Thursday, 9 May 2013

Our Sister Ship, The GAIA - Ambassador for Children and the Environment

Our sister ship, the Gaia, was built in 1990 in Bjørkedalen, on the west coast of Norway.  Like our ship, the Jorgen Jorgenson, the Gaia is a replica of the original Gokstad ship

In 1991 the Gaia sailed to North America, with the aim of drawing attention to the world’s environmental problems and the future world of our children. In New York, the Gaia was appointed Ambassador for all the children in the world. The Gaia team worked with the UN to develop the ship as a platform for environmental work focused on children.  While voyaging to Rio for a UN conference, the Gaia received thousands of drawings and messages sent by children to world leaders, which were passed on. 

Today, the Gaia is based in Sandefjord, Norway, where she has a regular crew who continue her work with environmental education and children. Programs are in place which welcome participants to learn about maintenance of the ship as well as sailing. People from across the community, young and old, are invited on day sails, weekend trips, or for an annual two-week trip during summer. Those trips must be, without a doubt, truly unforgettable sailing experiences for anyone lucky enough to join them. 

How does this relate to our project here in Sydney?

We envisage the future of the Jorgen Jorgenson as a vessel offering inspiration, education and experience for children in our communities. Children hold the future in their hands, and they need, more than anything else, opportunities for real engagement with the world around them. 

The enthralling, hands-on nature of sailing a traditional ship such as ours allows learning experiences to be experiential, new and excitingSailing the Jorgen Jorgenson will offer vital and powerful real life participation, in an age where the digital realm is so prominent in many children’s lives. This “doing” can lead to deeper understanding and capacity for engagement.

Sailing trips on the Jorgen Jorgenson, both on Sydney Harbour and at sea, will include opportunities to learn first-hand about:
- water quality
- marine animal and plant life
- weather patterns
- whale watching
- pollution
- and the impact our daily lives on the land can have on all of this…

Young children will benefit from being aboard the ship as it travels like a snake through the water, immersed in the wonderful world of a traditional wooden boat in action, and older children can try their hand at rowing, pulling on ropes, and bailing. Being ‘part of the crew’ can also provide invaluable experiences of comradery and self-worth for any person, young or old.

We hope that, with support, the Jorgen Jorgenson - like the Gaia - can be a core from which communication and networks within and across our communities develop, and awareness of the importance of our relationship with our environment can grow.