The Atterdag “Talking Tree” was located in what is now Hans Christian Andersen Park in Solvang, California. Speakers, who were often visiting pastors, would address the crowd from a platform in the oak tree, with benches for the audience stepped down the hillside of a natural amphitheater. The tree “talked” on many a Sunday afternoon in Solvang’s early days. In the photo below (courtesy of Elverhøj Museum of History and Art), the speaker pictured in the tree is Pastor Benedict Nordentoft, one of the founders of Atterdag College.
The Farstrup-Mortensen Lecture Series, which began in 1986, adopted the Atterdag Talking Tree to symbolize its dedication to life-long learning, and to acknowledge its debt to the Danish Folk School tradition of helping students lead more meaningful lives through the application of lectures, singing, folk dancing, and fellowship.
The Farstrup-Mortensen lectures are lovingly dedicated to the memory of two men, A. Ejnar Farstrup (1909-1984) and Enok Mortensen (1902-1984) whose vision and energy strongly influenced Danish-American church life. Pastors and educators, they exemplified the Grundtvigian ideal of developing one’s humanity, including the intellect, to its fullest and best extent.