Five years into the Syrian conflict, there are over 4 million refugees– an estimated 2.5 million of which are children. Many of these children have been forced to flee their home countries, leaving behind family, friends, belongings, and a place to sleep.
So when our partners at the American Swedish Institute came to us with a proposal to join their campaign for refugee relief, we immediately said “Count us in.”
This year, ASI is focusing on a theme of Migration, Identity and Belonging. One of the first installments is the exhibition “Where the Children Sleep,” a series of photographs by Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman.
Throughout the scheduled exhibitions, ASI will partner with various organizations to raise awareness and make donations. That’s where Tiny comes in— we source and roast the coffee in their FIKA Blend, served at FIKA (ASI’s award wining restaurant and Swedish for coffee brake, traditionally with a pastry and conversation), and sold in retail bags in their museum store. During the exhibition’s run, we’ll join FIKA and the museum store to support these relief efforts by donating a portion of all coffee sales to USA for UNHCR. 50 cents of each cup sold, along with 20 percent of all retail bag sales will go to relief efforts. This way, the exhibition goes beyond awareness, and visitors can begin to contribute directly.
Wennman, who is a two time World Press Photo Award winner and was named Swedish photographer of the year 4 times, photographed refugee children across Europe, gaining an understanding of the hardship these families face when forced to flee.
According to an article posted on the UNHCR website, Wennman had been in Beirut for just a short while when he met a refugee family, a father and his two daughters, who were living on the side of the road. In these moments, he was inspired to share their stories.
“I came up with this idea that I wanted to document where the refugee children sleep,” the article quoted Wennman saying. “No matter how hard this conflict may be to understand, it’s not hard to understand that children need a safe place to sleep.”
As Wennman’s introduction to the conflict seemed to be happenstance, ASI’s introduction to his work was similarly fated.
“Quite literally, we walked through the galleries at Fotografiska (Stockholm, Sweden), serendipitously encountered this exhibition, and wept,” said Scott Pollock, Director of Exhibitions at ASI. “The project offered so much emotional engagement, featured one of Sweden’s most brilliant artists, and tackled a subject we were ruminating on. We knew we had to share this experience with our audiences in Minneapolis.”
Pollock said the topic of migration had been on ASI’s list since 2015, as they knew it was important to explore immigration in a safe, open and inclusive way.
“ASI has been and continues to be an organization that invites all people to gather to connect their pasts to their shared futures,” Pollock said. “But our main goal is to get all these people in the room to better understand what is similar, and what is different, and create empathy and understanding.”
In the world of coffee, we also want to create a shared experience; whether that means making cross-continental connections between coffee farmers and coffee drinkers, or if it means taking the time out of your day for a “fika” coffee hour to reflect and converse.
Other “Migration, Identity and Belonging” exhibits include: Green Card Voices: Nordic Voices, a documentary look at local immigrants; The Stories They Told a series of folk art carvings first popularized in the Nordic regions and then spread internationally; finally, Swede Hollow explores the fictitious characters and historical research referenced in the novel Swede Hollow by Ola Larsmo.
The FIKA Footprints campaign and the exhibit, Where The Children Sleep, will run January 21 through March 5.