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In the grassroots

One key to the success of the environmental efforts in Norway are efforts being made from government’s highest levels to the grassroots, people from all parts of the country working to preserve an ecological balance in their own local environments. Nordstrand is a suburb of Oslo, just outside of the city centre, and it is here that the environmental organization “La Nordstrand Puste” was founded by two local citizens, Sverre Aastorp and Helle Sviu.

Biodiversity is a main goal for such grassroots organizations as “La Nordstrand Puste”. © Radek Doupovec

La Nordstrand Puste (“Let North Beach Breathe”) works actively with a local awareness program to educate citizens and politicians of Nordstrand concerning damages that result when the environment is not placed as the core part of planning. As with the Ministry of the Environment and the Biodiversity Program, this local organization is working towards raising the consciousness around the rapid extinction of the planets species, knowing that when nature is destroyed, the flora and fauna dies forever.

The organization La Nordstrand Puste was founded when Aastorp and Sviu realized that the local community would benefit from bringing to the table an active discussion regarding such issues as building development, quickly realizing that these local challenges were very much connected with other issues – resulting in cooperation with a number of other local groups.

In Oslo there is perhaps no area with more local environmentally active groups than Nordstrand, groups working for better and safer bicycle paths; seeking preservation of historical houses and gardens; traffic regulation; reduction of noise, air, and water pollution; and working for new development of recreational areas, schools and senior housing for local citizens. These activities put a spotlight on potential problems – and binds local people together in working for a better quality of life for all.

Nordstrand is one of the oldest suburbs in Oslo, a historic district with many homes from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that show the progression of architecture and design during those years. The streets are winding and often narrow, and except for the asphalt pavement look much the same as they did back when horse and buggies populated the district a century ago. The visual result is often stunningly beautiful with the large gardens, historic homes and winding roads lined with trees – and it is this that La Nordstrand Puste works to protect – preserving the balance between old and new.

According to co-founder Helle Sviu; “As a Norwegian I have always loved the revitalization qualities of animals and nature, this is what motivates me in my work, to preserve the local environment and to work to keep the old biotopes maintained and kept as they are. This means that we are working on many levels through diverse activities that include information meetings, talking to politicians in the town hall and local government, working with the local schools, and providing information and assistance to our neighbors. We try to make a difference on our local level, and this contributes to making Oslo a greener place to live.”

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