Welcome

Welcome, Velkommen, Willkommen. My name is Anne-Sophie. I’m a journalist, writer, and admirer of all things wild. From my desk, overlooking a fjord in the South of Norway, I write fiction, poetry, essays and reportings. I also grow vegetables and work as a part-time farmer. In the beginning of 2020 I embarked on a personal climate strike. It felt like an appropriate answer to a world that is experiencing extraordinary losses: of species, habitat, ecological connectivity, and personal connection to the natural world. I decided to radically change the trajectory of my life. The year profoundly changed what I find valuable in life, what I keep close to my heart and what I have learned to let go of. This Blog is a documentation of this ongoing process.

My work, both as a writer and journalist, is concerned with questions of ecological and social justice, with the therapeutic effects of creative expression, with deep adaptation and climate emotions. I am inspired by philosophies of animism anddeep ecology, by poetry and nature writing.

I hold a BA in Comparative Literary Studies from the University of Erfurt and a MA in Cultural Theory and History from Humboldt University of Berlin. My research is influenced by arts-based approaches, phenomenology and critical theory, by grief and trauma studies, storytelling traditions, and by my longtime practice of zen buddhism (introduced to me by my dad).

If Idon’t read and write you’ll find me bird-noticing (a term adapted from Jenny Odell) or straying through fields and forests. When I encounter the more-than-human world, I often ask myself two questions I learned from Rachel Carson: What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see this again?

My work as a freelance journalist has appeared in German newspapers and magazines such as DIE ZEIT and ZEIT ONLINE, ZEIT CAMPUS, and Mare Magazin. I am an occasional contributor to the national public radio DLF Kultur. I write in English and German (and, rarely and secretly, in Norwegian).

The questions that inform my life and work are:

Can we reimagine a way to be human that doesn’t cause so much suffering? How can we reimagine ourselves as being a part of, not apart from, the more-than-human-world? And how do we make space for the hard conversations, individually and collectively?

I am on strike.

Since the start of 2020 I have lived on the basis of what is best described as the gift economy. I left my life in the city of Berlin and with it a stable job and fairly high living expenses. What I was looking for instead was a way to live a simple but good life. A life whose premises are best described with what eco-anthropologist Tim Ingold calls “The Sustainability of Everything”.

I longed to learn as much as possible about living sustainably and self-sufficiently in a small community. The goal was to gather knowledge on how to work the land without compromising biodiversity, and how to build places that can be a refuge for animals and plants alike. I wanted to learn how to make things from scratch and use all the resources that nature provides. And I wished to cut back as much as possible on spending money. This was also a necessity, given the very limited financial resources I had. Above all, I wanted to exchange and trade knowledge with a wider community of people.

Over the course of 2020 I documented the lessons and experiences of my climate strike on this blog. A lot has changed over the course of this year, and I cannot see myself returning to the old walk of life. So project “I went to the Woods” proceeds.

It is not an easier life in many senses, although I am privileged to even have had the choice to implement radical changes. But being much closer to the natural world has brought me both joy and and grief. The fjord in front of our house looks serene and beautiful and we had fun swimming all summer long. It was only a while ago that a fishermen told me the fjord was essentially an underwater waste land. Most fish and shellfish have disappeared over the years, and the water is polluted and overfertilised with agricultural waste. And this is only a local consequence of what is being done to forests and waters on a global scale. To be close to nature one starts bearing witness.

Bearing witness has traditionally been the realm of writers, poets and artists. In working with the emotional aspects that this activity entails, I try to be as honest and truthful as I can. I often think of grief as a wild creature, with its own rhythms and life cycles. And I ask: What can you teach me about living life as fully, as engaged and as compassionate as possible? Being on strike is my way of Bartleby saying “I would prefer not to”.