Posted by: thebluemusicblog | November 13, 2013


Dear friends,

It is a wet and rainy day in Melbourne, Australia. I am just back from a lunch event in Melbourne Forum, a club for business people and governmental officials, where I was invited to speak about Youth Empowerment. It was a very interesting group of people, quite high ranking and influential people from different fields of life in Australia, and they asked a lot of good and relevant questions. We had a good conversation. The invitation came through Sue O’Connor, herself a member of Melbourne Forum and also the Chair of Victoria YMCA in Melbourne, the biggest YMCA in the world just now.

Yesterday we went for a very wet, cold and dark barbecue in a nearby park, downtown Melbourne. This is what you do in Australia, and it had been planned for a good while. So we did it, became wet and cold and had problems to see the food inside a dark tent. But did we have fun? Oh yes, the atmosphere was excellent. We had un – amplified music and amplified kangaroo steaks and snakes and koala bears. We did not eat the koala bear nor did we eat the snakes. But they participated as photo models and generally exotic guests of honor.

The evening before we had a fabulous dinner in the aquarium, and while we were eating, huge fishes, sharks and stingers were swimming past us and looking with sad eyes upon those among us who had fish on their plates.

Why am I here among bears and snakes and stinger fish and kangaroos? Good question. The reason is the annual conference of the World Urban Network, with 80 participants and 20 spouses. The participants are CEOs of urban YMCAs from all over the world, and the purpose is to share experiences and best practices and learn from one another and find inspiration for better YMCA work. It is extremely useful and constructive, and I am deeply impressed with the many reports and inputs from around the world. I upgrade my hard disc with loads of fresh information and knowledge about the movement, and I get to speak to dear friends and good colleagues and share plans and strategies and do plotting and planning for the near future.

As Secretary General of the World Alliance of  YMCAs  I am member of the WUN Executive Committee ex officio, and the relationship between WUN and WAY (World Urban Network and World Alliance of YMCAs) is so good and constructive and inspirational. We do a number of good projects together and they need to be developed and worked on.

One of them is about Investors Circle and Resource Mobilization and how we can train the movement to become better in fund raising. WUN is looking for consultants and trainers to help us with this important challenge, and just now we have some very encouraging results from Asia Pacific (APAY). Kohei Yamada is here as well, and he reports on very good results from different training events for groups of National YMCAs in the APAY- region.

Another project is a collection of funds to assist training of young leaders in Egypt YMCA after the revolutions there. Magdy from Alexandria is here and giving fresh reports form the uneasy times in Egypt. One of the YMCAs was burnt to the ground recently and there are needs for solidarity.

US$ 80 000,- has been collected inside the WUN and now the WAY can assist with the transfer of the funds to Alexandria.

A third project is the Legacy Assets or “QUAY WILSON 37” or  YMCA Property Development  project. This is a very good idea that is coming from the WAY about the need for local YMCAs to get assistance with underdeveloped and underutilized YMCA properties around the world. This is an idea I developed during a visit to Accra YMCA in Ghana last year, when I saw the buildings and the land Ghana YMCA owns downtown the capitol of the country, in Accra. This property could have been developed much more and in this way given the local and national YMCA much more income and opportunities to do more for young people in need. There are many similar examples around the world.

I brought this idea to my friends in the World Urban Network, and the CEO, Bill Stewart from Vancouver in Canada, really liked the idea. From there we brought the idea in all silence and confidentiality to a group of big city YMCA leaders, Jack from New York, Bob from Seattle, Medhat from Toronto and a few National CEOs from Liberia, Canada, South Africa and Africa Alliance. The invitations was to come with knives and axes and guns, if you had one, to kill the idea before we brought it further on and made it public. In fact nobody wanted to kill the idea. We all agreed that the idea was complex, difficult to develop and complicated to finance, plus that we also agreed that there are almost none with knowledge and expertise in property development inside the YMCA. But it is a worthy cause and an idea necessary to develop further.

We are continuing to develop the idea, and we have mapped a good number of possible projects and so far we have 8 relevant projects. From those we will pick one pilot project and start working with that with resources made available from YMCA of Greater New York – thanks to Jack Lund. This perspective is also now a part of the draft proposal for new strategy for the World YMCA 2014-18. This draft proposal is distributed to all YMCAs for discussion and comments and will have a final debate at World Council June 29 – July 5, 2014.

I see that I am coming close to 1000 words, which normally is more than good. So I need to stop for today. Why no photos? I enjoy the photos almost the most, I have to say, and I have plenty of them, but again the strength of internet is the problem for me. My schedule is rather busy, and I do not have too many time slots during a day or a week when I have time to download or upload photos and write a blog post. If one photo takes around 60 minutes, the hotel has a problem with its provider, and will have a problem with me, since I have to pay US$ 20 per day for access to wireless internet. The very friendly staff is doing their utmost to make things faster and more efficient, but not enough to make photos possible. So the photos will come when I am connected with stronger signals.

For now just a big thank you that you are reading this blog post and welcome back to the Blue Music. More to come!


  1. Thanks for picking up blogging again, Johan Vilhelm. I have been missing it;-) Keep having an inspirational time in Down Under! Sunny regards from Switzerland.

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