The Shelter – Die Herberge – Online now

Made possible by 300 crowdfunding supporters, 400 Facebook sharers and many, many people who donated their passion and time, today at 21:00 the spot could go online.

Happy sharing everyone! See you on our “Die Herberge” homepage!


A very German Story: Refugees&Pensioners Living Through Their Very Own Fairytale


Es war im Super-Sommer 2015…  In Deutsch weiter lesen? Dann bitte runter scrollen oder hier klicken!

It was in the midst of the 2015 heat-wave. We all were mainly graving seasonal tickets to the public pools, holidays were finally fun on the own balcony and climate-change showed its very sunny side. – Of the according to UNHCR about 60 million refugees worldwide, 890.000 came in this summer 2015 to us in Germany. – Whilst I had my best summer holiday ever with a camper-van in criss-cross France, others did camp in tents in Idomemi or walked, where ever they could get through, three months and longer with their families towards hope.

Gabriele and Hans did what I had done: they were running from the heat and searched rescue in a canoe trip on the Main river. When the two charming and very active pensioners from Karlsruhe were hunted by hunger and heat close to Zapfendorf,  Franconian Bavaria, the canoe is quickly set at shore. Still in life-vests Gabriele and Hans are heading to the village. Gabriele is perhaps the fittest pensioner I ever met. But she’s tired and dehydrated. As a protection against the burning sun she did wrap a scarf around her head, as she tells us.

A worker of a nearby railroad construction site , sends Gabriele and Hans deeper in to the village: right there next to the castle, there’s a guest house and for sure they also will have some food and something to drink!

Kawa used to live in the Kurdish city of Qamischli in north-east Syria, right there, were the the Kurdish Peshmerga troups are fighting against ISIS. His sisters re teachers, his brother an engineer. Kawa himself studied law and works as a lawyer. Used to work as a lawyer. Back in Syria, before the war. Now he lives in Hamburg, improves his German, because he’s dreaming of becoming a policeman in Germany. „I love the police in Germany. They are all nice and friendly to us Kurds“ he says, when we meet him.

Kawa lives in this very hot summer 2015 already for a while in Zapfendorf, the Franconian village. Only a short stroll away from where Gabriele and Hans die hide their canoes to find a place to eat and rest.

The restaurant, that Gabriele and Hans find opposite the castle, has locked doors. Bad luck for them. In the small village there seems to be nothing but this place to get a meal. Just before the two turn frustrated away, Gabriele sees a man at a window. He’s making gestures to walk around the back and use the back entrance. And so they do.

The man is a „colleague“ – as Kawa calls him. He’s waiting at the back-door for Gabriele and Hans to let them in. Bassam, Mohammad and Ahmed are all „colleagues“ of Kawa. They ask the pensioners in the main guest-room of the restaurant  and ask the to wait. Meantime, they’re calling Kawa, who’s German is the best of the small party.

Gabriele and Hans are really glad that they finally reached a place, where they can recover, relax and rest. They are exhausted, thirst can be a torture and they are very hungry too. „My stomach has been hanging down in my knees.“ Gabriele told us later.

Kawa and his „colleagues“ recognized, that the two elderly people were tired and desperately in need for food, rest and refreshing drink.  They offered, what the kitchen had: home-made apple jam, eggs, fresh ripe tomatoes, cheese and yoghurt. With their meal the guests wished a green tea and a glas of milk.

That a toaster was put right on the table, that cutlery and tissues were missing, and that there was no hot food to order, but only cold-cuisine, did not rise doubt in the pensioners: „We thought, these friendly men only started out to run a restaurant. Young entrepreneurs, you got to support them, no? And also: it was already afternoon. In Germany most restaurants close their kitchen at 2pm, don’t they? So all seemed normal to us of course!“ Gabriele remembers and explains us later in her tastefully furnished turn-of-the-century apartment in Karlsruhe city-centre.

Hans did ask for forks, the meal the four „colleagues“ managed to serve was delicious. But the canoe-trip was not over yet, so Gabriele and Hans wanted to pay and go their way.

But Kawa, Bassam, Mohammad and Ahmed reclined the payment: „They were our guests. You must help, no?“ Kawa describes the moving scene, when he explained to Gabriele and Hans, that his „colleagues“ how he calls them, are in fact his room-mates. And that the guest house, in which Gabriele and Hans just enjoyed a great meal, is in fact a refuge-centre and home to many Syrian refugees just like Kawa.

Gabriele is deeply moved. She’s embarrassed, that they called for forks and tissues. When they, the guests, just have been served a great free meal by refugees. „I immediately started to cry!“ Gabriele confirms today. And her partner Hans adds „We only realized, that we were in a refugee-centre, when we asked for the bill.“

Thanks to all the six of them are very open people, the moment of embarrassment quickly fades and turns in to curiosity and friendship: Selfies are taken, addresses exchanged, thanks are flying through the room and all six promise, to stay in touch.

The summer passes, Gabriele and Hans are sending a postcard and a thank-you-present in the Franconian refugee-centre. Kawa is carried on by his destiny, he today lives with his brother in Hamburg.

At Christmas he’s sending a postcard, Gabriele gives us some clothes for him, when she hears, we’re going to see him. – The three are in touch till today.

We, Ysabel Fantou and myself, found this true story in many papers last year. and we found the heroes of this true story thanks to Nathalie Schalk, journalist of „Fränkischer Tag“. – German speakers fid the original article here.

We visited Gabriele, Hans and Kawa. And listened to their stories about this special day in their lives.

A little later, we had finished a script for a short-comedy and a social-spot. It’s election time in Germany next year. And ultra-right-winged populists are sweeping German streets as they do in Europe and elsewhere int he world these days.

But we here got this story of joy&hope, we can put out in front of their bland and simple paroles: Hey, life can be beautiful! The unknown can enrich us! Give it a chance, let’s have a wait&look first! Get to know each other.

We hope we can help with the film we’re making. Help to make this world a better place.

How you can help to make this a better place?

  • Spread this true story!
  • Help us to actually get our film in screen!
  • Donate to our crowd-funding!
  • Share the crowd-funding with friends and family!
  • Become a „fan“ on startnext, and get the social-spot for free in 2017 – being a fan is completely free

With your help,

  • we can did pay for translations for subtitles in the many languages, the refugees in Germany are bringing from home.
  • we can did finish making the film and the social spot and bring it on screen
  • we can will pay the entrance fees to international festivals and bring this story to you
  • we can did afford to pay the trips of Kawa, Bassam, Mohammad and Ahmed, as well as Gabriele and Hans to the screenings

Visit out homepage with all we reached here: “Die Herberge”

All money collected above the cost of the movie will be 100% donated to Lichterkette, a German charity working against racism.

We can write an invoice for your donation above 100€, so that you can tax deduct your expenses (please contact your tax advisor on what text you need on your invoice, in order to deduct it, and get in touch with Sanne about invoice details before donating in case an invoice is needed!).

– We can invoice nationally and internationally.

We got amazing rewards for your support! Many of them ship also overseas.  You are also free to help without collecting a reward. – Please check with us if booking a reward that might involve travel cost! Don’t forget: we’re collecting money for a good cause. The goal will not be reached if all our donations go in to trips and travel. – Thank you!

Watch one of the results of our efforts online! The “Die Herberge Social Spot” with subtitles.

>>>Hier comes the story in German.>>>Hier kommt der Text in Deutscher Sprache.>>>

Es war im Super-Sommer 2015.

Wir alle lechzten nach Freibad-Dauerkarten, Urlaub machte endlich auch auf Balkonien Spaß und die Klimakatastrophe zeigte sich von ihrer sonnigsten Seite. – Von den laut UNHCR rund 60 Millionen Menschen auf Flucht kamen im Sommer 2015 890.000 zu uns nach Deutschland. – Während ich den besten Sommer-Zelturlaub-Ever mit Campingbus in Frankreich verbringe, zelteten andere in Idomeni, oder liefen da, wo sie durch kamen, drei Monate lang in Richtung Hoffnung.

Gabriele und Hans machen es wie ich: sie flüchten vor der Hitze und suchen Erholung. Kanu fahren auf dem Main in Franken heisst es für die beiden sehr charmanten Karlsruher, die ihre Freizeit gerne aktiv verbringen. Als die Hitze und Hunger die beiden auf dem Main bei Zapfendorf überwältigen, ist das Kanu schnell an Land verstaut. Noch in Schwimmweste geht es ins Dorf. Gabriele ist die vielleicht fitteste Rentnerin, die ich je getroffen habe. Aber sie ist müde und dehydriert, zum Schutz gegen die sengende Sonne hat sie sich ein Tuch um den Kopf gewickelt, wie sie uns berichtet.

Ein Arbeiter der ICE Baustelle, die in 2016 noch immer zwischen Main und dem Weiler Zapfendorf liegt, schickt Gabriele und Hans ins Dorf. Gleich beim Schloss sei ein Gasthof, da bekämen sie sicher was.

Kawa kommt aus der kurdischen Stadt Qamischli im Nordosten Syriens, dort, wo die Kurden gegen den IS kämpfen. Seine Schwestern sind Lehrerinnen, sein Bruder Elektroingenieur, er selbst hat Jura studiert und ist Anwalt – war Anwalt. In Syrien, vor dem Krieg. Jetzt lebt er in Hamburg, verbessert sein Deutsch, denn er will wahnsinnig gerne in Deutschland Polizist werden. “Ich liebe die Polizei in Deutschland. Alle sind so nett zu uns Kurden.” sagt er uns, als wir ihn treffen.

Kawa lebte in dem heißen Jahrhundert-Sommer 2015 in Zapfendorf. Nur wenige hundert Meter von dort, wo Gabriele und Hans ihre Kanus vertäuten und eine []Herberge[/url] suchten, um zu rasten.

Der Gasthof, den Gabriele und Hans finden, ist verschlossen, so ein Pech auch. In dem kleinen Ort scheint es sonst nichts an Wirtschaften zu geben. Noch bevor die zwei sich zum Gehen wenden, entdeckt Gabriele aber einen Mann am Fenster, der ihr bedeutet, den Hintereingang zu nehmen.

Der Mann ist ein “Kollege” wie Kawa ihn nennt. Er wartet am Hintereingang, um Gabriele und Hans einzulassen. Bassam, Mohammad und Ahmed sind alle “Kollegen” von Kawa. Sie bitten Gabriele und Hans in die Gaststube und rufen Kawa, der am Besten Deutsch kann von den Vieren.

Die Karlsruher sind heil froh, dass sie endlich angekommen sind an einem Ort, wo sie ausruhen und rasten können. Der Durst plagt beide. auch hungrig sind sie. “Mein Magen hing in den Kniekehlen.” berichtet uns Gabriele später.

Kawa und seine “Kollegen” erkannten, dass die beiden erschöpft, hungrig und müde waren. Sie boten ihnen an, was die Küche zu bieten hatte: Apfelmarmelade “home made”, Eier, frische Tomaten, Käse und Joghurt. Dazu wünschten sich die Gäste grünen Tee und Milch.

Dass ein Toaster direkt auf den Tisch gestellt wurde, keine Servietten da waren und es auch keine warmen Gerichte mehr zu bestellen gab, verwunderte die Rentner nicht: “Wir dachten, die haben gerade erst angefangen. Junge Gastronomen muss man doch unterstützen. Und dann war es ja auch schon früher Nachmittag. Da ist es doch kein Wunder, wenn die Küche zu hat!” ruft Gabriele in ihrer geschmackvoll eingerichteten Karlsruher Altbauwohnung den Nachmittag in Erinnerung.

Hans bat noch um Gabeln, das von den vier “Kollegen” kredenzte Mahl schmeckte vorzüglich. Die Reise war noch nicht zu Ende, die Kanus warteten, man wollte zahlen und seines Weges gehen.

Doch Kawa, Bassam, Mohammad und Ahmed lehnen ab. “Es sind doch Gäste, man muss helfen!” schildert und Kawa die bewegende Szene, als er Gabriele und Hans erklärte, dass seine “Kollegen” wie er sie nennt, die Mitbewohner seien. Und der Gasthof, in dem eben so lecker gekocht wurde, längst ein Flüchtlingsheim.

Gabriele ist tief gerührt. Es ist ihr peinlich, dass sie noch nach Servietten und Gabeln geschickt hatten, wo sie, die fremden Gäste, doch gerade von Flüchtlingen bewirtet worden waren. “Ich hab’ sofort angefangen zu heulen!” bestätigt Gabriele noch Heute. Und Ihr Lebensgefährte Hans ergänzt “Uns ist erst aufgegangen, dass wir im Asylbewerberheim gelandet sind, als wir die Rechnung verlangt haben.”

Dank der Offenheit aller Beteiligten weicht die Peinlichkeit schnell einer Annäherung:

Erinnerungsfotos werden gemacht, Adressen ausgetauscht, man bedankt wich für die Bewirtung und verspricht, in Kontakt zu bleiben.

So geht der Sommer ins Land, Gabriele und Hans schicken eine Postkarten und Dankeschöns in das fränkische Flüchtlingsheim. Kawa wird vom Schicksal weiter getragen, er lebt inzwischen bei seinem Bruder in Hamburg.

Zu Weihnachten schickt er eine Postkarte, Gabriele wiederum gibt uns Kleidung für ihn mit, als sie erfährt, dass wir ihn besuchen werden. – Noch Heute sind die Drei in Kontakt.

Wir, Ysabel Fantou und ich, reisten 2016 durch Deutschland, um Gabriele, Hans und Kawa zu treffen und ihre Geschichten zu hören und auf zu zeichnen. Kurze Zeit später strickten wir aus den Erzählungen der drei einen Kurzfilm-Drehbuch mit wunderbar schwarz-humorigem Witz und einen Social-Spot, eine Werbung für einen guten Zweck.

Wir möchten auch noch ein mal einer Person danken, deren Einsatz “Die Herberge” in seiner jetzigen Form erst möglich machte: Natalie Schalk, engagierte Journalistin und Redakteurin aus Franken. Sie war es, die mit Gabriele, Hans und Kawa zuerst sprach und deren Geschichte erstmals in der Zeitung “Fränkischer Tag” an die Öffentlichkeit brachte. Hier ist der [url=;art212,1458318#cookie_accepted]Original-Artikel auf[/url] nach zu lesen.

Wir machen diesen Film und diesen Spot, weil Wahlen sind in Deutschland in 2017. Wahlen, bei denen Rechts-Populisten die Straßen fegen könnten mit erbarmungslosem Besenstrich.

Wir machen diesen Film und diesen Spot, weil wir eine Geschichte haben, die wir simplen Parolen, vermeintlich einfachen Lösungen und Besenstrichen der Populisten etwas entgegen zu setzen haben: eine Geschichte von Freude und Hoffnung: Hey, das Leben kann wunderbar sein! Das Fremde kann uns bereichern! Wir können auch Fremde sein und Hilfe finden! Gebt allem Zeit und eine Chance. Lernt Euch kennen. Weil das Fremde wertvoll ist.

Wir hoffen, wir könne helfen mit dem Film, den wir machen.  Helfen, diese Welt ein wenig besser zu machen.

Wie kannst Du helfen?

  • Verbreite diese wahre Geschichte! Spot teilen mit diesem Link:
  • Hilf uns, den Film fertig zu stellen und auf die Leinwand zu bringen! Ihr habt uns geholfen, den Film fertig zu stellen und ihn auf die Leinwand zu bringen! Wie Ihr ihn bei Euch zeigen könnt und wo man ihn sehen kann steht hier!
  • Unterstütze unser Crowdfunding mit Deiner Danke für Deine Spende!
  • Teile das Crowdfunding den Spot mit Familie, Kollegen, Bekannten und Freunden!
  • Zeige den Film “Die Herberge”!
  • Werde „Fan“ auf Startnext Facebook  und  teile den Spot auf Facebook!

Mit Deiner Hilfe können konnten wir:

  • den Film fertig stellen, offene Rechnungen begleichen und Kino-, TV- wie auch DVD-Kopien erstellen – danke!
  • Untertitel für viele Sprachen bezahlen, so dass auch möglichst viele Flüchtlinge den Film sehen können – wer noch Untertitel beisteuern will findet hier Informationen!
  • Filmfestival Gebühren zahlen und den Film so auch zu Dir bringen
  • die Reisen von Kawa, Bassam, Mohammad und Ahmed, sowie Gabriele und Hans zu der Premiere zahlen

Alles Geld, was wir über die reinen Unkosten hinaus einsammeln, geht zu 100% an die Lichterkette e.V., die mit zahlreichen Projekten gegen Rassismus kämpft. ** Update: Wir konnten über 2.600€ Überschüsse aus dem Crowdfunding spenden, Mittel, die nach Abzug der Unkosten noch über unserem Crowdfunding Ziel lagen.

Wir können Rechnungen schreiben für Unterstützungen über 100€, so dass Deine Unterstützung steuerlich absetzbar sind (Achtung! Keine Spendenquittung! Wir sind Privatleute und kein Verein. Bitte ggf. mit Deiner Steuerberatung die Absetzbarkeit abklären und unbedingt, falls eine Rechnung gewünscht ist, mit uns vorab Kontakt aufnehmen.) – Wir können auch international Rechnungen stellen.

Wir haben wunderbare Dankeschöns für Deinen Support! Schau rein auf, suche Dir ein Dankeschön aus, für Dich selbst, für liebe Freunde. Vieles ist auch für Vereine oder Unternehmen attraktiv. Oder tue Dich mit anderen zusammen für ein tolles Dankeschön, einen besonderen Event, oder ein exklusives Screening! – Wir freuen uns auf Dich – und danken Dir schon jetzt! Spende hier. – Danke.

Quellen neben Natalie Schalk und unseren eigenen Aufzeichnungen:
Vereinte Nationen, Publikation des Flüchtlingshilfswerkes UNHCR – gut aufgearbeitet, leicht zu lesen, verständliche Grafiken und Bilder, sehr berührend. Aber von 2014. – Wenn jemand was Aktuelleres kennt von der UNHCR, bitte melden! Danke!
Pressemitteilung des Bundesamtes für Migration und Flüchtlinge BAMF – “Bun­desin­nen­mi­nis­ter de Mai­ziè­re gibt ak­tu­el­le Flücht­lings­zah­len be­kannt” mit spannendem Zitat aus seiner Erklärung und dem Video mit O-Ton des Ministers.
Übersicht der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung “Das Jahr 2015: Flucht und Flüchtlinge im Fokus – ein Rückblick” mit spannenden Dossiers und gut erklärten Fakten und Hintergründen zum Thema, nicht nur auf die BRD, auch auf die EU bezogen.
Infothek des BAMF mit allem, allem was man zu Flucht&BRD wissen will…wenn man mal Zeit zum stöbern hat. Sicher der umfangreichste Einblick, aber zum Teil etwas sperrig aufbereitet.
Artikel aus “Die Zeit” zu Idomeni: sehr bewegender Artikel in Zeit Online vom 12. März 2016, sowie aus der Zeit Online vom 26. Mai 2016 darüber, wie es weiter geht und wo die Menschen Heute sind.
“Refugees and migrants return to Idomeni camp on Greek border, in pictures” – eine sehr gute Bildergalerie vom März 2016 aus dem Britischen “Telegraph”.


Photo Credits:
Herr Müller:
Nanni Schiffl-Deiler:
Tilman Schulz:


Greece in the Rain

I love Couchsurfing. I host. I stay with others. I contribute. I take my family. Today, a fellow Couchsurfer checked up on me about his holiday plans. He saw on my Couchsurfing profile that I’m currently in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece, attending the renown Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.  He mailed me to find out about Greece: Like myself, he saw frequently devastating news about the EU crisis-countries such as Greece, Spain, Cyprus and others. Sometimes you can read between the lines how the non-crisis countries and their national banks got rich with high-interest bonds. Which the national banks of the non-crisis countries bought from the national banks of the crisis countries. Isn’t it amazing to help and get rich at the same time? Oh my God. What a world.
old church in a shopping street - Thessaloniki, Greece, 2013
But luckily, my Couchsurfing friend was not interested in investment opportunities in Greece. He was worried that the people here might feel bad about visitors in these hard times and that it might be inappropriate to come and visit. I wish some more of the India, Laos, Bangladesh and Dominican Republic  visitors would ask themselves such ethical questions before travelling.
I was happy I had been contacted, to report as a tourist in Greece first hand.

My answer was: Yes! Greece is a great place for your holidays. You will love it! The people are incredibly friendly, very open and extremely hospitable deep from the heart. The country seems to stand united despite of what we see from time to time in the news. I feel very safe, the garbage cleaning and street sweeping works heaps better than in southern Italy, people seem to stick together, try to get through this, help each other and do the best to get out of the ditch they are in.

windows of an abandones building - Thessaloniki Greece, 2013Yes, there are many unemployed people in Greece. Over a quarter of the adult population has no work, not counting students, self-employed that are out of business and people in employment programs. But I have not seen one single person sleeping on the street during my visit. A sight I saw many times in New York and San Francisco.

Thessaloniki on a rainy spring dayI came in a rainy time of the year. The air is crisp and clear, but dark clouds are hanging above the city. – Yes it is hard for the weakest, pensioners and old people. Some of them I could meet when there was a festival event with a free lunch for us guests at the pier. Three or four ladies and one decent, well dressed elderly men came and enjoyed with us a free meal. But they seemed not devastated. They engaged with us guests, we chatted with hand and feet, their spirits seemed high.

I adore the strength to carry on and not let yourself down mentally. I’m not sure if I could do that myself.

It’s my very first time in Thessaloniki, in Macedonia, in Greece and I’m loving it.

At the airport on my way here I met a group of thirty teenage girls on their way back from skiing in the Austrian Zillertal.
I was slightly annoyed about the extra waiting time at the check in – 30 teens with overweight luggage right in front of me – man!
I also was slightly annoyed by skiing Greek people thinking myself “Why are they not at home helping others with their spare free time and spare money, showing solidarity with those suffering in their country?”
Last not least I had still a shocking article in mind, that  I had read about a month ago: an article in German SZ Magazin about the Greek health system. The line under the title read “Who needs a doctor can only wait“. It had shocking pictures, that moved me a lot. The journalist, a German man of Greek parents, visited emergency rooms in public hospitals and documented how they got to limit their opening times to four days a week, how patients have to travel extremely far to get help, how doctors and nurses have not received pay in months.

I was angry. Standing at the check-in, about to visit Greece for the first time in my life. I was angry, with the suffering I had seen on those pictures in my mind. I was angry about the economy and the skiing-tourists right in front of me. I wrote an angry article about solidarity.

Than I thought: You’re going to Greece for the first time in your life. You have no idea about this girls, no idea about the Greek health system and no idea in fact about Greece at all. At all! Perhaps the skiing teachers organizing the trip are long-term unemployed people who took their chances, showed initiative, as everyone is demanding so often. Perhaps they just opened a business and thank God it’s going well! Perhaps these girls won a competition with their school and got a free holiday! Perhaps they are the Greek olympic winter-sport squad! Perhaps they are not Greek at all! How do I know?
I only learned so far Kalimera – which means Good Morning and Phareesto meaning Thank You – how can I dare standing at the check-in counter and judge?

I arrived at night.

ancient hamam from ottoman times and plants under a street lightFunny what our mind does with small bits of information and how we function, based on snippets our senses are grasping, forming them to assumptions, theories and last not least to our reality.

– I felt ashamed. I scrapped that angry article. I love it here. Come and see yourself.

Shoplifting and Oranges

I’m still amazed and surprised to see oranges on trees in spring, rather than at Christmas in supermarket shelves. Despite being often in Israel and other places where this happens every year: this wonder, that the trees are hanging full of oranges.

Oranges Grow on Trees. Sanne Kurz KameraMy mum is born in 1946. Pretty much exactly one year after the war finished and two years before the Deutsche Mark brought hope and prosperity to the perpetrators, the victims, the refugees from former German territories and their children.

My mum had a loving family, her father was a calm and quiet man who never raised his voice and let us grandkids braid his hair during his coffee breaks.

One single time in my life, my mum has been beaten up by her father. It was the day she saw for the first time in her life oranges. They lured at her in her village’s shop.

Oranges in the Rain, Thessaloniki 2013 by Sanne Kurz KameraShe could not resist, and took one, leaving the shop without leaving any Pfennigs or Deutsche Marks there.

I too remember the one time that I stole something as a child. It was not oranges, but a Bazooka Joe chewing gum for 30 Pfennig. It had a tattoo in the wrapper. I often tried to return the 30 Pfennig to Wamsgans, the local place that I shoplifted. They never took my money.

I’m not sure how often my mum thinks about the orange. I do remember the one-and-only thefts of my own kids. And I will definitely never forget my mum’s story and the oranges.

Orange Reflection. Photography by Sanne Kurz KameraAll images are taken in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece. It’s my first time here. I’m attending the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival with a movie I shot. Yesterday it was rainy and today it’s sunny. I’m pretty sure there’ll be more to come from my trip.

“It’s Funny How the Election of a Foreign Country Touches Us” or: Why the World’s Citizens Beg US Citizens to Go and Vote.

When a culture even more so than an economy or political power becomes so overwhelmingly strong, that you feel it’s a vital part of your life, you somehow feel part of it.

Being a teenager, it was insane even to think about English titled movies in cinema or about my parents ordering “Spare ribs” instead of “Gegrillte Rippchen” or simply “Grill-Kassler”. Somehow the US-ification has taken the world, at least Germany it has taken. for the good, I believe:

English became the lingua franca  of contemporary Europe. The movie industry is trying harder and yes – my kids do love MacDonald’s and I love the “back to your own soil” and slow-food movement that was largely pushed here through the Internet and thus through the US. – The US, it’s where most Internet users are sitting, where therefore a massive amount is published and a giant wave of public opinion, trend or sometimes simply hot air can be and is created.

I’m not an US citizen, but my life is largely influenced by the decision of those US citizens, who actually make use of their right and vote.

You carry a huge responsibility. Use it. Go out there. Vote.



Only 2,5 Million People watched Sarah Silverman’s ID Hints for Voting. 21 Million US citizens Must Make Sure to get the Right ID. – By Tuesday.

But can you get a firearm license this fast?

Shanghai, the Pyjamas and the Curious Elderly

China is facing an even bigger challenge dealing with its elderly than the US, who promised and entire generation of baby-boomers healthcare when retired and now does not know how to cover it. In China, however,  years of one-child-policy lead to a population pyramid heavy on top and slim at the bottom. The world’s saying thanks to the Chinese government for trying to not make our little planet even faster even more over populated. – But the planet of course does not want to help and fix the problems that stem from decades of an enforced one-child-policy.

“How many siblings do you have?” is being one of the first chit-chatter questions in every “We-just-met-and-get-to-know-each-other” small talk elsewhere. In Shanghai though I had to bite my tongue several times to not ask this silly question and look in to surprised Chinese faces looking at with something easily to decipher as “The silly stranger does not know we don’t do siblings here”.

Funny enough Shanghai seems despite of the Chinese one-child-policy full of kids. I encountered much more children around than let’s say back home in Munich, where we got more cars and even more dogs than kids. Still: the vast growing number of elderly in China does take its space. They are reaching out in to public space, wait patiently at 6:30am at the gates of local parks to open, stroll on streets, sit on benches and enjoy lakes, shade and sun. So many mainly happy elderly people – it makes me wonder where the 70+ ers are at home in Europe. Locked up? Anxious at home sitting solitary on the couch? In front of computer-screens enjoying unblocked German Internet and Skyping with their Grandkids in Munich or Berlin? – Or simply toughened from fitness club and tennis court visits, with dyed hair and not to identify as “elderly”? – Hm. I’m not sure.

In Shanghai, ladies and gentlemen with shiny silver hair and wise faces flow down park alleyways, play music and cards, sing Beijing Opera, exercise taijiquan, t’ai chi ch’uan, qigong and all these other in the morning sun amazing looking things with weird names hard to pronounce for the astonished foreigner.

Famously in Shanghai many older people are wearing pyjamas on the street after sunset. I even saw some heads in sleeping hats floating around. People older than yourself are a fun species in China.

When you cross their paths and interrupt their circles, be it for a film shoot or when taking pictures, they come humming around you. Silently surrounding you, perhaps starting to speak Chinese to you from behind  like little elves talking elvish. You turn around to the crowd that gathered behind your back, they are so cute, you want to take them home.

See here: A couple going out in PJs on the right of the top pic, the most dodgy DIT place on this planet to be seen in the middle, a fake and a real lady at the very bottom.

Read more about a Kamerafrau‘s Chinese adventures here: China vs. MongoliaShanghai MorningsA Golden Holiday in Shanghai

My 10 Year-Old Knows How to Solve the Euro Crisis – Or Why to Lend and to Borrow are the Same Word in German

I’m living in a country very proud of its social security system. A system, that our great-grandparents, shook by recession and poverty,  fought for. This social security system has been introduced in many European countries and survived two Wars as well as Margaret Thatcher.

In Germany, chancellor Bismarck introduced the public system of health, social, accident, unemployment and retirement insurance, and gave the people fighting for it what they wanted. Bismarck acted not cause of the sheer necessity or coz he was such a nice guy. No, Otto von Bismarck, you might know him from the Hering named after him, was scared of revolution and uprising, socialism and communism luring in front of the doors of his beloved Reich:

My thought was, to win the working classes over, or should I say bribe them, to see the State as a social institution, existing for their sake and wishing to look after their wellbeing.
(Otto von Bismarck: Gesammelte Werke 1924/1935, #9, p.195/196)

Needless to say that the social security systems are not exactly what started the current currency crisis in a semi-united Europe. What happened?

The European Union is a more or less loose political bond or rather interest group of 27 countries (as by 2012), that famously failed to give itself a constitution. It is the largest market on this planet. Within this Union, 17 countries chose to use one currency: the Euro. This decision freed us citizens living, working and studying in different countries, it freed merchants and markets, not to speak about the holiday season mixing up the Euro coins in your wallet each year. Most people complained a bit – you never like to lose what you know – but in general, everybody was pretty happy and content. – Three non EU members use the Euro with consent of the € countries, three other countries have the € in a non-official way as their official currency – without asking and without even being a member of the EU.

My kids grew up on the Euro, they love it, they calculate their “one scoop of ice cream” in Euros, they don’t know anything else. They also know nothing else than the border-control free European Union. Last summer it was, that they both waited for the first time in their lives at a border for a customs check. Waiting at borders was a sight and nuisance I came across each year several times as a child on our family trips to Italy or France. In Europe, it can happen easily to you that you’re driving only half an hour and – there’s the next border! So God bless the EU and the freedom that came with it upon its citizens! – But now we got a slight problem:

In Europe, there are some richer and some poorer countries. Most people from the poor countries do not come and seek work and future for their families in the richer countries. They stay were they are and are demanding a and working on a good life there. Coz migrating is no fun, learning a new language sucks and actually: poor countries can be very nice places as well. And I’m not talking about the picturesque rundown and falling apart architecture that the average Western/Northern European tourist takes some Instagram snaps of whilst pretending it’s still 1950. – I’m talking about people who are proud of their countries and regions, who are building on their own future and strive to create something great and larger than one person only. Yep: It’s what a state does. A state that is made out of it’s citizens. Now all this 17 states and millions of citizens got the same currency. Still:

Some countries have to borrow money for very high interest rates. Coz the people lending them money feel it’s risky and they worry if they will get their money back. So you get a bit more for handing your money over to this state, coz you’re talking a bit more of a risk. Other countries can refinance themselves for an interest rate next to nothing. Coz investors think it’s a sure thing they’ll have their money back. – You see: I don’t like the idea of interest rates too much. But when Popes and left winged economists already tried to abandon interest rates and failed, how should I manage to get rid of them?? – The interest as such is not a thing too evil. It’s the interest on the interest that really sucks.

Back to Europe and our fellow European countries: by having to pay more and more for the same money, by socializing debts of and privatizing wins of the country’s banks, some countries came close to being bankrupt. Many people are joking with a cynical fatalism “We can’t kick the Greek people out of Europe, they invented it.” or “A bank set on the wrong horse? The country will help! A country set on the wrong horse? Germany will help.” – In history, when countries went bankrupt, often a war and invading the countries on the list of creditors solved the problem. Not very beneficial for the citizens, such a war. But fixed the debt problem in the past! Works for oil supplies as well, by the way. – I mean: what can you do when you can not pay your hospitals and teachers any more?

My son, living without TV but still knowing all advertisement jingles, singing them by heart from 6am till late, he knows the magic fix:
Put advertisement in schools!  Teach – for a small fee – in front of toy-posters, paint those walls with Lego claims, or, even better: build them from Lego! Why do sports when we could let the kids do it at home ad lure them in with Wii ads at school! Nice side effect: more workplaces in the ever complaining advertisement industry!  School could be so much more fun like that! And pay itself!

Oh and: In German, we really only got one word for to lend and to borrow, did you know? Leihen meant to borrow as well as to lend. It describes the state of having something in the air, not possessed by you right now (coz you can not use it) and not possessed by me right now (coz it’s not mine). Nice way of making business, he?

I like the commons, as you saw. But go private, read more about the striving for a free market:
Chicago School of Economics or Chicago Boys
Milton Friedman

Or go social, read more about public sharing and joint responsibilities a society can take on together (not that I’m biased…)
Interesting that the German article on Soziale Marktwirtschaft speaks about an “ideal in social and economy politics” whilst the English Wikipedia article linked to it mentions it as a “economic system“. If you can, read both articles. It’s very interesting to compare: Social Market Economy / Soziale Marktwirtschaft.

Hans-Werner Sinn, a German Neoliberalist now asking for Keynes‘ tool box, in an interview in 2009.

Funny diagrams  on neoliberalism and social security systems.

Ingo Schule, a German writer and publisher, and his Capitalism needs no Democracy, published in Süddeutsche Zeitung January 2012.

How to Find and Praise the Commons

In many European countries gleaning after harvest is a widely accepted thing. A necessity after WWII, it became a fun event. Kids do it with their parents, you do it as a sunny Sunday afternoon, you join your gleaning neighbors. – It’s hip, Agnes Varda celebrated it in her glorious film Le glaneur et la glaneuse as a form of sustainable lifestyle and showed us we’re all perhaps not gleaning enough.

Some land owners never do harvest though. If they do not like strangers to run across their land singing loudly they call the public harvest attempts scrumping. If they do love to see their crops and fruits used before they fall bad, however, they might join an old, rediscovered form of public use: the commons.

The German word for commons Allmende  derives from “all men” and was the part of a village that was owned by the community.  On the Internet commons are a heavily debated thing in Germany. Traditionally the creators of a work got a strong standing and the idea of shared ownership comes with the question attached: what funds will the creators live on?

Sometimes, however, commons and Internet go hand in hand and come to a glorious, widely celebrated hole. And I’m not talking ab out Wikipedia here.

The German page is an interactive map with user generated content about commons. Fruit trees planted on public ground by the city, neglected meadows with herbs and river banks full of elderberry shrubs and nut trees. You see one, you list it. The secret hint on where to go and pick is passed
on by small interactive pins on the map, each pin carries information about
the type of tree/field/find or bush and where to find it. Other users and harvesters can add their comments: Will you need to bring a ladder? Do you know the type of pear or apple growing their for everybody to pick? You know it, you add it.
On Saturday you can go for a cycling trip with your kids to go and harvest.
On Sunday you got jam boiling in your pots and the yummy steam of cooking fruit all over your kitchen.
You can access it on a holiday or whilst being on a longer hike as a little refreshment at the road side.

People from Georgia to the Canary Islands, from Finland to Northern Africa joined the map and listed their secret gardens. –  I think it’s a brilliant idea.

We should be using this gifts with some sense, common sense. Don’t break branches from trees kind of thing. Don’t destroy the nature around the common area by stepping

Some people might not like the Google-translated look – the original page is only available in German.

Or do you know of a map like this in your region? Perhaps they could join forces? Or we could help and offer the makers of the advertisement free mundraub page an English translation?

We definitely should spread the word, fill up this map and get many commons listed all over the world!

Not 13 yet.

A while back, on yet one another shoot in Israel, I met Amira. She turns 2 tomorrow. She lives in Ukraine. She has cancer. Great setup. We’re trying all to help her get better. You can read her story here. – This is a slide show her family made. Meet Amira!