Reposted from December 31, 2007:
It's the same procedure as every year: Millions of Germans watch "Dinner for One" every New Year's Eve since 1972. It is "as big a tradition in Germany as the crystal ball drop is in New York's Times Square," writes Patrick Donahue for Bloomberg. You can watch the 10 minutes British comedy on Youtube. It is so funny, it never got dubbed into German. As Observing Hermann points out: "A bit strange maybe, but aren't most traditions - when they're not yours, I mean?"
Many in the media write every year that this New Year's Eve tradition is strange and that this silly slapstick never got popular in the UK or the US. Of course, I could point out that US upholders of moral standards probably do not like to broadcast all that drinking and the sexual reference in the end. But that is all silly and not important.
The end of a year should be a time for reflection, I believe. It's worthwhile to remember all the unknown people who have done good in the real world. I try to ignore the many "year in review"-articles that feature silly people that made the headlines. The media does not write much about the many relief workers in war and natural disaster zones around the world. At least not while they are alive. Marla Ruzicka from California got big press coverage after she was killed in a car bomb explosion in Bagdad in April 2005.
December 31 was her birthday. Read last year's Tribute to Marla Ruzicka and other Idealists Risking their Lives out there.
Actually, seriousness and silliness serve both their distinct purposes. It's all about finding the right balance in life between work and entertainment. Marla would definitely agree. And with these superficial words of wisdom 2007 comes to an end. Thank you for reading Atlantic Review. Stay tuned in 2008. All the best for the new year.
My sister Daphne Wolf studied Burmese music in Yangon. Her music school is organizing relief aid. Daphne wrote this guest blog post:
Small and local aid agencies are best equipped to help the victims of cyclone Nargis because they are already operating on the ground. Donations to these agencies are more effective since big aid organizations are still struggling to access the affected areas.
Local relief groups such as the Music School Gitameit, are providing the most urgently needed first-aid supplies.
For two years I lived in Yangon, studying Burmese traditional music and teaching classical flute at the Gitameit Music Center, a private school founded by the American pianist Kit Young in 2003. I returned to Berlin in December 2007 to finish my masters in Musicology and Southeast Asian Studies.
My friends, former colleagues, and students all tell me that Yangon, the old capital, is widely devastated and that the fertile delta of the Irrawaddy River is still flooded:
Continue reading "Empower the People of Myanmar to Help Themselves"
Most people try to avoid bureaucracy as best as possible. Others fight the government wherever they can. Too bad, if you ask Jim Diers, a former community organizer who initiated Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods in 1988 and served as its first director until 2002. “Cities work best when local government and the community are working as partners”, and there are lots of things that communities can do better than government can, he concludes in his book: Neighbor Power. Building Community the Seattle Way.
According to Diers’ approach, governments shouldn’t consider themselves as service-providers for their (passive) customers. Quite to the contrary: Dependency on government money and government planning ruins people’s sense of responsibility for their own neighborhoods. At the same time, an incredible wealth of “social capital” goes unused. In order to build ongoing community engagement, you have to allow citizens to choose what they want to change and then accomplish this change in a collaborative effort.
Continue reading "Urban Democracy: How the City of Seattle Empowers Its Neighborhoods"