Why join the movement? A group of passionate Nordic POW representatives explain the impact and appeal behind the winter community’s favorite climate organization.
“More than a cool logo”
– JOEL LUNDBERG, POW SWEDEN
Joel Lundberg first encountered POW during a winter sports film festival in Stockholm. At the next festival he saw the logo again. And then once again – but this time at a ski mountaineering event. He became curious. What was this all about?
“I had a job where I flew around in a suit. In the end, I asked myself: What am I doing? I have always loved nature and appreciated the seasons. POW became a good platform for me.
POW Sweden was officially founded in 2016, but already two years earlier John Andersson and Johan Ahlgren started the network Save Our Snow, which soon became part of the international the movement instead. Glacier researchers and others with cutting-edge expertise in climate were early members of the association.
“Some may see us only as an American brand, but we are so much more than just a cool logo. From the very beginning, there were knowledgeable and committed people here. There was a depth and humility in the face of the climate crisis challenges that appealed to me,” says Joel Lundberg.
POW Sweden is regularly invited to make comments when The Climate Policy Council examines the Government’s climate policy. They are out demonstrating and writing political opinion pieces in various issues. For example, they’ve protested against the international airport at the ski resort in Sälen, and towards the expansion of an oil refinery in Lysekil.
“But with the corona pandemic, we have been forced to scrap our physical presence on various events and have moved our movement and activism to digital channels.”
Personally, Joel Lundberg describes snow as a great source of joy. In winter he prefers ski touring, but also rides the chairlifts.
“We have a lot of humility on account of our own shortcomings. We are not perfect climate citizens, and don’t require this of others. We know that it can feel difficult to do the right thing, and we encourage willingness to change instead of perfection.”
“Focus on the good that’s being done”
– CHARLOTT SANDOR JOHANSEN, POW NORWAY
Charlott Sandor Johansen has been skiing since she was a child, often right outside her house.
“Snow makes me happy. A lot of [Norwegian] culture is built on the fact that we can get around on skis. If it gets so hot that the snow disappears completely – it’s hard to imagine how that would feel. What if it becomes the new normal?” says Charlott Sandor Johansen.
She is chairman of POW Norway, and states that it has developed from primarily a student-driven organization to a non-governmental organization consisting of volunteers with a variety of professional skills. They have carried out a number of different campaigns over the years, several aimed at Norwegian climate policy. In connection with the most recent parliamentary election three years ago, for example, an election barometer was produced that compared all party programs based on sustainability issues.
“We are proud of that work. It was a way to simplify rather complex information in a clear way. Several POWs in other countries have built on the election barometer,” she says.
POW Norway also lifts climate issues at most mountain festivals and events, among other things by arranging repair workshops, flea markets and climate lectures from POW ambassadors. Charlott Sandor Johansen had her eyes seriously opened to climate issues when she studied in Canada. There she was met by a completely different climate commitment than what she had experienced at home in Norway. A couple of years later, she moved to the United States to study for a master’s degree in global development policy and heard about POW. She immediately fell for the organization’s way of communicating, without cues.
“It is better to focus on all the good that is done and draw people’s attention to the fact that they can actually make a difference. POW manages to convey this in a visual and effective way. We make it easy to be a climate activist.”
“My chance to make a difference”
– MIIKKA HAST, POW FINLAND
Miika Hast was a professional snowboarder, where over the course of fifteen years he competed in countless countries. Initially, he was not particularly interested in climate, but after a while he noticed how the snow conditions were changing and how the glaciers slowly shrank.
“Every year we went to Saas-Fee in Switzerland, and each time the glacier was further and further away. Same with the Hintertux Glacier in Austria. Wherever I traveled in the world, it was the same thing,” says Miikka Hast.
He then discovered POW through founder and snowboard colleague Jeremy Jones:
“I saw my chance to make a difference for the climate because I already had a voice in this community. I joined as a member of American POW around 2010.”
At that time, POW did not exist in Europe yet. When POW Finland was started in 2014, he was on the board and at the same time also became an ambassador. He was recently elected chairman.
Previously, the Finnish chapter had focused on ski resorts and worked to encourage both companies and private individuals to switch to green electricity. Right now, they are running a campaign that encourages local travel and avoiding flights.
“In the US and in Europe, you only have snow in the mountains and not so often where people live. This distinguishes us in the Nordic countries from the other POW organizations. It’s easier to talk about winter here with us. Snow is such an important part of our lives.”
During Miikka Hast’s time as chairman, he hopes to be able to strengthen the snow sports community. He believes that working with ambassadors is crucial.
“It is easier to communicate through well-known sports profiles and researchers. They already have a voice.”
Today, he is no longer a professional boarder, but winter sports are still an important ingredient in his life.
“I want my children to have the opportunity to ski and snowboard when they grow up,” says Miikka Hast, who continues:
“I think that we in the adult world are obliged to do everything we can so that the winters do not disappear.”
Photo: Harri Tarvainen
Number of members: approximately 130,000 people
Founder: Jeremy Jones.
National Chapters (at time of writing): USA, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the United Kingdom.