Storuman Forever - for ever

Björn, Heidi and their goal - a fossil fuel-free future

Former elite athletes Heidi Andersson and Björn Ferry have made a big impression upon the country through 2018’s TV documentary Storuman Forever. Now they are just as famous for their dedication to the environment as they are for representing their country in sport. Heidi has been crowned World Champion many times in the tough sport of arm wrestling while at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Vancouver, Björn took the Biathlon gold medal.

Both Björn and Heidi were born in Storuman and Heidi comes from the tiny hamlet of Ensamheten (Loneliness), just outside the town. Storuman remained their home as they pursued their competitive careers and the couple, who married in 2006, now have a son, Dante. Upon retiring from sport, they took up the fight for a fossil fuel-free society, vowing to lead by example and influence opinion makers.

“It’s a great challenge, but no sacrifice,” says Heidi.

If we are to sustain human life in the future, becoming a fossil-fuel free society and caretakers of our planet is something we all have to aspire to.

Fossil Fuel-Free 2025

Elite athletes have clear objectives. They know what they have to achieve. Bjorn and Heidi  have a similar approach to their mission to be fossil fuel-free by 2025. Their goal is that all forms of fossil-based fuel, such as oil, coal and gas, will be completely absent from their lives in 2025.

“Having clear objectives helps a lot and for Heidi it is not so strange to establish environmental goals and want to embrace the world!” says Björn.

“She has it in her blood. During her childhood she was immersed in environmental issues and discussions within her family about sustainability. For my part, I have always been interested in society and how to create a world worth living in, and the state of the environment has a central role doesn’t it? I also want to develop, be free and have fun.”

He adds:

They say that you can be happy if you live according to your values. We try to focus on that.

At 2015’s Paris climate summit, the world’s nations agreed to keep global warming under two degrees and, preferably, under 1.5. In order to achieve this, emissions must decline on average by 7% every year.

“It’s not an impossible goal but it can’t be fixed by top meetings or governments,” says Heidi. “It’s we, the people, who have to make it work. That is why we have chosen to try and find a practical way to achieve the goal. That is the thought behind the movement #fossilfri2025.

Storuman Forever

In spring 2018, national TV broadcast the documentary Storuman Forever, which sought to address the issue from a new perspective as it depicted the couple trying to persuade the townspeople to change their lifestyles, become less dependent on fossil fuels and more interested in environmental issues. The programme brought the whole discussion down to a local level and showed it from the perspective of someone living in a provincial small town. Beautifully filmed, and not without a certain amount of humour, it also shed light on the thoughts and lives of residents who were both for and against the change.

The national newspaper Aftonbladet wrote: “Storuman Forever superbly brings the question of climate change straight into the living room.” Media industry magazine Mediavärlden described the programme as re-establishing SvT (national broadcasting company) as a producer of first class documentaries claiming: that “The programme’s genius is in its simplicity.”

Featuring townspeople in the programme proved to be successful and was popular both locally and on a national level. Researchers, politicians, administrators and private individuals heard how “normal” people discussed what their roles could could be in changing how society works.

“We hoped the programme would start discussions, create an awareness and inspire people to get involved. I think we have achieved this,” says Björn. “Responsibility for the environment is not something the authorities can just inflict upon us. We all have take responsibility.”

“And it IS possible,” insists Heidi. “If normal people grab the initiative, the politicians will have to follow.”

With Storuman Forever fresh in our minds, we visit Björn’s parents’ home in Storuman, a house that, one day, he and Heidi will inherit. The next step in creating a fossil fuel-free home is already under way as south-facing solar panels are being installed on the banks of the river at the bottom of the garden. It has to be one of the most beautifully located solar panel sites in Sweden!

Text: Roland Nilsson
Photo: Roland Nilsson and Andreas Johansson

Watch the programme here ›› 

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Facts

Heidi Andersson

Born: 1981
Sporting awards: 11 times Ladies Arm Wrestling World Champion
2014 – Vilnius, Litauen -65kg (right and left) • 2011 – Almaty, Kazakstan – 70kg (right) • 2010 – Mesquite, Nevada, Las Vegas – 70kg (left) • 2009 – Rosolina Di Mare, Italien – 65kg (right) • 2008 – Kelowna, Canada, – 60kg (right) • 2004 – Durban, Sydafrika, – 65kg (right) • 2003 – Ottawa, Kanada, – 65kg (right) • 2002 – Springfield, USA, – 60kg (right) • 2000 – Rovaniemi; Finland, – 60kg (right) • 1999 – Tokyo, Japan, – 60kg (right)
Other: Presented five seasons of children’s TV series Miljöhjältarna (Environment Heroes).

Björn Ferry

Born: 1978
Sporting awards:
Olympic Gold,  Vancouver 2010 •  World Championships Silver Ruhpolding 2012 • Seven victories in World Cup competitions, 22 top three finishes • Most successful winter biathlon athlete in Sweden.
Other awards: H.M. Konungens medal (King’s Medal) – 2010 • IBU Medal of Honor in Silver -2014 • Sports Gala 2011 Achievement of the Year for Olympic Gold,  Team of the Year for mixed relay Antholz – 2007 • Wildman of the Year  – 2007 • Västerbottning of the Year – 2010 •  Voted into Biathlon Association’s Hall of Fame – 2015.

Other: Author of two books; Ferry Food and Ferry Tales.

 

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