ich halte am freitag einen workshop zum thema ‘freiwilligenmanagement im social media zeitalter’ für die stipendiaten von startsocial, einem bundesweiten wettbewerb zur förderung sozialer projekte und ideen. schirmherrin ist die kanzlerin persönlich, und ein ganz nettes video haben sie auch.

die bewerbungsphase 2011 ist schon vorbei, aber im frühjahr 2012 geht der nächte wettbewerb los. ich freue mich jedenfalls auf interessante gespräche mit engagierten menschen und hoffe, einen kleinen beitrag zu ihrem gelingen leisten zu können!

{UPDATE: präsentation befindet sich auf slideshare]

i shot this picture yesterday during the peaceful and inspiring assamblea in front of the reichstag, which boasts in huge letters: “dem deutschen volke” (for the german people).

what started as a highly inspiring day, with 10,000 berliners joining the (rather quickly organized) demonstration in solidarity with people worldwide, quickly turned ugly in the evening when the police violently interrupted the peaceful assamblea pictured above.

the assamblea (using the human mic technique learned from the #occupywallstreet movement) identified two working groups to plan for shelter and food for the camp, which were given an hour to discuss and report back to everybody. meanwhile, two tents and a beach shelter were set up onsite in the fashion of the acampada movement, as the nightly temperatures in berlin make necessary. groups of 15-20 policemen then entered the sitting crowd and went after the tents and camping mats (another good video), destroying them in the process.

the police then retreated, and the assamblea continued to discuss how to deal with the situation. it was announced that the reason behind police operation was that our presence was tolerated, but the tents were not (thx for making it clear after using force!). two tents were set up again, and then it was announced that those would be tolerated for now. then the food arrived and was distributed, hope soared that this was the beginning of a meaningful movement – so much solidarity was in the air. unfortunately, the police then moved in and took away the food of the protesters, without explaining their reasons for doing so.

the next police attack started after it was dark– using flood lights to heighten the unreal atmosphere. multiple groups of 15-20 policemen (usually 2-3 operating at the same time) would forcefully push themselves into the group of sitting demonstrators, and pull out anything that would help keep them warm: sleeping bags, (rescue) blankets, even simply the cardboard on which they sat. that’s when i witnessed brutal police violence against peaceful citizens: one person being brutally punched in the face, and two rows in front of me people were being peppersprayed for no apparent reason. i didn’t witness it myself, but heard that even batons were used to clear the way.

the problem was, that it was not clear to anybody, what the mission of this offensive was, not even giving people the chance to comply and heightening the perceived level of aggression. the fact that multiple groups were operating at the same time made it hard for the photographers to document what was going on, and since i haven’t yet found a good picture showing anything (one from the use of pepperspray in the afternoon), the police tactic to avoid being pictured seems to have worked out. other reports even say that some journalists were not allowed on the premises.

in the end, the police cleared the area with force, again pretty (unneccesarily) rough, people being punched and kicked, cops kneeling on young women, and the released people being shoved to the ground again. videos here and here.

afterwards, people weren’t even allowed to stand where the police initially suggested it would be OK for them, but were threatened so they move to brandenburger tor. about 100 people arrived there, and were swiflty surrounded by police again, who started arresting people that did not leave those premises. this was the end of the day for me.

so much on what happened from my perspective, now some thoughts:
as in new york, it seems that the mainstream media is not giving this much coverage in the beginning. the intellectual capacity of the author of a report in the “former newsmagazine” was especially disappointing, and i’m not going to link there. most reports pigeonholed the demonstration as an anti-bank protest, which is not very accurate. jacob jung made a great post on why it was more than that. [EDIT: also great in german: jule’s video, and i think this guy’s fundamental critique of money creation is spot on] i think the lesson from the various demonstrations around the world this year is that the protest needs to be sustained. just one ‘day of action’ will not show the urgency of the issue, and not get the attention that is needed. so, if this is going to become a real movement, these kinds of demonstrations need to continue and the need to be productive.

i’m still split on the issue whether this has to be in front of the symbolic reichstag building to show the hypocrisy in our political system that will not let citizens assemble in front of the national legislative assembly; or whether this confrontation with the police takes too much time that could better be spent discussing the reasons for their engagement in the movement or finding a way out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into. i’m slightly leaning towards the latter though.

the most ironic fact of the day was that the police was behaving illegally themselves on two accounts: 1. they were not wearing ID badges as they are legally obliged to do now in berlin, 2. police are not allowed to film a demonstration without proper reason. these were the same people that (sometimes even literally) kicked peaceful demonstrators out of the square in front of a symbolic building whose lit up façade reads “dem deutschen volke”. after all, it’s a constitutional basic right to assemble freely and demonstrate, and a demonstration needs to be within sight/earshot of those that the message should reach. this “bannmeile”, which stems from a law from 1920, is absolutely ridiculous. happy to see that the pirate party is going to ask the right questions, although i doubt that much will come of it.

what a sad day for a democracy that once wrote ‘freedom of assembly’ into its constitution. chapeau to the demonstrators who kept it peaceful on their side till the end.

[EDIT: i want to make clear that most policemen did their jobs more or less without malice against their fellow citizens. i don’t want to give them all a bad reputation. it’s just sad that those offenders will probably not see any consequences!]

[UPDATE: on sunday, there were around 400 people on the lawn in front of the reichstag again, discussing in an assamblea. it was not a ‘versammlung’ however, since those must have a leader (‘versammlungsleiter’) and need to be registered. it seems like people will continue this throughout the week, at 3pm infos usually via alex11.org or facebook, livestream via castortv]

[UPDATE: two more great reports in english by victoria and flourlumps]

yes, organic farming can indeed feed the world!

i’m oftentimes confronted with the argument that organic farming is a flawed solution, because it cannot feed the entire population, let alone the 9 billion people we expect by 2050. that this is the product of false information from the industrial food lobby is not even so clear to many people in the ‘green movement’, so i thought i’d set the record straight.

in 2007, two researchers from my alma mater argue that organic farming can feed the world. in fact, they found organic farming can produce up to three times higher yields than conventional farming, with the average being around 80% in developing countries (paper here).

since one research paper might not impress you, there’s more: in 2008, the IAASTD published a 2500 page report (supported by the world bank, the UN, and the WHO, 60 world governments and 400 experts) that says that the industrial food system can’t feed the world in the long run, and the conventional system actually increases hunger, exhausts resources and aggravates climate change. unfortunately, the report has not garnered much media attention.

however, these findings are even shared with the highest UN authority on food. in march 2011, olivier de schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, reports that “eco-farming can double food production in 10 years”, and is quoted in the corresponding press release: “we won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. the solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.” 

thx, dkomm! today is october 15, join the worldwide protests for #globalchange! this is the plan for berlin action. for the berliners who can’t make it please support the movement online by posting/blogging/spreading the message; there’s also a livestream you can watch.

i’ll leave you with two more videos that have impressed me (even though i don’t agree 100%, there’s a lot of very good points made).

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product […] counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country.

It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

   – Robert F. Kennedy, University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

thx for the reminder, bayanat!

who will have been there to unfuck the planet on october 15?

join us:

    a recent video exposing koch industries yet again as environmental polluters: you can actually see steam coming from the water that is downstream from their factory in arkansas. the video shows several people suffering from cancer, which they claim to be a direct result of the polluted water.

    what’s even crazier is that david koch actually had cancer himself, and even funded a cancer research center. but to stop pollution and get rid of a major source of cancer in the first place would probably cut too deep into their profits.

    in case you haven’t heard of koch industries, it’s because they make it their business to stay out of the spotlight (probably with good reason). however, they are among the major air polluters in the US, as shown by this university of massachusetts study. even bloomberg, a fairly conservative medium, exposed koch industries’ sketchy business practices, including making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations.

    koch industries is also a major cimate change denier, which is understandable as their wealth stems from the oil business. to say that they have oiled the denial machine is quite an understatement; it’s more like they were involved in building it:

    [UPDATE: the koch brothers are also major supporters of the keystone XL pipeline, as naomi klein end bill mckibben recently pointed out. in case it’s unfamiliar to you, i blogged about keystone XL before]

    these #occupywallst protests are highly inspiring! here’s another great article from the guardian on the protests. i hope to see an even bigger movement coming together on october 15 for #occupytogether– find an event close to you on this map: map.15october.net

    you should also check out this video i put into a post in german a few days ago.