Sustainability Tour: Hallingelille

First stop on the sustainability tour: Hallingelille. Hallingelille is an eco-village of about 20 families. Here is the website in English: <> 

We arrived to a warm dinner in the community house at the center of the village. I ate with Elin, an artist who works with glass and sells it at the famous park Tivoli, in Copenhagen, and her daughter who is 16. That night we fired up their sauna with two of the men from the village and alternately swam in the lake (think ice cube) and baked in the sauna. We cooked for ourselves and the villagers on a cooking rotation, and each morning helped the community with the tasks they have to do to keep everything functioning: harvesting potatoes, pumpkins, beans, apples, shoveling cow poop and cleaning the barn, cleaning the stables and feeding the horses, and assisting in the construction of their newest building: a learning center. I was in heaven. 


Every building is made from sustainable materials: straw, clay, recycled wood, recycled tires, hemp insulation, bricks made from highly compressed dirt; each house is powered by solar panels. When they first started thinking about the village in the late 90s, almost everyone was living in Copenhagen, but around 2000 they moved to this piece of land where the village is. Everyone lived in trailers and small small houses while they built the village as a community (and with the help of a cool construction company, whose name translates to: “We’re in It for the Money & Daughters”). So everyone got to design their dream houses. Some are strange shapes, most have huge windows and receive most of their heating from these windows. Their waste system is a “willow waste system”. They have a couple long lanes of willow trees, where all of the waste goes from the village (100% organic products and waste). The willows are really good at cleaning the bacteria from the waste, and each season they are not being used some are harvested to build fences and other structures, then replaced). Each member of the community is expected to put in a certain amount of hours per year to help the village function, but one of their core values is that there is no policing. The community is all about trust, and everyone who lives there wants to be there. There is no exclusivity, you just have to go to three common meetings before you can decide to move in. The idea is that eventually the village can be a completely closed loop: they have a building where people 50 and over can rent rooms with small kitchens, and are just building this learning center.

Most of the families do still have cars. The village is not in walking distance from town and people have normal jobs in addition to being part of the village. 


Another highlight: dumpster diving! In Denmark, somewhere between 33 and 50% of all food is THROWN OUT!! The day we went dumpster diving the our organizer Camilla casually asked, “So who can drive here?” This is how I ended up driving two unfamiliar standard cars on our trip, with passengers, my first time in Denmark and my first time in 2 months. I was a wee bit nervous at first, but they were both so fun to drive (I hate this about myself but I just love driving). Our accomplice on the dumpster diving mission was a man from the Czech Republic, who is an experienced dumpster diver and had a lot to say about the dumpster diving community; a conflicted mix of homeless and dirtbag hippies. The dumpsters are just the normal ones located in supermarket parking lots. At about 10 PM we went to our first dumpster… and found fresh tomatoes, spinach, kale, peppers, bread, yogurt, organic greens and bananas… Next stop we found about 100 bags of small cakes -perfectly good- and more fruits and vegetables. An entire crate of unopened grapes. We had enough food for about three days from three stops at dumpsters. I think everyone, especially those from the West and from Japan, felt a lot of guilt looking at all of this food that is wasted. It also means that food is between 33 and 50% more expensive than it needs to be, if stores controlled their orders more sustainably. Or it means that almost everyone who is suffering from hunger in the world could be helped. 


This is also the end of my first week as a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian because I realized that it is not enough to talk the talk, it is much more effective to walk the walk, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re doing all that much. Before the tour, we had been learning a lot about the different ways that the Industrial Growth Society is harming…everything. A big way is meat production: mono-cultures reduce biodiversity, require large amounts of chemicals, take away jobs from people and give them to machines (which also require large amounts of chemicals and oil). Then, these mono-cultured grains (over 80% of corn grown in the US, for example) are shipped long distances by oil or coal guzzling trucks, trains, and boats, to livestock around the world. The livestock are overfed and malnourished, and they are then shipped MORE places to be killed, packaged, and brought to the store. Altogether it is a terrible system that is inhumane to almost everything that it influences, including people. 

So I am a vegetarian, but not a strict one. If meat is free-range, organic, and local, I would love to eat it. The real tragedy is not being able to eat kebabs, but other than that it really hasn’t been the worst.


Today we got to Odense, on the island of Fyn, and the birthplace of H.C. Anderson. Internet is limited, but thank you for the comments 🙂 I’ll keep you updated about my campaign to live in Hallingelille forever (HAH only kidding), and also about my travels. XOXO 



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Being Full-time (and what does that even mean)

Last week I felt unsettled about being here: I missed home and all the people I love at home, I wasn’t sure I could take more sitting through a slideshow by day or party music at night. But the weekend kicked off on Friday after class when I hopped on my bike to meet Crossing Borders at Humlebæk School. The plan was that we students would split the time over the weekend helping facilitate a debate camp for teens. Friday was introduction day, where all were expected to attend, and I had signed up for a shift on Saturday. On Friday we learned an unexpected thing: we were also cooking the meals for the campers. So Saturday morning, long before the leisurely smell of brunch even began to exist as a thought in anyone’s mind (because they were all sleeping), seven of us left our warm beds to run debate camp. We arrived at 8 (…maybe I am being a little spoiled about the whole waking up early thing) and prepared breakfast. Most of us were still half-asleep and a little grumpy that we were wasting away our weekends in a school kitchen cooking for 14 and 15 year olds. But they had spent Friday night learning about how to organize and debate, and Saturday they spent almost all day debating, with us as the judges! This was when things got SO fun. Ironically, I was not asked to return to my own high school debate team (asked not to return?), but I suddenly found myself in the position to breathe a second life into my debate knowledge! My partner judge was Peric, from Ghana. We would facilitate and time the debate, score each team, and give them feedback about their performance. We came up with a rubric for our 5 point system, and focused on performance skills, debate specific skills, and content. We got so into it that the organizers asked us to judge the campers’ speeches as well. Saturday night, Garba invited the spoken word poet Sarah R. Osmundsen to perform. Check her out on Youtube if you feel like it. We left at 10 that night with one last request … come back tomorrow to judge the finals? We kissed the weekend goodbye and came back on Sunday, too.

The first thing that made the experience so rewarding was that the students really wanted to learn! They were eager to receive any advice about how to improve – and most were willing to try it! It was so refreshing to work with people who are wanting to really listen, and wanting to actively improve. It was also interesting being on the other side of this type of event – watching awkward miscommunications between adults, sometimes passive aggressive attempts to fix problems created by someone else, sometimes flat-out disorganization. So whew! 

ONTO MONDAY! This week is the travel-theme week before our two week long Sustainability Tour of Denmark. We learned very briefly about movie making as a citizen journalist, and went to a green building expo in Copenhagen today. Then we visited the World Press Photo Exhibition: <;, a collection of journalistic photos that were very moving. We then supported our teammates from Ghana, Myanmar, and Tunisia, who were the subjects of a public event “Countries in Transition” (to democracy). Annndd finally home for dinner. 


What do I do in my expansive free time, you ask? 

This week I was on kitchen duty (setting up and cleaning up the dining hall lunches and dinners). So cleanup takes almost an hour each time…but it is an hour of dancing around the kitchen and blowing up plastic gloves which I can’t dislike. I also just finished knitting a warm scarf for winter and wore it to Copenhagen today 🙂 🙂 🙂  I ordered a slack line and had the brief opportunity to string it between two trees. Example picture from the internet:


I did a brief experiment with stop-motion:


I have been working on writing about what makes an awesome community, and going on walks in the beautiful fall air to write some poems!


The idea that Denmark is a land of creativity has proven to be very true for both me and my roommate Luca, who just wrote a beautiful song, Creature of Imagination: <;.  And yesterday I did my first load of laundry in a couple weeks so I have clean underwear again. The only thing that is missing: day-light hours for running. But yes, Full-time-Sadie is at it once more. Since travel starts on Sunday, my goals for the end of this week are: 1) to get some rest, 3) do more laundry, 2) clean everything in our room before the trip, 4) do a little working out, 5) and get some new colors to knit with on the trip, 1) talk to everyone I love. 


So if you ever feel like Skyping, don’t hesitate to call! I am usually free between 4 and 10 my time, or 10-4 east coast time. But it’s always worth a shot. XOXOXO 





(The dry hands of winter, self portrait)

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A Time You May Embrace

Today began: “Sadie, it’s ten past 8!!” So we jumped out of bed and I dragged myself to breakfast while Luca took a shower. Autumn is here. The air is cold enough that we have to shut our window at night, we don’t want to get out of our warm beds in the morning, the leaves are turning yellow, and some students are already leaving this weekend for their month-long study tours! Since when is it almost OCTOBER?! Things are changing.Image

Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes for me is that I got my nose pierced! A few of us decided to go to Copenhagen over the weekend and I had been wanting this for awhile so I thought, ‘now is the time’… Luckily, the first place we walked into was very clean and they answered all of my questions right. So one of the girls from Japan, Hidemi, snapped pictures as a young man stuck a needle through my nose! It was sore for about three days but a little over a week later I can barely feel it.

Another change is that I am no longer sick! On Sunday night at about 7:40 I decided to go for a run. So I put on my headlamp, fleece hat, running pants and a t-shirt and hit the road. I was planning to turn around at the neighboring town, Espergarde. But when I got to Espergarde I thought “well maybe I can take it just a little bit further”. Soon I started thinking about this roundabout that I really wanted to get to, and finally I thought “But wouldn’t it be cool if I made it all the way to Helsingør and back?” To which I replied, “yes.” Image

This is a picture of part of the route by day. 

When I got to Helsingør it had been about 9.5 kilometers and 1 hour of running. After about 15 minutes on the return route I was tired, but since it was a little rainy and cold and dark I really didn’t want to walk. (Thank you nature for forcing me into this!). I made it back I think about an hour later, at 9:40 and collapsed into bed. I was trying to kind of sneak back into the school so no one would see me and ask where I had been and know that I must be mentally unstable, but I did run into three girls having a smoke outside and now they know my secret.  Now that I know I can do it, though, I think I’ll try to run to Helsingør every week or two as part of my long-term PCT training and short-term insanity problem. 

In Crossing Borders, we have been discussing the powers (think $$) behind globalization. Yesterday we watched a really disturbing documentary about the crash of 2008 and why it happened. So much of it was just so intentional, and that President Obama continues to consult these people is just shocking. And disturbing. Another thing that I didn’t know about was that a lot of big educational figures are tied up in the financial game. Most of the economics professors at schools like Harvard and Columbia make thousands or millions of dollars in connection to groups like Goldman and Sachs. And are payed thousands of dollars to testify in support of people who have broken laws about regulation or compensation. So a lot of economics students are learning that deregulation is the smart way to go about running things. Anyway, it has been very interesting (especially since we are living in socialistic Denmark) and today was our introduction to the role of the media in globalization, so we went out into the world and presented stories that we found in a 45 minute period. There was one about how people want to live with the weather of Africa instead of Denmark, one about recycling, one about government coups, and mine was about a car I found with lots of different things in it (the idea being that the car tells a story of the person who owns it, or where it has been). 



The usual Danish field on a sunny afternoon. 


This Sunday was the family open house! My wonderful Danish parents, Peter and Kirsten, came to see me. It was so fun to see them again, I had a really nice time. The choir performed, and my extraordinarily talented roommate Luca did a solo with the “sing-out-loud” class!! Each course put out a display and there were tours around the school. It was fun to see everyone’s parents after getting to know them! Some were just as you would expect – and others not at all! The sun has come out so I think I need to get outside. Much love,




(My new pierced attitude) 


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Hi All! Sorry for the delay in the updates… life is very busy here! Last weekend Crossing Borders went to a festival “Taste the World” in Copenhagen. We had a table, and spent the day watching performances and mingling with the other tables… which ranged from food vendors, to a photography contest to information on Kurdistan. Image

And we got organic fair trade t-shirts! Always important. We also had a fashion show on the stage. I was not in the fashion show since American clothes are so similar to Danish ones, but my classmates wore traditional clothes from their cultures. Breathtaking! And they were fantastic performers! Image

We were all exhausted after a weekend of the festival, so the week seemed very long, especially since my roommate and I were still getting over our cold. We had dinner with our dance teacher (the famous one) and she invited another famous friend over to talk to us about the Enneagram personality system. The way she explained it, it really made sense. Basically she said that we all are ruled by “three brains”: logical, emotional, and action. And at all times we are using two more than the other, which is evident in the way we move our body. She also said that we each lean toward an instinctive trait: social, sexual (not necessarily actually sexual, but maybe family oriented, likes to be cozy, etc.), and survival. The survival one sounds a lot like me… loves to drink water, sleep and eat!! It was a lovely dinner. There was one other girl who is not from Denmark (Tabea, from Berlin, Germany), and so we were laughing the whole time because when  the famous friend walked in we didn’t blink an eye. We introduced ourselves to her very casually before we realized that she was famous and that the Danish students were all excited to see her! Other than that life has been trotting along… it is currently pouring, and Luca and I are snuggled up in our room! We have both been painting a lot and obsessing over the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Louisiana Museum. And the museum shop. We haven’t really bought anything yet but I think by the time December rolls around we might own the museum. Yoko Ono had such interesting ideas about the idea of capturing something un-capturable, or something impossibly temporary, or with an impossible medium. So we are very happy. Thank you all for the wonderful comments, I love to hear your voices when I read them!! Ah a picture I forgot to post earlier of a Mauritanian Tea ceremony performed by our teacher from Crossing Borders, Garba. Image

Yesterday (Sunday) Luca and I had a perfect day of brunch, laying around in the sunny fields on the farm, cleaning, organizing, and decorating our room, and going to town & the museum. I am off to dinner and choir for monday night!! Much much love,



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So I finally got Gwynnie’s iPod up and running! And just in time for a surprise afternoon off to walk around the farm and woods. The farm is so beautiful, and I have a special hay bail I may have mentioned earlier where I just love to sit and paint or write or look at the clouds. Here is the view from it: ImageImage

And me in my favorite spot: Image

There are a lot of fields in Denmark, and they are all so beautiful! 



And animals in the fields: Image


And lots and lots of beautiful clouds… since it rains almost every day at least once… 



Our study group (Crossing Borders) is having another group dinner, so two of the girls picked apples to make apple strudel, and two of the guys walked to town to get supplies: ImageImage


And finally I made it all the way back to my room! Image

^ this is the sign for our door I painted this afternoon. And to my lovely roommate Luca! Image

We are working on making our room as festive as possible. I’ve to go run and cook for dinner, but there are a couple pictures. XOXO,




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*Note: I am working on taking some photos, but having some trouble charging the iPod. But never fear! Soon is soon enough! 


Tonight we watched a documentary (available on Netflix instant: “Burma: VC”  I think it was called), about the situation in Burma under military rule. It follows a democratic group of video journalists, and tells the story of the uprising against the military government lead by the monks. The footage is really powerful – and since the video journalists were at extreme personal risk, the whole movie is very emotional. I only realized how impersonal our news usually is when the footage switched to a CNN report about what was going on, and the structure was so detached it was as if Burma was in another universe. We actually have a classmate who is a monk from Burma, so after the documentary we got to ask Owen (the monk) questions about the country and what was/is going on there. A video about him is on youtube: <; at this address. Wow! So much to take in all in one night! But what an amazing story. 

We had the famous ReMove today with “Mr. Cleaning Cloth” because he makes you look like a wet cleaning cloth by the time he is finished. It wasn’t quite true, but he showed us one of those 9 minute extreme trendy workouts, and talked a lot (but in Dansk… Danish). It was exhausting to listen to 3 hours of Danish – afterwards my brain starts repeating all of these Danish sounds in mixed up orders and it is very frustrating. So I went out into the field on the neighboring farm and found a hay bail perfectly suited to me, where I sat in the sun with a view of the gardens, church steeple, cows, and Sweden across the water (Øresund Sound). 

In Introduction to Denmark, we went to the ornate 450-year-old church in Helsingør, where the priest talked to us about religion in Denmark. 80% of the population belongs to the Lutheran church and pays taxes to it! And church and state are not separate in Denmark, so it was very interesting to hear about how it plays a part in the culture and in the Danish identity. The priest talked about how he felt that the connection between church and state is important because children grow up with a spiritual sense of self worth, regardless of how they add up on the economic and social ladder. Hmm, interesting thought! Christian knowledge is also a required class from grades 1-9 unless you are a member of another religion. He also talked about religion as an avenue for appreciating the past and interpreting the present in relation to the wisdom of the past. We asked if Muslims are seen as a threat in Denmark and he was hesitant to answer – but he mostly talked about how he thinks it is hard to have an objective government for Muslims and that Denmark is all about objective governance. There was some tension because a few of the students come from Muslim backgrounds. 

Last night was rather chilly and I have a little sore throat and headache today, so I’m lying in bed during our mid-day break… feeling very cozy with candles and chamomile tea. Much much love,



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Normal Life

The weekend at Krogerup was relaxed. People spent most of Saturday getting ready for the party – 50’s themed! Each group had dinner in study groups, and each group had a potluck. I made crumb cake and whoopie pies, but both were a little off because of the challenge of converting them from American to Danish and the limited supplies in the kitchen. Over the weekend the school provides brunch and dinner. Brunch food is like American breakfast food – scrambled eggs, meat, fruit, crepes… etc. Most mornings we eat at 8 o’clock, and the food is granola, yogurt, cereal, and of course Rugbrød with cheese and meat. I have been really trying to get out and run in the mornings – the weather is always good in the morning, and it is such a positive way to start the day. After breakfast we have morning meeting, where we sing songs and discuss important things happening in the community. Then for cleaning and class! We break for a leisurely lunch and have class again from 2 until 4:30, before a free hour and a half and then dinner! There is usually an activity at 8:00… documentary night, cafe night, party night, sports night… some are optional and some are not. One thing that is not optional is ReMove. Remove is each Wednesday and the goal is to remove your fat! The Danes hate fat! Backgammon is very common, as is soccer. 

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