Fanoe is the name of the little island where upon I live. (I told you a little about it in Untrad. Jobapplic. Chapter 2). It is a special place in many different ways. Very active art scene, and cultural event scene, festivals, folk dancing, traditional costumes parade one day every Summer… It is an island proud of its past as a sailing ship harbour, ships were built here and the locals travelled world wide. Leaving women behind to run everything, So here, both the newspaper, book store, the two protestant priests, the leaders of the kindergartens, most restaurant owners….. many key positions are filled by women. (Apart from the town council, but. That’s an other story).
Fanoe looks a bit like Kardemommeby. Cinnamon Town. A play written by Norwegian Torbjorn Egner many years ago. It has cobble stoned streets, straw thatched roofs on what is called Fanoe Houses, with distinct half moon shaped windows peaking out from the strawhats… extremely quaint. There are lots of crinkly little streets, and tiny paths that seem to be private but aren’t, the locals use them like they use any other walking path, sneaking passed people’s gardens and back yards…
So in this setting, there is a thriving community. 80% of the 3000 people big population have moved here from other places in Denmark and abroad. That fact really and truely does make for an atmosphere different from other places. People have fallen in love with this place enough to move here. And they are looking to create themselves a new social circle and meaningful passtime.
Hence Fanoe has a great number of ngos. Groups of people, who together make a festival happen, of kite flying, or oyster gathering, or folk music, street theatre, food, the celebration of old traditions, blow cart racing, Waterfront Festival with local artists, making workshops. landart… You name it, Fanoe has a festival for it! From spring until October we have lots of tourists come here, every Wednesday in July we turn the little town in the north end (there are three villages) into one big town party, with live bands, pony riding, a small train for the kids, barbecues, beer, the boyscouts selling pancakes, the locals having flee markets in their gardens, there is wine tasting and games, all different kinds of entertainment…
And when the tourists go back home, us “natives” draw a deep breath and relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. The dark season is windy on a small, flat island in the WesternOcean, but it is a time for quiet, being indoors, creating books or paintings, dinner parties with friends we don’t really see in the Summer coz everybody’s got guests half the time… For me it’s the perfect balance. I love festivals and parties and happy people in crowds. But I also love and need for there to be space to go within; contemplation, meditation, creation. Inner conversation.
I have always enjoyed ngos. Going into co operation with other volunteers, to create something good. I was the leader of a local group of Sos Racism age 18-20. And worked unpaid for the student radio station when I was in Uni. Many other things too. These days I’m part of a board of 9 volunteers who meet once a month and give out money! :0) Does that not sound like just a wonderful thing to be allowed to do?! The board receives 80.000 kr (£ 7.000, $ 10.000, correct me if I’m wrong)… from the town council, which is for giving out to local cultural events and projects. If people want to make something fun for the islanders, they can get their expenses covered. Such as setting up a workshop for the kids in school or kindergarten, holding a poetry evening, making a meeting for veteran cars, setting up a storytelling session… anything. They just submit a simple application, and the nine of us discuss and decide how much support we can give in each case. I totally love that job.
To the point. Had to build this context for you first.
The Incredibles is, at this point in time, a group of 7 people. We have held meetings now for about a year. Because a young man had a great idea. He works with me in the above described ngo, and we had just held a great big 30 year anniversary party for the organization, inviting the whole island in, for a buffet delivered by all the foreigners who live here, 35 nations. And actually the number of artists delivering entertainment as a gift to the ngo on the stage, was 35 too. We had engaged about 100 volunteers to help out in the bar and kitchen, stage things, decorations… yeah… 100. And we bought aprons for everybody, off white plain ones that we got our logo printed on to. So a lot of the people present were visibly part of the organizing group. It was a HUGE success. House was chock a block entire day, start to finish. We had our own corner for the kids as well, which had been advertized, so people came with their families, and it felt like one big family gathering actually. On stage there was a very varied programme, something for everyone’s taste, and exposure to things one wouldn’t normally see or hear, like book reading accompanied by cello, for example… we also had an auction, and the money made went to the old people’s home, a fund established many years ago called Snapsefonden, a snaps… a wee one? A shot… The fund is used to buy wine etc for the dwellers in the old people’s home.
The climax of the party happened when the last act went on stage. It was belly dancing by the woman we all know as our tourist information desk lady. She was wearing this great bellydancer costume, everybody was smiling and clapping, suddenly she comes dancing down the stairs from the stage snd she shouts at us that we must join her and dance too! And immediately, I tell you, hundreds of people jump up from their chairs and we just burst into this wonderful freestyle dancing to Arabic music! Everybody just grinning. You don’t get a lot of those moments in a lifetime. After the dance, we all took each other’s hands and formed a circle, and we sang the local song always sung at the end of a party. It goes, “To gather and to part, welcome and farewell…” Very nice, old melody. After that a man played a tune on his bagpipe (!) signalling the party was over, time to leave. And then. I expected people to drizzle off and for the nine of us to start tidying up the place. But everybody just jumped to their feet and started taking tables apart, gathering garbage into binbags, taking chairs to where they were stored…. I mean. That´s just… plain… opposite of evil. ! It was mindblowing for me to see the guests involving themselves in the tidying up. We were all just very happy, tidying up like a whirlwind, finished in no time. Sweet!
Aaaaanyways. Yes. So we were sitting in the kitchen after this party, counting our money in the till, all nine of us, drinking wine now that our working day was done. Then we went over to one of the board members’ house, just across the street from the party place. And there it was, that my good friend the young man got this great idea.
He wanted to create a yearly event, not for the tourists but for the natives, open for visitors but meant primarily for the natives. A day similar to the one we had just shared, but mixed with other happenings as well. You see, Fanoe used to have a children’s circus that every June made a show in a big tent, and all the adults came and watched it, the local tv station filmed it, and so every child ended up on that stage and on tv, after months of focused work towards the show. It was a project run by the … sfo… the place school kids go to when school is finished, until their parents come from work. My friend Benjamin was also part of the circus when he was little. Many of us miss the circus, which has been gone for a few years now, due to some relocation of buildings, staff changes etc.
Benjamin said he so much would like to see the children’s circus again, and we could invite the international buffet makers from the party we just held, and all the musicians and theatre people, folk dancers, everybody! Call it Day of Diversity, for example. Celebrate the unique community we have on Fanoe.
One of the circus organizers was sitting at our table, and we all lit up as Benjamin presented his idea. One thing took the next, and soon he had gathered a group of seven people who sat down and started mapping out the idea and possibilities. To make a circus project together witht the school or sfo. Ask the old people’s club to make costumes with the kids perhaps. Invite sports clubs to arrange a competition or games of sorts on the Diversity Day. Maybe someone would like to make a competition of building something or baking a cake or… Fanoe has recently renovated its school, so there is a massive indoor space in the middle of it, that we could use until later years when we hopefully can afford a tent… we could have an outdoor stage for local bands in the evening… a man on the island owns two big and beautiful beduin tents, we could probably get him involved somehow… the idea is to engage as many as possible into this thing, so it becomes everybody’s event, where we basically celebrate ourselves. !
So we have been holding meetings. And this week we’re on local tv being interviewed about the plans. Posters and flyers are coming up. The Incredible will start up and become a formal ngo Thursday next week. Anybody interested can come and get an impression of the project. Become members for a symbolic price. Join work groups later, or engage in brainstorming to shape the event content. A lot of threads must be tied together, setting up co operation between different groups. But Fanoe is used to this, and good at it. “FireSouls” we call them, people who work as volunteers, who burn with passion for a cause. Fanoe has many such firesouls. Who can see the gifts received of joy and deep satisfaction from lifting collectively, together making something happen that could not be done alone. And without the main purpose being money.
There has also been a new reform in the school system in Denmark a year ago. Where it says that the schools are to co operate with local ngos. So there is the extra benefit to the project that we can help the school come into the new form more easily, supported by the citizens.
Isn’t this all just totally Incredible??!!
I’m very excited to be part of this. I filmed that children’s circus show two Summers when I first came to Fanoe in 2008. A three camera production. I remember feeling so touched. This massive tent, filled with wooden benches. All the grownups and siblings finding seats. All the sfo kids so proudly entering stage with their rehearsed sketches and tricks, dancing can can, acrobatics, jokes, singing….. standing in a corner above the crowd with my big camera on a tripod, I was shooting closeups of the children’s faces… imagine… it gives me goosebumps to think about it actually… then taking the tapes home, importing the material into the pc and start to edit the event, making everyone look as good as possible, removing elements that could make someone feel embarressed when seeing themselves on tv… I was so impressed with this island. My then only child was 4 years old at the time, and I felt so lucky for her she would grow up in a place like this.
So wish us luck! Good luck to The Incredibles. Good luck, Fanoe, with lifting our community through pulling together for a Day of Diversity where we all come together and everybody has a place, a role to play, invited to actively participate.
Dreams do come true, they do.