Before I came to Norway for the first time, I had all sorts of expectations about what it would be like. Living in North America, I think I had an almost utopian view of Scandinavia. I imagined hoards of beautiful, blond, well-educated, healthy, open-minded and forward-thinking people climbing mountains and swimming in fjords. I also imagined that everyone is an ardent environmentalist, disgusted by the likes of Monsanto and GMOs. I assumed they were light years ahead of us in areas that still trip us up at home: things like alternative energy, alternative medicine, rights for indigenous peoples, gender equality, feminism. Naive, I know. I wasn’t completely wrong, but I certainly wasn’t right either. Sometimes Norway is nothing like I imagined. But every now and then, I come across something that matches up to that utopian (and even childlike) picture I had of these northern lands. In this case, that “something” is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
This seed vault is 1300 kilometres above the Arctic Circle and built deep into a Norwegian mountainside. It was built by the Norwegians at a cost of about CDN$10 million and is open to all countries of the world for free. There are currently about 840,000 seed samples stored. These are duplicates of all the seeds stored in banks around the world, and they are kept safe in the case of any regional or world crisis. To make it even more amazing, there is an illuminated work of art (along the top and down the entrance of the vault – see the end of the video) that marks the location of the vault from a distance.
This gives me hope in humanity. It restores my faith that someone, somewhere is thinking about the future.
Practical and beautiful… kinda like the Norwegians themselves.