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Fylle gamle vin på ny flasker Roar Moe

Fill old wine in new bottles -Experiential education in coastal culture and history

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Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

-From "Choruses from 'The Rock' I" by T.S. Eliot 1934

first, people looked at me as if I were an eccentric, alone on an island. Now, more and more, people want to know what it is I have discovered out here.

Roar fires up the diesel motor. We move out quietly between giants.

We are in a landscape which does not resemble anything we have seen along the long Norwegian coastline. If there is anything that is “furrowed, weathered, over water” as in the Norwegian national anthem, it is Solund, outermost in the district of Sogn. It has the appearance of giants having thrown boulders at each other. Enormous bare-scrubbed mountain sides tower over us. In this light, the surface of the sea is pink, and looks completely friendly. Among them, it seems that the giants have simply laid themselves down in shallow waters. Then, suddenly, the deciduous trees on the point up ahead are perhaps the last strands of hair before they dive completely under, or rise up again. We are on our way to the Little Faeroe islands with a solitary man. Here he has made his way alone for nine years.

You can call it a quiet revolt, but a revolt without hatred, as the poet Hans Børli put it. When I decided to gamble on moving to an island all alone, I thought about it carefully. Very carefully. Could I tolerate the solitude? Did I dare to recognize my own limits? And even, could I risk going mad?

Roar Moe’s eyes smile at me while he maneuvers the wooden boat past a marker in Inner Stone Sound. I try, but cannot quite see the revolt in his friendly face.

“In some circles what I have done is a provocation in itself. I moved out to a place people had moved away from. I showed interest in the same roots and values the local people had said no to. People wondered, ‘Is he a hopeless romantic? Is he trying to drag himself backwards into the future?’ I had to begin things cautiously, be careful not to get burned when I wanted information, to find the right sources. And my friends thought that I had gone completely mad. Was I going to live on an island all alone, without a woman? When you want to do something like that, it is clear that people are going to wonder about you.”

We round the Little Faeroe, one of the many huge rocks out here. Suddenly there is a large opening in the mountain, and the whole landscape softens into a lush green field stretched out between the stone walls. And there lies the small farm! A more beautiful place one earth could not be found, at least not on a summer day! We glide into the tiny harbor, and Roar comes alongside. Ashore, there is actually a woman standing there—Gudrun Ingvaldsen—who takes the mooring line. She lives alone, too, on a neighboring island. Gudrun is more than seventy, originally from Bergen, but says that is going to live here until her dying day.

We walk up over the grassy ground to the house. A strong interest in traditional coastal- and boat-culture led Roar to Solund. The hobby became a vocation. School children come now regularly to Little Faeroe for five days at a time to find and experience the culture that once gave life to the whole west coast. Roar teaches the courses and the outdoor activities, and Gudrun is his assistant.

“Out here we live like Askeladden. We ask questions. Try to find solutions. Every new day is spread out before us, without an agenda, and we have to decide for ourselves what to do with it. For me, that means to search, discover, and find a path to follow. I want to map how these people lived, these people who were here before me. Was it just hard work, hunger, and gray days? Little by little, I uncovered the past.”
Roar showed us into the tenant farmer’s cottage. When he first came here, the house was in ruins. Now it is cared for, warm, and inviting. We are served chocolate cake.

“There were nine siblings who lived here, but the last one died in 1960s, and after that the little farm was largely abandoned. The descendants of the family were a great help when I tried to reconstruct their history. What surprised me was how strong the spirit was of the tiny community. They were both physically and mentally self-sufficient. Their sense of humor was perhaps their most vital asset; the ability to laugh at themselves, and see the humor in everything, to brighten the days with laughter in both work and play. The people here had an eye for detail which they shared with each other. Besides, they were their own bosses, with twenty sheep and a couple of cows. For the most part, the women and children took care of the farm while the men were out fishing, farther west. The fishing earned them money, and the small farm made them self-sufficient. We know a lot about how rich people used to live, but the life of the coastal people out here is not as well documented. Maybe that is why there are so many myths about them?”

Maybe there will be fewer myths both about how the coastal people lived, and how Roar lives, when it is better documented? [end of professional translation]
*approximate translation follows
*He smiles at the fact that he was for many years almost anonymous on the island but both radio and TV reports have altered the life of the bachelor alone on the island. Suddenly he got both postcards and letters from interested people. Some were women who took the trip to the community center Hardbakke. The polite Roar has opened his island to visit. There were good dinners, wine and good talks. And that was it…? Yes, you know what Bob Dylan sings “I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul. Don’t think twice, its all right.” I found that chorus explains the situation. You know there is much that nice ladies from the cities haven’t thought about when it comes to the life on a small island…they ought to talk to my neighbor, colleague and my good friend Gudrun Ingvaldsen from Lågøy. That is a human being who has lived through great changes coming from a civilized life in Bergen to being widowed and surviving alone out here. For her, it has been hard work with many hardships but also real pleasure. Gudrun is a magnificent example of the species.

Although it is very nice that people get in touch with me, I try to answer all those who write and if strangers come for a visit, I invite them in, but a normal relationship is not on my priority list. Not as long as I live on Litle Færøy

What Roar prioritizes is to give young people knowledge about how they can go to sea in an old western Norway traditional wooden boat. He tries to teach them the art of how to catch the wind in a square sail. He drills them in team work and helps them understand what responsibility each crew member has on board.

When on shore, they can learn about “grindverks” building, the very special construction of many boat houses on the western coast. These are solid buildings that have proven to withstand windstorms better than new houses. Roar uses the situations as his teaching program. He wants to invite young people to reflect about past, present and future.

In our time there is a belief that technology can fix everything. But when you push a key on a computer it doesn’t’ fix your own life. It’s interesting to see in teaching when students have to use their senses how young people can master tasks that they didn’t believe they could handle. Here they get time and space for trial and error. In the meantime I see that the connection between hand and head is in disorder to many of the young kids. There are many youth that try to avoid the outhouse the five days they are here. “It’s bad they say. They take many things for granted.”

Roar himself has lived for many years in an economically minimal existence. The quality of life is not less for that reason. An old saying goes that a seaman doesn’t ask for good weather – he learns to sail. So is the live on Litle Færøy.
THE CHALLENGE is to master life day by day both physically and mentally. To live an economically minimal existence and to be totally in nature, and living with the rhythm and the unpredictable laws of nature has made me humble.

This is not something that you can read. You have to live in and with the elements to understand and respect them. Originally I had thought that when I turned 50 I would make a decision and maybe end the project. But now life has been so exciting that it is hard to get away from it. It is only now that I really see the perspective in the work I have done. Imagine the first time when I was looked upon as an odd stranger on an island but now many more want to know what I have discovered out here.

Well, in theory I can tell both about dark winter evenings with northwestern storms and sleet and describe with pictures the delightful days like today.
But in many ways it that doesn’t matter, it is not the truth. Because you have to be here, live in the environment and live in nature to really understand what this is about.

We strolled with Roar down to the harbor. He fired up the wooden boat’s diesel engine and we chugged back to Hardbakke. Next for us - coast writes is Flora. Such tourist journalism Roar does not do, it doesn’t motivate him. He is faithful and loyal to the only priority in his life… Litle Færøyna..

This article comes from Kystfolket a trip from Stavanger to Alesund
availble for purchase - in Norwegian by Author - Østein Rakkenes
KYSTFOLKET - ei reise frå Stavanger til Ålesund
Av Øystein Rakkenes og Eivind Senneset Skriv ut vareinformasjon

Sommeren 2006 tok skribenten Øystein Rakkenes og fotografen Eivind Senneset ei reise langs Vestlandskysten. Blant fjord og fjell møtte dei ei rad spennande menneske. Det er dei denne boka handlar om. Gjennom varme portrett både i tekst og bilde gir boka eit møte med det rike og mangfaldige livet langs Vestlandskysten.
Born in Måløy, Norway - on the Western Coast north of Bergen and Solund
1977-79 Oslo - Physical Education Teaching student
1980 summer, Scandinavian Educators Sports Clinic, Luther College, Decorah Iowa, USA
1980’s-90's taught Friluftsliv at the Foss Folkehøgskule. Voss Folk high school P.E. and sports teacher and Alpine and Cross Country ski-instructor. Involved in development of education program for Telemarkskiing
1982- traditional boats and sails projects
1982 – Joined the crew of “Hjemkomst” in Bergen to sail to Stavanger. Hjemkomst Viking ship was built in the Hawley, MN sailed from New York to Bergen, Stavanger, Oslo (Roar did not participate in the building of this ship, but the crew in Norway)
1988 Seamen’s school, Bergen - coastal navigation certificate
1989-91 Signed on a fishing boat for two summers
1990's Beginning of Litle Færøy project
Searched for and purchased a place to dock and use the restored boats and start a kind of a “out-door” –school and run a nature-life program where students can “live inside and practice” the history - not only read about it. Group’s desire was to “fill new wine into old bottles. The program we intended to be based on a close relationship with nature and culture. The place was Litle Færøy, a small island near Lagøy, and Hardbakke in Solund Community
1993 Litle Færøy - began to restore the buildings abandoned since 1965 - built a reproduction boathouse during vacations and weekends
1996 settled full-time on the island Litle Færøy alone
An old saying tells us that: “a seaman doesn’t ask for good weather, - he learns to sail”
Life on Litle Faeroy is like that. You have to develop skills how to manage life from one day to the next. Every day is free and ready to be shaped. To me it means to search, discover, find a track and follow it.
2006 Article on Moe –link to be provided
2006 Chapter in book -link to be provided
2006 Bakkejekta completed and launched
2005/2006 NBC program on Roar Moe Der ingen skulle tru at nokon kunne bu (view this on NRK Nettv
2007 Presentations in MN, IA and NY
2007 Bakkejekta program included in school culture courses sailing to coastal schools August- September
2008 Well, here I am twelve years later. I am filled with lots of experiences, a little bit wiser, but most of all I have become a more humble person filled with a deep respect for life in general, humanity, culture and nature.
July Cover article of Viking Sons of Norway Magazine
2009 -
We lead classes on Litle Færøy for student campers during the summer and sail Bekkejekta for programs. In fall through early spring I am available for presentations about the history of coastal living and our non-profit nature-life programs and lifestyles going on at Litle Færøy for the past 12 years and hopefully next year. I will be in the U.S. during part of this fall-spring time and may be scheduled to speak with your group from students to retirees and especially those of you interested in experiencing a free nature life of self-sufficiency and farming, sailing and fishing skills based on traditional methods. There are few places like this nonprofit program where kids can get their hands dirty and their feet wet and live like the early Norwegians did before the engine and now the internet took over.
Seilas Magazine feature
2010 Spring Viking for Kids Magazine
Into the Wild -N is for Norway, EU program for Latvian, Lithuanian and Norwegian Youth. August

To date -- participant classes April - October

Contact Roar for programming schedules