Sunday, May 10, 2015

The UFO-Sweden spirit

We use to say there is a spirit of place, the special quality associated with a city or rural area. Every group and organization also creates its own, special spirit or Genius loci. The unique and distinctive character of the organization shaped by the ideas, activities and personalities of the members. This also applies to UFO-Sweden. New active members will not only be confronted with magazine articles, Internet discussions and the official ideology but at a more subtle level experience the UFO-Sweden spirit. I believe this spirit was very well formulated by newcomer Amanda Fredriksson after having participated in her first annual weekend field investigator seminar in November 2008: "My general impression is that there is so much joy in UFO-Sweden".

Amanda Fredriksson and Clas Svahn at the field investigator seminar 2008

Clas Svahn, Rickard Andersson and Carl-Anton Mattsson chatting at the seminar

Mats Nilsson with his wonderful t-shirt saying: "We write about things that almost doesn´t exist"

This often mentioned joyfulness, goodwill and companionship has been the mark of UFO-Sweden for many years and is certainly one of the explanations for its success. There has of course been conflicts and problems but the very special UFO-Sweden spirit has prevailed and those who have been active for many years use to say that we are like a family. Deep and lasting friendships have been made. I belive many of my collegues share the feeling of homebase when it comes to UFO-Sweden.

This UFO-Sweden spirit began to develop partly as a consequence of the annual field investigator seminars starting in 1977 at the Lersäter residential study center. These weekend seminars soon developed into pleasant social gatherings for UFO-Sweden members and the notion of the Lersäter spirit was formulated. The annual field investigator seminars still have a very important social function when it comes to introducing and getting to know new members. Today the seminars are arranged at Föllingen hotel in Östergötland.

Chinese lanterns launched during the field investigator seminar 2011

Important social gatherings are also the annual conferences and expo, arranged in different Swedish cities each year. Since 1998 UFO-Sweden has one board meeting every year at the charming Hotel Lilton in Ängelholm. This meeting is combined with dinner and mingling at the hotel.

Clas Svahn and Tobias Lindgren at the annual conference 2010

Part of the UFO-Sweden gang in 2011

Clas Svahn and Mikael Karlsson at Ängelholm January 22, 2012

An important part of the UFO-Sweden spirit is the lack of fundamentalism, the open but healthy critical attitude coupled with humour and a somewhat irreverent view of the often strange underground world of ufos and Forteana that we are part of. Personally I adopted this attitude from John Keel whos wonderful humour and iconoclastic writings felt like opening a window and letting in fresh air when I first read his books in the 1970s.

Johan Gustavsson at the Ängelholm gathering 2015, proving there really are tin foil hats in UFO-Sweden

My hope is that newcomers in the organization will continue the UFO-Sweden spirit of goodwill, joy and companionship. Investigation, research, hard work, idealism is the important foundation but after 45 years in the UFO movement I can attest that the social dimension is of equal importance to create a successful organization.