This Changes Everything Vs. My Life on the Road


For NaNoWriMo last year I wrote a blog post a day and one of them was about comparative reading. I think it is such an amazing concept and I wanted to do it again. It gives you a deeper understanding of what you have read, how certain writers tackle certain aspects, and how you can shift your focus when reading.

“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” is a book by Naomi Klein from 2014 which looks into the economic, social, and environmental aspects of climate change while also analysing how capitalism brought us there. It was a fascinating book and will probably be one of the main sources for my own project because it has so much wisdom in it.

Gloria Steinem’s memoir “My Life on the Road” was published in 2015. She describes her life as an activist, the people she has met and who have guided her throughout, and the issues women were and are still facing today. It was inspiring to read about a life lived so fully.

What I loved most about these two books was their inclusiveness, their focus on minorities and their unique struggles. Steinem writes about her experiences with people who have faced discrimination and how they dealt with them. What we can do about them. Naomi Klein is also very aware and she takes it a step further, linking these issues to climate change.

One aspect that made me look at “My Life on the Road” through an environmental lens in the first place was this one by Steinem in her interview with Emma Watson: If we had real equality between women and men, women would be able to decide for themselves if they want to receive children or not. They would have full reproductive freedom and would not have to have children they don’t want or cannot have. It would offer them opportunities to work, to invest in education, to live more sustainably. The effect of climate change also depends on global population size. This is why feminism should be one of the main strategies to conquer climate change. Naomi Klein adds to this as she says that every movement aiming for equality is a step in the right direction of conquering climate change.

Our environmental problems today are the product of hundreds of years of inequality, of exploitation, and expression of power over nature. In a culture where not everyone is able to work together because of prejudices and strong opposing opinions, there will be no unified action against climate change. One which we so desperately need. Gloria Steinem argues that these movements are indeed happening right now, though, and that she has experienced living right among them. Felt their power and the hope they radiate. This is also what I noticed in the end of “This Changes Everything”. There is a way to get through this. We have to transform our values and work for a more just world.

“My Life on the Road” examines how this is done in detail. Going around, talking to people. Listening to their struggles and spreading awareness. Giving talks to activists, forming groups, marching. These are the practical aspects of the great change Naomi Klein wrote about.

Since Klein’s book is researched to a great detail and could be seen more as a piece of journalism, it does not have as many personal stories in it as “My Life on the Road”. However, the part I loved the most, was her telling the story how she struggled to get pregnant and how her son was born. She wrote about the BP oil spill and its effect on the eggs and youngest fish in lakes and oceans. It was beautifully linked and thus all the more powerful. “My Life on the Road” as a memoir has all these stories and anecdotes which are linked to the pressing issues of our time. This taught me a lot: When writing my own book I have to connect my own stories to the issues I’m talking about. Otherwise, they will get too distant. I don’t want to be a preacher. I want to be an observer of the world, a storyteller.

Both books have changed my perception. After finishing “This Changes Everything” today I am a bit more hopeful that we can avert the crisis, but I’m also more painfully aware of the damage that we have done thus far. I feel physical pain in my stomach and heart when I read about oil spills, about devastating pollution, and the exploitation of people all over the world. Gloria Steinem assured me through the women’s movement that this can be changed. I have had the great amount of opportunities only through women like her. Once we recognise our power as a unified people, we can make a difference. Once we tell our stories and share our values, we will succeed.

Both of them showed me a journalism at its finest. Since it is a profession I could really see myself in, it was interesting to read about their lives. I felt a personal connection through the love of writing and the passion with which they dive into their topics.

What is the overall message of both books?
Be hopeful. Work harder. Be more inclusive. Listen and learn.

On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft


Yesterday I finished reading Stephen King’s On writing. It’s an amazing book, it tells you so much about what being an author means. He included lots of useful tips I would like to share with you.

How to develop a story?

This is what resonated most with me. He describes the writing process as carving out a fossil from the earth. You have to be careful to not destroy it. You look for traces and follow the bones, you sometimes even work only with brushes. Don’t force a storyline on your characters. Throw stones on their way and let them overcome them. See how they react. This way the story stays interesting. You never know what will happen.

You should always write a first draft and edit out at least 10% in the second session. After writing the first one, you should take a break of several weeks. Work on something different. You will have a different view on your story afterwards.

I apply the same process to my paintings. I love working on portraits. I spread out thin layers of colour, start working on the eyes, switch to another part. Go back and forth. Layer by layer. If I don’t like something, I paint over it. Writing, like painting, is a craft.

What to cut?

Adverbs. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” he wrote. I know what he means. I always wrote these extremely descriptive tales with beautifully chosen adverbs that were fitting perfectly… Throw them out. Focus on the story. Focus on the characters.

Show, don’t tell. “Clean your room, for heaven’s sake!”, his mother shouted angrily. Do you think your readers are stupid? Of course she is angry! Don’t tell the reader that, he already knows. Leave the unimportant stuff out.

At the moment I’m editing all my texts from NaNoWriMo 2016 which is a lot of fun. I cut half of the words. These texts are much sharper now. Focused. The rhythm improved, the speed increased. I like them a lot better. If you want to see the results, just go back to my texts, I have written down how many words I deleted.

Write every day.

My plan for 2017 is to write every day. So far I have achieved this. It’s early in the year, though. A few nights ago I was restless and couldn’t go to sleep. I noticed: You haven’t written anything today! I sat at my computer for two hours and slept like a baby.

If you are struggling to summon the energy for writing: Listen to Hamilton, the musical. I am obsessed with it at the moment. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Gosh, that man’s a genius. I can’t understand how I haven’t listened to the songs yet!

“Non-Stop” and “My Shot”. These are the songs for all the desperate writers out there. Write day and night like you running out of time. Like you need it to survive. Go write. Then edit it. Throw the adverbs out. Get it out there. Open your door, let people read it. That’s what being a writer is. Do it for your love of words and stories.

NaNoWriMo 2016
Day 1: http://wp.me/p397E8-4WH
Day 2: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xb
Day 3: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xg
Day 4: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xm
Day 5: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xu
Day 6: http://wp.me/p397E8-4XA

NaNoWriMo Day 20: Imagining Others Complexly


How do you introduce yourself? What do you say? What do you tell others about your life? How do you identify? What is important?

I had the time to show my mum one single Ted Talk yesterday that I loved. On my list, there are many. Talks about the environment, about books and technology and history and self-improvement. The one that I picked, though, was Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s talk “The Danger of the Single Story”. About imagining other people complexly. About books that show more than the usual, go deeper and consider many aspects of life. About her college roommate who could not believe she could speak English or know how to use a stove, because she is from Nigeria. That girl had only ever heard a single story about Africa. One of disasters, not of ideas and rich cultural history.

About the books Adichie read as a child, British and American books. With white children in them eating apples, instead of mangos. Children who were so very different from herself.

My childhood novels were the same, narrow. They showed people like me, though. But they did not change my picture of the world. They were selective. Thrilling, but small in their diversity. In their topics.

What I found particularly interesting, is the thought what stories would tell, if we started with “secondly”. If we left out parts of history to make them fit our images. Tell the story about failing African governments without mentioning colonialism. Showing fighting Native Americans without the settlers from Europe who robbed them of their lands and livelihoods. Their stories. Stories are written by winners so it is important that we read stories from those people who’s voices have been muted. Who do not have the power to speak up. Whose voices are too small, too faint. Those are the ones who show the cracks in the system, the failures of the winners. The life behind the walls.

We are humans, there is so much to our lives. Every day we discover new aspects, learn new things. We built up a pool of knowledge that we can live from. Every day a step in a direction that might be yet unknown to us. We might have big dreams that we want to reach. That will lead our steps in the right way. However, you cannot always have a plan. You go on anyway.

What do I tell people when they first meet me?

I’m a student. Of environmental and resource management.

I love to learn. I love our earth. I will make our earth my profession. I’m an enthusiastic. I love my projects. I give everything for them. My best friend told me a few days ago, that he was impressed by my endurance with my ideas. I develop them but I do not give up on them. I will involve all the people it needs to bring this project to an end, to make it happen. It was so lovely of him to say so and maybe that’s exactly who I am. I’m a creator and a manager. Very obsessed with nature protection. Inspired easily.

I’m an artist.

Now this is more difficult. My art teacher always told us that we cannot call ourselves artists if we do not make it our profession. How many wonderful artists are out there who have a day-job? Who juggle everything in their lives to find the time to paint in the middle of the night? Who will give everything for their dream? Are those not artists? It would be an insult to all the hard-working people out there.

Isn’t everyone an artist in the end? People love beautiful things. People love provocative and interesting things. They love to see hand-made things. Things that make them think or cry or laugh.

I just went on tumblr to search for some inspiration and I found this blog: http://www.stephaniekubo.com/ Isn’t she amazing? I love colours, I love to look at art! There have to be people who make art! Let’s please all call them artists.

When I look around the room I’m sitting in, there are many canvases that I have painted in the last years. They bring life into the room. They add a bit of colour. They add bits of myself. Paintings are very personal. They can be a looking-glass to your soul.

They all look different. There is this odd oil painting that I did in school many years ago. It pictures the tuscany. It has that bright blue sky, the screaming green, little houses and red roofs. There is a realistic grey painting of a train station I did as a school project. A painting that I made in anger in the middle of the night. Wild brush strokes with black and red. Trees shaken by the wind. A road with colourful cars, quite impressionistic.That’s my favourite one. A painting not yet finished of a canal in Venice, a portrait, a stormy sea. Lübeck in abstract forms, one canvas with just rectangles on it. All of them have completely different styles. I painted all of them following my road. I got better doing so. I developed forms and colours. I tried and failed and tried again. They are complex as a whole, they might not fit together in your eyes. But for me they do. Because they are all made by the same hands. Every single one representing a step in my artistic development.

John Green said in his Ted Talk “Paper Towns” that we all are making a map in our lives. That everything we learned and did appears on that map. It makes us who we are. I love that image. With every step forward the road in front of us gets a little more illuminated. With every picture we draw, every word we read, every sentence we write. We are the light on our paths. Never fully aware of what will come, but always sure what we have learned so far.

I’m a writer.

Every day I write words on paper. Every day I think of stories. I let my thoughts go through a pen. Channel my creativity. Am I a writer? Probably. Writing is an important part of my life. It makes me a better observer, a better thinker, a better learner.

My writing style has improved so much during the last year because I surrounded myself with it. It takes 10 000 hours to bring something to a professional level. That number shouldn’t prevent you from doing anything ever again. Because you cannot invest that much time. Nobody has time! However, this figure tells you to keep going. Every hour you invest in painting, writing or playing an instrument, a sport will bring you closer to your goal. Will illuminate a metre more on the path in front of you. Even if you sneak in ten minutes a day.

I’m a reader.

I love stories. I have not seen much of the world yet. I have never been out of Europe before. Which is sad. Which I cannot change right now. But I read across borders. I read stories of people so incredibly different from mine that I wondered if we even lived on the same earth. I have seen many lives unfolded, many situations dealt with, many wars fought. They changed me and made me who I am. Diverse stories. Not diverse enough, though.

What Adichie calls the “Danger of the Single Story” is, that we always read that one defining story about someone. A person, a country, a people. They are written from outside. If we let ourselves be lead by this one story, we narrow our minds. These are the starting points of judgements, prejudices.

Understanding the world in its entirety is not possible. We can only ever see little parts and pieces of it. We are not able to know every person we ever meet. We can try, though, to encounter as many stories as possible about them. Every story has the capability to change our lives. It’s important that we give them the opportunity. That we let them into our minds. Think of it as a scrapbook. You put more and more pictures into it, decorate it, write little lines. You always add to it. Until it gets a new picture. A more complete one than the one before. Our lives are scrapbooks of experiences.

Media do a great job at breaking things down for everyone. Depicting conflicts as two-party-problems. In reality, they are much more complex. There is so much more to it! We talk about wars in history. Identify the leading parties. The politicians, the driving forces. No one talks about the fate of the people, though. A war is always fought on the back of ordinary people. Who will give their lives. What are the stories these people have to tell? Does that interest us in history? It doesn’t. That’s sad.

It would be much more interesting to have an approach on the tales that people have to offer. They would stick in our minds. I don’t remember when the Thirty Years’ War started but I do remember that some people where thrown out of a window in Prague which marked the beginning of the whole mess. It’s the stories around that matter.

I don’t remember the seven first kings of Rome but I do remember that the first one was nursed by a wolf and the last one Superbus, was a real assh**e. They made Rome a republic afterwards! Said, “nope, no more kings please”. In Latin we read Cicero crying about his exile, how bad he felt. We read what Caesar wrote about his war in Gallia. Those are stories, told by people. Hundreds of years ago. Through their stories they are alive again.

We remember all these stories. They are a part of our lives.

What I find sad is that we never got to read many stories from other continents, other experiences than those from Europe. Our stories were narrow, our minds were, too. Small, those of children, when we tried so hard to not be children anymore.

We tend to see the problems in other nations, not their potential. We see all those catastrophes in the media that they suffer from. Not their achievements. We hear of the crises but never of the female leaders who made it to the top. We hear of diseases and drama, never of the inventions and ideas. Our pictures of each other are so small, the paths so dark. Maybe one day our ways will cross. Will we try to have a look around on the roads of other people? That’s our choice. It’s our choice to seek other perspectives.

Imagine others complexly. You will never see everything of a person’s life. You are never able to take a look inside their minds. You will never really know what they think. Despite what they tell you. We are bound to our own consciousness. Therefore it is important that we read.

You are what you read. You learn how to act in certain situations. You see what kind of person you would like to be. I would like to be a bit like Jane Austen’s Emma. Witty and interesting. Like Hermione Granger, intelligent, hard-working and loyal. A bit like Luna Lovegood, a little weird, but kind-hearted. Like so many other women I read about. More like Katniss, like Rue, like Celie, like Brienne.

We have a need for strong female characters in books. They were always a bit overseen in literature. They were just shadows, kind shadows in the background. They did not have to face challenges. They were blunt copies of the flesh-and-blood women they were based on. A female character is not strong if she always just gets her way, if stones are thrown in her way and she overcomes them. A strong character has flaws. Has a life before the story even begins. A strong character faces the stones that are thrown on their paths. A strong character falls over them, fails, tries again. She has different interests and passions, leading her on her way. I want to see more female characters who work despite the odds. Who stand up again after being thrown to the ground. Who use their wits and intelligence, their energy to go against a current and sometimes with it. Well-rounded interesting characters.

Take for example “Gone Girl”. They are both a bit… strange characters. I don’t know who is better. They have their flaws. But they are alive. You think of them as real people. They have their stories to share. They make their judgements based on prior decisions, paths they have taken. Take “The Girl on the Train”. An observer who isn’t quite objective, who is an alcoholic. Unreliable narrators are the best! We get to know her story, feel pain when she does, are angry when she is angry. We are desperate when she doesn’t remember anything, we are with her. Why? Because she is a rounded character. A strong woman, in her own way. She has a story to tell. She has a life, that we can believe. Flaws and strengths.

There are many books with great female characters but never enough. There are many books from storytellers all over the world. Those we do not hear from regularly. Stories we never knew of. They are important. It is important to listen to faint voices. To filter them in an environment where only the biggest fish get a place on the bestseller lists. Those little stories are sometimes the most honest ones. The most interesting ones. The most life-changing ones. Because they tell us that we don’t have to shout to get heard. Show us that we can have our flaws and be wonderful humans after all. That we can walk on our paths, never lonely, always surrounded by people whose stories we shared.

Share your story with others. Tell them more than just one about you. Let them think of you as a rounded person with flaws and strengths. More importantly, listen to their stories. Ask them to tell you more than just one. Consider them as complex people. Reject the single story. There is always more to tell about a person. There are always so many things hidden behind the facade. There’s always more to uncover.

Think deep, read more. Learn from other people. They have a lot to offer. Imagine other people complexly. Never be satisfied with just one point of view. Ask questions. Do not think that you know what a person feels like. Listen to them.

Think of the world like one huge painting. You start in one corner. You fill the canvas. You can paint over it, change its look completely. There are always more colours to add, new shapes to discover. Every action forms a new line on your canvas. You would want to add more colour instead of wiping it off. Make it more interesting, make it more diverse. With every experience it will get a little more like yourself. With the bits you pick out of books, songs, conversations… They will change you, your painting, your life. Don’t just paint with one colour. Life is so beautiful, use the beauty to make your own the best you could possibly live.

Current Word Count: 33 370

NaNoWriMo Day 13: Some Eco Stories


Story Time! Today I will present you some little tales from my journey of becoming an Environmental Manager. I’m not a scientist, I’m not an engineer, I’m a little of everything and that’s why I love it so much. We are the ones to gather people together and discuss different approaches. That is also kind of the excuse for when we are failing at maths. Hopefully, someone will do those calculations for us… It’s important to have a general overview. We are getting little portions of everything. Just enough to keep us excited and let us stick our noses into our books.

Last Friday, we went on an excursion for our module Basic Soil Science, which is one of my absolute favourites. I don’t know what it is about the dirt beneath our feet that fascinates me that much. Maybe because it is so vital to our existence. Without good soil we couldn’t sustain our lives. Or maybe it is just because I grew up doing some gardening work. I remember my dad digging holes in our garden to plant trees or plants or breaking up the soil. It is fascinating how it takes such a long time to build a soil. Up to 200 years to form 1 cm! Yet, nowadays we are ruining our grounds with chemical inputs and fertilisers so that the ground we need to feed ourselves is decreasing rapidly.

We drove to the forest north of Cottbus, there is an end moraine with the hills that the glaciers brought with them. It was oddly silent there. This silence is something we rarely experience anymore in our fast moving cities. There is always a car, a plane, a train, construction work… In this forest, though, it was silent. And extremely cold. Who wanted to go to Sweden for her semester abroad? In winter? Yeah, me. Freaking out over frosty temperatures in Germany…

To keep us warm we started digging a hole in the forest ground. That was some exercise! All the tree roots through the whole profile… We were the only completely female group. They expected us to not manage to dig a pit in the ground. Well, we were the first ones to finish! Some first class girl power here! Our professor came and examined what we had done, the hole was one metre deep just as we should do it. Then he said: “I’m terribly sorry ladies, you have to go on. There is another layer beneath.” So we kept on digging. And who would have known? Another layer of darker soil became visible. We even build a step to be able to get out of the pit again. That was a nice deep hole in a lonely, we made there.

Then it was time to examine the soil profile. At the top, there is always a layer of organic material, moss and humus and needles and other leaf litter. Underneath that, the first horizon starts, the Ah horizon. It is made out of humus and normally very dark soil. Beneath that one is the B horizon. In addition, it gets a little w if it is weathered. Weathering is a soil transformation process, in our case the iron in our soil was transformed and it got a yellowish colour. Right under that one is the C horizon, which was also a little weathered. Then the interesting part began. There was another layer where there should be none. How to explain that?

In medieval times, the forest that surrounded us had been cut and the trees dragged into the valley we were standing in. That damaged the top layer of the soil with all its organic material. It became fossilised, therefore it is called “II (for second layer) fAh”. Because we had a lot of sand there, it was washed away by heavy rainfall and got into the valley where we were standing. It covered the top layer, the organic matter. A new layer was formed. A new A, B and C horizon. My friend Hannah took this amazing picture to illustrate that:

soil

There was also a lot of little charcoal pieces in our soil sample. That could be due to forest fire or a just a campfire workers in the woods made. Forever to be seen in the soil beneath our feet.

It was an adventure, it was exciting. We visited history by digging into the ground, just 1.40 m deep. That’s not that much! We dug ourselves to medieval times! Only in rethinking the day I am grasping how amazing that is. We can look into our past by making a hole in the ground. A very beautiful hole, my father said, he always wanted to build one like that.

Looking back into our history has always excited me. I grew up with books about history and tv documentaries on the past centuries. One of the first ones I looked at was a book about the ancient Egypt, which is my mother’s but I would always study all the photographs and become excited. I read novels about history borrowed from my grandparents. I had great history teachers! I would talk to my granny about her life. We always look at the old photo albums. I just love to hear stories.

One of the heroes of my mum is Heinrich Schliemann, who made the first excavations to try and find the ancient Troja. He did indeed find it! At least the Bronze Age one. Now we know there have been many more. That’s also fascinating to me. They build a city and after they left or it burned down or something else happened, there was always a new one on the exact same spot!

Schliemann was obsessed with his dream and did everything he could to get where he wanted to be. Educated himself, learned languages. He embodies what history means to my mum and through her stories also to me. I love to go to libraries and do research. I love to read biographies at the moment, to learn about the lives of people who are so very different from me. Who share their experiences and thereby teach what life can be about. That your path is not always straight and that you should let yourself be guided by interest, curiosity and passion. Today I started Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance”. I really didn’t want to put it down but I have to write this text! 😉 It’s such a great book from by such a great man.

Concerning the stories we are told by our families: I asked them when they first became aware of climate change. I mean our generation basically grew up with it. In school we were always taught about it, the science behind it was all around us. I painfully became aware of how difficult and desperate the situation was in a geography, when we were talking about the Doha conference in 2012. The Kyoto protocol was extended but Canada, Russia, Japan and New Zealand left this Kyoto II contract. We realised that it is difficult to reach agreements on an international level. In our course we learned about renewable energies and sustainable city design, all skills that we thought we wouldn’t need after school. Who would have known that I would exactly use that, just a few years later?

My family told me varying points when they became aware of global warming. It was as early as the whole ozone hole discussion came up or when there were increasingly damaging hurricanes and flooding in the Indian ocean.

The problem with our ozone layer began in the last 70s. There were several international agreements like the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention which did a fair job. Scientific evidence on what causes the ozone layer to deplete was not that established at the time. 2012 was the first year in which we could observe that the ozone hole got smaller again. To me it seems like that was nearly the only significant positive news concerning the environment we got until this point. Sure, we have had a lot of international agreements. I’m flipping through a whole law book at the moment trying desperately to find that one article. It feels like a lot of talking without doing anything, though. Maybe I’m being unfair to the hard working people behind these agreements. Certainly they will have an impact someday. But until we are not able to implement them, nothing is going to change. International environmental law is a difficult topic and we will have to work on that for decades to get a decent outcome. Hopefully stopping global warming. This vision, however, seems a little to optimistic to me. Unfortunately.

As students, we live in a helpful environment. We are a bunch of people eager to change things. We will gather together as a study course and will watch documentaries about food waste. Any environmental challenge. You name it. Forty people raging and crying about all the lost vegetables and other products we throw away. Gasping each time the shocking numbers are revealed. We want to do something about this. Nevertheless, we are also aware of the fact that change takes a long time. Just like soil forming! 1 centimetre in 200 years! Especially with the tireless lobbying of major cooperations who want to secure their own profits. Who only think in short term profit maximisation. It’s a frightening world we are living in and as the gaps between people are widening, it is sometimes hard to imagine a better and united world.

Only those who focus on their vision, will make it come true. My father always tells me that analogy: “If you are driving the car and something emerges ahead, do not look at it. Look to its side because that’s the direction you want to drive to.” People who look at their goal in front of them and not their obstacle, those are the ones who will succeed in the end.

Current Word Count: 21802

NaNoWriMo Day 10: Environmentalism 2.0


The first snow of the autumn has reached Cottbus and we are freezing, sitting in Uni and trying not to think about what happened yesterday. We are a bunch of hopeful people. At least we try to be.

We discussed the events a lot today and one particular thought haunted us. What will happen to our environment? All that we try to fight for?

In International Environmental Law, our lecturer suggested that we took a good look at the Paris Agreement, Article 28:

At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary. (…)

Even if Trump wanted to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, it would take 3 years for him to hand in that note and another year until he really would get out of it. So well done, Obama, for signing it just in time. That’s what we read in the law. The problem is – there is also the possibility to simply not do what’s in the law. In this very case, the Paris Agreement is not as harsh as the Kyoto Protocol. The US hasn’t signed that one, by the way. And Canada withdrew to not face the fines they had to pay because they didn’t fulfil the regulations. Germany isn’t much better either…

For many people, the Paris Agreement is a groundbreaking accomplishment. It may be, for all that I know. I’ll go a bit into detail once we have discussed it in uni. There are a lot of things I don’t really understand yet. Law is so confusing! The difficulty with treaties is this: It will not change single people. There is a lot of talking without saying anything. There are a lot of action plans never implemented. There are a lot of recommendations never considered.

My dad believes that the real change has to be made economically. I can see his point. We live in a world where money is playing a vital part in our lives. Who am I kidding, The part in our lives. Which ever way we might argue, we are not going to change that. Therefore, we have to work on that basis. There are lots of economical solutions we were taught in our Economics classes. Standards, Taxes, Tradable Permits. Very simplified they mean the following: Standards set the pollution to a certain level. Taxes often provide the incentive to emit even less because you still have to pay taxes on even little emissions. Tradable Permits are based on the idea that there is a polluter with more emissions and one with less. Both own emission permits. The one with higher emissions can buy those from the one with smaller emissions. Thereby the one who emits less, makes a profit. We could even implement that on a private level: If you want to drive long distance with your car, there has to be someone who creates energy by a solar plant, for example. Trade the permissions and everyone is happy.

The idea is this: If you pollute, you have to pay. This is a lovely principle which can be found written down in the Rio Declaration of 1992. It has a legal basis in International Law. However, it isn’t really implemented on a global scale. In the end, the consumer has to pay. It’s as simple as that.

I also really like the idea of a carbon tax for people. Every action that increases the greenhouse gas emissions has to be paid for. Make meat and fish so expensive that no one is able to buy them anymore and no one will do so.

This strategy seems nice but I doubt it would work like that. Furthermore, the implementation is just not possible. We have such a strong lobby especially behind the biggest emitters – the food, transport and energy industry. This is where people need to make changes.

Emily Hunter (http://emilyhunter.ca/), the daughter of two of the founders of greenpeace, speaks in a Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsB2qtDaiRw&list=WL&index=36) about modern activism. She has been everywhere, fighting and campaigning for environmentalism. Until she found that this kind of activism might not be for her. Going with boats into every corner of our oceans to stop whale hunting. That’s so seventies! Instead, she started to make films and write books, make documentaries about activists and share their stories. She is a journalist and calls herself storyteller. Her activism is storytelling.

She points out that our generation is the biggest to ever have existed on this planet. And we are the ones to bring the change. Maybe not by old-fashioned campaigning anymore but by media. We are able to write and film and make this earth a better place. Our voices are completely different from those of the 1970s. Now, the environment should concern all of us and it does. Therefore, we should all be environmentalists in our own ways. You don’t have to buy yourself a boat and fight against whaling in the Antarctic. You might not be a part of huge protests or demonstrations. You might simply share the message that this planet needs our help and we therefore have to stand up to make it happen. If you can, though, try to make your message heard to as many people as possible.

She also mentions that the movement has to become much more radical. At the moment there are many actions which are on a local level. Or which go viral for a few weeks and disappear again. We need to change that. Our planet has to be on the agenda permanently. Not on a negative note, though. It has to fill our news with hopeful messages and not ones of despair.

I believe our future lies in technology. My father is an engineer, that should explain a lot. Renewable energies and technology to help us with all the problems we face. In many rural areas solar panels and mobile phones have transformed the business life. The education system. People are empowered and find new ways to use their potential. There is another wonderful TedTalk I would like to suggest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDo2mx5aBts. The Future of Environmentalism.

We face many environmental challenges in this world but they can be solved by investing in human brain power and technology. This sustainable innovation can be our way to save this world and make our lives better. I just found out, that there is some research done to make solar panels out of carbon and not silicon.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carbon-emerges-as-new-solar-power-material/

There are projects to make artificial photosynthesis work, much more effective than the real ones of plants. Still, it is a very good idea to plant trees. We should never underestimate the power of our vegetation. I love trees, I also hug them sometimes.

The past environmentalism has been based on two things. Fear and Guilt. Fear doesn’t work. Guilt doesn’t work. In industrialised countries, we have caused the problem of climate change. Maybe guilt works for us. But not for those who suffer from the consequences of our irresponsible behaviour!

We love doing stuff. So instead of telling people what not to do, we should encourage them to make stuff! To come up with new technologies and innovations! Humans are so good at that!

“The new environmentalism is got to be about doing more, not doing less. About inspiring people to tackle climate change but also giving people a better life in the here and now.” Martin Wright

Today, I want to motivate you to change things by doing some little things that may have a widespread impact.

  1. All around the globe, small businesses try to bring changes in their communities. On https://www.kiva.org/ you can find them and help them with giving micro-credits. They pay you the money back and you can invest in the next project. This way innovative people are supported, especially women who normally do not have the chance to do so in many developing countries.
  2. Invest in crowd-funding. There are incredible minds out there working on the environmental technology of the future. You can find them on crowd-funding websites – help support their projects or spread the word!
  3. Watch the videos I suggested and share them with other people. Inspire them to take action and tell them that it is important to you. Talk to them about how you can make a difference.
  4. Most importantly, though, is to inform yourself. Read an article about renewable energies, about new technologies, about trees if you like, everything that excites you! If you are an engineer, maybe you can find ways to work on environmental projects or share your knowledge with others.
  5. For my fellow WordPress bloggers: If you are interested in photography, I challenge you to make a photo report about environmental problems in your region or hometown. It can be water pollution, waste, air pollution, mining … anything that you recognise as a problem. Whatever difficulties you find in your neighbourhood. Go out and take a photo. Write about it. Share it with other people. This is a small contribution but in our modern age, it is not that hard to get your voice heard. The WordPress community is an absolutely lovely one and I enjoy so much being part of it.
    In the end I will dedicate a post to your topic and I will do a lot of research to back it with some facts. Thereby, we will have stories from everywhere shared on different platforms to underline their importance.

In Cottbus, for example, we have a big problem with open cast and lignite mining. The pollution and environmental damage it has caused is unbelievable. Habitats are destroyed, people have to move, whole ecosystems are ruined. For long periods of time. The lakes build after the mining will never have the same biodiversity as before.

Those are the stories I’m looking for. Share them, make them important. Let them be your contribution, your activism 2.0, your new environmentalism.

Current Word Count: 17677

NaNoWriMo 2016: A 30 Day Blogging Challenge


“The first words are written. Go on creating your novel. The world needs your novel!” the NaNoWriMo team said in their email. I felt guilty. I hadn’t written any words yet! I hadn’t even started a new novel! I wanted to be part of this community again! People deciding to write 50 000 in 30 days. Those are my people! … I felt left out.

I wanted to take a four week university module which would have taken all of my time away. The registration period was already over. There went my plan for November. In desperate need of a new project I started writing. I need that thrill. I need the excitement. My friends always ask me: “Do you have another ‘project’ at the moment?” I do now. “Last minute, but I do. I’m writing 50 000 words once more. In blog posts. This time without any planning at all.”

Last year I was in a better shape. I was prepared. I wrote 50 000 words and I loved it. I wrote on the trains, I wrote late at night, I put together a story. Since I didn’t have a great novel or even a decent idea, I thought that had to change the following year. I wanted to start preparing in August. September went by. October. Today I find myself at my laptop typing the first words of this year’s NaNoWriMo. Spontaneous.

I don’t know what it is about late autumn and winter that drives my creativity. I love it when the nights get cold and crispy leaves fly around, when you walk through seas of red and yellow. I love sitting with a hot cup of tea inside, a blanket around me. Listening to an audiobook and knitting. Now I’m sitting here with a laptop. Coming up with ideas. Writing every silly little thing down. With a bullet point in front of it. Bullet points add seriousness.

New projects make you excited in the first days. Around day 20 last year I had a creative breakdown. I couldn’t write another word. I was exhausted. I wanted to say: “Screw it, I’m not doing it anymore. Here, have all these pages, I’m quitting.” Print them all out, dramatically rip them into small pieces, throw them across the room and shut the door. I haven’t done that, because I do not like to kill trees.

I usually see myself as a quitter. I am not. I finish things, late, but I do. I finished that painting, that jumper, that song, that book I didn’t want to read another page of. I would appreciate if you sent me some inspiring quotes or encouraging messages, though. Or topics you would like me to write about. It would mean the world to me.

Last year I wrote in German. This year I’m writing in English. I noticed that you can write a lot more words in German. Our words are longer, our sentences are, too. We can give you an hourlong presentation that we want the steaming cup of coffee over there. We can talk to you for ten minutes when we actually just want you to hand us the salt. Germans… In Swedish it’s the same, by the way. Maybe that’s why I love learning this language. You can write beautiful sentences with 50 nouns and 13829 adjectives. That’s also why Germans adore commas. We use them to create scrapbook sentences. Commas are our tape.

I might be writing streams of consciousness. I have to get those 1666 words together every day. My main goal is to write down the rants about the environment I have flying around in my head. I have an urgency to write them down. My only restriction will be that the posts are at least 1600 words long.

You can only become an author through writing. Write every day. Write when you have a free afternoon. Write when you have no time at all. Write when all you want to do is lie in bed. Write despite all circumstances. Writers always find time for their passion. The concept of NaNoWriMo is beautiful. You type and count. You write everything in you. Then you are clean for another year. You turn on the tap, let the water flow and then you can start writing the good stuff. Another aspect of NaNoWriMo is that you do not review your texts instantly. You write them and do not go over them again until you are finished. That’s not that easy with blog posts. It usually takes more time to edit my texts than to write them. I don’t plan. I have an idea, an inspiration, sometimes a quote or a topic I am fascinated in. I write them down. When I add the last word I realise that I have repeated myself over and over. Then the fun part begins. Deleting every second sentence. Trying to put it in an order that is comprehensible. Having someone read it and say if I have written a labyrinth through which only I know the way.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

Oh Mark Twain, you were so right. I would love to have a small voice in my head guiding me to these wrong words. A spectator who knows exactly which portion of what I have written is wrong.

To all of you who are accepting the challenge of NaNoWriMo out there, I am applauding you. You are awesome and I believe in your ability to finish this project. There will always be people to encourage you. It’s a lovely community of talented and strong people who will build you up. It’s a worthwhile experience. I did it last year and I’m coming back. Couldn’t have been that bad last time. It is my passion to write, to tell stories, to learn.

I love the talk Elizabeth Gilbert gave about creativity. Some people have a burning passion. Some people do not have only one thing that makes them get up in the morning. They follow wherever curiosity leads them. Like little hummingbirds they fly from one flower to the next. In “Big Magic” she explains how her novel “The Signature of All Things” came to life. She developed an interest in gardening. Planted flowers and vegetables. She wanted to know their origins and did some research. She noticed that it could be a novel. By simply following a small interest, she set the basis for another book. Isn’t that beautiful?

My passions are mainly in art and the environment. I will write about these in the next 30 days. I am a hummingbird taking on this year’s NaNoWriMo in blog form.

Happy writing and see you tomorrow!

Current Word Count: 1753/ edited: 1135

Painting Malala


I just wanted to share with you a quick glimpse at my new painting!
Uni has started again this monday and I have to use every free minute to paint. It’s a wonderful way to relax 😉 Still a lot of work to do but it’s progressing…

Malala is a huge inspiration for me, she is so brave and powerful, speaks with such wisdom and shows us to never give up. I’m also reading her biography at the moment ‘I am Malala’ where she shares her extraordinary story. She’s the same age as me! And she fights for children’s rights, for education even if she herself is still in school.

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