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Viking Women: Interview with Janne Eikeblad

I was allowed by Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen to publish the first half part of this extraordinary interview with who is in my eyes the most important female thinker of Norway. I was lucky to meet Janne Eikeblad at the Scandinavian Permaculture Festival back in 2013. Read Eikeblad's own introduction to the interview at her blog here.

From Janne Eikeblad's homeplace

Viking Women: Interview with Janne Eikeblad

BY BJØRN ANDREAS BULL-HANSEN ON MARCH 2, 2016

I recently had a chat with Janne Eikeblad, an ecovillage designer, permaculturist, tree hugger and social media influencer with 60.000 followers. I was interested in learning more about the recent trend among mainly young people in Scandinavia: Spending time out in the wild without a focus on hunting or fishing. Traditionally, the Scandinavian hunting culture has been dominating – too dominating – and just going out in the forest to be close to nature has been looked upon as very strange. I am glad to say that this is now changing, and more and more people are starting to understand that nature has a value that can not, and should not, be measured in pounds of potential elk meat and truck loads of timber.

So Janne, to me it seems like there is a greater accept amoung younger people for just spending time out in the wild – not to hunt or harvest, just to be there. Do you agree?

– I have also been pondering this. I assume that as people to a greater extent moved into the cities and developed a more detached relationship to nature, and making a living no longer was based on the surrounding natural resources, people felt an urge for recreational time in nature. Adventures in the wild got increasingly popular, especially for the city dwellers. My parents and grandparents have a passion for the great outdoors and hiking, so I’m far from the first generation being in nature just for the purpose of enjoyment. But what might be different, is the wish to simply be in nature, sensing and experiencing it… without being motivated by exercise, destination or walking the dog.

When I was younger I felt I was one out of few people who actually just wanted to be consciously present with the forest. All the people I met out there were hastily going from one destination to the next, or talked loudly to their mates, they rarely took a look around and often just stared down at the path, or listened to music while running and looked straight ahead of them. Nothing wrong with that, but I experienced a deep joy just by just being in the forest, like a child. To actually appreciate the moment and being mindful of all that is happening. I could stand just off the trail, quite clearly visible, but people never seemed to notice me, and I remember finding it kind of sad that people didn’t look more around at the surroundings.

Though I must say it is also important to integrate the knowledge about nature and how it’s useful to us, because combining knowledge with awareness truly takes the nature experience to a next level, to more actively engage with the world around us.

The society we live in feels increasingly more stressful, energy draining and grey. Many young people feel rootless and mentally exhausted. Many struggle and feel life to be meaningless. When I in my early teens began in a greater extent to spend time in nature, it also had something to do with a challenging situation with regards to education, family-life, and difficult thoughts. Individual problems seems smaller out in the woods, you get a perspective on things and the capacity for problem solving increases.

As more and more of wild nature gets built down or destroyed, the generations of young people might not take nature for granted like the older ones, and as you know, it’s easier to appreciate something that may not always be there. I sincerely hope, and also believe, that spending time out in nature will mean increasingly more for both youth and all other people. Read on...

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