Making a Difference for the Homeless: One Shrieking Shieldwall at a Time

Bonnie Johnson - Thursday, March 14, 2019
Making a Difference for the Homeless: One Shrieking Shieldwall at a Time

Norse by Northwest out of Ferndale is tackling homelessness one spear-wielding, good-intentioned Heathen at a time.

Norse by Northwest is committed to the care of the homeless population in Whatcom county. “It is out goal to change as many lives as possible through direct community involvement and directed programs to aid the homeless in rehabilitating to the best of their ability, into a sustainable living situation.”

This year, they are putting on both the Northwest Viking Fest in Darrington and the Ferndale Renaissance Fair, which showcase both historically accurate demonstrations from the era with maybe just a touch of fantasy thrown in for fun. “We are trying to find a jousting troupe for Northwest Viking Fest, even though it is not the same time period as the Vikings. Ferndale Ren Faire this year will only have hobby horse jousting as horses are not allowed in that park,” shared Shauna Olds, secretary to the non-profit.

“This will be the second annual Northwest Viking Festival run by Norse By Northwest […]. This event has been running for five years, however, the first three years it was owned by the Downtown Arlington Business Association. After year three it was defunded [but] the community made such an outcry for the festival to come back that our nonprofit picked it up.”

“These festivals are free to the public with many free things to do. We never intend to charge a fee to get into our festivals. And we always plan to have free events that low-income families in our community can attend and make a memory with their family and it doesn’t have to cost them their food budget for the week or their electric bill so their kids can have fun,” Olds goes on to share. The goal is to make sure anybody can enjoy their activities while any cash that is generated is immediately turned back into the community.

Besides helping the homeless, they keep an eagle eyed turned towards community boards, searching for families that are on the verge of homelessness. That way they can swoop in and stabilize a family that, without help, would be facing food or housing insecurity- a loss which has inherent impact on your ability to cope, find or search for work, or access community resources. Interrupting the cycle of poverty before it can consume a family is easier and more cost effective than waiting for them to bottom out in the cycle.

Lastly, they have a continuing mission tied towards Worship and Education, a lofty goal which includes a carbon neutral, self-sustaining homestead which is to act as the headquarters for their organization. Upon completion, the complex (historically known as a sacred complex) will have a Temple to Norse deities, a stone circle and a sacred grove.

For now, it’s about building and supporting community, not complexes.

Because the festival is still six months out, the activity list is still growing, but to begin with, expect to try your hand at ax and spear throwing, target archery, foam swords, combat archery interactives, foam boffers, ax, knife, and spear throwing as well as an interactive shield wall. If you’re more of a genteel Heathen, check out the wool spinners, musicians, sheep, horses or face painting.



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