German great-grandmother Lisel Heise’s ambition to enter politics crystalised a few years before her 100th birthday, when organisers of a public hearing cut off her microphone.
Heise, who retired from teaching school 40 years ago, was arguing for the reopening of an outdoor pool.
“When I started out, some people really didn’t want to listen to me apparently — they even pulled the plug!” she said, still stunned by the impudence.
“Now people from around the world are coming to talk to me. Who’s laughing now?”
What changed was Heise’s election, against the odds, to the town council of Kirchheimbolanden in southwestern Germany just weeks after she embarked on her second century on the planet.
It was no accident that the pool galvanised Heise, given two issues close to her heart: young people and public health.
Those concerns have also dovetailed into another pet cause: climate protection.
The remarkably spry Heise says she has taken inspiration from the Fridays for Future youth protest movement.
“The kids really give me hope. There is a tendency in politics to favour the car industry and that’s counterproductive,” she said.
“It’s great that the youth aren’t just waiting for the grownups to do something.”