I was recently privileged to participate in a packed five day gathering of people from business, civil society and government, listening, talking and working under the name “How on Earth Can We Live Together?” People from all over the world, from many walks of life, talked, debated, ate and enjoyed music from around the world set in the spectacular landscape around Tallberg, Sweden. I was able to meet people like Paolo (Bam) Benigno A. Aquino IV, 28-year-old nephew of Benigno Aquino (the assassinated political foe of the dictator Marcos) and the Chairman of the National Youth Commission in the Philippines. Bam is a personable, intelligent, articulate and energetic young man reaching out to youth in his often troubled country through a radio show and through youth programs. I often talked with Professor Jaap Spier, a Supreme Court Justice of The Netherlands and Kanayo Kingsley, a Nigerian working with DAI (Development Alternatives Inc) helping the USAID and other support programs in the Nigerian economy. I met Edite Kalnina, director of a business communications consultancy based in Latvia and Talia Aharoni, President of BSR of Israel, who described how Teva Pharmaceuticals had helped her organize. My husband and I walked with Hans Blix and discussed nuclear proliferation, somewhat awe-struck at the personal risks the man is willing to take.
In the huge main tent we watched triumphant film clips of the Berlin Wall coming down, but later I listened to Hector Berthier, a specialist in urban problems from the University of Mexico as he described the steel wall being erected between Mexico and the United States – the antithesis of the collaborative spirit fostered in Tallberg. Hector’s story and those of others were reminders that we have much to do.
The last evening of the forum, an amazing concert was held in Dalhalla — an old limestone quarry that’s been turned into a 4,000-seat amphitheater — the premier open-air stage in Scandinavia, celebrated for its magnificent acoustics. The theater is set deep in the woods in the Dalarna region of central Sweden in a giant crater — 400 meters long, 175 meters wide and 60 meters deep — a Lime stone qurry reborn as an amphitheater. The name, “Dalhalla,” is a reference to Valhalla, the “Heaven of Heroes” in Nordic mythology. The concert ended well after midnight with choreographed fireworks imposed upon the Bolshoi Theatre Symphony and Chorus, 200 people strong.
On August 4, Jesse and I boarded a bus – the first leg of the long trip back home after five days of living and working with 450 delegates to the 25th Tallberg Forum. As I rode home, the quiet conversations in English, Chinese, Swedish and other languages I could not decipher formed a background “music”. There are some committed and smart people all over the world who are working very hard to find ways to live together. I know I share with those delegates the hope that the spirit of Tallberg endures and grows.