Excursions: A close-up look at Aarhus and beyond

When travelling to a new place, whether in person or even virtually – a highlight is taking a tour and meeting residents. 

Held during the morning and afternoon of 4 July, the Excursions at the 20th World Council in Aarhus, Denmark, provided in-person attendees with an up-close look at the work happening today in Denmark across a variety of industries. Online participants were able to enjoy a virtual tour. 

Each Excursion was linked to one of the four Vision 2030 themes: 

  • Social – Community wellbeing
  • Economic – Meaningful work
  • Environmental – Sustainable planet
  • Political – Just world

 

In addition, local Denmark YMCA-YWCA locations provided lunch and a detailed look at their work and programmes for young people. 

With 17 tours scheduled, here’s a sample of what delegates experienced: 

Organic farming 

Organic farmer Jens Krogh said it can be a challenge convincing people they must act to address climate change. “When I tell people that we have to face this challenge, that we have to do something about the climate, I tell them the biggest

 change that has to happen is within your mind,” he said, adding that his farm has reduced pollution by 70 percent since 2012. 

Tour attendees could sample fresh, home-grown vegetables – and most agreed they taste much better than store-bought produce! With a little time and manual labour, most people can grow their own food, Jens said, reducing how much they spend at the store and earning the satisfaction of providing for themselves. And he taught attendees how to tell the difference between a variety of plants, including hemp, oats, rye, barley and more. 

What does it take for milk to be considered organic? Attendees learned that cows must spend most of their time outside “stretching their legs in the open pastures.” This allows for healthy living and better milk from the cows. 

Sustainable living

Traelasten, just a short walk from the World Council venue at the Aarhus Music House, is a new sustainable district. Located in the green urban nature along the river, a historic industrial site is being transformed into a neighbourhood with homes, shops and commercial space. Work began last year and is scheduled for completion by 2030.

Tour and project representative Mark Eggem said there are two main aspects to sustainability – how the building is constructed and how residents live in the building. He also said the development is committed to reusing and repurposing materials. “We are respectful of the history here and reusing materials such as wood beams in the planned new cultural centre. Another example is we are maintaining the iconic red colour that people have identified with this district,” he said. “We are also embracing the biodiversity of nature here and incorporating that into the design.” 

 

Community wellbeing

New activities for children and learning how the German minority and the Danish majority in the area work together were the focus of this Excursion to a cathedral and a youth camp. 

Meeting at Haderslev Cathedral, the group received a brief history and geography lesson, providing the background for the day’s discussion – and they enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea. In addition, YMCA member Torben Hjul Andersen led a small service, providing a moment for prayer and reflection. 

Attendees learned that Denmark had lost a portion of land to Germany in 1864, causing tension between the two nationalities. In 2020, 100 years after the border had shifted, both nationalities are now proud to say that they no longer co-exist but cooperate. 

In addition, attendees were able to participate in daily activities organized for the young campers at the Philipsborg summer camp. It included having the chance to get dunked in a rather cold pool of water!

Whether it was a walking tour of Aarhus or a journey to visit the capital of North Jutland, Aalborg, attendees remarked that they learned a lot about Denmark and the local YMCA and YWCA. And from the number of cards, phone numbers and hugs exchanged after the tours, new friendships were formed as well.