Ecotopia 2009

Unfortunately the environmental activist summer camp that I attended the last seven years all over Europe, the gathering of idealists, mavericks and tree-huggers that changed my life into a nomadic hacktivist existence, is not going to happen this year. Unfortunately?

After some 20 years of Ecotopia the organising NGO EYFA, which I am part of as a board member and web-monkey, has decided to discontinue their annual summer camp under the name of Ecotopia. Some people on the EYFA board have not been so happy with this decision, but since the folks working in the office — who are doing most of the hands-on work — wished to radically change the summer meeting, including finding a new name, we found consensus on the issue.

According to what I heard last, EYFA will organise a different, much shorter meeting focussed on activism this summer and possibly the years to come. I heard the term conference-style somewhere. It’s all a bit vague and I’m curious to find out what’s it going to be. Update May 14th 2009: The new event is called Climate Action Camp and will take place near Antwerp 3rd to 9th of August 2009.

However, the Ecotopia biketour 2009 will take place in a similar fashion as before. Check the Biketour website for updates (no 2009 info at time of writing). As for Ecotopia 2010 the Ecotopian community is working hard on what in software development would be called a fork by the name of “Ecotopia?” — taking place near Belzig not far from Berlin. I’ll be there! 🙂

Renew, question, evolve, flow. Always.

Buy Nothing Day video

We made a short film (8 minutes) on our Buy Nothing Day action on November 23rd — enjoy the show! Thanks to Sabina for filming, Cox for editing and lending the camera, and all the remarkably self-aware zombies for leaving their hide-outs for the occasion.

Urban weirdness

Last night “after work” at 3am I cycled home from Berlin-Mitte to Berlin-Friedrichshain. A nice cycle, first through a hip bar area full of new wealth, along the old shiny TV tower right through the heart of the former capital of the GDR with all its concrete monuments that people live or work in. Currently Alexanderplatz, the eastern centre, is a tacky Christmas market — which of course will close before Christmas. I go on for a few kilometers always straight on wide streets, bicycle paths and across huge intersections deep into my kiez (Berlinish for neighbourhood). Even at this hour of the night the city does not sleep, taxis rush by, some people walk their dogs, lost men walk around.

Also creeps come out. About half the way, on a wider footpath with the bicycle path on it a group of three young people in their latest urban wear comes my way. I accelerate a little, the dynamo whines some more. One of the guy walks near the bicycle path as I approach, and as I pass him he throws what I believe was an empty can at me, misses and shouts something like “You rat!” — I utter a quick deep “Hey!” — Apparently enough provocation for them to shout more nasty things as I quickly cycle on, crossing a red light. When looking back after a few seconds I see that they must have run after me for a bit and now are still standing looking after me. Wow, ticking time bombs out on the streets at night! What makes them so angry? I was just a random person passing by on a bike. I walk through dark parks at night in Bucharest, and I feel safer. At least there I would know what a person getting in my way wants from me, and I could just empty my pockets. I mean, my three friends just seemed bored and deeply frustrated, looking for some excitement. What went wrong?

I can only hope that people would have helped me in any way if those weirdos really would have wanted to attack me. So, if you see a scene like this some time, somewhere, please at least intervene and ask what’s going on and if everyone is OK, call help if needed. Never ever just look away. It never happened to me so far, but I know this is common in big cities. If social fabric is knit tightly though and even unknown people relate to each other we all gain quality of live, can let go of fears and focus on things that are important to us.

Earlier that night I went to Siggi and Jason’s talk about their No G8 Japan 2008 mobilisation tour through East Asia, learned a lot about Japanese activism and had some nice spicy Wasabi rice crackers. 🙂

Buy Nothing Day

Tomorrow I will be part of a small action encouraging people to reflect on their shopping and consumption habits. See all the details on the Buy Nothing Day Berlin 2007 page. I was just contacted by a journalist for a bigger German magazine and he might be with us tomorrow. Funny how quickly small ideas sometimes spread.

Update: The action was good fun! As expected we got we got kicked out of the entry lounge after a few minutes by a more or less friendly security guard. “May I ask what you are doing here?” During the 2 hours of zombie play in front of the shopping centre we handed out 200 leaflets and probably scared about 2000 shoppers. See the photos and join us next time! 🙂

Oil 21 conference, free Berlin

This weekend The Oil of the 21st Century is hosting a conference in Berlin. Tonight at 9pm there will be a free party at Tucholskystraße 6 with free food and drinks. Remember, it’s all free. :o) Entrance to the conference events is 3 EUR though. Today at 3pm Alan Toner, whom I met at several hack meetings before, is part of a presentation about defending your rights in the Digital Rights (TM) world.

Berlin keeps me busy, last night I went to the Ubuntu Linux version 7.10 release event at C-Base, on Wednesday to a rather breath-taking Cum2Cut performance and a few days before I was at a talk of Naomi Klein about her new book “The Shock Doctrine“. I had free Lunch 2.0 at Plazes and promptly got offered two jobs as a web hack0r, one of them related to Free Software which I accepted (more about this from November on).

Next up is Lunch 2.0 at Viif on November 5th and some of the events of Oil 21 taking place during the next weeks. I also got an almost free bicycle and a cosy place to stay at Micha’s in the Kreuzberg district. So I’m all set for being sucked into the urban magnet of Berlin for an exciting Winter 2.0!