Monthly Archives: February 2011

Tree 286 :: the price of nature? ::

25th February 2011
Near AnkerBrua, Oslo, Norway

This is Line Lønning.

She works full time as a volunteer for Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth).

It’s inspiring that these young people across Norway are daring to stand up to the oil industry. David and Goliath. Or should I say David’s youngest Sibling and Goliaths older and bigger genetically modified, enhanced brother.

She could be traveling the world and partying it up. She gives up her life to fight for you. Or am I being a drama queen?

If you aren’t too old and passed it like me… and live in Norway… here’s a link to Nature and Youth. If you live elsewhere… this passion can be found in every corner of the world. A world with corners?

Henrik:  So, how is Oslo treating you? You are from near Stavanger on an island.

Line:  Yeah, Karmøy.

Henrik:  How big is this island?

Line:  I think its, am not sure if it’s a 100% correctly but I think its supposed to be about the same size as Manhattan in…

Henrik:  Land mass?

Line:  Yeah, but in population its not that big but it’s about 30,000 people I think.

Henrik:  So what do people do their?

Line:  Well people, I don’t know, eat hot dogs and vote for FRP and…

Henrik:  The kind of right wing kind of party, not the Norwegian, what is it the Norway league of what are they called the league of, the Norwegian League of, its like a weird sort of very right wing like racist party but its not them but they although kind of right, right wing kind of.

Line:  Basically the same thing, so most people work in the oil industry and there is not all of that much environmentally that and all that, environmentally…

Henrik:  Interested? So what made you so interested coming from the place like that?

Line:  I don’t know, I guess it started early and I just, I was kind of upset that people weren’t more aware of, basically everything, it might just seem a bit harsh but I kind of objected to that way of living, you know they are born on the island and they go to school there and they find some neighbour kid and they settle down and its all like, yeah. They are fine with the way the world is really everyday as long as they get a job in the oil industry or something and I was always, I don’t know I always, I would always find myself kind of objecting to that way of living and that way of thinking, and the environmental part of it I don’t know where it came from, I think it’s the only logical way to think about the world and to.

Henrik:  But your parents, are your parents of interest in this?

Line:  Not at all.

Henrik:  But you must have got it from someway, you must remember someone or something or something on television or…

Line:  Well growing up there was actually a lot of things on television there was one children’s program called Kykelikokos, where they would recycle and sing songs about how if you throw something away that doesn’t mean it disappears.

Henrik:  Alright, so there is, yeah.

Line:  I wouldn’t necessarily say that , that’s what made me think about it, but in the 90’s growing up there was actually a couple of good things on television that told you about recycling and be kind to the earth.  So maybe that had something to do with it.

Henrik:  Funny you should mention that actually because I was toying with asking you, I have been thinking you know there ought to be some sort, I don’t really watch much TV but their ought to be some kind of green show that is kind of really good, you know?

Line:  Yeah.

Henrik:  Like for adults. Is there such a thing?

Line:  I don’t know I don’t watch that much television nowadays, that’s just the sort of thing you do when you live on Karmøy and don’t have anything else to do.  But, we definitely see that more people are aware these days and you know like in 2007 or something there was this wave of consciousness I should say or something so there is definitely more stuff about it on TV as well but is there enough? I don’t know.
On the news for example that’s probably the only thing I watch on TV nowadays, you could have one reporter saying that there is a disaster somewhere and there is flood and there is hurricanes and stuff like that and that’s really easy for especially people like me who work with environmental stuff to connect that with climate change and stuff like that and the pollution and everything.
But you could have one reporter saying that and the other reporter says something about how they want to drill for more oil blah, blah, blah.  So if there is TV programs or stuff no TV that’s about the environment it’s not really a whole way of thinking its just.

Henrik:  Little bits and bobs, of information.

Line:  Yeah.

Henrik:  What do you think, what kind of a show would that be then, if we were to make a new show, what would you have in it?

Line:  I don’t know, I think the first thing that comes to mind and I haven’t really thought about this before at all but the first thing that comes to mind is probably just that youth should have, the youngsters should have a big part of it, and that’s why I work in Nature and Youth which is Norway’s only environmental organization for youngsters.

Henrik:  The only environmental organisation for young people?

Line:  Yeah, its easy for an old man to say that he wants to do something for his children and for his grandchildren and for the future but its a lot more important for us that’s young today to speak up and say what we want and what we need for the future.

Henrik:  Yeah, because the young people are the ones who are going to be facing the biggest problems.

Line:  Yeah, especially when you are talking about oil drilling especially in Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja which is a big issue in Norway today, a lot of old people that’s been working in the oil industry in their entire lives and they could be claiming that we need the oil and we want this for our children, our grandchildren and even our great, great grandchildren because of the money aspect of it.
I think it’s a lot more important for us, for the youth of Norway to say that we don’t want this because it’s our future. I mean like it’s all about putting a price on stuff and the environments is way more important, and worth so much more than some money we might get out the oil.  So if I were to make a TV show I think that would be an important part, it should be.

Henrik:  So young people…

Line:  They should be able to speak up.

Henrik:  So, how many are involved with Nature and Youth?

Line:  We are about 7,000 members spread across the country and we have about 60 or 70 teams working locally in different places in the country and we also have people working in the office here in Oslo we are about 30 or 40 people working full time.

Henrik:  Wow, 30 or 40 working full time? How does that work?

Line:  Or basically full time.

Henrik:  Okay, so they put a lot of hours in, spread across from like you must be working 24 hours a day?

Line:  Not far from it no.

Henrik:  Wow, so you are really, really, passionate I guess.

Line:  Yeah you have to be to have that sort of job. For me and for 13 of the other people working in the office here in Oslo, that’s unpaid job so we work basically full time job, but you still have to have something beside of that to get some money in because its not cheap to live in Oslo.

Henrik:  Its amazing what, you know, the amount of people giving their time, you know because they believe in something, I mean there are a lot of people doing that in other kind of groups I am thinking about like church people, who are really passionate about that you know for example or yeah, on the other hand you know there is a lot of people not doing anything.

Line:  Well of course their could be more people and…

Henrik:  And the time shared a bit more.

Line:  Yeah, I think that’s one of the things about Nature and Youth is that we are a group of people from 13, 14 to about 26, when you get to 26 you are kicked out basically because then you are not a youth anymore.

Henrik:  So what am I then am 34, am I an old man?  Am I basically old and passed it?

Line:  You could be a member of Nature and Youth, you could be Nature and Youth friend and you could give us money but you couldn’t like…

Henrik:  I don’t think am exactly youth but, no. (laughs)

Line:  But that’s the important fact of it is that we are youngsters and we, because that’s an important part of…

Henrik:  So how many years have you got left?

Line:  I have got about six year, five years, so yeah.

Henrik:  Okay.

Line:  I am 20 now, yeah, so that’s good but we are just this group of people who, we don’t have any education and we are basically doing this on our free time and I think that’s just so important and to show that we are so dedicated, we care so much about our future and about the state of the earth and about climate change and green house gases and lazy politicians who don’t want to do anything that could be unpopular with the voters but good for, good for the earth.

Henrik:  So what kind of things do you do then as this group like, yeah?

Line:  We do a lot of stuff, there is, of course there is a different, according to what we do in the office here in Oslo and what our local groups do but that could be all from trying to get your council to start recycling or it could be like the biggest thing we work for here in Oslo and nationally, we are trying to stop the oil drilling Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja, and that has been our biggest…

Henrik:  The main focus.

Line:  The main focus yeah, for like the past three years I think now.

Henrik:  Really that long?

Line:  Yeah.

Henrik:  Flip.

Line:  So its kind of hard to like constantly tell the like 13 year old working for Nature and Youth in like some place in the country and that maybe its not too close to Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja, and the whole oil issue, there to just constantly tell them for like three years that keep working for this its important, the decision is right around the corner… but now its really is.

Henrik:  What did you think of Jens Stoltenberg’s, the Prime Minister’s like, he made some comments, that was recently on the news he made a comment, did you hear it?

Line:  Yeah that was probably when…

Henrik:  They went and had a meeting with like…

Line:  There was someone from Nature and Youth representing at that meeting, well the things he said was kind of more positive than we would think because he said that Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja is not the only place that we should be focusing on, it shouldn’t necessarily have the main focus for oil drilling and we should look more to Barin sea.

Henrik:  Up in the North?

Line:  Yeah up in the North.

Henrik:  Way above the…

Line:  Where the Russian border, and so that’s positive because its, well we don’t want more drilling for oil, no matter where it is but Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja is such a special area, it has such a rich…

Henrik:  Yeah it’s a beautiful place and there is also the cod and all that sort of thing.

Line:  Yeah, thats very special for that area so.

Henrik:  They come there to mate or something and there is a lot, it’s the last cod…

Line:  It’s the largest swarling place I think they call it, I tried to Google this because I don’t normally talk about this in English but its where they make their babies basically, so it’s a very important area for the cod and also a lot of coral reefs and yeah that’s just very spectacular nature there and so it’s a very special area and that’s why we are fighting this so hard and we are putting all of our energy and all of resources into fighting this.  So that was very positive what Stoltenberg said, it’s  not necessarily the main focus.

Henrik:  Yeah he didn’t commit to anything did he?

Line:  No.

Henrik:  He sort of did a political thing where he sort of said something slightly, positive but not really saying anything and that’s sort of kind of…

Line:  Yeah, it still better than we thought, so that’s good. Our expectations to Stoltenberg isn’t all that high, so and, like last year we voted him for that year’s worst environmental… er, I don’t know what to call it… Miljø Vaersting

Henrik: oh like the sort of environment, not criminal but like…

Line:  You could say its criminal so…

Henrik:  It’s not really a criminal but Miljø Vaersting is like, its more kind of comedy in it, in the word.

Line:  Because you know that’s all about, its all about being young and being a bit funny about it, but still very serious and so.

Henrik:  Yeah, taking it seriously as well yeah.

Line:  It’s a fine balance.

Henrik:  So do you, since like you know, you are going to inherit this, I mean not long after me, I mean the young people like 13, 14 year olds you know, do you think, is there hope, are you hopeful or are you?

Line:  That’s a big question but, well of course I am hopeful because if I am not hopeful I cant do this, I couldn’t be working so hard and putting so much of my time and energy into this if I wasn’t hopeful but yeah.

Henrik:  I am thinking, I probably mentioned this a few times over the course of this last nine months but the slave trade it took like 40 I don’t know how but a lot of years of people campaigning to get it abolished and that was a whole system, you know that people couldn’t imagine living without.  I mean to be honest you know I think not drilling in Lofoten is ridiculously important, am beginning to feel that we need to start, you know talking about the really, the root of the problem which is, I mean what do you think the root of the problem is?

Line:  Well the root of the problem is basically people not thinking about the fact that drilling up the oil and polluting it all over the place it has consequences, and when the issue of money is put, before the earth. I think that’s the main problem just money and the fact that it seems to be more important than the state of the earth and clean air and clean water.  It’s all about appreciating the resourses that we need, we haven’t been able to put a price on clean water or clean air or a healthy world.

Henrik:  Not yet.

Line:  But that’s a big discussion nowadays that I think would be quiet important over the next couple of years.

Henrik:  I mean that’s an interesting point like, for me, you know because, you know like there is a car, there is, in an insurance claim with a car like in America it probably applies here as well to some extend.  When a car is made and they, what is it? Lets say there is something wrong with the car like lets say it’s a seat belt, but that wouldn’t be that, something like that, that may cause questions of safety, like they calculate how many lives maybe lost, right against what it would cost to fix the problem in all of the cars that have been made and to call all the cars back might cost a billion dollars or something, you know, and you know there has been a sum that has been put on what a persons life is worth and so they calculate it, its like 20,000 deaths and that’s equal to X number of thousand dollars, yeah, and if the sum to withdraw the cars is greater than the sum of the deaths they wont withdraw the cars you see?

Line:  Yeah.

Henrik:  And my point is that you talked about putting a price on nature and clean water and all that, personally there is something in me that feels uncomfortable about that idea, the fact that there is, you know even if it was to start saving the world the fact that its done because of a financial incentive you see what I mean, for me that’s a tension. I mean its difficult…

Line: Yeah.

Henrik: But obviously I’d rather that the world was saved completely and then maybe deal with the financial problem later, I don’t know.

Line:  That’s what kind of difficult about it, because its very controversial to put a price on human lives and on natural resources but if that is what has to be done to get politicians and businessmen and stuff like that to just, to calculate it, to see if like, if we pollute this much with this product then its not worth it or something, and so I don’t know if that’s the way to do it.
But something has to be done that’s for sure so. I think we all agree that its worth very much to have like clean air and clean water, that’s a fact you know everybody knows that.  But we don’t calculate it.  Its like of course we have clean air, of course we have clean water but its not.

Henrik:  But its not you know what I mean, this interview I did the day before yesterday you know they are talking about Bygdøy Alle and the Kastanjer (Chestnut trees) they all died because of the pollution, and its so ironic or its interesting, that what they don’t talk about is we need to reduce the pollution, so that we can plant new Kastanjer and they will survive.  No the solution is, ‘we are going to plant Alme traer, they are actually elms that can take the pollution.

Line:  Yeah, and that’s a good example of how fucked up it is, because yeah.

Henrik:  Yeah it’s like healing the symptoms.

Line:  Yeah but not the problem.

Henrik:  Not the cause yeah.

Line:  And that’s for me that’s so stupid I cant even tell you how stupid that is.

Henrik:  So we will probably round this up very soon but… so what’s the show going to be called in Norway?

Line:  I don’t know.

Henrik:  Don’t worry. Well, I can’t think how you put a price on a liter of water like…

Line:  They do in the store but.

Henrik:  In the shop that’s one thing.

Line:  No its…

Henrik:  I mean in terms of in a global natural system like rain, you know. So do you mean just making it less of a free market for a kind of pollution and so that there is more rules?

Line:  Yeah well it should be, I don’t know this is not my area of expertise but I don’t know people should just think logically about it. I mean for me it all comes down to like health. Its like you know you shouldn’t smoke because its bad for your health and you should also know that the pullution from the cars in the city centre harms people in the same way. People get asthma and its bad. Yeah, when will there be like a rule that says that you are not allowed to pollute in public places, like you are not allowed to smoke in public places.

Henrik:  You have to go like into the woods if you want to drive your car you have to drive in the woods.

Line: You shouldn’t be driving your car and polluting either way I think. Its all about being healthy and we have come a long way to think about how to keep our bodies healthy in terms of what to eat and what not to eat and not to smoke and stuff like that.  Even if you do smoke you probably know that its not good for you but in terms of what’s good for the earth I think we have a long way to go but there is definitely hope.

Henrik:  Cool, so you are telling me you are feeling slightly, not exactly embarrassed but, about going to IKEA, but you qualified it by saying that you are going to buy some recycling boxes.

Line:  And I am taking the bus so. I don’t know how to drive so. But for like friends and family, I might seem a bit extreme, because I am a Vegan and I don’t smoke and I don’t drink and I am like working full time for an environmental organization and it probably seems a bit too hardcore for them. But I think its important to get the message across that you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to do something good for the environment and you should have to…

Henrik:  Do you mean in a perfect society?

Line:  Yeah, the simplest thing to do should be the more environmental…

Henrik:  So when you go to the shops, the shops are stocking stuff that is in a way that is…

Line:  It should be like organically grown food shouldn’t be more expensive it shouldn’t be hard to choose and it shouldn’t be hard to choose the bus.

Henrik:  You mean it shouldn’t be, I know what you are saying.

Line: The politicians should make easy to be environmentally friendly, but you should also be aware enough to go a bit out of your way. I do a lot but I don’t feel that I give up on things, I just live the way that I think is the best for me and the best for the environment and… you just have to do the best that you can and I don’t think you should have to go out of your way to do something good for the environment.

Henrik:  Okay very last question, which is who are you going to have in your parliament?  Who is in your government… anyone alive or dead?

Line:  Oh that’s…

Henrik:  I am just going to save this actually just incase the battery runs out.

Line:  Yeah.

Line sent me an email about who should be in her cabinet… Here is an extract. (No-one specific but do you fit into this category? Maybe one of them could be you?)

I’ve been thinking about who I would like to in government, and I think I landed on a combination of environmentalists, human and animal right activists.

Tree 285 :: Red ::

23rd February 2011
Akers Elven, Oslo, Norway


I’ll never forget that twig. It snapped and our conversation was lost, and another attempt to recreate it was stumbled through, (below). Basically the mic fell out of my hand, out of the tree when the twig snapped and dropped into the snow. Was one of those flowing conversations full of laughing and surprise. Guess you had to be there. You never will be, not even by proxy here. So we tried to recreate it, what we said. Maybe it was not being in the tree that made it feel tired. (it reads better than it felt… but)… Or recreating it… or both. Conversations on trees are better than sofas, which maybe untrue as the conversation with Dieter in Austria was better on the sofa. Then we climbed the tree the next day and it felt forced. Try it with someone. Try following the same conversation over again with someone just after you had it. Surprisingly difficult to make it feel fresh. Perhaps what keeps conversation alive is surprise? Still… it’s a good reminder that this stuff will be gone. These moments. They are only once. These recorded and transcribed conversations are an echo.

So… I present to you Åse Galterud. Post tree climb.

Henrik:  That might have fucked up but we will carry on as if not.

Åse:  You just dropped it.

Henrik:  I totally dropped the microphone in the snow, I was bouncing my hand on a dead twig and it snapped, anyway.  Okay, so we are walking back because we are freezing.

Åse:  What time is it; its quite late isn’t it?

Henrik:  I don’t know, my guess is it’s a quarter to twelve just a guess maybe twelve, right, so you were saying the right wing group like not like far right like, they are kind of like acceptable right aren’t they, in this climate of politics?

Åse:  Well yes, they are because they actually have a lot of votes.  In Norway they have like Fremskritspartiet, (Forward step party), yeah, they have like 20% of the votes but they are the most right wing party in Norway and they have grown very big during the last I don’t know six, eight years or something, but they have always been they are in companion with the Høyre which just means Right.

Henrik:  Okay, so there is two grades of Right?

Åse:  Yeah, and you know Høyre is like the conservative party.

Henrik:  Okay, and then there is the Fremskritsparti which is…

Åse:  Yeah which is a liberal right wing. Its not very liberal, but it claimed to be a liberal party but.

Henrik:  Listen I want to get to the, you were saying you are Rød?

Åse:  Yeah.

Henrik:  I mean I kind of thought I mean am asking you as if I don’t know that I am playing an interviewer, but I don’t know everything obviously but the red flowers I sought of thought, when I saw them in your place I thought, you know it’s a little bit of Spring, you know to sort of, as a bit of hope but in this kind of endless kind of Winter, in the cold and obviously it’s the RED party that you are involved with as well.

Åse:  So you are trying to come to the point that the RED Party’s a little bit like Spring?

Henrik:  Not really, but what I am going to come to is, RED, like firstly just quickly what’s that about and how you have come to…

Åse:  Become a member.

Henrik:  Yeah and getting involved with that in such a big way.

Åse:  Well RED was the party is only, I don’t maybe three years old or something, it’s a coalition of, this is a long and complicated story but the short version is, it is an alliance of what used to be the workers communist party, the Red electoral alliance, that was another and these were quite, this is difficult to explain, but also some you know independent like, Trotskites.

Henrik:  Trotskiists.

Åse:  Trotskitskist, I can’t say that there is too many S’s.

Henrik:  Okay so lots of different parties that came together to become Red.

Åse:  Yeah, maybe two different parties and some individuals and…

Henrik:  But essentially communist.

Åse:  Essentially yes.

Henrik:  Ethic or ideals.

Åse:  Yes, but I guess that maybe half of the members will call themselves communist and the other half will just say  revolutionaries, socialists something, something.

Henrik:  So how did all this parties come, because obviously they probably got varying beliefs on how kind of revolutionary you know, some of them wannabe, you know like a communist revolution and some of them want something a bit more kind of easier to deal with or an easier transition maybe, I don’t know am just guessing.

Åse:  Yeah, I don’t know how to explain that.

Henrik:  How did they come to a compromise, or what is the compromise?

Åse:  Because the compromise is something in between, it’s like I think the compromise which you know in Norway they are very obsessed with the word ‘armed revolution’ because of the 70’s and this was kind of like the workers communist party.  It has always been used against them.  Although I actually don’t think they ever have it in their program but they probably said it a lot.

Henrik:  Right.

Åse:  So and then you have, I think to compromise.

Henrik:  So something like the Russian Revolution.

Åse:  I think to compromise, yeah I don’t know.

Henrik:  Or the Cuban thing…

Åse:  I don’t think I can, you know this is like discussing religion because there is one word here and one word there and it means people will just say no you got it that’s not it, but the compromise is something in between because it doesn’t say armed revolution, but it says revolutionary party and you know stating that, the party wants free elections, all kind of you know bourgeois liberties.  The right to vote, right to organize, freedom of speech and so on.

Henrik:  Right, and what about society like as opposed to Capitalism what’s the sort of suggestion?

Åse:  I am actually not quiet sure what the program says, I haven’t read it for a while.

Henrik:  Okay we will take a break, we will continue indoors.

Henrik:  We are now back in Åse’s flat and feeling a bit pissed off because the file that we recorded in the tree, in the amazing tree with the peculiar red flowers growing out of it in the middle of winter… that’s a sign of climate change if anything… but basically the conversation we had which was really quite good was lost.

Åse:  Especially the part about Bydoy Alee. That’s too bad, now the world will never know.

Henrik:  I know, we will talk about it, what we talked about at least but, okay, so lets try a memory game is recap okay, so we talked about a tree which is a massive old tree and we didn’t know what it was but it might have been, it looked, the bark looked like a chestnut tree and then we talked about…

Åse:  I think I told you about this old Norwegian song probably, that’s called ‘Når Kastaniene Blomstrer I Bygdoy Alee’, is from I don’t know 40’s, 50’s something, it means and the chestnuts are flowering in the Bygdøy Alee which is a big street in the West of the city, and now all of the streets are dead from pollution, and the city council, there has been an initiative to do something about this because all the trees are dead, very old all along, they just died because of the pollution. So… and everyone agrees, all the parties agree that we should do something about this we should plant new trees, we have to keep you know, Bygdøy Alee looking, actually it doesn’t look very good either it’s a very polluted and traffic in the street, but we have to keep it and try to make it you know look decent.  I was telling you, I think you asked me something about this cÅse that has been up on this meeting because, I have seen that meeting as a representative of my party, and I told I really wasn’t paying that much attention because I was sitting on Ebay.

Henrik:  That’s right, and that’s the classic picture of the world because the, its probably the most important, possibility and the most important thing that day on the agenda, the idea of this pollution and like the trees are just dying, and you know, well we are just shopping, you know that maybe there is a sign here.

Åse:  The irony.

Henrik:  The irony yeah, so they are going to plant Elms instead.

Åse:  Yes because I am not completely sure I think that was the part I wasn’t completely sure about because I wasn’t paying attention if they are going to plant elms but I have heard it that is actually the only tree that survives in the city, it handles the pollution, all the others kind of trees they die, if they stand in the street.

Henrik:  So the solution is just to plant more resilient trees.

Åse:  Yeah, actually.

Henrik:  Were you telling me that in Winter, in Oslo, its worse pollution here than in…

Åse:  Mexico city.

Henrik:  Than Mexico City, because when it’s cold…

Åse:  It stays near the ground.

Henrik:  And there was actually a progressive idea to actually…

Åse:  To on the days when it’s the most polluted that the city should have Dato Kjøring, like you say that all the cars which have, the number plate ends with…

Henrik:  Odd numbers or even numbers.

Åse:  They can only drive every second day so it would limit…

Henrik:  The number of cars on the road so you would have less pollution which is a brilliant start.

Åse:  Yeah it’s a start because you know on the bad days people with asthma they can’t go out, small children they actually can’t play outside, that’s very bad.

Henrik:  Which is mad, and I mean in a way that’s, Norway has very, very much a lot of rules but this is the socialist, this is a more socialist idea isn’t it that some people have.

Åse:  Someone has to limit their driving so that others can actually go outside, but it was all the parties I think if I remember all the parties except from Fremskritspartiet voted for that.

Henrik:  Really, except from Fremskritspartiet?

Åse:  Yeah of course because they think the solution is to make cars cheaper to buy so people will have cars that are newer.

Henrik:  Oh right, so there is less pollution because of that, which of course wouldn’t work like that, just you would have people with more cars because more people would have…

Åse:  Would buy a car in the first place.

Henrik:  And also you would have families that would have four cars instead of two or one.

Åse:  Probably.

Henrik:  Yeah, I mean that’s always the way you build a bigger road to make the congestion problems better and then you just, people they just fill up.

Åse:  I heard that in Norway there is five million people and two and a half million cars so every second person has a car, that’s a lot considering, I don’t know how many are children.

Henrik:  Exactly a lot of people have two cars at least.

Åse:  Yeah.

Henrik:  But I remember another thing we talked about which is one of the first things, we were talking about the river, like, and you said about, you know until the 50’s they used to actually float logs down that river that runs straight into the fjord.

Åse:  I am not sure for quite how long they did but it was quite long because the river runs through the whole of Oslo from miles in somewhere in the woods.  So they used to you know chop down trees and just float them down the river the whole way.  That most that looked really cool, its also very dangerous obviously, they did that for a long time they show this now Oslo films old films showing this.

Henrik:  Funny you know what, I actually spoke to a guy in England who was on the other end of that process, he used to buy the timber from Norway and from Finland and when he brought them into London they would buy it and then bring it to London and then try and sell it before… anyway that’s another story.

Åse:  Before they chopped it up.

Henrik:  Yeah they were trying to sell it before it docked so they would sell the whole lump, a whole lot of timber, yeah so he would probably bought logs that came down that river maybe, certainly his dad because I think his dad was into it as well.

Åse:  Did you know they did that for a longtime because it, it’s most probably the easiest way to transport it, because it was from in the middle of nowhere so.

Henrik:  And you didn’t have cheap oil like you do now, so yeah using water power to.

Åse:  The whole of Oslo is, the industry, its all been by the river as in many other places of course, the power the river gave, the large factories they were just 200 meters from it.

Henrik:  And then we talked about Oslo being on mud, the centre of Oslo is on the mud and it would slip into the sea if there, as the salt drains out of it, and I suggested digging up the roads and planting trees to keep Oslo from slipping into the sea.

Åse:  I don’t know if that would do it.

Henrik:  The roots would keep it all safe. It’s a brilliant idea. You should suggest it in the council meeting.

Åse:  Let’s tear all up this streets and plant trees then they would just you know, look at me like I was crazy.

Henrik:  So we’ve had the river the logging, we’ve heard you on E-Bay not paying attention to the most important conversation in the history of the council…. no, but the pollution the trees giving us a sign of what’s actually going on, the actual trees just actually dying because it’s so polluted.

Åse:  Yeah.

Henrik:  I mean that’s quiet an image isn’t it?

Åse:  Yeah.

Henrik:  And what, you were buying ear rings?

Åse:  I was buying earrings.

Henrik:  That is so brilliant.

Åse:  Yeah, that’s like I don’t know, it should be on TV, and I am supposed to be a representative for you know, a progressive party.

Henrik:  Okay, so… and then I asked you what makes your ears prick up, what actually catches your interest and you talked about libraries.

Åse:  Yeah and cultural politics but I think actually the things that really you know makes me, I have been into politics for I am now 27 years old and I have been working with politics, like, a lot since I was I don’t know 15, 16 or something and you know when you are 16 you have like a very, you have a strong sense of justice and you really you know, things pisses you off, and then you get a bit older and then you become more like nonchalant, and its like I have seen this before this is nothing worse than this and that and so on.

But sometimes actually I can, something happens that sort of wakes that passion and then you feel  its like am so really, very pissed off and in my head its going on like all this thing I should say to the people responsible if I have them before me, and I would say this and I would say that and I would really you know and I can walk around for days and being just really pissed off being very upset, going to you know, demonstrations, reading all about it in the news, being like I was 17 again.

Sometimes this happens and I think the two main things that have happened here in the last couple of years that have made me feel like that is the last is when this girl Maria Ameli was thrown out of Norway a month ago which is, she came as a refugee when she was a child her family, their application was denied but they stayed in Norway living illegally and she took a Masters Degree in Trondheim, and she has been you know living from you know working washing houses, everything on the ground, and this is of course it doesn’t matter if she is resourceful or not but it’s a symbol of a politics where bureaucracy is everything and you know, human, ‘medmensklihet?’

Henrik:  Yeah like a sense of, human kind of,

Åse: Decency.

Hnerik: Yeah, like not all men basically have this but it’s a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood or like human relation.

Åse:  Well like human destinies, it doesn’t matter, people are kicked out of the country with babies, you know, mothers with babies that are five years old.  I saw this thing yesterday, a mother had just given, she had a five months old baby and the mother was being thrown out of Norway but the child is staying with the father because the father has the right to be here, and these cÅses are there all the time, but you know the rules are everything and the people are nothing and that really, really pisses me off.

The other thing was the Gaza war, last January, that was, and then I was like 17 again going to demonstrations everyday.  I actually found my old Palestina Sjerf?

Henrik: Oh like a Palestinian Scarf.

Åse: I found it again, I haven’t used it for years, I found it again and started using it because it was so important for me to you know, say something about this.  Say, speak my opinion on this and I think that’s the two things that really you know woken the spirit, in the last couple of years.  Often you can feel like a big apathy, and like nothing works and things are going to hell sometimes.

Henrik:  But don’t you think that’s to do with, you don’t feel like you are being heard, or that you are not going to be heard.

Åse:  You get tired.

Henrik:  You get tired of just people, like going backwards like you were talking about libraries you know they are like which is something you are passionate about, you know they, you know the budget is the same for the last 30 years and…

Åse:  And you feel you can’t do anything, its what we call Sisyphus, you know the legend of Sisyphus?

Henrik:  What was Sisyphus’s thing?

Åse:  He was judged to forever roll this big stone up a hill and when he was up there it just went down again so if we do this the same thing all the time and complain the budgets are too low we cant do the decent service on this money, we cant do our mission and its like, it doesn’t matter the same thing every year.  It’s not a direct cut it’s just not increasing it.

Henrik:  And what I thought was interesting you said was, if the idea of a library was brought around today, like, yeah we are going to give people access to books for free.

Åse:  Books, information, newspapers, music, films, the internet completely without any censorship.

Henrik:  And free.

Åse:  Are free paying them with their taxes.

Henrik:  That would they would just be like.

Åse:  It would be impossible, they couldn’t do that today, and it’s really…

Henrik:  But in a way because the internet, its not free because you have to own a computer and you have to buy broadband connection so anyway that’s not free I suppose its no free but that sharing of information you know, its going on, you know that is the sort of a library isn’t it?

Åse:  Sort of but its not as free not you know…

Henrik:  It’s not the same ideal.

Åse:  No and its, how should I put this, there is a very strong ethics amongst librarians, very strong, and its, the main issue, that we do not judge we do not ask we give people the information they require and we do not register what they read or what they look at or what they do in the internet and we don’t even do that if its, if the court makes a decision to hand out what someone has borrowed, we don’t do that.

Henrik:  Right, so it’s a bit like sort of a doctors ethics a code of, right, that’s interesting I didn’t know that.

Åse:  Yeah and this has been…

Henrik:  Do you have to like sign an oath?

Åse:  Yeah you have to sign of course.

Henrik:  Like a sort of vow of… discretion.

Åse:  Yeah and also it influence the whole working situation because we are careful about discussing the patrons with each other, and you have like a strong you have to be of course you discuss the patrons in someway but you do not cross that line in a way, you don’t go like, that is a strange guy borrow this and that and ask about this and that and he is probably into this and that.  So it’s very strong ethics, so people are only, you can be thrown out if you, you know violate the rules and this says a lot about how free a library is because there has been problems that libraries, like the main library in Oslo has been, pedophiles have been using it as a meeting place and tipping each other off,  ‘you should check this and that’, and using the computers so you have to have a balance you can’t have like closed rooms because then, that’s also against our ethics you know, child pornography, obviously but the fact that that actually happens I think says  something about how much people trust the library, and that’s very important.

Henrik:  It’s a safe space.

Åse:  It’s supposed to be a safe space.

Henrik:  Do war mongers meet in the libraries as well?

Åse:  What that?

Henrik:  Like people who like plan wars and you know…

Åse:  Probably, war criminals I don’t know, probably.

Henrik:  So I didn’t know you were a librarian though.

Åse:  You didn’t?

Henrik:  No.

Åse:  I am a librarian actually, I have worked as a librarian for three years not all the time, actually I was a web editor for a while.

Henrik:  Yeah but libraries I mean if we are talking about trees which actually I have to link into trees somehow sometimes but books are made of trees.

Åse:  Yeah, do you know how much woods there is in Norway?

Henrik:  Which is something interesting I think.

Åse:  You think?

Henrik:  Well I don’t know, it’s something I don’t get on with the idea of reading a book on a computer.

Åse:   No it’s much more resourceful to produce a computer than to produce a book.

Henrik:  Is it?

Åse:  Obviously and it’s like lots of metals…

Henrik:  Do you mean it takes a lot more resources to create a computer?

Åse:  So it’s probably a lot more environmental.

Henrik:  And libraries are actually incredibly, if you are talking about in the environment, like a thousand people sharing one book than like everybody buying that book.

Åse:  Yeah but I always found that to be really not an important part of the library, actually some of my colleagues they were they spoke of that and found that to be important that the library is environmental friendly because of that, but I don’t think that’s important.  I don’t think that that doesn’t have anything to do with why you have libraries. You do not have libraries because its environmental friendly it’s the access to information for everyone for free.

Henrik:  Sure, but surely this is just an extra bonus.

Åse:  Yes, but I don’t think that you can of course that’s an extra bonus but you don’t take the bus because you know you meet people, you see what I mean.

Henrik:  You might do in the future; I think my buses of the future are like really cool places. You’d have a band playing on the bus…

Åse:  But at this time you are not taking the bus, but mainly you take the bus because you need to get from one place to another.

Henrik:  Yeah, but if the environment became more of a priority and the, anyway that’s another story but if you have a carbon tax on buying books because their was a cost of producing it there might be an incentive to use the library more, anyway that’s something else.  But okay so, the value of the library there is not censorship its like its access to information and then I started to ask you about, and then on the conversation on the road back I asked you because you obviously sat in on these meetings because you were part of the committee because you are…

Åse:  I can’t do that conversation again.

Henrik:  No, not doing it all again.

Åse:  That’s very hard to explain.

Henrik:  No we have the other recording.

Åse:  Yeah that’s true.

Henrik:  Its painful isn’t it, because the first time we had this conversation it sort of flowed out and then you have to do it I mean it’s the first time I have lost something out of a tree which is amazing, I mean the fact that that camera has lasted this long.

Åse:  Actually you lost the tripod leg.

Henrik:  That’s true, with you. Its you.

Åse:  It must be, so next time you will probably fall out yourself.

Henrik:  Next time we are going to have a strap on this thing, anyway okay so we are just cut over the bit where you were explaining the Red party and we’ll jump to the next bit which I, I mean we talked about the Right party, the right wing party you know we have talked about the fact that they seem to be working against… the Sisyphus’ struggle, so there is a sort of a battle against this bloody, its either the rock or the mountain or the hill or the curse of being forced to do this, whichever it is but for you, how did you ended up getting into this stuff?

Åse:  I grew up in the party, I actually did, yeah, born and raised in the party, if you had asked me 10 years ago I would have said that was not important but no I wouldn’t say it wasn’t important but I would say that then I got into politics because of a strong sense of justice and a very, you know, an urge to do something and that’s true but its also true that I grew up in the party and you know, I come from a family with activists.

Henrik:  Activists yeah.

Åse:  Yeah, and I have always done it, its always been a part of my life, I went to like Summer camps, the Workers Communist party summer camp when I was a child.

Henrik:  Did you?

Åse:  Yeah I did.

Henrik:  Hang on, hang on. Okay now before you carry on I just have to I want to save this and change the battery.

Åse:  Yeah.

Henrik:  Sorry take four minus one, so we are still a bit forlorn about losing our amazing conversation but what can we learn from, what’s the analogy in that?

Åse:  Always carry the microphone around your neck with a strap, I don’t know.

Henrik:  I was thinking about the kind of performance, just living in the moment, and the kind of performance, if your life becomes like a routine in a performance, that you kind of repeat, then it kind of dies but am I maybe just trying too hard to think of something.

Åse:  To find a meaning? Yeah I think you are trying too hard.

Henrik:  But you know something good came out of it, because in repeating it other things have come up, and I was thinking about Bygdoy Alee earlier, and that could be a good street to launch the rehab road project for.

Åse:  Rehab road?

Henrik:  Have I shown you that?

Åse:  No.

Henrik:  That’s another thing; it’s a side project to Uptrees.

Åse:  Okay, I should find that suggestion about that street, I will find it later.

Henrik:  What do you mean…?

Henrik:  What was actually the document?

Åse:  Yeah the document.

Henrik:  Is that for public view, so I can put it on my blog.

Åse:  Of course, because the discussion is public, it’s both written and possible to hear it I think am not sure of that.

Henrik:  That would be interesting, so you went to do work as communist party summer camp for kids?

Åse:  No for grown ups but it was like you know a children’s camp at the same… a woman there, I heard this story like a thousand times, I was quiet stubborn as a child, this was like 3 years old or something so am not quiet sure what to point or what actually happened. But there was something about me being very stubborn and my father said like no, ‘you are not going to do that’ and I was just, I don’t care about you I will go do it myself, and this woman said to my father that, that girl will grow up to be the leader of the Women’s Front.

Henrik:  Oh yeah?

Åse:  Yeah, that I know I am not the leader of the Women’s Front.

Henrik:  Not yet, but is it needed now in Norway?

Åse:  The Women’s Front, oh yes I think so, I am not sure if the Women Front that exists is the right place, or the right organization but you need like, yes, women organizing, women’s rights, yeah definitely.  That is one of the real big political issues that’s been most important to me.

Henrik:  I mean am not saying its not, but I mean it’s because Norway it’s the most progressive place in the world for women isn’t it?

Åse:  Yeah.

Henrik:  So, it’s because of all that work I guess. Its still not equality?

Åse:  No it’s not equality and also I think sometimes and it’s not only about Norway either it’s, also a big national question it’s about the world.

Henrik:  Okay, so the Women’s Front in Norway fight for other women in other parts of the world, but also its often I think one tends to think of history as always moving forwards but its not sometimes, it takes, it goes back, progressive opinions are all of a sudden looked down on and things that was once obvious to everyone is under question in a way that is not good.  So it’s not like you win the battle and then it’s won.

Henrik:  Well I feel like that in my like, you know you feel like, oh I have now I have conquered that problem and then you move on to the next thing and then you realize five years later, oh crap am doing that thing again that I had stopped doing.

Åse:  Yeah this is it.

Henrik:  Okay, but I think we need to, because we have been talking for hours here, so you grew up in quite a radical home in terms of a country that is, well it seems that Norway is tolerant of these sorts of parties, no?  …I mean you sit in government, do you have any MP’s?

Åse:  No, we had one but that’s years ago, I think we lost that in 2001 maybe… no sorry we lost in 97 had him from ’93 to ’97 but hopefully my friend Bjørnar for instance will be the candidate, I hope so next time and be elected for Oslo, that would be good.

Henrik:  Okay so it’s a semi excepted party but when you were growing what was the situation then?

Åse:  It was not accepted at all… this is a difficult issue because as I told you my family has been under surveillance by the government, and my parents were not really the leaders of the party or anything like that they were just quite ordinary members but they happened to live in Svalbard, which I think was especially kept under surveillance because what Svalbard is and because of the Russians and things, and a very, you know strange society in many ways, a company town.  With the mining company owning everything, controlling everything but they were under surveillance and they both were first registered there in something like ’76 or ’77 and then they were kept under surveillance for I don’t know how many years.  But the files are until at least, there is something in the files from there late ‘80’s at least.

Henrik:  And you said that you didn’t, I was a bit dismissive of your being brought up under surveillance… I said well let them listen and they can learn something but it’s not like that, I appreciate that, so what is that like then?

Åse:  It’s difficult to explain because obviously we didn’t know this for sure, then I was a kid so but I learned this whole thing about illegal surveillance you know when it was exposed back in ’96.  You know in a way all of the radicals were like pretty sure that it has happened, they kind of knew it and had noticed it of course but I was a kid so I didn’t notice that, like my parents never told me this but when I heard of the cÅse I understood that this had happened to my family.

Henrik:  A lot of things made sense.

Åse:  Or I just knew that I don’t know maybe I had picked up on something they had been speaking of or something but I just you know it was really an uncomfortable feeling because it was like, this has always been a part of my life, and then back then I was like 13 years old or something, so you know it was a bit of a shock.

Henrik:  So were they afraid of the government?

Åse:  Everything… its true, they were afraid of, you know you cant explain it with reason because this was a party with like a couple of thousand members maybe five thousand, maybe, maybe, almost 10,000 at the most and that was a two years or something it was like a big party but most of the time very, very small.  But you know there were something knew they broke with the establishment, they broke with the way to discuss politics and of course you had the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and but they were really, they were afraid of everything.  People were put in a surveillance for the suspicion of, and you know often the thing is that you know you need like a paragraph in the law to put someone under surveillance and that would be, I cant remember what it was with my parents, but I know of someone else who was put on the surveillance because they suspected him of receiving money from the Soviet Union which is illegal between foreign states and this was not even really, this was never sort of the issue in the first they wrote on him because like, he went there, he spoke to this person, he wrote this in the newspaper he’s on the list for this party, but they never really connected it to the paragraph that they used to put him on phone surveillance which is very serious.

Also my father got some compensation from the state because he had, he wasn’t brought under phone surveillance but he, there were registered files on him from phone surveillance or others so he got I don’t know 20,000 or something… This is very strange because you know I don’t know that many people who has this experience.

Henrik:  No… my friend moved out of America because of this sort of thing, she couldn’t take this anymore the state the way that they… I mean she was held for three days I think by the CIA.

Åse:  For what?

Henrik:  Kind of radical stuff but you know nothing illegal as far as I know. She just said “I can’t take it anymore” she left… so do you have a mistrust of the establishment?

Åse:  Yes, who doesn’t? Who in their right mind doesn’t?

Henrik:  So who are this people then?

Åse:  I don’t know, I think its oftenly you know this is kind of logic where one thing leads to another and that thing leads to another and you know just its sort of like a snowball effect, I don’t know.

Henrik:  Its, what do you mean its like, I mean I kind of think its, its a war of ideas isn’t it?

Åse:  Maybe depends with what you mean.

Henrik:  Well you know you know you are surveying people not because they are going to necessarily plant bombs or start a war like a physical war.  No? Or do you think they were afraid of that?

Åse:  I don’t know because when…

Henrik:  Well what are they surveying people for? What’s it for?

Åse:  Well they would argue that it’s the state is under attack that this people are a threat to the state, and possibly doing illegal stuff.  But you know if you some are and you know in when that’s true its good that people are put under surveillance people who plan to kill others, should be put under surveillance.

But you know its kind of like, if you know often you know I think environments like that they are very closed, they confirm each others opinions and ideas and so maybe when things seem obvious to everyone else, like, this is not a threat this is legal opinions this is not dangerous then the environment who controls the surveillance is not necessarily anyone saying that, is no one taking a reality check or saying what are we doing here? Are we doing this to our citizens for a good reason or are we paranoid I don’t know.

But its complicated you know the history of surveillance in Norway, it goes further back it goes into the government party, The arbeirderpariet, in the ‘50’s. The labor party, its very strong evidence they were involved in pointing out who should be out on the surveillance for radical ideas in the labor movement and stuff like that, the Unions.

Henrik:  So what is I mean what were they, what was radical that they were suggesting that warranted them…?

Åse:  They were against capitalism. They wanted a different society, I don’t know what else to say. They were revolutionaries.

Henrik:  And you were talking about, when we were talking about the Green issues in terms of the Red Party that it’s not maybe on the top of the agenda but the idea, you have to change, to stop capitalism in order to stop environmental problems.  Can you expand on that?

Åse:  No.

Henrik:  You had enough?

Åse:  Yeah I had enough I’m saying that over… not repeating myself.

Henrik:  That was the conversation we had, okay, alright, lets finish with a tree story, something to do with a tree.

Åse: Uuuuur.

Henrik: I liked those pictures that we took, I will show you them in a minute.  It seems appropriate to have a bit of a reminder of Spring, when does Spring come?

Åse:  April or May.

Henrik:  It starts showing its face.

Åse:  Yeah but you know you can always have an Ute pils, as soon as the sun comes out, I almost had an Ute pils two weeks ago.

Henrik:  A beer, yeah?

Åse:  Yeah, outside, you know Ute pils?

Henrik:  Outside beer.

Åse:  Yeah, but it’s very important in Norway, yeah.

Henrik:  Oh yeah, the first time you have it.

Åse:  You know it’s a big thing every year, this year’s first outdoor beer.

Henrik:  Well its funny isn’t it because we don’t, well maybe it’s the same as it ever was perhaps that tradition goes back a hundreds of years but you measure the seasons by the first time you can have a beer.

Åse:  Its Spring when you have the first beer, then it’s really Spring, it doesn’t matter if it’s not Spring.

Henrik:  Cool, alright well done for soldiering on, with this slightly turgid kind of difficult conversation after our last…

Åse:  You are doing a good job.


Tree 276 :: Class struggle – the game ::

15th February 2011
Oslo Botanical Garden, Oslo, Norway


This is a little taster for the conversation we had in the Oslo botanical garden. I met Laila Folde in the Wine Monopoly. I asked her if she knew where I could buy some red wool for my Salvador Dali reference tree idea. She ended up inviting me back to her flat and giving me the ball of red wool that I needed. I love this kind of connection. It made the idea I had for the wool that bit more meaningful. That post will be coming soon.

The transcript is coming later…

Tree 272 :: Building bridges on Ice ::

11th February 2011
Grønland, Norway.



Here’s how to build bridges. If you want to integrate the ethnic minorities. Lay an ice rink in the said area. Lend ice skates for free. I applaud you, whoever thought of this… Grønland is an area full of ethninic minorities. In this climate of uncertainty I sense a lot of Norwegian people are don’t understand these people and maybe fear them a little. Certainly there is that growing feeling among some people, as in the rest of europe these people should be elsewhere. “They don’t even bother learning Norwegian”. But this is as much the fault of Norway as of these people who are just trying to get along. It’s what we do… Norwegians go abroad and end up hanging out with Norwegians… certainly the English do this…

So… This lone skater… he comes here to relax at night. Floating around on the ice like a ghost. It’s nature and science hand in hand.
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