Back in Aarhus
We made it to Denmark
As our first stop in Europe, Århus has been the perfect place to start, no less because we were all welcomed – boy, dog, mum, dad and tent – into a committed community of people at the Rethink Activism festival who truly believe it IS possible to change the world.
We have just finished an amazing weekend with The Welcome Tent at Rethink Activism Festival. For three days, the South Harbour in Århus was transformed into an experimental arena for the future planning of an ethical, creative and sustainable city.
The festival brought together an inspiring array of people and organisations who are challenging stereotypes, preconceived ideas and the limitations of what is possible. We were hugely proud to have been invited to participate.
This time last year Emma was in Aarhus working with Borger Design, an organisation taking a human-centred approach to public service reform. She first heard about Rethink Activism when visiting Sager der Samler – “united causes” – a grassroots community activism network.
Re-use, reduce, recycle
Now travelling light, we needed a couple of things to make The Welcome Tent more comfortable for guests. So in the spirit of the Festival, we were kindly donated blankets from Rising Architecture festival in nearby Godsbanen that had taken place earlier that week and also visited RE-USE, a unique and inspiring recycling and educational centre where unwanted household items are re-homed for free, to borrow some furniture. Whilst there, we were also able to help a Somalian lady transport a new bed back to her flat.
Everywhere we visit we will work in collaboration with locally based initiatives. In Århus we worked in partnership with Den Nye Havn – "The New Harbour" – a community which welcomes people who are fleeing conflict, supporting their adjustment to a new way of life and offering opportunities for volunteering in the local community.
After many Skype calls we were really pleased to finally meet Abdullah and the wider Den Nye Havn community. Abdullah is originally from Syria, where he was educated as a lawyer and then moved into a Coordinator’s role working for the United Nations. Now in Denmark, he has received awards for both initiatives he founded - Den Nye Havn and Anoababa TV – a project where Dads make films to send back to their families, inspired by his own personal experience. This was the first time the group had all cooked together.
In The Welcome Tent we are using food to start conversations about peace and social justice. We have found that the process of cooking and sharing food together builds genuine relationships between all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. So on the Saturday afternoon, together we ran a drop-in workshop, cooking over 200 Syrian pan breads served with Mohummara, a delicious spiced tomato and pepper sauce, which nearly hundred people prepared or tasted.
Our backdrop included photo journalism from Calais and of Abdullah cooking the same bread with his neighbours in war torn Syrian streets, just two years ago before he arrived in Denmark. This was Syrian street food bringing home the reality of the current situation, when there are no words. We even had a Skype call halfway through the afternoon from Abdullah's sister in Damascus, which in itself was lucky as usually the connection is not good enough.
Sudanese doughnuts and Chai tea were also served, using the recipes from our Sudanese friends now based in the UK. One of the last conversations we had in the UK was to discuss the lack of news coverage of the current atrocities in Sudan. We hope that sharing food, stories and 'recipes of HOPE', goes some way in raising awareness and nurturing relationships with people that are facing challenges in so many other ways.
Thankyou to the many people who shared their homes and lives with us -Tinna and Troels and family, Nicolaj, Trine and Troels and family, Abdullah and family, Paul and the team at Rethink Activism, Mohammad, Roua and all the other incredible people at Den Nye Havn, Jørgen Bundgaard for photographic contributions, Jens Peter and Berit and family and everyone else who stopped by The Welcome Tent to offer support and share their own #recipesofHOPE. We will take this inspiration forward to our next collaboration at Vreemdland at Dutch Design Week in October 2017.