The Mood in Washington DC

2017 started under a cloud for many here in the U.S. and not the least for us in Washington DC. We were all waiting for the inauguration of the new president and at least some of us hoped that the ugly rhetoric and dividing speeches would end after the election. They didn’t. Nor did this constant punching of Washington and civil servants. It’s frankly quite discouraging! First of all Washington is more than just politicians. I think especially of those who live but one or a few miles from Capitol Hill, yet face structural marginalization or work (often in multiple) in minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford their families basic needs – so immensely far from the elitist bubble that our city is so often equaled with in the political rhetoric, and certainly not guilty of the horrific crimes that so many minority groups were accused of during the election campaign! But the constant slandering of Government workers was also quite depressing, Although many Americans appreciate individual Government services, there is always so much negativity said during American elections about government agencies or those who work in them. It felt quite discouraging to be honest, since so many us are so dedicated and have worked so hard to get to do what we do. Which is to service others!

But all of a sudden something started happening: Already before that rainy day that the president was sworn in. I could sense a new force started to emerge all around me. A genuine drive to resist the negativity, indecency, and demagoguery, and to be generous and do more for others. To fight evil with good at all levels, from behavior to deeds. To join movements from The Women’s March ob Washington, to Black Lives Matters, to volunteer for diverse causes and mentor kids in need of extra support. Some of my friends even said they consciously tried to cut down on news consumption to not be too poisoned by all the negativity. Walking in the Women’s March of Washington made me realize that I and my small circle of friends were not alone in this. There wee obviously negative signs here and there, but when I walked in the crowds up e Washington Mall, most of the signs around me was about love trumping hate, going high when others go low, and making America kind again. It gave me hope that this will not be the new normal if we don’t let it!

The Womem's ;March on Washington

The Womem's ;March on Washington

The Womem's ;March on Washington

The Womem's ;March on Washington

The Womem's ;March on Washington

The Womem's ;March on Washington

The Womem's ;March on Washington

A Year in the Life: Snapshots from 2016

A Year in the Life! Not that of the Gilmore Girls, but that of mine. Another year has passed and I think many of us are happy to see 2016 come to an end. Being the news junkie that I am, it’s been a heavy year with all the evils going on, real and rhetorical. Perhaps because of the country in which I grew up, I am not used to the harsh rhetoric that was thrown back and forth during the U.S. election campaign. Everyone talks about energy vampires and one things that sucks out all my energy is when people speak ill of others and spread meanness around; it completely drains me! So the past year’s new cycle has been quite heavy for me. Fortunately (and speaking of the Gilmore Girls), I found the perfect antidote earlier this year: the Gilmore Guys podcast! The lovely duo Kevin and Demi have, while discussing every episode and character of the show for some 400+ hours, convinced me that the sometimes horrifying words that have come out from certain politicians are not the norm, but that for normal people the barre is set higher for what is acceptable behavior and not. I love Gilmore Girls – some describe the series like a warm blanket that helps through difficult and uncertain times – and so what better in times like these than to listen to a kind and cool community that shares my love for the show? (While writing this, I realize that I may have to write a separate post on this topic…)

As for my own life, nothing life altering happened for me in 2016, but I still did quite a lot. Here is a photo collage of what happened in my life in 2016. In the order of seasons, of course, in line with the title series!


Los Angeles: essentially my first time in Southern California since I lived there after high-school, and I still love it! Spent a few very nice days with my friend Anthony in Venice Beach, doing everything LA, from yoga and hiking, to tacos, acai bowls, and coconut water, and walking for hours along the beach every day. We also barbecued one evening with two of Anthony’s friends – an Italian-American couple whose wedding I attended in Venice my last summer in Italy. So from Venice to Venice Beach – closing the circle, or is the world just weirdly connected? // A visit at NASA: a childhood dream came true when I got to visit one of NASA’s Goddard’s Space Flight Centers in February (hence a rare picture of me here!) Behind me is the James Webb Space Telescope that will be launched in 2018 to replace Hubble. It will be rather compact when it is launched and then unfold itself in space over a period of six months (if I remember correctly) and it will be able to capture events billions of lightyears away. The most exciting part is probably that they expect that, just like Hubble, the James Webb Telescope will capture a lot of things that the developers have not planned for and that we are still not aware of. So fascinating – I can’t wait to see what it picks up once launched! The actual purpose of my visit? To learn more about NASA’s emissions and climate change observations. Almost as fascinating as the telescope and the space conditions testing facilities, and it made me dreaming of one day get to work for the space agency…


Paris tout seul: on my way to La Rochelle for a week’s holiday with friends, I was reached by the message that my dad had passed away. Not unexpectedly, but still a time for reflection. I stayed in Paris for a few days while rearranging my travel plans to go back to Stockholm. // New York: my only visit to the city this year, but with bella Camilla whom I know from my time in Rome! And lots of jazz clubs as her partner, Morten Ankarfeldt is a jazz musician (base player). // Learning: I spent a few evenings and weekends this spring taking a course in Urban Agriculture at the University of the District of Columbia (one of the U.S.’s Land-Grant Universities and with a cross disciplinary College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences, CAUSES). It was a fantastic break from my usual office life! I learned a lot of very practical, non-academic skills, was out in the fields digging and planting, and met people with very different backgrounds from me. My only complaint is that it was too short! // A marathon trip with four countries in less than two weeks: Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi – inspiring meetings with regional organizations and a presentation on agricultural risks in Malawi.


A new job: When I got back from my travels in early June, I saw an add for a very interesting job in Sidney, that would involve work on the Pacific Islands. Perhaps a long shot since it was for a quite highly qualified candidate, but the islands are interesting from a food systems perspective and Sidney is after all the no 1 city to live in according to international rankings, so I thought it would be worth trying. I drafted an application and was just about to submit it when I was offered another position in Washington with focus on the Africa region and more broadly on food and agriculture. It took another four months for the move to happen in practice, but if I would have gotten the offer a few weeks later, I might have celebrated the New Year in Sidney instead. Someone said that it seemed to be meant for me to stay in DC a little longer. I guess only time will tell! (The pic is from flying over Ethiopia’s agricultural landscape on one of my trips to Africa.) // Greece: 10 days of bliss on the gorgeous island Santorini! Perfect weather, fantastic food, and lovely people. I give it *****! // Break in Stockholm over the summer, enjoying the beautiful city, the company of friends, and Swedish fika (coffee, tea, or lemonade with snack). And of course my new kitchen in my little apartment that I mentioned in a post here (although I still need a kitchen table…) //  Copenhagen: quick stop on my way back to DC, visiting Camilla and Morten, and their little baby.


Uganda: possibly the country that gave me most awww this year! Buzzing, quickly adopting new technology, and with interesting art and culture here and there, Kampala definitely a cool place to visit. In my case, no less than twice in the fall. I haven’t been outside the capital yet, but I got to see Lake Victoria for the first time in my life and it is stunning! // Country no 50: The last new country that I went to this year was Sudan, which was also the 50th country that I’ve traveled to. I spent most of my time in the capital Khartoum but went into the rural areas for two days together with Government representatives, talking to farming and fishing communities. I also saw the Nile for the first time – incredibly impressive!  // Moves: I only moved 10 blocks and yet changed neighborhoods completely, from a beautiful but rather quiet area from which I could see the White House on a clear day, to a buzzing and quickly transforming part of North West DC that Washington Post named The District’s Best Dining Neighborhood of 2016.  I also moved into a new office in another building right across the street from where I used to sit. // Leisure: last but not least, I visited museums and and went performances (including St Petersburg’s incredible Mariinsky Ballet at DC’s Kennedy Center), and kept up with my art, with piano and singing lessons, ballet classes, and painting. Am I improving in any of these fields? Maybe a little, but I mostly do it just for fun and wellbeing!

In conclusion, I am ready to leave this year behind me! For those of you who wants to see more pics from this past year, check out my gallery on Instagram, @asagiertz

Summer Time in Washington DC

So my past posts have hopefully made it more obvious why I’ve fallen behind on blogging these past months. When I came back to DC after 3.5 weeks on three continents, it was already summer – my favorite season! In Washington, that means lots of ice coffee at outdoor cafés, Friday Jazz in the Sculpture Garden, Screen on the Green (outdoor cinema), people doing yoga in the parks, and of course peach and berry season at the farmers markets!

Farmers Market Dupont Circle

Farmers Market Dupont Circle

Farmers Market Dupont Circle

Peaches Farmers Market Dupont Circle

Apricots Farmers Market Dupont Circle

Farmers Market Silver Spring

I love apricot marmelade on toasts and for the first time ever, I made my own this year – a taste of summer for the winter season! The pics are from our farmers’ markets in Dupont Circle, DC (Sundays) and Silver Spring, MD (Saturdays),  but there are many more in the Washington area.  

Coming Back to Tourist Season in Washington DC

Coming back to Washington, I barely had time to unpack before it was time to take out my suitcase again. This time, I had six countries on the itinerary. It could have been seven but I ended up spending my 12+ hour stop-over in Frankfurt sitting working in a lounge. So no stop at the lovely food market at Konstablerwache this time, which I did last time I had this connection. Instead, the same evening I was on a flight to my first stop, Johannesburg, were I was to organize a training in agricultural risk management.

The White House Washington DC

Lafayette Park Washington DC

When I arrived in Washington DC, the tourist season had started and on Pennsylvania Avenue, foreign travelers and American weekenders took turn with school classes to get selfies in front of the White House, while we Washingtonians tried to continue our daily routines. I pass here almost once a day when in DC, sometimes more, and on weekends I’m that runner that get in the way for the tourists’ pics of the monuments. I guess it’s part of the charm of living here…

Happy Weekend! 

With Cherry Blossom Season peaking this weekend, my colleague and I went for a walk today down by the Jefferson memorial. It’s so beautiful with all the trees in full bloom! What else am I doing this weekend? Prepping a presentation on agribusiness that I will hold for class at GW on Wednesday, catching up on some other work, and planning my summer vacation with Jonas. AND enjoying the fact that spring is finally here, which hopefully means some new produce at the farmers’ market! Happy weekend!   


Snow Day in DC

Today is a quiet day. We’re having a Snow Day, which means that my office is closed and I’m working from home. It’s very nice, although it would have been nice if we had had a proper snowfall! Being from Sweden, closing down an entire city just in the anticipation of snow is a little ridiculous, but that’s how it works here. The car-bound population out in the suburbs can’t get out on the roads when there is snow or ice, and if they can’t guarantee that teachers can get to work, it means that the schools close, which means that people have to stay home and watch after their kids. And so on. And then there are days like today, when the weather forecast was wrong and we don’t even get snow. But I’m of course happy about the Snow Day!

The White HouseI took this yesterday on my way to work: This year’s first snow on the White House lawn. It melted away immediately of course, and today we got even less snow so I think I’m back in the office tomorrow.  

A New Blog Address

So my blog is under reconstruction. Thanks to my very helpful and social media savvy colleague and her friend, I now have my own web address (, a new theme (which is still under development), and I am now on Twitter (asagiertz), Instagram (, Pintrest  ( and Reddit ( Slowly but surely, I’m learning how to use all these media. Of course, I have to have something to say also….

At Busboys and Poets

Working on my blog at Busboys and Poets on 14th Street in DC. 

Lazy Weekend in Washington DC

My first weekend in Washington after the summer is coming to an end. With all the traveling that I’ve done these past months, I’ve almost not been here all summer and it was actually quite nice to just have a weekend to catch up on chores and to prepare a bit for the fall. I had dinner with Swedish Monika on Friday and took ballet classes both Saturday and Sunday, but otherwise it was a really quiet weekend. Today, the weather was grey and rainy so I spent the afternoon watching Swedish crime series on Netflix (Henning Mankell’s Wallander) while having tea with salt water taffies from the Outer Banks and skyping with friends. A perfect Sunday in other words! To keep summer in the apartment, despite the dull weather, I bought a bouquet of amazing sunflowers:



Signs of Spring?

It’s been a long winter. Not very hard compared to what I grew up with in Sweden, but long nevertheless. But now it seems like spring is finally on the way. The almond trees are almost blooming and the Cherry Blossom Festival is less than two weeks away. My friend from Moldova has been here on training for almost a week so we spent yesterday walking around the National Mall before she had to leave for her flight. After that, I met up with another colleague for a drink in Georgetown. A very pleasant Saturday!