Monday, 25 November 2013

Some things you haven't seen yet - Europe Refresh!

Lat weekend, now already some 7 days ago, I went to en exhibition which was called Europe Refresh! By its founders it was communicaated as "A participatory event around crowdfunding" The ide behind this event was to give 50 projects from all around Europe the chance to show what they are doing, what their project are and to answer questions to people who might want to support them.

Living in Brussels, communicating Europe and once in a while some good ideas, I went there learn more about these projects.

I aked questions to about 19 projects and did some interviews with eight, since I was only around with my camera and tablet, the videos are not the greates, but you will get the information needed in addtion to the links and the short descriptions:

Tale Me:

The first I spoke to was Anna, she is the inventor of a project called Tale Me. The idea is easy, since high quality cloths are really expensive she and her team partner Catherine decided to create a company which allows designers to rent their high quality cloths. Here she explaines how what Tale me is, and how she got the idea:

The project at Europe Refresh.



Now if you want to support the idea just click the link here: Support Tale Me on KissKissBankBank.

Raconte un Monde:

The project to travel the world
Julie and Michel are two people who decided to do an educative worl trip. In partnership with some four Belgian schools they trave to 12 countries to explore the world together with their online audience, children between 6-13 years. They will go into other schools in the countries they visit and will there speak with the kids and apply their ideas. For their online audience they are answering all their questions every two weeks.

Meet Julie & Michel

If you want to support or you are looking for more information klick the link.


Igood Mobile 

You knwo the problem of finding a doctor when you are in a place you don't know. No matter whether you travel, you just moved or you are in a part of the city you just do not know well enough. Now here comes something which helps in these situations the application to get fast help from a doctor no matter where you are.

What is needed? And what for?

To build a homepage and a blog which is specialized on health issues and will support the construction of the app. So this seems to be a cool idea, if you want to support the project click the link!

WARLL

War is something many polticians try to explain when it come to the question if any political system which is democratic is justified. The problem is it is so difficult to explain it because most of the time you just understand it if you have felt it. Hiroshi has an idea to make it feelable without killing anyone. A chorepgraphy that expresses what war actully is:

What is WARLL?


What Hiroshi needs

So for more abot the idea beind the war wall klick the link and support Hiroshi here!


Spirit of the United Neretva

What sounds like a C.S. Lewis novel is nothing less than a great roject about robotcs by a young team who cares about the future to unite what has been torn appart in the past.  Robotics team from Bosnia&Herzegovina is more then just some kids playing scientists, its handcraft, knowledge and a lot of ambition. Here some words of heir own:

What they do in their own words and what they need:



Young people who are interested in science should always be supported: So support the great Robotics team which runs for Europe!


Autrement - Knowing where your food comes from

Are you interested in knowing where your food comes from? The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a movement wich has grown all over the world to practice what many people call green living. But be aware these are no hippies. Ever since it is sure that you are what you eat, movements like this have become more and more important.  Now here is the idea:

 What it is and what Anne does

If you want to know how it works and want to see the documentary when it is done, follow the project support the project here.

Tactile River the shining path in the city

Do you know the rivers of you city? In many cities in Europe river bed have been changed or covered up due to the belive that they might be harmfull for carrying  deseases. In a way this is sad because you can not change this back, so many people will never know that there was a river once. I spoke to Benoit Joveneau and Charlotte Barbot about their project Tactile river. Its basically this. With artificial step stones made of transparent tactile LEDs they want to pave ways through cities which have covered rivers. This way the rivers could be visible again in the city and the path could be used to create a common art space for people. In the idea this street art in the art of street, but see yourself, they explained the project to me:

From street pavement to street art!



Want to support? Then klick the link!


Happy Nest

Again we are not talking about some kids movie and also not about a game for your mobile device. We are talking shit here... well in the idea of what we can do with waste, especially bio waste. Olivier Amestoy and Xavier Martin created their own NGO to help people in countries from different other countries in the world to use their waste in order to get energy out of it and to use natural procedures. But Olivier explained it to me by himself:
 In their own words


Support the project here.


General:

For those who are living in Brussels, the next project might be interesting.  Living here know that there is a huge art scene and many film festivals and art and music fastivals. However what is missing is a Cinema Festival for the community of Matonge. Since some people are of the same oppinion there is now the chance to support this idea. A festival for Matonge would give this part of Brussels which is not always connotated  with nice adjectives a chance to show its flurishing and great art. Support the cinema festival for Matonge

Do you know what it feels like when  you are doing something for the first time? Fear and Desire is a project where a bunch of actors started something new, the danced. Not being professional dancers they experienced the feeling of fear of failing but also the desire to make it happen, to succeed. Fear and Desire is a documentary that needs help in post production, therefore you might want to give some money, but to see it and to go with these dancing actors through their fear and desire you might want to watch the result:
Finishing the documentary: Fear and Desire!

When young austrians go Raggae this can be a real supprise. Now here they are. Some cool and funny people who are extremely creative. They mixed their home regions folklore with old school reggea design and sounds and created a sound system worth listening to. To bring it to other coommunities and regions the Steel City Sound System Movement is now looking for support! Check out their FB page. And support them so that you have a chance to listen to them!

The Last chapter as a ticket to heaven is no akward mix of a songbook with a movie. It is the awareness campaign about organ donation. This facinating project aims on bringing facts and all sides of the discussion together in order to help the people of Serbia to understand why it is important to actully donate organs. What is needed now is the support of us all to finish this brave documentary. Think about it, it could save your life!

There are some people who say, when I know the shoes you wear, I know who you are. Well this might be true, however, there are not only people who wear shoes, but also those who make shoes. Project MKD is a project for stylish basketball shoes made in Brussels. This guy makes shoes for you if you ave a special wish, but his greatest wish is to be able to make some shoes he designed. You might want to give him a try.

We all know that going by bike in the city in not always easy, especially if we are not wearing these ugly security wests. For protection definetly usefull but seriously not really nice to look at. Now if you are a woman this project here might be of interest foryou, men, thing might change once even for us, but you could find a nice present for  you loved once here ;) Owlcraft is a bunch of ladies who want to change the appearence of securit wests for ladies in a fashionable way:


 

 Easy to use and stylish. For more click the link!


The picture we see is not always the image others might have. Following the rule this will ofte not be since we have our own perspective. The project India Beyound Words takes this into account. In the first step the ASBL Common Places and the Indian Foundation F.O.A.R.S have made pictures of kids while they trained them to make pictures with cameras. Now in order to give this knowledge a sense they are looking for support to give these kids cameras so that they can make their own pictures. Bringing the image they have into picture. If you would like to support this project you might want to check: The link.

Dead drops follwowed by KraK is project by some people who say that there is a need for more information about what is going on in the European Brussels. They want to implement USB-devices which are loaded with scientific information about all the different things which are going on in Brussels in the Europen quater in order to foster the knowledge about all the things going on. This might sound a bit weired, and I can tell it it, but we are talking about expressive art in politics here...! Support the project ff you like the idea.

Which road does and ant go in the place in the city in which it is living and what does this say about the place it is living in? This is what ANTelligence is about. Clustering information about the inteligence of ants in the city. There might be an added value which I did not yet get completely... ever since I tried to get this Ant road out of the room of my former flatmate and did no succeed, I ask the question who is more intelligent the ANTs are me? Anyhow, here we go!

Now if you have counted these have just been 18 Projects. There are three which I will hand over to a Journalist friend of mine, since they are interesting for him and I will share the link as soon as I have it.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Way to go - who is in?

For those who have seen European Commission President Barrosos's latest "State of the Union" speech it might not have surprised that there was not much coming from it. 40 minutes the well repeated blubber of the last years with the positive smile, that there has been a lot achieved in the past five years. I listened to it, but I am afraid that I did not find one single idea that has not been chewed the cud a hundred if not a thousand times in the last months. Regarding the fact that this was the last speech of the semi successful European Commission President in front of the current European Parliament it was lacking a vision. I wonder if this is fair to say, since all the politics in Brussels are lacking vision. Barroso's lack of vision is no isolated case. But for some strange reason I was still hoping for something ambitious, something which shows a sparkle in the night sky which is rising for the current Parliament and Commission. Wouldn't this have made more sense? Wouldn't it have shown that there were actual lessons that had been learned in the last years? Why so calm? Why so peaceful? Europe does not have any need for calm politicians in our days. It needs people with opinions, open minded and standing firm behind their words. Why is it that this is not understood in the current situation by the current politicians? 

On the other hand, has anyone of you seen the new campaign video "Act. React. Impact" of the European Parliament in order to raise awareness about the upcoming European Parliament elections in May 2014? It is nicely done. You can see that it was actually well thought through. The only thing that buggers me, after I have watched it several times and listened to it with people from many different EU countries is the that we all had the same impression, this bitter aftertaste. It doesn't really say what it wants us to do but much more forces us to say: "Make up your mind!" 
Regarding what this campaign costs I wonder a bit why the EP finally did decide against working together with civil society. This way, if others wouldn't collaborate with each other to promote the European Parliament elections in May 2014, a total, but quite costly fail would be guaranteed. 

What is going on in Europe? Why is there no consequence? Why is there so much talk about drawn lessons but no learned lesson? I was told to go into European politics, but does Europe really want this? Do people seriously want someone like me? If yes, who goes with me? Can we create a European party across Europe which is made of people who think pragmatic not ideological?

If so, please let me know. It seems that there is a need for an alternative towards the current.



Wednesday, 10 July 2013

We do not want the United States of Europe - We want a federal Res Publica Europea

In the last weeks I learned a lot about federalism, what it means for many, what it means for my friends what it means for me. I understood the problem I have with most federalism in politics and the problem I have with those who think that a European federal system mirrored  from the United States of America is a great idea.

It might sound a bit odd when I say that the only thing that federalism in Europe can mean is a federal Respublica Europea. Most do not even understand the name of this idea.

But to make it easy. Europe is not America, the United States are not the European Union. This should be easy to understand. The one thing that unites the United States of America is until know the language. It is not the spirit of the people who live there, it is not the idea of being one people not even being one nation. 

The peoples of the United States of America are divers like any other population of any other continent. What does however unite them is their language. This language is the language of law in which the original constitution of the United States of America was written. 

Now we do not have this common language. Our Lingua Franca is English, so much is true, but it is not our common language. We all speak different languages, we are all born in different places which have their own languages. Europe's languages and the dialects in these languages are one of the main arguments why we can speak of a wide ranging diversity in Europe. Because if are honest, there is not much difference between us Europeans left. We all know the same music, not the old songs of our grandparents, but the MTV Top 100; we all know the same movies, not those of cultural value, but the Holly and Bolly blockbusters; We all wear the same clothes, designed in Europe, produced in Asia; If we have our own rooms we all go to IKEA; We all like to drink wine, beer and hard alcohols, love to spent time in caf├ęs and enjoy life as much as possible. if we want fast food we all eat pita, kebab, pizza or burger. Though when it comes to food, we all know where we come from. There is nothing that is as remarkable in our memory as the food of our childhood. We identify with this memory and love use our native language to describe it, because only in this language we are able to define exactly what this memory tastes like. When we are angry we all swear in our mother tongue, not because it sounds better, but because it is more accurate. This brings us back to why we are not united as the peoples in the United States are united. It also is my argument why we should not and actually can not aim  for the United States of Europe. If we do this, we go against our peoples, against ourselves. 

To stay ourselves  and to go against our peoples we have to acknowledge where we come from and who we are. We have to change our perception of what being a European means. We have to find a way to accept that we all come not only from different places, but from different cultural backgrounds. We have to understand which chances this bears instead of always trying to find away to get over the problems we see in this diversity. Europe is not chaotic but slowly grown. Every part of this continent is grown at on its own in the environment of being part of a continental growing acting, reacting and interacting society of peoples. We all have our own, our cultural and our common history. This  is the reason why we are different, why we are not one people, why we will not be one nation, but why we actually have a good reason to live together in on public system. Because in the end, what we all have in common by now as well, is the high rate of dissatisfaction with the political systems and the politicians who run these systems; either as representatives or as payroll staff. 

If we start considering our diversity as a chance we might get to the consideration of the benefits this diversity brings with it. 

Federalism is, by the definition I use, a structural idea of how the balance of power in a political system is guaranteed. The core argument thereby is that the more spread the power in this political system is carried out, the more does this system need to have equally powerful knots to balance the carried  out  power. 

The political system of the European Union is right now a network of representative democracies interacting with each other within a collection of treaties, regulations and laws which manage the rights and duties of each of the democratic systems within the Union, by granting every system a diverse range of  opt outs through the backdoor. The agreements of governments - each constitutionally representing its peoples - are until today able to whitewash their actions of diversion for the foundation of a balance of power mechanism which grants every power out carrying part the same rights and duties within the Union. The lack of an overall arching jurisdictional framework which determines a framework to guarantee the balance of power in the European Union is an essential problem of the European project as such. It is even more so surprising that this lack is not fostering the debate about who actually holds the power in the political system of the European Union, guaranteed by the constitutions of the many representative democracies in the European Union. 

In each of the democracies the power out carrying entity is the citizen. The individual who enjoys the full constitutional guaranteed rights of the representative democracy is is living is, is commonly defined as a citizen. But if the power out carrying entity is the citizen and even if this power has been handed on to representatives who are acting as parliament on behalf of the vote of the citizens, the mechanism to guarantee the balance of power in the political system has to be as wide spread as the power is carried out.

The amount of power the representatives have in regard to the structural level of representation they officiate in the political system does not differ between each structural level since each representative who acts on vote of the citizens is legitimated with the same power: the vote of the citizens. The amount of votes a representative gets to represent in the parliament does not make a difference, since the this person got the minimum amount of needed votes by the constituency which could vote for a representative. Under the idea that every citizen is - in a democratic system - equal to the other citizens the amount of citizens voting for a representative who has to reach a certain threshold can not make a difference because equality is the  qualifying variable in a democracy while the amount of votes a candidate needs to reach a threshold is depending on the size of the constituency the candidate runs for office. Since a system looses efficiency if it replicates its horizontal structure on every vertical structural level in the political system, it is needed that the officiated representation in the political system is in accordance with the minimal needed size of constituency on the citizens level to legitimate the candidate on the vertical level he is representing in. This does however lead to the fact that the structure of carrying out power in the political system of the European Union is not  pyramidal but cylindrical, since all power to each and every representative is given by the citizens, not on their behalf but by their vote. The difference between the representatives is defined by the realm of jurisdictional reach of the vertical level which they represent while the subsidiarity principle is regulating the level of representation needed to carry out power on vote of the citizen. Each and every government which is not directly, but indirectly elected by the representatives of the citizens, is from this perspective only for administrative reasons bearable to guarantee a running workflow between the levels of representation with in this system. It has to act as a general secretariat which distributes information towards and settles conflicts within the horizontal level, coordinates and has to execute the decisions made by the responsible parliamentary representation. To facilitate the decision making process each of these governments has a consultatory role towards the parliament it is elected by to improve law making by including best practices. It has to be heard. However no indirect, by the representatives, elected, government has the legal competence to decide on laws or binding regulations nor treaties between any of the parts of the political system.

To federalise the European Union hence means to redefine our perception of the citizenship in the the political system of the European Union. If the citizen is the one who holds the power in the political system of the European Union we need to reconsider what being a citizen of the European Union actually means. This implies that the European Union needs, before any other change towards a federal European Union is even possible, a constituting agreement between all governments of in the European Union determining the full European citizenship with all rights every national citizen has in the member state including full voting rights for every vote in the inhabited constituency. Only if every citizen has the full right to take part in the European society where ever living, Europe becomes a public good, a res publica, and as such can be handed back into public ownership of the citizens. The promotion of this goal should, in my opinion be the first action of every federalist.

With all the differences Europe - as geographic location with a diverse range of cultures and languages - conjoins, a European citizenship is only possible, if we overcome the idea that all these cultures can not live within the same overarching jurisdictional framework under which all citizens have the same rights and duties. Our cultural backgrounds do not unite us as a nation of Europeans who all have the same goal, but because the idea of the United States of Europe would mean to overcome our cultural differences for the sake of having pyramidal federal system which disregards the citizen as the only legitimate entity to carry out power in the political system of the European Union this can not and must not be the aim of federalism in my understanding. What federates us is our common history and culture on this continent besides the history and cultures of the societies we grew up in and identified with; the wish to be able to live where ever on this continent without loosing our full constitutional rights; the possibility to work under the same rights as those who live in the country they originate from.

Europeans tend to leer at the constitution of the United States of America as a blueprint for a democratic constitution of a federal Europe. This is blindfold and neglects the great history and he achievements of the European peoples who fought relentlessly for their citizenship rights in the preceding centuries and decades against kings, occupiers, invaders, dictators, empires and corrupted regimes. It also disregards the fact that we, the citizens of Europe, know best how to live together and to create a constitutional framework that grants us all the same rights.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Starting with a Monday

Good morning  everyone. It's Monday and like very often on Mondays or the beginning of the week in general there is a lot to be done. But I think the best way to cope with this is this:
So have a nice day, smile and think about one thing you want to have achieved at the end of the week.

I am the founder and organiser of the "Rock the Union" tour and  I can tell you for this week I already have 12 confirmed meetings, two events to attend and minimum 60 people to welcome on Twitter. Sounds odd? Well we just got started. Besides, We will have our crowd funding campaign running from next week on, Looking forward to gain your support!