Norwegian town honors their beloved street sweeper with a statue

For more than 20 years Kjetil Paulsen has kept the streets of Sortland free of litter. When he is retiring in 2016, the citizens of this small Norwegian town will honor him with a statue. Photo: Gaute Bergsli / Vesterålen Online

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For more than 20 years, Kjetil Paulsen has been cleaning the streets of Sortland. Now the citizens of Sortland would like to honor him and his relentless dedication for the city, by erecting a statue in honor of his retirement.

– Kjetil is an everyday hero who personalizes the Common Man. His presence, and real contact with the people of Sortland symbolizes a grass-root level approach and at the same time an essence of that still permeable contact with the inhabitants of Sortland, says Ken Rune Hansen - initiator and committee member of «Let's honor Kjetil Paulsen».

The local media VesterålenOnline first published the happy news.

At a press conference on Friday, the committee announced their plans of erecting a real size Paulsen statue to honor their beloved street sweeper, who has been cleaning the streets of Sortland for the past 20 years.

– No other individual has managed to keep Sortland clean the way Kjetil has managed to do so. Replacing him will be next to impossible, Kjetil is a one of a kind person. He links people together. Everyone knows Kjetil, said Hansen to ABC Nyheter.

The statue of Paulsen will be the first life sized statue in the northern Norwegian town of of Sortland with a population of 10,000 people.

– A statue is a concrete and visible way to honor a person. And Kjetil is a man who deserves that honor. He is a common person who lets people know if they are indeed littering. So in a way he has been the 'Voice of the city’ for us. He is always positive, spreading happiness and joy at the same time.

The Facebook group «La oss hedre Kjetil Paulsen» (Let's honor Kjetil Paulsen) started last September and now have 1559 followers. Plans are being called for the committee to raise funds through this group, sharing costs between businesses, private individuals and also public funds.

According to Vesterålen Online, the artist Anne-Kiristi Thoralvsdatter Lind has been proudly commissioned to create a bronze statue of Paulsen.

The statue will be erected in 2016, in time with the Sortland Jazz Festival on September 24, and the committee hopes that the expression «to do a Kjetil» becomes synonymous to cleaning up after yourself.
In 2008, Paulsen was voted «Sortlander» of the year, beating among others the international renowned author Lars Saabye Christensen.

One of the members of the Facebook group says «Without Kjetil, Sortland would be a pigsty. He is doing a great job!»

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Tor Strand, redaktør.

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