Page 1

Challenges of Europe


Editorial It seems like the questions that used to have easier answers don’t have those answers anymore. Graduating school and getting a job used to be a natural progression. Working peacefully on a farm to an old age without disturbance used to be the norm. The basic right to a healthy body used to be something that didn’t have to be fought for. We explored the challenges of people throughout Europe, close to home and abroad, not knowing what we were going to find or where their lives would lead us. What we found was that they didn’t necessarily know where their lives would lead them, either. Recognizing these challenges and embracing the uncertainty keeps us all moving forward, even if no one knows where we’ll end up. Challenges of Europe used to be tackled by trying to define the answers and reach the destination. Now, we believe it’s all about the journey.



Index 4

Sin began with Marlene

12 Food is a battlefield 20 A dying breed 28 36 44

Runaway Filipina

Without the wind behind

Should I stay or should I go?

52 This too shall pass 60

A forgotten generation’s revolt

68 No, this is not what we wanted 76 What nature provides



A farm worker turns off the waterpump on an apple plantation. Constant watering is necessary on the fields of South Tyrol since the area has very low precipitation.

sin began with


In Italy’s northernmost region, South Tyrol, the biggest fruit cooperatives of Europe produce around one million tons of apples every year. The profitable industry grows its product on huge plantations all over the region. But the profitable industry has it downsides. Biological famers suffer from the use of pesticides from the apple farmers By Mario Wezel sin began with Marlene


sin began with Marlene


The parcel of Aegidius Wellenzohn is kept very native. He is convinced that nature regulates itself. He is living a life in close communion to nature, trying to work together with nature by supporting it’s processes.


egidius Wellenzohn, 48, grabs a rusty spade out of his old white Volkswagen Transporter and walks through the high grass in his parcel. He starts to dig a small trench and puts green bean seeds into the ground. After a couple of months he will be able to harvest them. It seems like he is practicing meditation. He takes his time. Piece by piece he drops the small seeds. After finishing he takes a deep breath and says, “This way of farming is life. It’s the real life.” Mister Wellenzohn is one of only two farmers in the valley of Vinschgau, a part of Italy’s northernmost province, South Tyrol, not using any chemical or biological additives in farming. He works all year round to cultivate his 2-hectare large fields.

His way of working stands in huge contrast to what is happening around his property. In the last 30 years, a massive development has taken place South Tyrol, a popular tourist region. The whole valley has been clustered with huge apple plantations where sorts such as “Marlene“ or “Golden Delicious” grow. Starting in Bolzano going west, the profitable cultivation of apples has swept through the region. South Tyrol is one of the main apple producing regions in Europe, exporting their goods to the rest of Italy and many other European countries, mostly to Germany and Scandinavia. With a length of over 100 kilometres, it is Europe’s biggest connected fruit-growing region. Growing apples is

sin began with Marlene


three times more profitable than growing corn, which explains the huge expansion of the industry and therefore also boosts the prices of land over 400% throughout the last six years.

ronmental issues and also their own physical health,” he says. During the months of September and October, traffic slows down on the streets leading through the valley. The farmers begin their harvest and millions of apples are picked from the plantations. Seasonal workers from the east of Europe, such as Romania and Poland, flock to South Tyrol to work on the fields for several weeks. The harvest is delivered to the warehouses of the cooperatives.

A multinational industry For Josef Wielander, a slightly stocky man in is 50s, the story about the apple industry in South Tyrol is one of prosperity for a whole region. He is the managing director of the VIP (Verband der Vinschgauer Produzenten für Obst und Gemüse, or the Val Venosta Association of fruit and vegetable growers), a company that is the brain of the apple industry in that region. They are doing the commercial export to Europe for seven different farming cooperatives in the valley of Vinschgau. They are the connection between the farmers and big supermarket chains all over Europe. “We have around 5,200 hectares of land in the valley and unite seven farming cooperatives in our company,” he says. Josef Wielander is very proud on the way of how the farmers they export for are using the land. All of them are farming after the so-called integrated cultivation. “They produce after consumer protection, considerating envi-

due to the strong winds in Vinschgau, the pesticides are being blown onto the bordering fields. Peter Grasser Every couple of minutes a tractor pulls up in front of the massive industrial buildings to deliver tons of fresh apples. They are weighed and their quality is rated before they are cleaned in huge water basins and then stored in the warehouses. Highly developed engineering assures that the apples can stack there for a whole year, guaranteeing the consumer around Europe fresh apples 365

The Rizzi Company is a multinational enterprise, owning a lot of apple plantations in the valley. Their corporate headquarters starts to glow in a bright green when it gets dark.

sin began with Marlene


After being measured and weight by a computer eye, the apples are washed before being stored in the big warehouses.

The Texel cooperative holds a press conference since they openend a new full automatic warehouse.

sin began with Marlene


Many bee keepers in the valley stopped letting their bees pollinate the apple plantations since the bees are killed by the pesticides.

days a year. A farming industry as highly efficient as this one can’t leave certain things to chance. They need to use pesticides, chemical- and biological- based, on a regular basis to prevent their harvest from failing.

the everyday practice in the farming industry. Although it is said that all the apple farmers follow the AGRIOS guidelines, telling them to plant hatches or trees around their property, most of them don’t. “The hatches would actually prevent the pesticides from being blown onto other fields,” explains Albert Prizzi, another member of the environmental group. He goes on to explain that the hatches would also offer an important habitat for birds. “We decided to get hay samples of bordering fields to the apple plantations tested last year,” Mister Grasser says. They wanted to have proof about the windage of pesticides and contacted Professor Dr. Irene Witte at the University of Oldenburg. She analyzed the samples and found some ten different types of pesticides in the hay.

Opposition arises Peter Grasser from “umweltschutzgruppe Vinschgau”, an environmentalist group in the region, sees the development of the apple industry very critical. The group is criticizing how the intensive-apple farmers behave towards their neighbors. “On their own land they can, by law, do what they want. But due to the strong winds in Vinschgau, the pesticides are being blown onto the bordering fields”, he describes of

sin began with Marlene


The Texel cooperative guides journalists through their newly opened and highly engineered warehouse. Around 16,000 boxes of apples can be stored here. Construction Manager Siegrief Pohl is interviewed by an italian TV company.

“The legal minimum face values of the single pesticides are not being exceeded, though the mixture of the many different kinds are the critical fact”, Dr. Witte says, even calling it a gift-cocktail.

“It is ridiculous. Sometimes the mayor of a town is an apple farmer himself or the whole town is dependent on this industry. They would never introduce these guidelines”, says Peter Grasser of the Umweltschutzgruppe, criticizing the guidelines. He is working at the group voluntarily. His connection to nature is a very close one since he is working as a veterinarian. Grasser and the Umweltschutzgruppe are trying to find a way to live safely for all inhabitants of the region: “We are not trying to ban the mono-crop culture. It’s more about trying to find solutions together.” Aegidius Wellenzohn in the meantime is convinced to keep his way of farming without any biological or chemical ingredients. “Every part of nature has its usage. It regulates itself. We can help sometimes but we shouldn’t intervene too much”, he says. His wife, his 8-year old daughter and his 13-year old son only eat food Aegidius has grown by himself, or things of which he knows their origin. “For the sake of my children I want to keep the soil clean. They will once have to live off it as well.” //

Local conflicts arise The VIP meanwhile points out that the pesticides being used would not harm people or the environment and would only be used if an analysis of the apple trees by the farmer made it necessary. In contrast to that statement is a case from Trentino, east of South Tyrol. The small city of Malosco has passed a law which forces farmers to have a 50-metre gap between their fields where they use pesticides and adjoining buildings like houses, schools or playgrounds. They were able to get through with it at court, due to test results showing toxic arrears in urine samples of children living next to the plantations. South Tyrol meanwhile has only passed guidelines that prescribe a gap of eight meters. Though it is up to every municipality to introduce these guidelines.

sin began with Marlene


Seasonal workers from the East of Europe work for one or two months in South Tyrol during the harvest.

Konrad Messner, a regional developer in South Tyrol, goes hiking every monday morning to show interested people the biodiversity of the region.


Food is a battlefield Denmark currently has an estimated 240,000 overweight children. Dr. Jens-Christian Holm and his staff at the Unit for Overweight Children and Adolescents in HolbĂŚk are working hard to lower these numbers

By Kristen Zeis



Front: Ida Larsen,6, lays under a Dualenergy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) machine as part of her treatment within the Unit for Overweight Children and Adolescents at HolbĂŚk Hospital in HolbĂŚk, Denmark. The children undergo the scan so that the doctors can see the distribution of bone composition in comparison to body fat.

Food is a battlefield



t’s a round table with five seats. All but one is taken and a discussion is taking place. The topic at heart isn’t a light one. It’s not a dinner table but a table found in a room in the children’s ward inside of the Unit for Overweight Children and Adolescents at Holbæk Hospital in Holbæk, Denmark. Ida Larsen is 6 years old and she is the topic of conversation today. She sits and colors with a marker and a few pens while everything about her past and present is discussed at the table. What is her family’s health history? Was she born prematurely or via cesarean section? What does she typically eat and drink in a week? What is her activity level? All of these questions, along with the list of others on a six-page questionnaire are answered, no stone left unturned.

The Larsen family has traveled more than 200 km for their appointment today at the obesity unit with Dr. JensChristian Holm, one of Denmark’s leading childhood obesity specialists and also head of the Unit for Overweight Children and Adolescents in Holbæk. Traveling this far isn’t uncommon for the patients of the clinic, some of whom have to wait six months for an appointment. The clinic on average is treating about 500 patients a year and has helped over 1,500 children to date

Looking for answers Among the 240,000 overweight children, Ida is one of 60,000 of those children classified in the obese weight range, meaning that her calculated BMI is more than 30. Ida’s mother seems surprised when she realizes how high her daughter’s weight is and how concerned the doctors are about getting it under control. Ida’s father looks down for a few moments, avoiding eye contact from Cæcilie Truer Sørensen the Ph.D student leading the consultation. Ida sits, still coloring, seemingly unaware of how the meeting applies to her and what it means for her future.

since they opened their doors four and a half years ago. Ida’s parents have reached out to the doctors at the one-of-a-kind clinic looking for answers to their daughter’s weight problem and ready for a solution to help her live a healthier lifestyle. For Ida, her family has a long history of obesity. Both her mother and her father have undergone weight loss surgery and their own days of struggling with weight are not a distant memory. Born at 4.8 kilos, approximately 10.5 pounds, Ida has been a larger child from the beginning.

“We don’t give the patients what they want, we give them what they need.” Jens-Christian Holm, Unit for Overweight Children and Adolescents

Dr. Jens-Christian Holm meets with Ida Larsen,6, and her family. Currently the program at Holbæk Hospital which opened four and a half years ago has treated other 1,500 patients with a 70 percent success rate. Food is a battlefield


Ida’s mother, Lottte Larsen shows listens to the Cæcilie Truer Sørensen , the Ph.D student at Holbæk Hospital who will be following them t also has a two-year-old son at home was given a list of about 10-14 points about their lifestyle and eating habits which they need to change

“To me, when I’m treating her, it is obvious that she has inherited her obesity. Of course there are a lot of things that I can do for her, but she has the genes to combat also. So that will explain to me why she started to be overweight already from her birth,” said Cæcilie Truer Sørensen. Recognizing that your child’s weight needs attention isn’t easy for some parents, and it is becoming more difficult. “The scary thing is that our overall idea of what is overweight is changing,” said Charlotte Lemming, a nurse within the clinic. As Europe grows in weight, so does the general idea of what a normal weight is.

of medical procedures and tests. The information gathered will be used to rule out any medical causes for her obesity and will also be added to a database in which Dr. Jens -Christian Holm and his staff are currently working alongside other top researchers in Denmark to try to find new information that can help in the obesity struggle. Ida will stay for 24 hours in the hospital. Her measurements are taken, her food intake at meals are controlled, she will have a DXA scan to determine body fat composition, and some blood work will be taken. In between each appointment, Ida continues to color and play like an ordinary 6-year-old. The clinic is unique in that it is designed to follow the children for several years with occasional check-ins. The clinic also does this because they acknowledge that weight loss

A new outlook After the questionnaire is completed, Ida will begin a series

Food is a battlefield


Ida gets her blood taken as her mom calms her. By taking blood samples the doctors are able to rule out any conditions that may be causing the weight gain and they also use the blood for current research projects about childhood obesity.

through Ida’s weight loss. The family, who e not just for Ida, but also as a family.

Rikke Haslund Melskens meets with Ida and her mom and explains how to take a proper stool sample, the sample will be examined for a study that the unit is currently working on.

isn’t an easy task and that sometimes you can fall off track. Each child in the program is given an individual treatment plan after all of the questions on the questionnaire are filled out. In all, around 14-19 habits are usually changed. For Ida, some of her changes will include watching her portions, cutting white breads out of her diet, limiting her juice and soda intake, and only having sweets once a week. From now on, she will be having several smaller meals throughout the day, instead of only three larger meals. “With so many issues to address, you need to make it very clear how to stop them. So in that way I think the strictness is actually compassion and empathy because we explain clearly to the patients what they need,” said Dr. Holm. “We don’t give the patients what they want, we give them what they need.” he emphasized.

Dr. Jens-Christian Holm estimates that around 80 per cent of the children in care of the clinic have a sugar addiction. Ida’s parents try to help her eat healthier and allow her to have six to eight pieces of fruit a day. That much fruit, however, is actually too much, according to the doctors. Her body craves the sweetness, like an addiction. For Ida and so many other children that enter the clinic, food is their danger zone. Even the foods like fruit that they think are good for them are only good in moderation. So appointments with Dr. Jens-Christian Holm act as a learning experience for both child and parent. At just 6 years old, the new routine likely won’t come easily for Ida and her parents will have to help her set the limits if she is to lose the weight and have a healthier future.

Food is a battlefield




A dying breed By Hei冒a Helgad贸ttir



The number of farms in Denmark has dropped by 50% in the past 20 years Small farmers in Denmark are getting fewer as the big farms are taking over. One of them is Gert Vand, a small cow farmer in Kolind. The air is filled with moisture after last night’s rain, small puddles has formed across the road, a road you cannot cross without boots. You better not be afraid of the dark out here. Far away from the big city life, in the the darkness, surrounded by big fields of corn. It’s 4 o’clock in the morning and most regular people are sleeping now. But out here there is much life, as you get closer to the stables, the sound and the smell of the cows fill your senses. Inside people are working, you can hear the radio playing loudly, trying to get through the sound of the milking machines. Today there are two people working here. Gert and Bastian are moving fast, they know what they are doing. They’ve done it a million times before. “Here we don’t talk much but we know what to do”, Gert says as cleans the udders of one cow that is in the milking booth waiting for its turn. Udder care and hygiene is very important in milking, both for the cows and the product. He has kind eyes and talks calmly. “It’s always the same cows that are the first ones and the same cows that are always the last ones to come to be milked”.

goes on to do various work that goes with the life of a farmer. He also has fields where he produces most of the food for the cows and straw that he sells to the local heating company who heat up the town. Lots of paperwork comes with being a farmer. There is mechanic work or working on the field. If he is lucky sometimes he can take a small nap before the next milking. Milking time starts again around 2 o’clock after lunch with the same routine and then he can be back to the house around 6 o’clock in the evenings to have dinner and some quality time with his family.

The changes For the last decades there has been an evolution in the farming life in Denmark. Farms have been getting fewer and they have been growing bigger, to a more factory kind of farming. The production cost is lower for a big scale farm so its more easier to survive well with a big farm. There are more machines and technology and less people working on the farms. After the economic crises many small farmers are struggling with debts, some forced to leave their farm lifes and get a regular job. It is not easy for a new farmer to get his own farm now, you need big money to buy a farm. It is easier to start out as a hobby farmer with a regular job on the side, which many farmers do. Out of 31.000 farmers in Denmark now, 12.000 are production farmers, the rest is part time farmers or hobby farmers. Gert is happy with the size of his farm which now counts 150 cows. He also can’t make it bigger

Family man Gert is a young farmer he is only 38 years old but he had this farm for eight years now. Gert has been involved in the farm life since he was young and knew he wanted to be a farmer when he was around 10 years old. He has two people working for him now, Eva and Bastian who is a farming student. In the small town of Kolind Gert lives with his family, his wife Eden and their three boys Andreas 9, Laust 7 and Johan 3 and their dog Merlin a big Black Retriever. “I don’t know about the romance. Being a farmer is hard work but it has it’s benefits.” The benefits is the time he gets with his family. Gert chooses to start the milking at 4 in the mornings to have more time with his family. He can then be at home around 7- 8 and have breakfast with his family and get the kids to school. Today there are school holidays so he keeps on working until 9. Then Gert and Bastian head back home where his wife Eden waits with freshly baked bread, eggs and coffee. Eden has a regular job in the town, selling farm supplies. Today she has the day off and is busy with baking, and making porridge for the boys. The house is filled with life and the young boys are running around. Merlin is sleeping quietly in his bed. Gert gets up at 3:30 every morning to start working. On a farm there are no holidays, the cows need to be milked every 12 hours, every day. After the morning routine he

“Here we don’t talk much but we know what to do,” says Gert Vand while doing the morning milking even if he wanted to because of regulations as the farm is too close to the town. He is planning some changes on his farm. He is going to change the stables to make it more comfortable for the cows to rest and also going to put up a milking robot.

The calves After breakfast Gert, Bastian and Merlin head back to the stables. Merlin loves to take part in the farming life. He walks between the cows sniffing them and hops on the tractor with Gert. Outside of the stables the cows that are ready to give birth are enjoying their day. One of them has a new calf.

A dying breed


All the calves of the farm are kept in their separate stables in a row. There the female calves are raised to later become a part of the milking team.

Previous page: One of the cows just had a calf. “I heard her calling for her calf this morning so I knew there was a new calf,� says Gert Vand.

A dying breed


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


“I heard her calling for her calf this morning so I knew there was a new calf ” Gert says. Its a big black healthy bull calf. Now the cow and the calf need to be taken inside where they will stay together for a few days. Gert tries to get the calf to stand up and walk but his feets are weak so he has to pick him up and carry him most of the way, the calf is heavy even though newborn, so Gert has to stop along the way to catch his breath. When they arrive into the stables the other cows line up to look and make noises. Gert stops. “Can you hear how they sound differently now? They are very curious when a new calf comes and they talk in different sounds than normally”.

A newborn All the calves of the farm are kept in their separate stables in a row. He keeps the female calves for his milking team and the bull calves he sells to a neighbour that grows them. One of the calves there was born prematurely, he is 4 weeks old but really small. “Nobody thought he would survive, but he did.” He pets the calf. “He is going to be a nice petting bull.” //

A dying breed


Gert and his wife Eden live in Kolind with their three sons and the dog Merlin. When the milking is done in the morning Gert and Bastian have breakfast.

“Being a farmer is hard work but it has it’s benefits,� says Gert Vand.

A dying breed


runaway filipina

She came to Denmark for an adventure and to make some money. But never could she have anticipated the abuse she would experience as an au pair. This is a story with a happy ending, and sadly, it’s extraordinary. By JENNIFER TSE



Mechel Cadungog, 27, left her hometown of General Santos City in the Phillipines for a new cultural experience and the chance to make extra money as an au pair in a Danish family.

Mechel Cadungog has finally found her place as an equal member of a Danish family, but it wasn’t always this way


n the Trærup Nygaard home in Copenhagen, Filipina au pair Mechel Cadungog sits in the kitchen painting 14-year-old Amalie’s nails with the care and patience of an older sister. The family’s amiable white Siberian husky, Gucci, fresh from an outdoor romp, sniffs the strange chemicals before howling for attention. “Gucci, you’re always so talkative!” says Cadungog. The two girls laugh and ruffle his fur. Cadungog, 27, ran away from an abusive past—but she’s found her happy ending. She sparkles when she talks about her life with the Trærup Nygaards, but there’s a thinly veiled bitterness in her voice when she speaks about previous Danish host families. In the seven months she’s spent in Denmark, she’s been forced to do manual labour for long hours outside her contract, verbally abused, threatened with deportation, and even kept in a basement with nothing but canned food to survive on for weeks before finding the Trærup Nygaard family three months ago. Unfortunately, cases like Cadungog’s aren’t unusual.

“There were many Filipinas just in the neighbourhood of my first family, in Viborg, who were all working eight to 10 hours a day,” said Cadungog. “The host families thought it was normal, and the au pairs were afraid to fight for their rights.”

On Unequal Terms According to the Danish Immigration Service website, the purpose of an au pair stay is to provide foreigners with the opportunity to improve language or professional skills and broaden their cultural horizons. Au pairs are meant to assume a role as a member of the family and be on equal terms with their hosts. As an au pair in Denmark, Cadungog is legally entitled to free food, her own bedroom in her host family’s house, and a minimum monthly salary of 3,150 Danish kroner, in exchange for helping take care of her host family’s children and doing light household chores for no more than three to five hours a day.

Runaway Filipina


Cadungog and Amalie, 14 and the eldest daughter of the family, are very close and treat each other like sisters.

“I said, ‘I want to leave now. I don’t want to see your face again. After what you did to me, after you lied to me,’” said Cadungog of her first host family.

Cadungog sits in her bedroom in the Trærup Nygaard home.

Amanda, 8, will only begin to learn English in school next year. As a result, Cadungog has learned basic Danish so that they can communicate.

Runaway Filipina


Lights at the Trærup Nygaards’ house in Birkerød, Copenhagen glow before daybreak. The building is home to Jesper and Tine, two working parents; Amalie and Amanda, their two young daughters; Gucci the dog, and several guinea pigs. Always busy with work or school, the family is no stranger to au pair help and has hosted several before Cadungog.

Cadungog plays with the family’s Siberian husky, Gucci. Every morning at dawn, she takes Gucci on a walk around the neighbourhood. Light chores like dog-walking, grocery shopping, and cooking are expected of au pairs, while dangerous manual labour is not. Runaway Filipina


After walking the Trærup Nygaards’ dog, Cadungog sets the table for the family’s breakfast. When she shops for groceries, she is given money that also covers her own food, and she is free to choose her own food if she likes.

The Trærup Nygaards have breakfast together. Cadungog almost always has her meals with the family, during which they ask her about her day exploring the town, or discuss differences between life in Denmark and the Phillipines.

Runaway Filipina


In Viborg, Cadungog’s first host family tried to trick her into signing a form that stated she had broken her contract so that they could not be blamed for forcing her to work outside her allotted hours. They cut off her Internet access, tried to prevent her from talking to the police, and even threatened to deport her if she didn’t sign the form. Terrified, Cadungog eventually found a telephone and ran away to get help from the police and from Babaylan, an association supporting Filipino au pairs in Denmark. When her hosts discovered what she had done, they were furious, but she stood her ground. “I said, ‘I want to leave now. I don’t want to see your face again. After what you did to me, after you lied to me,’” said Cadungog. She then stayed with a second host family in Aarhus as a guest while waiting for her new application to be approved by Immigration Services. For three weeks, she lived in their basement and was not allowed to access the fridge upstairs. “They were so rich and they drove a Jaguar,” she said. “But they only gave me food in cans.” When she asked if she could eat anything healthier, her hosts yelled at her and decided to cancel the application. She finally found the Trærup Nygaard family through Ung-i-huset, a website matching Danish families with au pairs. Cadungog, who had studied marketing in her hometown of General Santos City in the Phillipines,

came to Denmark alone in search of an exciting new life, to eventually save enough money to start her own business, and to travel. “But I was shocked by how I was treated,” she said. “I knew it was wrong.”

An Elevated Risk for Filipinos Non-EU au pairs are especially at risk in Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark, where their residence permits are tied to their host families and not to themselves as individuals. This, combined with the obligation to live with their employers, makes it difficult for many au pairs to change their situation in cases of abuse or exploitation, according to a 2011 European Parliament report on au pair abuse. In 2010, 2,649 Danish residence permits were granted to au pairs, of whom 80 per cent were Filipinos, according to the same report. “Labour migration in general has increased during the last 10 years, and Filipino women are at the forefront of this trend,” said Helle Stenum, migration researcher at Roskilde University. Filipinos in particular face extra risks because they are not protected by the Phillipines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) upon migrating to Europe. The 2011 report also states that they can’t appeal to their embassies abroad in case of abuse without risking facing difficulties obtaining new Phillippine travel documents.

Runaway Filipina


Cadungog sits on the staircase of the Trærup Nygaard home, surrounded by family photographs.

A 2008 European Parliament report on au pairs in Denmark solemnly concluded that “to a dominant degree, the purpose of practicing the au pair arrangement today is not the cultural exchange.” “The middle class has experienced a massive wealth increase. Thus people can afford au pairs, and at the same time a difficult labour market increases the burden on families,” said Stenum. “This is an incredibly cheap form of domestic labour.” But in the warmth of the Trærup Nygaards’ living room, Cadungog giggles with Amalie at some photos they’ve found on Facebook. Amanda, the energetic 8-year-old, bounces between her father, Jesper, who has just returned from work, and her mother, Tine, who sits quietly with a laptop. Now and then, Cadungog asks Tine to help her practice her Danish, because she hopes to study the language in Hellerup or Lyndby next year. Cadungog smiles when she thinks about the future. “My contract with this family is a minimum of 18 months, but I might stay for 24,” she said. “I feel like I’m part of the family, and this feels like a home.” She is lucky, and she knows it. //

“I feel like I’m part of the family, and this feels like a home,’” said Cadungog.

The family spends a quiet evening together in the living room of the house.

Runaway Filipina


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


without the wind behind By Arianna GimĂŠnez

Ten years ago, the island of Samsø built up a worldwide model around wind power. But now there are windmills standing still. The miracle of wind power is not blowing in favour of the youngest, who are forced to leave the island because of a lack of opportunities. 37


white-haired man picks up a stack of old newspapers to throw out. Although there are many, this bunch of Samsø Posten newspapers do not occupy much space. It seems that stories of Samsø, a Danish island of around 4,000 people, do not take up more than two double-sided sheets. It’s unexpected because of Samsøe’s reputation. “We are in the centre of Denmark, in the centre of Europe, in the centre of the world,” says Michael Larsen, while explaining the history of the place, which is known around the world for producing more energy than Samsingers consume. This Aarhusian got a job in the Energy Akademie of Samsø one month ago. “It’s a pretty big deal” he adds adamantly, as he stands in the facilities responsible for this feat. In the last five years the walls of Energy Akademie have seen 2,000 school kids and 6,000 private visitors from around the world, even political representatives such as the last President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. “Nowadays we have a lot of visitors who come from Japan because of Fukushima,” he says, recognising that the case of Samsø is not applicable everywhere. “The world can learn from our local actions. It is a responsibility,” he adds. In 1997, the Samsø’s slaughterhouse moved, leaving behind not just 100 people unemployed, but also a crisis on the island. What Samsingers did not expect was that the solution was around them. In the movement of the branches, in the slamimg doors, in leaves flying. The wind. At the end of 90s, the Danish Ministry of Enviroment sponsored a contest focused on renewable energies. Samsø was elected out of five islands, winning with a project based on wind power. However, it was not enough. Søren Hermansen left his studies in Copenhagen in order to carry the project not just in the island where he was born, but also with the people who live there. Like a hero in a film, he started knocking on Samsingers’ doors asking for their involvement in the project. He invited them to assemblies where people could discuss, among themselves, where the 11 wind turbines of the plan had to be built. “Everything was done by common learning, no experiments. People found out that they can make plans together,” says Michael.

“ We are in the center of Denmark, in th center of Euope, in the center on the world.”


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


Without the wind behind


Malene stays between her youngest children in their house.

“Just those who want to get old come here. Young people are leaving.�

Without the wind behind


The youth disappears Although community involvement explains the milestone of Samsø - becoming a 100 per cent self-sufficient renewable energy island in 10 years – if the meetings continued today, they would lack their most promising generation.Young Samsingers today do not come back as Søren did. “Samsø is a safe place for children,” says Malene while the youngest of her five children plays in the garden, “but it is not for the young.” With the closure of the slaughterhouse Malene and her husband’s life changed. Despite losing their job, they decided to stay.

“Samsø is always in crisis. Despite people taking an active part in so many projects, every day there are fewer people on the island. There are no people for paying taxes,” says Juan Serrano, a Spaniard who, uniquely, found in the island a shelter from the Francisco Franco dictatorship 40 years ago.

“I sent my daughter a message every minute,” she jokes, remembering when one of her daughters called her from Aarhus, where she lives now. “Just those who want to get old come here; there are no jobs. Young people are leaving. A solution? Building a bridge,” she laughs. More urgent than a bridge is the education system: in Samsø, students can only go to school until age 16, there are no higher learning opportunities.

A gold slab in the door of his house reads, “Laura and Juan Serrano.” In the middle of 70s he met his wife Laura, from Samsø, in a Danish restaurant in the south of Spain. This Samsinger traveled almost 3,000 kilometres to work as a waitress in a friend’s business. Now, once again on the island, she works during the summer in their own kiosk helping the only one of their three daughters who decided not to leave the island. She really enjoys it. “During the winter the only thing that I can do is clean the house. I’m tired of cleaning,” she says.

Even as the blades of the windmills keep spinning, statistical data goes against the flow. In the last eight years, the average age in Samsø increased by 2,4 years, compared to all of Denmark, wherein the increase was 0,9 years.

It is during the summer that Samsø seems to recover all the energy that wind gave them 10 years ago. Every year, around 100,000 tourists see the island through the windows of the ferry that kickstarts their holidays. Although hundreds of people visit the island to try to learn about the success of Samsø, the youth have no reason to want to come. Michael finds a seat on a ferry full of tourists returning to Aarhus, where he actually lives. He could be confused for one of them.

“ There are no high schools and universities in Samsø. Young students have to move if they want to continue their degrees.”

Without the wind behind


Without the wind behind


Should I stay or should I go? by Nora Klein



Once a year people in the village of Sega gather to celebrate. previous page: Sebastian and Maria are a couple. The teenagers spend most of their free time with each other. Because they are on a tight budget they often stay at home.

More and more teenagers leave the rural areas of the Kyffhäuserkreis district in Germany. A lot of them would like to stay but can´t find jobs. Who is staying? Driving in the car through the sunshine. Passing colourful autumnal trees, grazing land for sheep, harvested fields as far as the eye can reach. This region has visually a lot to offer. Many small villages string together like a pearl necklace. The hills between each village is like a little space of visible string between each pearl. Alongside the main roads rise timber framed houses next to simple plastered facades. Detached you can find scruffy houses deserted which seem to have been looking for a new landlord for decades. This is where Sebastian Wacker lives. “I am actually a person who needs his quietness (…) I don´t belong to town” he says. Sebastian lives in a small village called Trebra, in the Kyffhäuserkreis district, located in the heart of Germany. The village has a population of 312 people. Nineteen year

old Sebastian stays with his parents and his twin sister in a house surrounded by the greenery of a big garden and a rural yard. In a greenhouse next to their home they plant their own tomatoes. Passing them you will find chickens and fluffy geese chasing each other around. Sebastian is one of the few youngsters of the village who has an apprenticeship training position in a town nearby. He is an apprentice in a cladding company. Approximately a 90 kilometer drive everyday, is all it takes to reach school or worksite. For the teenager, a normal working day starts just before the 5AM and, ends at about 5PM when he returns home. “Now we have cars, so we meet at the gas station.” he says, describing his plans to meet up with his friends. For people living in the village it is necessary to have a car if you don´t want to be stuck. The gas station where Sebastian and his

Should I stay or should I go?


Three girls from the neighboring village Göllingen take part in the party of Sega.

friends gather at, is located in Greußen; a larger neighbouring town to Trebra, with a population of 3700 people. In Greußen the family of Sebastian goes shopping, because the supermarket, the restaurant and as well the

lages travel to the petrol station and utilize the room to socialize whilst enjoying bottles of fizzy drinks and puffing in cigarettes. Like many other youths and teenagers of the area, Sebastian and his friends travel to the town for a good time. “But absolutely only for partying. I won´t like to live in town.” says Sebastian. Regardless of the advances and the facilities that the town has to offer Sebastian is one of the few people who still prefers to call the small village, Trebra, his home.

Teenagers would love to stay here if we only had jobs. Jürgen Ogrodnik.

Moving away Villages, like Trebra, in the district have been struggling with the high trends emigration from the area. “Mostly young people move away,” says Jürgen Ogrodnik, the mayor of Göllingen. Göllingen is an other village in the Kyffhäuserkreis region. When mayor Ogrodnik began

kindergarden in their own village closed . The service station is on a federal highway and is open every day. It has a small backroom where people can sit. The 20m² room is furnished with three wooden bartables and three gambling machines. Teenagers from the surrounding vil-

Should I stay or should I go?


Maria Rehfeldt is a very active teenager in her

Should I stay or should I go?


his carrer in 1974, 1400 people lived there. In 2012 the population has decreased to 800 people. “Teenagers would love to stay here if we would have jobs” says Ogrodnik. Acording to the survey “Not am Mann” of the Berlin Institute there are still clear differences in the salary and career opportunity of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Old Federal States. Thats why a lot of teenagers move to the west and to Switzerland.

If you have your friends there which you have known forever, then you can come whenever. There will be always somebody Maria Rehfeldt

The Ministry of Thuringia for construction and land development, predicts that by 2060, 41 per cent of the state’s population will have moved away. „During the week most of the men are working in different states, so the fire brigade is hardly ever complete and not fit for service.“ says the mayor. They return only for the weekend to the village says the mayor of Göllingen. Friendship Maria, 21 year old, is a well educated teacher student who grew up in Göllingen. Currently she is studying in the state capital Erfurt. One hour drive away from her village. However, she aspires to return to Göllingen, as soon as she completes her studies . After Gymnasium Maria went to Berlin for University. “I always wanted to return”. Every weekend she and her boyfriend who also grew up in Göllingen, come home to the village. ”If you have your friends there which you have been known forever, then you can come whenever. There will be always somebody” she says. Maria and her friends spend a lot of the nights on the weekend in the youth club of Göllingen. A cold, damp 3 room basement where they play cards, chat and have some drinks. Early in the morning after the teenagers went to bed it is silent in the village again. You can hear the wind whispering through the thick meadows. The chitter of the birds, the cock-a-doodle-doo sounds of the roosters fills the streets and a new day is going to start. //

r village community. She helps elderly in the village and organizes events.

Should I stay or should I go?


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


Family Wacker has dinner in the living room of her home in Trebra. The daughter, Elisabeth, is living with the parents and supporting the family in the household and in the garden.

Drinking beer out of a boot is a tradition at the village party in Sega. They pass the boot around to friends and the one that brings up bubbles or drinks them has to buy the next boot. Should I stay or should I go?


This too shall pass By Felix Schmitt

What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


In Greece, economic and social turmoil have become part of everyday life. After years of economic crisis, a young generation of Greeks tries to find their place in life. Confronted with unpredictable changes in the world surrounding them and struggling with the bewilderments of coming-of-age. Five young Athenians tell of their lives


OANNA does not want to leave. “Maybe I will go abroad for getting a master‘s degree but it‘s hard to say because nobody will know what the situation will be like in two or three years,” she says. “I think I will miss my family and my friends too much.“ Ioanna is enrolled in the University of Athens studying communication and mass media and dreams of being a journalist, possibly working in radio. The study situation worries her a lot: the buildings are in a ruinous state, there is not enough space for all the students, and start-

a group of former members of the Communist Youth Of Greece is often involved in massive actions such as rallies, sit-ins and occupying university administration offices or whole school buildings. Ionna points out that they write a lot about the current problems and try to offer solutions while also offering financially underprivileged teenagers free preperation courses for the entry exams of university. “We have to face the problems and change for the better and I want to be a part of this change for the better,“ she says. The 19-year-old grew up in a western suburb of Athens where she still lives with her parents. Her father works in consulting; her mother runs a bakery that has been passed on from Ioanna‘s grandparents. Ioanna has an overall solid middle-class background but still she is uncertain of what her professional life will be like after graduation. She is aware of the difficulties of going into journalism in Greece, a country that ranks 70 in the Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders, placing itself just in between Burkina Faso and Nicaragua. Nevertheless she feels too young to abandon her passion.

„we have to face the problems and change for the better and I want to be a part of this change for the better.“ ing next semester a law might be passed which would mean that students would have to pay for their books. “They say it‘s public education but start to run it like a company. Privatizing education - I am strongly against this.” She is active in one of the various university youth organisations, in her case, the United Independent Left Movement (EAAK). The organisation that evolved from

Ioanna is a 19-year-old student of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens This too shall pass


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


„You have to learn everything if you want to try to understand.“

Aspa, a 25 year old filmmaker.


SPA puts a John Cassavetes DVD into the player next to her tiny 13-inch television and gets comfortable on her bed in the narrow room. It does not fit much more than a twin bed, a small desk, and her TV. Originally, she wanted to go into Drama, but ended up studying Directing and Scriptwriting at Stavrakos Film School in Athens, Greece‘s most prestigious academy for filmmaking. She found her medium of expression there. She is a 25-yearold, calm girl that tries to make sense of what is going on around her. “I do not want to miss it. I can‘t imagine not to be here because it is such a critical period. You think it can’t get worse and then it get‘s worse“, she says when she is asked whether she considers leaving Athens. Wandering the streets of the inner city or going to demonstrations, she saw cinemas burning and witnessed skinheads beating up immigrants. She feels compelled to do something, contribute something that may help to change things for the better. A year ago she started to read up on history. Greek history in particular. „My generation has forgotten about history and one step to start understanding the situation you are in is to know about history.“ She spends her time researching story ideas and developing scripts, her latest one focuses on the sociology of the body searching for metaphors for the Greek dilemma. „We have lost our

identity in the crisis. We can‘t connect to each other due to this lack of identity and that worries me. I try to find the connection to other people“, she says standing in the patio door to her small balcony. The shelf above her desk is crammed with books. „You have to learn everything if you want to try to understand.“


IMITRIS feels powerless. After earning his master‘s degree as an mechanical engineer from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom he returned to Greece for his mandatory military service and did not like what he found: „When you go there you meet people from all parts of society, and what struck me was the lack of ambition in about half of the people I met there.“ Dimitris is 25 years old and his eyes appear to tired for that age. After working for a year in Athens at Accenture‘s office, the world‘s largest consulting firm, he quit because of a solid job offer in the U.S. Then life took a bad turn and Dimitris came down with a heavy fever when he should have been travelling to the States for the final interview. After he recovered, the company he applied to

This too shall pass


Dimitris, a 25 year old mechanical engineer, out of work for over a year.

did not even reply to his attempts to get back in touch. Now he is back living with his parents in Kifissia, a quiet middle-class suburb in northern Athens. Since September 2011, the month he left Accenture, he has been out of work and has written over 100 applications for engineering jobs, in Greece and abroad. „Nothing is holding me here right now“, he says. He wants to get away from Greece, talks about the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, China, the U.S. Basically any place. His daily routine consists of applying to jobs online, going to the gym to exercise, taking the family dog for a walk and playing games online. „We don‘t go out for a beer that often any more, and If we do, we go out for -a- beer.“ He sees how many Greeks blame each other, blame the government, blame the international community for the crisis, but Dimitris keeps asking himself: „Am I doing enough to get me out of this?“ The thought of just going to another country to look for work came up but the financial difficulties of this idea seem impossible to him. His outlook on the state Greece is in seems grim: „It‘s going to hit rock bottom. Everything: economically, socially. Before anything really changes it needs to hit rock bottom for them to really get going.“ Then he puts on a tired smile: „You can only do so much before you realize that nothing‘s going to change.“

„Am I doing enough to get me out of this?“


YRIAKOS sits down on the floor in-between piles of books. „Here I can grab anything I want to read“, he explains and reaches for „The great shark hunt“ by Hunter S. Thompson, flips through the pages and throws the book back on an armchair covered with literature. He reaches for the American constitution, starts flipping through the book. He is restless, always fidgeting in some way, his hands are always moving. „I get bored easily, I read five or six books at the same time to keep me going.“ Kyriakos is a 25-year-old man from Athens with a bachelor‘s degree in Philosophy and Media from Oxford and two master‘s degrees in philosophy and economics from the University of Edinburgh. He is sitting on the floor of the room he grew up in at his father‘s house. He has been looking for work in Greece and abroad for more than a year and is close to just giving up, he says. Still, there is a column in his twitter feed

This too shall pass


dedicated to trawl the web for job offers. Not only in Greece but also abroad. „I don‘t need to make big money, I am just looking for my place in the sun, so to speak. Something that sustains a good life with a job I can life with in terms of ethics.“ Kyriakos is frustrated with how the economic and social crisis is handled in Greece. He stopped reading newspapers because reading the same headlines week after week only added to the overall sense of depression. He left Greece when he was 18 and only fully returned in September 2011 by the age of 23. He has a lot of outside perspective of what is happening and admits that he is angrier at the Greek people because of this. „Nobody steps up to the real problems“, he says, „and right now I don‘t see that there is anybody who could.“ Confronted with the change in his life and Athens before and after going abroad he regrets that he does not go out that much. He tells of how his mood is affected by going into the inner city every once in a while: „This is neither Beirut nor Kashmir, but you see people‘s faces and you can tell that everybody is struggling right now in some way.“

Kyriakos, a 25 year old Oxford graduate, unemployed for over a year.

„I don‘t need to make big money, I am just looking for my place in the sun, so to speak. Something that sustains a good life with a job I can life with in terms of ethics.“


ANAGIOTA can neither sit still nor stop her mind from jumping around. While talking, she tears up a sheet of paper from her notepad into little pieces and arranges them on the table in front of here. Panagiota has moved to Athens at age 18 a year ago for her studies and lives in her own apartment in Ambelokipi, close to the city center. „It is different to understand what is going on when things radically change in your life in so many aspects. You mix up leaving home and starting your own life with the circumstances of the crisis and can‘t tell them apart and just wonder what is going on. That is the hardest part.“ Panagiota loves to write. On her blog she publishes comments on political or social topics but lately she feels blocked.„There is so much to do and there is so much coming at you that you just see yourself standing there, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can not do anything“, she confesses. Still, she can not stop to constantly

observe her sourroundings. She feels that her generation has been betrayed in a way: „You were told that there is this life out there for you, just waiting for you. And now you realize how things really are.“ But Panagiota is not paralyzed by that, she wants to start a process in people to re-think how things are done, tries to refrain from judging quickly und understands the ramafications of what is happening. The political parties and groups do not appeal to her, she tells of how she once tried to join a friend in a forum with his anarchist student club but was not allowed in because she was not a member. „What kind of discussion ist that?“ she asks. Her eyes glow with curiosity and intelligence when she gets into how she sees the world and the future. „You can’t define your dreams and hopes to what society is like now. Life has to go on, we have to do it for ourselves.“ // Panagiota, a 19 year old student of mass media and communications.

This too shall pass


„There is so much to do and there is so much coming at you that you just see yourself standing there, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can not do anything“

What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


a forgotten generation´s revolt By Moritz Kßstner

Peter and Brigitte look forward to coming back to their home where there can easily fall into their bed

What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


In one corner of the common room, the elderly community has built a small living room.

Once upon a time there was a state that cared for their elders. Now, they have to fight


he day begins: It is around 7 a.m. and Peter and Brigitte Klotsche are getting out of their blue sleeping bags. The room is still dark, the only window lets little light in and the heaters are snapping and clicking. They used to sleep on a mattress on the ground in the community centre “Stille Straße” in former East Berlin. 111 days ago, six people moved into the community centre. Now only Peter and Brigitte Klotsche are left. The other squatters gave up for different reasons. One is on holiday in Spain, another must take care of her ill husband, and one did not manage to sleep there anymore due to her bad back. It is not easy be a squatter at their age. Peter, 71, and Brigitte, 73, are here on a mission. The local authority wants to close down their community centre and sell the building.

place in the centre to multiple common houses. The day starts like every day: putting the mattress away, sorting things so that the room looks again like a normal community room, where the senior citizens can play skat or chess and drink coffee. Brigitte starts sweeping the floor – everything must be perfect, so nobody can say that they don’t care about the house. At 10 a.m. about 15 retirees arrive at the centre to have their English class. A small discussion with the squatters takes place: What will happen next week? When will the local authorities decide about the offer from the former German Democratic Republic welfare organisation, “Volkssolidartät”, to overtake the community centre? Brigitte and Peter answer in their Berliner accents, spiked with old socialism terms as they make strong black coffee for the group. The two of them are now doing the same work that full-time workers did there before. Outside, there is one big villa after another, next to a new tennis court. A middle-aged couple is coming in to see how the squatters live and bring some ground coffee.

The local authority say’s From the point of view of the local authority, the community centre does not need to be in one building. They have decided to cut monthly building maintenance costs by moving the programs for the elderly that take

A forgotten generations revolt


It is my duty to save the collective, which has grown over 15 years. Brigitte Klotsche

The choir, Cheeky Wheel, visit the pensioners.

Three men from the skat round come here every week to play.


A forgotten generations revolt


They learned about the squatters through the news, and are curious about how it is going. The community gets many supporters through the media. Now they have their own doctor, who comes to take care of them, and a journalist who helps them to manage all media requests.

Coffee klatch and the dream from the old times Popular hits play from the radio as Brigitte looks through advertisements from the supermarket. She worked until 1996 as a head teacher of a kindergarten and is has visited the community centre for 15 years already. Every week she meets with “Group 3�, people the same age as her, to go hiking and visit exhibitions and culture programs together. Peter, her husband and a retired metalworker, has been in the group for 12 years. Both are also active in a management team which forms the community centre. They grew up behind the Iron Curtain and now think that Germany’s social state leaves them isolated. Their generation built up the GDR and has a mostly positive opinion of the social state, says German social sciences professor Thomas Ahbe, who is well known for his publication about the history of the GDR.

Ingrid Pilz used to just sleep in the community centre, now she helps out on the daytime with shopping and cooking.

All they have for warmth at night are sleeping bags; they've adjusted but still notice the cold.

A forgotten generations revolt


Brigitte Klotsche happy to win after this long time

In the afternoon, eight elderly women from the “Group 3” and Peter are gathering for a coffee klatch, a German coffee custom. On the table is coffee whitener and cake, which was a gift from some supporters. The gossiping starts, laughter fills the air, and Brigitte says, jokingly, “You are my brigade.” They start to talk about politics, how much they earn and how much nobody cares for them.

visit “Stille Straße”. Shortly before dinner a bus with 50 members of “Die Linke” from North Rhine-Westphalia arrive. After they all enter the house, Brigritte starts to talk about their situation: tomorrow the finance committee will decide about the future of the community centre. If they accept the offer from the “Volkssolidartät” to overtake the centre, the occupation will have been worthwhile. If not, they will give up, after nearly four months of occupation gnawing on their health and nerves.

The last day The next day, about 20 senior citizens, followed by the media, go to the finance committee meeting with cold bottles of sparkling wine in their hands. One hour passes and the audience gets nervous. The finance committee begins to talk about the topic “Stille Straße”. The Chairman calls for a vote on the proposal, and 12 hands go up. The 12 votes are for the proposal that the community centre “Stille Straße” will be overtaken by the “Volkssolidartät”, with no votes against. They win! Peter and Brigitte stand up and hug each other. The wine bottles pop. They are happy to win and happy to move back into their home, where the garden needs their attention. //

That didn’t happen back then. Peter Klotsche about the GDR

After the Berlin Wall fell, many from their generation went into early retirement, because the social industry broke down. Because of this, the community centre plays an important role in the life of the elderly. In their generation the opinion dominates that the German society has a wrong view on the GDR. They feel that only the left-wing party “Die Linke”, built from the leading socialist party of the GDR, cares about them. Top-level politicians from “Die Linke” often

A forgotten generations revolt


A generation with the feeling the politics and the media transmitted a wrong view of them. Dr. Thomas Ahbe social sciences

A forgotten generations revolt


No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!



this is not what we wanted!


this is all that we’ve got! By Martin Neumann

No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!


About 20,000 people could soon lose their homes, but not in Greece, Spain or Portugal. This could happen in the sixth richest country of Europe – Denmark. One of these people is Mogens Nielsen

limited, however, when his wife decided that she wanted to live a more structured life and raise a family. So he had to decide between his big love or an unstructured, free life. Mogens chose love, and his upcoming kids.

We are driving on a rocky and bumpy road. „Ah I hate this road!“ says Mogens Nielsen. It´s the last leg of the trip, and our destination is the Nielsen house. Mogens picked me up at the nearby village bus stop four kilometres away. Once a day there´s a passing schoolbus, but there´s no bus stop in the village Sporup, where Mogens and his family live. The Nielsen house is tucked behind tall trees and bushes. They’ve lived in this house for the last 35 years. Only Mogens and his wife Gitte lived here at the first, but they had to expand the house when their three kids were born. Mogens learned how to renovate in Christiana, an autonomous district of Copenhagen, where he lived for eight years in the 70s. There, he experienced another life outside normal society, without rigourous structure or rules but with a common aim: freedom. His freedom was

His oldest son, Hjem, is now 19, and his daughter, Liv, is 15. Shortly after the turn of the millenium, his youngest son Thomas was born. His daughter attends a boarding school, while his sons attend a special needs school for their learning disabilities. Mogens himself suffered from a learning disability at an early age, but he eventually learned to write and to read at a special school. Hjem is the most problematic child at the moment: „It would be best if he would just move out!“ said Mogens. Hjem looks forward to having his own flat in the city one day.

chasm between generations Holding his last bite of diner, Mogens leaves his bright, big kitchen for the dark but cosy living room and sits down next to his children: „Most of the things on television are totally crap,“ says Mogens. „Today’s generation is completely different compared to 20 years ago. It´s difficult to engage teenagers with other things than a computer or TV.“ »

The Nielsens in their living room.r

No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!

70 70

Mogens and his dog. No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!


Caring for children was something completely different when he started working as a caregiver for students and children 20 years ago. „It was enough to take ­­­­­­the kids into the forest or to read something to the kids,“ ­­­­­he says. „Today, I´m lucky to even find the on but­­­­­­­­­­­­­ton for the com­­puter. I think I lost the connection to today´s generation in some way.”

and I also want to do something different from our throwaway society.“ Even with his pension, money is scarce, and his wife Gitte has been unemployed for almost two years now. All of that wouldn´t be so bad if the Danish government hadn´t changed the unemployment benefits law—now, one can receive money from the union for just two years, down from four, as they try to find another job. When time runs out, one would have to liquidate all his or her assets before being able to request more money from the government. The Nielsens’ biggest asset is their house, so they face the possibility of having to sell their house if Gitte is doesn’t find a job within the next few months. She has already applied for a job in a post office in the nearby village.

“What makes your father so special?“ I ask his daughter, Liv. She laughs. „I think that he wants to do everything on his own!“ she says of her father, who collects assorted antiques because he thinks he might one day find a use for them, no matter how unusual—he uses the bell from a old pendulum clock as a weight for a chimney sweep, and that’s just one example. A big part of the house is composed of second-hand furniture and objects Mogens built by himself. „I don´t have the money to buy new things all the time,

„This is one of our last hopes,“ she says. //

The industries that made us free... ...with money to spend on all the wrong things. Liv and Thomas. No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!


Everyone knows we’re living in a world we just can’t trust. Left in the wind to die in the dust...

The house from outside.

No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!


I’m painting a picture of a world where no one has to struggle and everyone gets along. Judged by our hearts! Judged by our minds! And what we are! But the rain always come to wash the paint away reminding us that sometimes in life we all bleed. top left: Liv. // top right: Thomas & Mogens. // down left: Hjem. Mogens & Liv. // down right: Hjem & Mogens.

No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!


No, this is not what we wanted! Yes, this all we´ve got!


What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


what nature provides by maike pullo

What a sunny day and we are sitting here and talking


Marrianne (left) manufacturer of natural cosmetics, volunteers in the backyard. The shop can rely on a small army of 50 volunteers.

Shops close in Ærøskøbing, the town seems more and more lifeless and abandoned. What to do on Ærø Island? Louise managed to transform a community need in a new reality

Around 800 people live in Ærøskøbing in winter, in summetime the island is crowded with tourists.

The shop opened for customers on the 29 of June and it remained open for 22 days, they sold for half a million Kronen.

what nature provides...


The smooth sound of Norah Jones voice wraps you in the colorful and light ambience of “Den Gamle Købmandsgaard”, where people chat sipping coffee around tables made of recycled pellets. Volunteering villagers stand by the exposed products to tell you the story of the item you are interested in, the honey produced in Tværbymark, the goat cheese produced by Susanne Larsen in Thorup or the face cream produced by Marianne and Eckhardt in Vejsnæs, on the most southern part of the island. All has been produced entierly on Ærø Island.

people. It all came together” says Louise. She always had missed fresh, local food and a place to meet in town. The food available on the island comes from the big market. “Cherries from Turkey, pears from Holland, beef from Ireland and pineapples from Costa Rica, all of them cheap, how is this possible?” asks John, Louisa's husband. Even the fish is from Greenland. Local fishermen are not allowed to sell directly to the people, the danish law prescribes them to give it to a retailer who sells it at auctions. How is it possible to live on an island and have imported fish on the plate?, he wonders. Louise explained her idea of a shop with local products and a cafè as a meeting point for the community. The reaction was enthusiastic. Until now 50 fellow villagers volunteer for this project, each in it's own way. Some painted and restored the place, others work in the kitchen of the cafè or welcome customers. Also the Kommune helped whenever it was possible to solve practical problems, some grants come in from Nordea Bank and from the local craftsman club.

The idea of Louise Louise came to live in Ærøskøbing five years ago. She lived abroad in places as far as Afrika and Japan, married an Englishman and passed all her summer holidays since she can remember in her grandmothers house, where her anchestors had lived. She came back because she always had recognized this tiny island as her home, and now that she has children, she wants them to enjoy a free and safe childhood. Ærø is located in the South Funen Archipelago, about 30 km length and 8 km width, it has a population of 6600 persons scattered aound the three main towns Marstal, Aeroeskoebing and Soby and in small villages all around the island. During summertime this little island is quiet touristy thanks to its beautiful landscape and it's peacful atmosphere. In winter everything changes and it is possible to hear the cows chew out in the coutryside.

Summertime, feeling alive On the 29th of June they cut the ribbon and opened their doors for inauguration. In summer they were open for 22 days and the shop sold for half a million Kronen. They don't have the authorization to be open every day and there is still a long way to go to became a stable reality, but it is already a success story. Louise was overwhelmed by this outcome, she never imagined such a positive response. These days of autumn holidays “Den Gamle Købmandsgaard” is open again and the café hosts a cultural program, a music concert and a lecture held by Louisa's husband John. His proposal is to find some help in England, where there are more citizen initiatives like their small shop, find fundings to survive and come into compliance to open every day. Yet they rely only on volunteer work and grants. The atmosphere all around is excited, they have to prepare a project to succeed. Villagers argue animatedly after John's speech. There are huge bureaucratic and financial problems to solve before becoming a stable reality. Next goal will be the house owner's deadline, the symbolic rent of one Kronen per month will expire soon and they need money to pay the rent. //

“The idea came to me after being to those meetings, to bring together this abandoned building, the food and the people. It all came together” says Louise. In Ærøskøbing small tiny houses lean on each other in kewed compositions, rays of sunlight coulours the facades. It is the historic center of the island and probably the most well-preserved town of the 18th century in Denmark. Recently more and more shops closed and the sight of empty houses became common and desolate, especially in winter when the streets are empty. It seems that also the population of Ærø Island takes it's winter sleep, the only place to meet someone is at the ferry docks or at the bakery.

Autumn, harvest time Last autumn, when the town of Ærøskøbing was shutting down after summer, the local tourist chief set up meetings to talk and decide what to do to help their town, too many shops closed in the past two years and the houses where empty and on s ale. How make the little community of approximately 800 people survive? Meanwhile the local producers were trying to create a network to be represented in town since they where scattered around the island and difficult to reach. “The idea came to me after being to those meetings, to bring together this abandoned building, the food and the

what nature provides...


Louise serves at the cafĂŠ. It was her idea to open a shop with local products. She is the brain behind the project.

Henny Schmidt, a retired banker, volunteers as a cashier in the shop. She jokes with Preben Thobiasen and Rikke Pelle. Rikke is a graphic designer running her own business and is also a board member of Købmandsgaarden.

what nature provides...


what nature provides...


what nature provides...


what nature provides...



Mario Wezel | |

Kristen Zeis | |

Heida HelgadĂłttir | |

Jennifer Tse | |

Arianna GimĂŠnez | |

Nora Klein | |

Felix Schmitt | |

Moritz KĂźstner | |

Martin Neumann | |

Maike Pullo | |



Chief editors: Mario Wezel, Arianna Giménez, Kristen Zeis Photo editors: Felix Schmitt, Maike Pullo, Heida Helgadóttir Text editors: Jennifer Tse, Kristen Zeis Portraits: Mario Wezel, Felix Schmitt Art directors: Nora Klein, Moritz Küstner, Martin Neumann Cover photo: Martin Neumann

Special thanks to the Danish School of Media and Journalism and to our instructors Lars Bertelsen, Henrik Meller, Susanne Sommer and Lone Theils for being supercool.



CHALLENGES of EUROPE spring 2012  

Magazine made by 10 international students of photojournalism at Danish School of Media and Journalism The students are: Mario Wezel, Germ...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you