Art as a catalyst for change

“Art as a catalyst for change”
Published May 31, 2016 | swissinfo.ch

“What’s an up-and-coming contemporary art curator from Switzerland doing in the American Midwest Rust Belt? The answer lies in a city experiencing a rebirth.

Reto Thüring had to find Cleveland on a map when he was called for an interview with the city’s art museum in 2012, and he had no real expectations of what lay ahead.

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Analysis: The state of journalism and multiculturalism in German public radio

Journalism's changing

Editor’s Note:  This is a personal narrative and commentary about German public radio, and multiculturalism therein, based on my experience in the last years.  I offer my observations, suggestions, and hopes, perhaps to prompt further thought or consideration from journalists and newsreaders alike.  Warning..this is a long one!

“You have no idea what you are talking about, Luka*.“  The small Greek colleague pushed a harshly dismissive comment toward Luka, incensing something primal in the latter.  I had not yet met this colleague, after all I was just considered a Praktikant, an intern, a visitor, a stranger and kept more or less to myself unless prompted.  I sat at the back corner of the meeting table in a German editorial meeting.

“How do you know what I have an idea about?” Luka shot back in his thick accent—Bosnian or Hungarian, I wasn’t quite sure.  The other members of this multi-cultural editorial staff shifted their eyes nervously, some chuckled, not sure what to do.  I stopped moving all-together, frozen in a pose for observation: my posture slouched, my chin buried in my hands, my eyes fixed.  A discussion about refugees from Eastern Europe quickly turned heated.

“You don’t know what the refugees need.  You don’t know who they are, or what they are doing.”  The Greek colleague looked sure of himself, almost taunting the situation to escalate.  A soft winter light shone in through the windows behind me, and story ideas pinned to a tack board fluttered slightly.

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Melting Winter

Ducks
There is something soothing about the sound of running water.  As the elixir of life barrels over itself from mountains to sea the air inherits a freshness.  Luckily for us, bordering one side of our neighborhood is a small river.  A well-flowing creek keeps the water circulating in a near-by pond .  Ice still covers much of this tree-lined pond, but the ducks still find space to dunk their heads, and search for food.

To us, this bit of nature is a respite from a city’s chaos.  We have lived in Berlin, Munich, Phoenix..all cities with an abundance of movement and healthy populations.  Even our former neighborhood in Zurich was suburban but dense–a view of a tree was enough to be considered experiencing “nature.”  A meeting with a few (Swiss) neighbors yesterday gave glimpse at how our pond and river-rich neighborhood once was, before “change” moved in.

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Tis the (Swiss) season

Bremgarten..
Christmas markets descend on the German-speaking world like sunlight cast over a dark, helpless countryside.  Pre-fabricated huts designed to appear like miniature log cabins populate town squares irresistible to many in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.  Heated wine served in decorative mugs flows by the barrel-full, and crafts, textiles and miscellaneous “stuff” can be purchased for only a slight mark-up…think of it as paying for the experience of an outdoor seasonal market.

We find ourselves now in a new season, in our new country, and a new apartment, breathing in yet another trove of experience in this whirlwind journey we call life.

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Americans Celebrating the Armistice

Church and monument
Standing upon the stone sidewalks of a decaying French village is jarring because of its immortality–this village has looked more or less the same for decades.  The moss on roofs and walls is perhaps thicker, the chips in paint are perhaps more noticeable, but a World War soldier marching through this land with a heavy rucksack and soggy boots would still recognize this place.  And if that soldier marched by on November 11, he would have come across a couple dozen Frenchmen and two Americans standing in the rain, offering thanks.

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