double it. Or imagine a thin telephone pole.
In any case, you can imagine the mental estimation and calculation we began behind tight smiles. But Sophia explained that trees grew slowly up here at this cold spot, so they were old and strong – just not very thick. 140 years old. And strong. Each one, she said, could hold 20 tons. Our house was attached to four trees so “only” seven tons were an easy task for them.The trees move, and so does the house. There is power in movement. And power in roots. Both were on display as the house moved a lot during the night. The house was attached to the trees with collars that could be adjusted so they would never strangle the trees. It seemed like a good lesson for us when we got back to the city and shared not only what we learned at Luleå University of Technology about sustainable engineering in the lab, but also what we learned up in the trees: We are rooted but we can move, and we can adjust to change.