Publicat originalment a Blog Aarhus Universitet
Just as you enter the square in front of Café Mellemfok, a banner with red letters stands out over the poorly parked bicycles and the colorful graffiti on the walls. “We support activism for peace in El Salvador”, it announces. This emblematic space of the city of Aarhüs serves as a central point for the political struggles of the sleepy-faced young people who gather today on the upper floor.
Tania is one of the volunteers behind the bar who practices another facet of her daily activism. “Generate change,” she explains, confidently and with a half-smile on her face when asked why she serves coffee at Mellemfok every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
Books, protest posters, photographs. All the elements create a cozy, warm-colored atmosphere that ties in with the color of the organic coffee that has just fallen on the central table of today’s political rally. The organization of activities for Climate Week, the largest project to date, is the central theme of these days at the Mellemfok. “Of course, the fight for sustainability, for a new way of being, doing and living is one of the main values of this space,” clarifies Tania, while cleaning the cups.
Today, the autumn sun seeps through the windows of both walls, illuminating in equal parts the face of concentration of the serious man in the corner and the hands of the couple whispering at the table in the background. “We fight for the future,” says Tania, proud. The owner of the café, gathered in a circle three meters away, glances at her.
“I’ve got to break free, God knows, God knows I want to break free”. Queen’s famous song makes its way through the conversations and discussions of the assembly. “I think direct action is essential”, “But I have to be sureeee”, “Maybe if we put the screen for the documentary beyond… ”,“ When I walk out that doooor”. Chaos takes control of the atmosphere while Trina, who is in charge of welcoming new volunteers, tries to explain to me the social task of the café.
“We are part of a federation of organizations from more than 45 countries,” she says, disinterestedly. Café Mellemfok is a non-profit association that allocates its gains to projects in the global south. “But we are not a humanitarian organization”. Tania watches the scene from afar, she wants to take part of it. “No, no, we’re global, we’re looking for structural change,” states, while raising her voice before realizing that a group of four girls seek her attention. “Four coffees with oat milk.” “Tak”. “Tak”.
One hundred volunteers allow Café Mellemfok to host weekly activities of all kinds, “we want to offer an independent space to all people who want to change the world“, points out one of the posters. “Join the cause”. The assembly takes on a more relaxed tone, two girls get up and go out to smoke. “Free Palestine”, prays the t-shirt of one of them. And as I focus on the details, Tania holds my hand and invites me to join the circle.