The NeoZoa Digital Magazine

A blog by Maria Chotou

According to NeoZoa’s own description on its website “Each issue of NeoZoa combines a poignant topic and ‘identity’, with the aim of uncovering how we are defined by cultural intersections and societal ideas”.

NeoZoa is a student-run online magazine written and produced by master students studying the MA in Digital Journalism at HMKW. Students began the magazine as part of their classwork for the module Culture & Entertainment in the summer semester of 2021 and it became a Minor Project in the next winter semester as well, both classes being taught by Prof. Dr Tong-Jin Smith. The main editors of the magazine were Alice Preat, Paul Krantz and Raf Yengibaryan, with everyone else in the class contributing as writers. The project’s idea was to rotate the roles and to give everyone the chance to become an editor, as explained by Airine Nuqi, one of the magazine’s writers and  designers of the magazine.

Prof. Dr Tong-Jin Smith encouraged the students to work collectively in launching an online magazine which they would then be capable of enriching further with their creative stories and journalistic works. They had to share roles regarding editing, design and web assistance. The first edition of the online magazine concerns issues of Language and Identity. The magazine is divided into features and multimedia, revolving around the concept of fear from different aspects.

Contributors were Alice Preat, Airine Nuqi, Carina Sheen, DJ Coffey, Hannah Atteneder, Hannah Reiss, Julia Merk, Leo Frick, Paul Krantz, Raf Yengibaryan, Stephen Benkert, Nadine Allgeier and Will Bryan.

Multimedia section from NeoZoa’s website
Features section from NeoZoa’s website

NeoZoa..but what is it?

“NeoZoa are animals that have been introduced into an area that’s not their native habitat. Since we all moved to Berlin from various places and had to find our ways in this new habitat, the name was very fitting. We all had to adjust to a new culture of sorts. Plus it sounds cool.” — Leo Frick, a NeoZoa writer.

“One of the ideas behind NeoZoa was to explore the theme of identity in relation to other issues that play a big part in our lives: language and fear for example. Our identities are complex and influenced by so much, and we thought it would be interesting to investigate some of these relationships and their impact on our lives. In the magazine, you’ll find pieces about the US military complex, phobias, voice actors, and more.” — Alice Preat, NeoZoa’s editor and writer. 

Challenges and advice

Regardless of which digital storytelling tool we use, it can always be challenging to learn and compress your ideas to create a web magazine. Student-run magazines like NeoZoa are always tricky to manage since they are operated by students for students.

According to the students: “everyone has different editorial and management styles and reacts differently to feedback and criticism. It’s always an opportunity to learn in the end.”

As for the last piece of advice for those who have the idea of creating an online magazine, but do not feel confident enough to do so, the secret is to not be afraid of the challenge and go ahead find your team, theme and get it started.

“Even if your magazine has only one or two issues and never continues on, it will be a valuable experience for all who participate. It will teach you how to work as a team, how to follow editorial visions, and how to follow up on your investments” says the NeoZoa team. 

To read the full first issue of NeoZoa magazine, click the link below:

A Guide To Journalistic Writing and Practices with Andrew Curry

A blog by Maria Chotou

Berlin based journalist Andrew Curry has more than 20 years of experience reporting from five different continents. In his eyes, he feels very privileged to get to ask questions and share stories as a journalist. His reporting agenda is diverse and impressive. He regularly writes about science, archeology, culture, politics, business, and even cycling. Curry has written for a wide variety of publications, from Architect and Bicycling to National Geographic, The New York Times, Rouleur, and Wired. He is currently a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and also a contributing editor at Archaeology.

Since October 2021, he has been teaching the module Journalistic Writing, together with Dr. Martina Kohl, to students attending the Masters in Digital Journalism at HMKW Berlin. Curry aims to provide students with the key concepts of journalistic writing and reporting, from the basic elements of a news story to pitching, reporting and writing. His reporting principle is that there is no one correct way of writing a news story. Instead, he encourages students to tell readers in a news-y way about who was there, what they said, why it was newsworthy, where and when the event took place, and what the audience reaction was (the so-called essential five Ws).

As a kid and university student, Curry lived in California and Washington, D.C., where he used to bike around a lot. Still today, he perceives cycling as a symbol of relaxation and inspiration. It helps him think and enter a different mind space. Cycling in Berlin radicalized him and made him aware of traffic, dangers and other aspects that need to be improved in the urban space of the city. Cycling is a precious time for the mind to zone out.

“One of the great things about cycling is the rhythm of the year: The ride that leaves me barely able to climb the stairs afterwards in March will seem like an easy jaunt in October, when the leaves fall once again, and then winter will come, and the wheels will turn once more,” Curry said in an Instagram post.

These impulses for wandering and mobility but also a sense of time and rhythm find expression in Curry’s curiosity with scientific topics, more specifically, archeology. He did not study history but he was always interested in it and archeology is a big part of history. “It is hard to find news in history. Archeologists make discoveries which are news but the narrative around them is the news story,” Curry explains.

Coming to Germany, Curry thought that he would write about politics. But eventually he developed his interest in science and history and decided to embrace it in his journalistic work, as it requires some background knowledge on the topics, and the fact that science publications actually pay well. “Science reporting is like any reporting,” says Curry. So even if science is not your thing, but reporting is, here is some invaluable advice from Curry to keep in mind:

The Five Ws – Accuracy and Clarity

The goal of the coverage of any event, talk, or speech as a news story is to give readers information about what happened at a specific time and place. Readers need to know the who, what, how, when and why. Who was there? What did they say? How did other people who were there react to what happened? When and where did it take place? Why should we care? News coverage requires close attention to accuracy and balance. The five Ws are the most newsworthy elements of a report and will keep the facts straight.

The Headline

The key point of a headline is to say what matters and tell the readers briefly what the story is about. Ιf you had to imagine that you knew nothing about the story, what information would motivate you to read more about it? What is the information that will catch the eye? Being conversational is very important. You are naturally trying to communicate with others after all. As Curry says, avoid quotes, colons and journalese.

The Lead

Τhe structure of the lead varies depending on the content, purpose and audience of the story. There are certainly different ways to start a story and the lead will set the tone, mood and direction for everything that follows. If there are no unanswered questions in your reporting and the ultimate goal of accuracy and clarity have been achieved, an emerging lead that reflects your story will appear.

The Nut

News stories often follow the inverted pyramid structure that weighs facts according to newsworthiness based on the journalist’s judgment. The nut is the main core of the report. It is up to the writer whether the basic information of the five Ws will come before key quotes or after. Key quotes and interesting facts summarize, analyze and give relevant details to the readers. It is essential to get quotes and interview participants for reaction during the reporting.

The Kicker

The kicker is the last sentence of the story and aims to surprise, amuse, get the reader to ponder, -or summarize the story. It can be a quote or a simple conclusion.

Practice and enjoy it

Andrew Curry might consider journalism to be a lucky job, but he would not deny that journalistic writing requires practice and careful analysis. He suggests that reading other people’s work, questioning the way the details have been collected, considering the reader’s interest and the sources is the key to success.

To check out Curry’s recent publications click on the links here:

Jump Into Something Where Your Heart is

Prof. Dr. Markus Ziener on his Washington DC sabbatical, American culture & the future of his students

A blog by Airinë Nuqi

“They stole my bike! I was furious!” Prof. Dr. Markus Ziener shares with me. “This crap happened to me already once before when I was living here as a correspondent years ago… And it’s not even mine, it’s the bike I borrowed from my friend.”

Reporting for duty, all the way from Washington DC, is our very own, Prof. Dr. Markus Ziener. For those who have not met him yet (and you wouldn’t have, since he is currently away on a sabbatical for the Fall semester), you will get to meet him when he rejoins our institute again, in the spring semester.

While Markus has been with HMKW since 2014 and has taught different classes ranging from Politics and Economics, all the way to Digital Formats and Storytelling, he has also reported as a correspondent from Warsaw, Moscow, the Middle East, and Washington.

Currently, he is carrying out research in Washington as part of the Helmut Schmidt Fellowship which was awarded to him by the German Marshall Fund (GMF).

As a young boy from Darmstadt in the state of Hesse, Markus started his journalistic career as far back as high school, when he was a schoolboy contributing to his local newspaper. Later on, he and his family moved to Bavaria, where he wrote about sports topics, recorded with the Bavarian broadcasting station, Bayerischer Rundfunk, and after graduating from university, he joined the Frankfurter Rundschau, one of the most prestigious left-leaning newspapers in Germany at the time.

Most young people go through a phase of trying out different jobs and careers and figuring out what they want to do. This is a relatively normal occurrence. For Markus? Not so much. Sure, at one point or another he wanted to be a very successful soccer player or a guitarist in a rock band (which, hello? Would have been amazing), but journalism was the only thing Markus ever pursued professionally. 

“It was easy actually. I wanted to write, wanted to work with words and writing sentences and stories, asking questions, and trying to extract something interesting from people. I always loved that, so maybe it’s a little boring but…” he shrugs, “I knew I wasn’t good at mathematics and physics and all those kinds of things, so I knew I should pursue a different path.”

In January 2020, Markus was awarded the fellowship at the German Marshall Fund in the US, but as you can all guess, a tiny thing got in his way. The tiny issue of a global pandemic… I know… these things always happen at the worst possible time, don’t they? He ended up going a year later and got to experience the COVID working environment at the GMF in Washington.

“It’s difficult to dive into a buzzing, lively environment, where things come at me… some stuff happens – but it happens on Zoom, which is not that funny and does not require my presence here in DC,” he says while sitting in his office with the door wide open, pointing to the emptiness of the hall beyond his office door.

Prof. Dr. Markus Ziener via Zoom
Prof. Dr. Markus Ziener via Zoom

Despite these challenges, Markus has had the chance to throw himself into his journalistic work and show his media prowess by scheduling interviews left and right. Having conducted almost 50 interviews so far, he has also appeared on C-SPAN, Euronews, Al Jazeera, Welt (WeltN24), France 24, BBC Arabic, and more. 

The project that brought him to Washington DC, focuses on the transatlantic relationship between Germany and America, but in the context of what is currently happening in China, Russia, and the US. “I think Russia is becoming a dictatorship or is a dictatorship, China is a bully, and the US is very much inwards looking and focusing on what’s good for America, even under the presidency of Joe Biden,” he says, adding, “So, the question is, where is Europe here in this equation? And that’s what I’m looking at.”

One thing Markus admits, having had a talk with a China expert earlier that day, is that when it comes to China, and it being the main topic in the city, he needs to know more.

“I mean this guy was from the Wilson Center, and in order to be on eye level with the questions and in the conversation, you have to build your own knowledge base,” he says, promising he will pass this on to the students at HMKW next semester (but not before I pass it on).

This is not the first time Markus is in the US or even Washington. Years ago, Markus lived in the capital for years. However, this time around (other than being a victim of bike stealing), Markus seems baffled at the level of environmental consciousness (i.e.lack thereof?) that people there possess. He compares Germany to the US, and admits that if the US would have the German Müllpolizei (translated: trash police), they would “have a field day in Washington.”

However, working with the GMF has given Markus some unique opportunities, making the time in Washington worth the ‘culture struggle’. As a German journalist in the US, it’s easy to be dismissed sometimes, but as someone from the German Marshall Fund, “considered to be an American NGO, it’s a door opener,” Markus says, adding that, “People here are really on top of their stories. They have China experts, Russian experts, experts for everything. They can hit the ground running, you know? They don’t need any kind of warm-up, they know their stuff and that’s exciting, and that’s why it’s really good being here.”

To the students Markus might not catch in time before returning, he says: “Be curious!” adding that, “I have this conversation with my daughter – when you’re young, I think it’s good to really jump into something where your heart is… where you want to achieve something, to leave a mark, and not just to check how many hours did I work this week.”

To my humored facial expression, regarding the hours comment, he adds, “I think there should be a time in life where you feel that something is more important than yourself, and you have to commit yourself to this…It’s an individual thing and I think sometimes you have to test your limits a little… I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. That was the goal I had when I was young and I didn’t want to settle for the low-hanging fruit, to be honest. I wanted to be a correspondent in Moscow and in Washington, that was something I dreamed of. And you don’t know whether you can achieve that because there’s a lot of luck involved but at least you try, and if you try and you don’t get it… I can live with that. But if you haven’t tried…”

If you want to hear more about his views and work on the transatlantic relationship between the US and the EU, give a listen to the EUROPALABER episode he was a guest on in mid-October 

The Political Limbo of Expats

A feature by Airinë Nuqi

Perched on the white bench of her wooden windows, Dona let out a long sigh, using the silent seconds to shake off an invisible weight off her shoulders and clear her throat. The words ‘voting rights’ brought back memories of her first meeting with the world of politics five years ago. Dona, originally from Spain, is an expat living in Berlin. Repositioning her septum piercing, she says: “Being an expat is similar to being in a state of limbo.”

To understand the position and voting rights of expats living in Germany, the layers of the German government have to be understood first. The german government is divided into: the local municipalities (which consists of officials such as mayors and councils), the federal states (which consists of officials who create the rules of the state) and the cherry at very top of the cake, the federal government (where the decisions made create the laws for the whole country).

In the fall of this year, the German federal election is planned on September 26th. This election’s purpose is to elect the 20th Bundestag. Whether expats can or cannot contribute to the country they reside in, is a divided argument. When it comes to Germany though, what are expat voting rights to begin with? 

Expats do not have the right to vote in, ultimately, the most important elections: the General election (german: Bundeswahlen) and the State elections (german: Landeswahlen). However, they are allowed to vote in the local elections (german: Kommunalwahlen) and EU elections. What does this mean?

In the local elections, taking place every fours to five years, expats can give their vote on most issues concerning the representatives for regional and local subdivisions, except for mayors. However, this right is only reserved for expats from the EU with a German resident permit. Additionally, expats can vote in EU elections, which take place every five years, but they can only vote once. If they give their vote in Germany, they cannot vote again from their home countries.

For expats living and working in Germany, it takes an estimated seven to eight years of residence in the country to be eligible for citizenship. In this time, the integration within not only social, but also working culture becomes an expats way of life. They are affected in the same way as any other person in Germany, who has German citizenship. Yet, they cannot influence state rules or the legislation in place all across Germany with their vote.

As Germany strives to have a relatively equal and varying portrayal of political outlets, there are quite a few political parties that are represented in the federal and European parliament. These include, but are not limited to: the Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU), Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP), Die Linke, Die Grünen.

Many expats living in Germany, specifically Berlin, give the city quite a diverse quality. Before she came to Berlin, Dona spent a total of 13 years in the UK. Having left her motherland as a mere preeteen, not having had the chance of being exposed to the world of politics in Spain, her first introduction to the mere concept of voicing political opinions on possible future leaders, happened in the UK. 

More than five years ago, Dona was standing in front of the polls, ready and prepared with her voting decision, when she was turned away. As she was not born, nor an official citizen of the UK, she would not be able to vote. At first, she was baffled. “I told them – What’s the difference between me and someone that was born here, or someone that has also lived here for the same amount of time as I have? My parents and I pay taxes, we contribute to this country, yet we have no voice,” she says in an exasperated laughter. And so, the country where she had become an adult, where she had thought she had the right and had formed the will to contribute with her vote, the country that had shaped her into who she had become, denied her the opportunity of choosing her leaders.

After the first attempt, and as of now the last, Dona had had a moment of clarity: there was no place in the world where she was rooted enough to either be allowed to vote, or to know who to vote for, if she would. A moment which became a clear point of disconnect, especially as she arrived in Berlin. Politics, it seemed, would not be something she “would be involved in,” she stated, throwing her hands in the air and making an X with her forearms.

To get a better understanding of the knowledge expats possess of the little ways available to contribute their voice in Germany, a survey was performed with thirty expat participants. These expats, currently living in four different cities within Germany, span across twenty one nationalities worldwide (Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, US, Uzbekistan, Venezuela), between the ages of 20-35, with a Germany living duration from: less than one year, going up to five years.

Through an informing paragraph on Germany’s government layers, and the voting rights expats do and do not have, the participants of the survey were presented with questions including, but not limited to: the desire of participation for the General and State elections should the opportunity present itself, their involvement in politics and their voting exercise in their home countries, long term plans of residence in Germany, feelings on voting as a concept in itself, as well as issues they face living in Germany as an expat.

The survey found that 60% of the participants had never known they were able to cast their vote in local and EU elections, with only 6.7% stating that they had known and actually participated in them. Additionally, 73.3% of the participants stated that they would vote if given the chance, specifically when it comes to influencing issues that they face as an expat in Germany themselves. These issues include: bureaucratic issues, basic human rights, infrastructure related, digitization, social solidarity issues, immigration rights issues, visa / immigration laws, scholarships opportunities for expats, dual citizenship & easier legal immigration, data protection, and racial issues, to name a few.

Finally, when asked if they cared about voting as a concept, the survey participants having chosen ‘Yes’ as their answers (73.3%) and ‘Maybe’ (10%) argued that: it’s a fundamental right, it makes them feel part of the society they are in, it is the only chance of political representation and democratic participation, a society with citizens and a government is “a two way street relationship”, voting is not just a right but a duty, if you don’t participate in the democratic process of voting then “you can’t complain about the outcome”, and finally, that someone has got to make sure the “neonazis dont gain power”. Moreover, 80% of participants stated that they have voted in their home countries, and 83.3% stated they are generally politically interested in their home country.

As a resident of Berlin for more than four years now, Dona has considered the chance to fight for a right to vote. However, Berlin and Germany are not her final destination. Rolling first her left, then her right shoulder, she sighed as she claimed: “I don’t feel I will live here enough to see the changes for which I would be voting for, in case I would indeed express my opinions. Apart from the housing rent cap and signing the pleading document for it, like everyone else of course.”

An argument given by Jonathan, an expat living in Aachen for the last two years, is that although the option to vote in EU elections, and particularly in German local elections is “quite progressive and positive,” it would be “unfair towards the permanent residents” for uninformed people who are most likely only passing through Germany, to vote.

Many expats like Dona and Jonathan might be put off by their own experiences or the lack of certainty in whether they will live in Germany long enough for their voice to matter, however according to the survey, 83.3 % of expats stated that they believe their vote matters, unrelated to how long they have been residents in Germany, 63.3 % stated that, if given the chance, they would vote in General and State elections.

As we go forward, the discussion on whether: sufficient knowledge on politics vs. the existence or obtainment of a citizenship is enough (to be able to vote), may continue, one thing is for certain: as the number of expats around the globe grows, it is not only in Germany’s best interest,  but that of the world, to include educated and willing expat residents, only striving for a better, joined life.

*names have been changed due to privacy concerns

93 Days

A short movie by Asmi Shetty, Prashansa Shreshta, Hala Abdalla and Dine Maria Soto Sanchez (MA PR & Digital Marketing) produced as part of the module Media Productionwith lecturers Jan Dottschadis and Philipp Möller Dorn.

The start of the year 2020 was expected to be the new roaring 20’s of the digital era. The year took a leap into the new world, but within a few months it was brought to a screeching halt when the pandemic began. New rules, strict curfews, and isolation were imposed restricting our movements and human contact. Millions of lives were disrupted and turned upside down – some stories were brought to light while most were left untold. Our film, called 93 days, revolves around one such story. It is the story of a girl, who was separated from her partner for a long duration of time, while also forced to quarantine by herself, away from everyone she knew. In this rapidly changing world, the protagonist tries many things to sustain her sanity, but the pandemic costs her more than she expected.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

How To Make Your Own Podcast Series: A Guide by Dr. Clarisse Cossais

A blog by Airinë Nuqi

Dr. Clarisse Cossais started her radio career in 1993. In her eyes, podcasts are something quite new, but very fast tracked. She explains how now, every broadcast program that she produces for the radio will, essentially, be uploaded as a podcast. Cossais is a freelance radio journalist and producer for Deutschlandfunk Kultur, as well as other public service broadcasters like: rbb, NDR, and SWR.

Having started her lecturing career at HMKW in 2017, Clarisse has been contributing to the Media Production module with her expertise regarding podcasts, for around 4 years.

In more recent news, she published her own podcast series “Littéramour‪s‬” with Sigrid Brinkmann.

Like the rest of us over the past year, Cossais found herself on a walk with her friend Brinkmann, coming to the conclusion that they both needed to do something during this time of total stagnation during the pandemic. The fact that Brinkmann loves french literature and Cossais loves german literature, was the push they needed to come up with the idea of “Littéramour‪s‬” and get the show going.

“We felt so stuck, we had the feeling that we cannot go to lectures, we cannot go to exhibitions, we cannot travel to the person we want to ask, and as a journalist it’s not so easy,” Cossais says.

The premise of the podcast is, inviting guests and speaking to them in both german and french. Each episode is done twice, in both languages, with the same guest. “We do everything together. She speaks french very well,” Cossais says on Brinkmann, “and I speak german very well, we both have an accent of course… but I think it is encouraging people to say – it doesn’t matter if you have an accent, because as long as you have the ideas and the willingness of expressing yourself, that’s it.”

Most guests aren’t invited after they have their work already translated, but rather before. Additionally, something that both Cossais and Brinkmann are enjoying during this project, is the freedom it has given them. “The first book we were speaking about, will only be completed in two years, and we were like okay, it doesn’t matter,” says Cossais.

Cossais and Brinkmann have known each other for 12 years, and work together on national radio.

So, if you are reading this and feeling inspired to start your own podcast, here is some invaluable advice from Cossais:

Finding your niche

Before starting their podcast, Cossais and Brinkmann did quite a bit of research on their idea. Has something like this french-german literature fusion ever been done before? Should it be short or long? Should it be discussion based or rather feeling a guest out and listening to them? How long will an author be able to talk about their work?

Cossais reflects on how Brinkmann and herself do not like programs, where people discuss for hours. Their goal instead is to take the attention away from themselves, as the hosts of the show, and shift the attention to the guest completely. “We wanted to have more time for the authors… and sometimes we speak a bit longer … but we don’t want to say ‘Me and Sigrid are doing…’ That doesn’t matter, it’s not about us,” Cossais says. 


Cossais heavily insists on the importance of quality. One of the first and main things to think about and prepare, was the professional studio. She stressed the point that the podcast had to have a very good sound quality. 

Cossais and Brinkmann are experienced radio hosts and moderators, so quality should not come as a surprise on their non-negotiable list. However, with new tech equipment, a professional studio does not always have to be a must. With the right mic, and editing skills, a quality podcast can be recorded in many places outside of a studio, especially if you are just starting out.

Do what YOU want to do

“For students, if they would come to me and say we would like to make a podcast, I always say yes! Even if it is a one hour discussion podcast… just doing something is always better than doing nothing,” Cossais says. 

If you are a student, a young professional, just starting out, and you have an idea? Go for it. The only way to learn is to try. And the way to enjoy what you are doing, is to actually do what YOU want to do. It helps, if you have a special idea, an interesting execution, or even a new strategy on how to present your work. But always do what you want to do.


Preparation is a given. But haven’t you listened to a podcast at some point, and thought: this person is such a great presenter, so natural and seems somewhat… unscripted? There is no such thing. Sure, for some presenters, their natural charisma, a word, a sentence, some in-between joke, might be unscripted, but even their script most likely consists of a few bullet points. “I mean they are some beautifully talented people who can do it without preparation. I do not belong to them,” says Cossais.

And some final parting advice for prospective podcast creators:

“Do not underestimate the time it takes,” says Cossais. Cossais compared the public work you can do, like podcasts in this case, to a kind of business card that can be used, when people ask ‘oh, what do you do?’ and that you never know what might come out of it. 

“From the moment that you are doing something, things happen. Because you are already putting in some energy, and you are making something,” Cossais says, not giving too much away.

To check out Cossais and Brinkmann’s podcast “Littéramours” follow the link below:

To read more about Dr. Clarisse Cossais and her teaching at HMKW Berlin, you can visit her profile here:

Just Go By Bike

A podcast by Paul Krantz (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Clarisse Cossais.

“I met Damien Cahen in Hokkaido, Japan in March of 2020. I was taking a short break from my work in South Korea and he was taking a short break from his bicycle, which he had ridden from Paris — across Europe and most of Asia before hopping on a short flight from Vietnam to Japan. I was fascinated by his stories from the road, and we easily shared some hours talking about his recent cycling experiences.     

“Nearly a year later, after Damien had returned home to Paris and I had moved to Berlin, I interviewed Damien via Zoom and asked him to recount some of the interesting moments from his trip. In our conversation Damien recounted the most memorable parts of his journey: from discovering a rich and welcoming culture in Iran, to crossing the Pamir mountains in central Asia, to quarantining for a month in Mexico.

“Through all of his stories, one point came up again and again — that to experience the richness of the world traveling on the ground is far superior to catching a flight.”

PC: Damien Cahen (instagram: @damgc)

To listen to the podcast, follow the link below:  

Life Comes in Patterns

A photo series by Leo Frick

We say ‘life comes in waves’, but it is too chaotic to be simplified into a simple up and down. Better to say: Life comes in patterns.

While we’re growing and evolving, things repeat at irregular intervals.

From that breakfast coffee you have every morning, to that birthday party every year, to those small moments of clarity in which you look back onto your life and contemplate where the last decade went and how you ended up being where you are.

You can observe these patterns if you just pause for a moment.

And while reflecting you might stare a little too long at these colorful tiles on the floor or a little too close on this monochrome feather from your pillow.

And if you’re not careful, you might find your life reflected in the things around you.

These photographs were taken by Leo Frick.

Coney Island in Pictures

A photo essay by Alice Preat

Anyone who has been to Coney Island, located an hour away from Manhattan on the B train, will likely remember it as a dream-like and colorful place, filled with ice cream stands, joyful visitors and beach volleyball…

This is undoubtedly what it’s like in the summer time — but in the winter, the dream takes on a nostalgic quality.

This is what I tried to capture in this short photographic series: empty roller coasters, black and white shots of an empty beach or boardwalk…

Still, the dream-like, pastel colors are ever present, and suggestive of the poetic quality of the emptiness and lack of crowds. You’re just left with some brave tourists, and Russian locals walking their dogs…

These photographs were taken by Alice Preat in the winter of 2019.

Crowdfunding Campaign to Save Berlin’s Oldest Cinema

How thousands of people are trying to save Germany’s oldest cinema 

A feature by Annette Nöstlinger

In the midst of Berlin’s – chaotic and diverse – Kreuzkölln neighbourhood, somewhere in between  candle-lit shisha lounges and biergartens upholding the sacred Reinheitsgebot, lies Moviemento Kino. This cinema is Germany’s oldest, the place opened in 1907 and has been operating since.  Now, 113 years later, its managers are fighting for the cinema’s existence as Germany’s largest  private housing company – Deutsche Wohnen – has announced its plan to sell the property for a dazzling  2 Million Euros. However, a bunch of people have stood up to save the cinema and, quite  surprisingly, they actually have a chance to do so.  

Moviemento’s character has always been somewhat different. “It was a constructional curiosum. At  that time, a cinema normally had one room, this one had two. One in front of the screen and one  behind the screen. The people behind the screen thus saw the film the other way around. There was  a mirror next to the screen so the public could read the subheadings. In 1907 there were silent  movies only, so you could really do it like that. In terms of construction technology that, I think,  was unique worldwide”, explains Wulf, who manages Moviemento with his partner since 2007.  

“Apart from a very short time, around the end of the war, when there was nothing left in Berlin, the  cinema has been continuously operating. The other side of the street was completely bombed away,  but by chance nothing fell down here.”  

The cinema’s building lies on the border of Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln neighbourhoods, a  district known for its vast transformation, from a so-called ‘no-go zone’ in the first decade of this  century, to the place-to-be over the past ten years. Here, one’s senses get sparked constantly; from freshly baked börek to sizzling currywurst, from Berliners arguing over bus delays to international hipsters ordering vegan dishes. The district’s rising popularity has led to ever rising property prices and the displacement of its original population.  

A study conducted by GSG, has shown that the rents for commercial properties in Kreuzberg have  risen by 15.2% every year since 2013. For Wulf, this doesn’t come as a surprise. “Basically, since  we’ve been here, the building has been sold five times. Again and again – zack, zack, zack – always someone new”. Due to Moviemento’s rental contract which runs up until October 2020 the rent was never increased, but now the owners fear they will pay up to five times more if the property is sold for over 2 Million Euros.  

“Last November we encountered a film worthy situation. Two real estate agents entered our foyer  and told us they were selling the cinema rooms. We were like, what?! But yes, they were real and it  was true”. The next day, after the first shock had sunk in, the owners decided to take action immediately.  “In the end we realised that the only chance for places like this is to get them out of this completely crazy real estate market, otherwise they’re gone. And that’s when we thought: we just have to  manage to buy this place.” 

Up to this day, Wulf remains hopeful. “A lot of politicians wanted to talk to us, at the federal level, the  Berlin level and the local level. There are politicians who have spread our call, there are those who  support the crowdfunding campaign and those who called Deutsche Wohnen – obviously – because  they complained about it.” 

Gaby Gottwald, who represents Die Linke in Berlin’s parliament, is one of these politicians. “I have  written to Deutsche Wohnen, to make it clear to them that they will be under constant observation if  they choose to destroy the social infrastructure in our neighbourhoods.” 

After being contacted by countless politicians and journalists, the real estate company called Wulf  to explain that they are not planning to sell the cinema to someone else in the near future. “But I  don’t know whether that’s true, I mean they’re real estate people, only the devil knows what they are  really up to. But at least that’s what they said. Now there is a certain hope for us that we have time  to collect the money.”  

Deutsche Wohnen’s spokesman, Marko Rosteck, confirmed their willingness to cooperate with the owners.  “Because of the media salience, Moviemento became a topic discussed by our board of directors. Now we are looking for a common solution. In the end, for us, the sale of the property is the most important, which can also be achieved by following an alternative path.”

Within Berlin’s public debate on gentrification, Deutsche Wohnen is often seen to represent the great evil. Moviemento, however, actually might have been lucky having to deal with this corporation.  “Deutsche Wohnen won’t be able to break their promise, because of their image, that would just be another PR disaster. So it is actually helpful in these cases, to deal with big German corporations,  instead of a nameless project company based in Luxembourg. If they break a promise, you won’t even find a natural person to hold accountable”, said Jochen Biedermann, Neukölln’s district  councillor.

Over 130,000 Euros have been collected thanks to the support of over 2,300  people, who have donated online through a crowdfunding campaign. However, a discussion – on the crowdfunding platform – broke out, as people are raising  questions about donating money to ensure private ownership. “I don’t understand the logic of this  ‘rescue mission’. You want us to donate our money for private property? Can anyone explain this to  me?”, Hannah comments.  

Wulf admits that ownership will depend on the outcome of the crowdfunding campaign. “We have  never done something like this before, we are still figuring out what forms of ownership could make  sense. The idea will probably be that if we don’t collect enough money on time, we will say: okay,  you can buy one square meter of our building for the official price, namely 3,300 Euros”.  

The Berlinale 2019 – Berlin’s international film festival – had given Moviemento’s crowdfunding campaign a great push. Donation machines could be found all over the festival, where  film lovers could spontaneously – and electronically – donate money to secure the cinema’s cause.  At the start of the festival, a press conference on ‘the Future of Cinemas’ was held in Moviemento’s  cinema rooms, where famous directors such as Tom Tykwer – who owned the cinema in the ’90s and  is known from his productions Lola Run and Perfume – fully supported the crowdfunding campaign.  “Operators of small cinemas enable a movie experience to be harmonious. In ‘film factories’, a  totally different scenario takes place”. To which his colleague, Wim Wenders – known from Himmel  über Berlin – added: “This cinema is one of the last cultural sites we have.”