I am just going outside and I may be some time
Captain Lawrence “Titus” Oates
Oates was a member of the ill-fated Scott Expedition on the return journey from the South Pole who walked out of his tent… and into the white out!
Remember what it was like to be a little kid – putting on every imaginable piece of clothing to go outside to play in the snow? So wrapped up in layers, a hat that hangs so low it covers your eyes and you can only see half of the world, boots so big you can fit five pairs of socks in them and gloves so thick you would never ever be able to do anything but wave at someone.
Ahh yes – those days. Those days are here at Bamsebu. We are just a little older now but some things have not changed. We still have our “joie de vivre” and zest for everything winter and outside. At the time of this writing it is -30’c outside. That hot water we toss outside does in fact freeze mid-air. Everything outside of the 20 square metre walls we live in, is frozen.
The drone shot should give you an idea.
Now, do you remember watching some movie where the fire station gets a call in the middle of the night and the firemen/women seem to get dressed in seconds because they have all of their gear and clothing lined up in the order it all goes on? That scene unfolds here every time we go outside. Dressing for the Arctic is not for the faint hearted.
We live in our woolen long underwear. Not for a few hours but 24/7. We have wool socks – thin pairs we sleep in and several thick pairs to wear inside those big boots we mentioned. We always go for a walk with Ettra so here is what that looks like. We each have a side of the room where we hang our clothes so when we get dressed we are often side by side. First the down pants, then the thin down or wool jacket, then thick socks. Next up we find our wool neck gaitor. Then the forest green Sinisalo scooter dresses come on. They are one piece and extremely bulky and warm. One leg, the other leg, then the suspender straps, the arms, then the long zipper. Next up are the Sorrel Moon boots that fit inside the pant legs so no cold air can get up there. We put on our hats, our Lynx googles and then our belts that have a knife, our Swiss tool and a flare gun in a holster. Then we get our rifles and slide that over one shoulder, our camera if we decide to take it and our binoculars. And our gloves, thin liners inside very thick lined Arctic gloves with fur on the outside. Our face is usually exposed, frostbite a constant danger. What lies beneath all of this thick clothing and gear is our need to feel like the women we are. Enter Primadonna – the secret underneath it all.
Truth be told – getting dressed for a walk takes time and likely a lot longer than a firefighter getting dressed for an emergency call. Mention the aurora and a polar bear sighting and we are out the door in under a minute. Priorities!
All of the gear we have renders us very insulated from the cold and the wind, for a time.
We have been living here at the same place, in the same hut alone for more than 6 months now – around 200 days with very little news from the outside. We have gotten wind of the devastating outbreak that is wreaking havoc, it’s almost impossible to imagine the pervasive fear. Thankfully we have been healthy here – our minds clear, our hearts cracked open, our souls invigorated and nourished and eyes wide open.
In thinking about what we need in terms of leadership at this time of fear and crisis both with humanity and our climate – we call upon each of you.
We are entering a “perfect storm” of change where individual activists are beginning to shift the social climate – like Greta Thunberg – raising the level of awareness and provoking and inspiring the conversation. This has to be matched by an evolving model of leadership which is collaborative, inclusive, legacy minded and trusted.
More leadership is needed to lead for the greater good.
We leave Bamsebu May 8th and will pack up all of our lessons learned, tools and experience. We commit to leading for the greater good, to educate others about citizen science, sustainability, share our stories and impact of a changing climate, why we are all needed to be climate care ambassadors, engage youth and provide alignment for our partners and sponsors.
Individual and collective influence creates awareness – this matched with external events will shift what we value. We hope you will join us in nurturing optimism as we take care of the precious resources we all value, one way or another.
Big hugs, Sunniva and Hilde
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