A hundred years ago a boy was born down here in Larvik. Today we are in the house where he grew up, the most famous Norwegian ever.
He was crazy. At least that’s what they said when he built a raft and WITHOUT EVEN DOING A TEST RUN AT ALL he sat on the raft, trusting it would float in the right direction over the worlds widest ocean. It did and the world cheered. Maybe because it was right after the 2nd world war and people wanted heroism that didn’t involve dead people.
Anyway here I am with the wonderful Charlotte and for the fifth year running I’m putting on the clothes of Thor Heyerdahls mum and pretending to be her. The first thing I say is: “I moved into this house just over 100 years ago.” Every day one or two of the kids, who are 13/14 years old, say, “Is that really Thor Heyerdahl’s mum?”
Charlotte says its because I look 140 years old that they get fooled. Hahaha Charlotte very funny but they also think that you are Thor Heyerdahl’s wife. The fact is we are fantastic actors. OR the kids love to go along with this stuff.
In this somewhat manic programme we tell them about his thrilling life, teach them about climate change, how to grow your own food, how to slaughter chickens, they make a mini story board with solutions to CO2 emissions, and go into role as one of 16 nations experiencing climate change. All in two hours. And then we do it again.
After I change out of Thor’s mums clothes I say “Charlotte what’s the big problem with Climate change? I mean it would be great if Norway got a bit warmer.”
This year for the first time these teenagers are saying “No!” In this country one can no longer ski in the winter as before. But as an oil nation Norway still has a high proportion of deniers. So its great that at last sense is dawning.
When we first started the kids were quite hostile as soon as we mentioned climate. But we have worked out a way that they really get into it. To explore the challenges, the fun and creativity involved in living a life out of the sofa. Finding solutions, we have a lot of laughs as they get in role. They portray a man from South Korea who thinks the solution is becoming vegetarian, a woman from Mauritius who sees sea levels rising, a Tanzanian who worries tourists won’t come because so many of the wild animals are dying.
The solutions the kids come up with can seem a trifle naive. Today as a solution to the growth of the Sahara desert a boy suggested importing earth to plant trees. Where from I asked. Buy it in the garden centre. But that’s all they know. I’m sure to God my solutions seem equally naive. None of them ever suggest buying less crap. But during this whirlwind programme they get more ideas. And its such a thrill when they remember it and talk about it. Planting forests, free public transport, alternative energy, buying less rubbish and more local food.
Yesterday was a boy who really went for it. He put on a super North Sami accent, and in a mixture of rage and begging us to see sense he made us both laugh and feel something about how it is to see their reindeer suffer.
As a Somalian lad said today – “We need to work together.” Or to quoteThor Heyerdahl – “On this globe it’s like we are living on a raft. We are all together, and together we will either sink or float.”