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The myth about interns making only coffee is in the past. It is time to clear the things up, as there is no doubt – internship has become a new form of public crime and this is a global problem and not a few capitals issue. I will be speaking from a personal and friends’ experience, also summarizing recent case studies in London and New York. For those who are currently interning or thinking of having an internship I will provide a list of organisations, which should help you to learn more about your rights.

September the 24th, 11:00am

Berlin, Germany

Social Media Week Berlin 

I will give a speech

on Unfair Internships

More info: http://bit.ly/15pPEwE

Facebook Page: Berlin Internship Justice

Introduction

I had 10 internships in my life, each one of them was an experience (because even bad experience is an experience), however some of them were certainly breaking the human and labor rights, and this is something I am going to tell you here. And yes, I have always clearly known what I wanted and what my expectations are. I have three degrees, I’ve graduated with the highest marks and have a great work experience from volunteering. I have always had excellent performance, and these are not my words, but the written words of the employers in the recommendation letters.

There are many general articles about unpaid internships being illegal (mainly American, English and Canadian), which already shows that the problem is noticeably big; especially the fact that pages like Monster have forbidden unpaid internship offers or the fact that 9 British companies have been forced to pay out almost £200,000 to interns who were required to work without payment, after an investigation by Revenue & Customs. Yet there are not so many case studies, or interns speaking themselves (or let’s say noticeably fewer). And the main reason is – we are scared to be blacklisted, but many of us still think it is the system and in cities like London, New York and Berlin this is a part of the education and is a “must”.

What is internship?

In one sentence – it is an educational process which is usually taken during the studies or right after the graduation, in order to help young people gain real work experience putting their theoretical knowledge into practice. Initially the length was from 1 up to 3 summer months. And as American law says the intern has to benefit from it and not vise versa; when the employer benefits from an intern – he has to pay.

But far before that, internships were referred only to medical students, who did paid internships, but it was truly unpleasant work.

An image created by http://www.adangerousfigure.co.uk/

Alexander Augustus & The Bite Back Movement – http://www.thebitebackmovement.com

My case

My first 5 internships were during my studies in Latvia, and helped me, the young and unexperienced, damn a lot. I am truly thankful to LKK for throwing us into the real world. Each internship was only a month long (the perfect length, in comparison to 6 months they insist on now), and it was enough to learn about the organisation itself, get involved into a current project and fulfill the tasks for which you were marked later in school. I was not paid, but I had a chance to enjoy cultural events for free, meet famous musicians and build connections and I did not feel used or exploited.

In the UK, where I moved in 2008, studies were less time consuming, i worked over 20h a week in a photographic shop, where I was paid tiny bit over the minimum wage, at the same time I was also involved in to the City Festival, that I photographed and ran an art event for. During my last year of studies I started looking for jobs in London. And i’ve noticed internship offers up to 12-18 months unpaid. I did not worry much, simply because I was not going into the question. Later I decided to move to Berlin where I faced the problem for real. At first I was thinking: – 3 months of free/low paid internship and then I am in, but the truth was different…

  • Bad example

The last company I worked for was paying thousands of euro for the office cleaning. So, basically cleaning the space I was sitting at would have made me earn easily over the material minimum, but instead i choice to boost my CV and got paid €300/m doing marketing, which was lower than any other intern. Oh, a little mistake they would say later.

The saddest internship was when I was taken for a position my boss did not know anything about himself. So, question: how was he suppose to teach me? I was explaining him instead.

Also, ironically they all say that you must work 40h a week in order to unite with the team and get good results, as you’ll be an important part of the chain. And then you sit 8h on the computer doing nothing, even Facebook bores you. Waste of time: – was my conclusion. Learned nothing, but got a great reference. Oh, those references, I have tons of them. They help no one.

My naive hopes to reach the full employment banged against the wall at least 3 times…

  • Good example

When I just moved to Berlin I needed a quick integration, so I took an unpaid internship with ArtConnect Berlin, a platforms for creatives in Berlin. In the beginning it was a non-profit making organisation, and even the founder was working for free. She never insisted on 40h, and was keeping it to flexible 20, so that I could also work in a restaurant. She taught me WordPress and as a result this blog was born. When the first money came through, they were all honestly split.

Other case studies

While in Berlin this is an extremely difficult situation, because it is the mecca of startups and the absence of minimum wage makes everything much more complicated, America and England started the action against unpaid internships, simply because it’s illegal.

Since the victory two weeks ago in a lawsuit brought by unpaid interns against Fox Searchlight Pictures (Black Swan to be exact), three suits have been filed challenging the legality of unpaid internships. The complaints against Condé Nast, Warner Music and Gawker Media are the latest in a rising tide of lawsuits brought by unpaid interns, many of which are still in progress.

 Stephen Suen, ProPublica (full article)

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the US Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set the first federal minimum wage, created overtime protections and the five-day workweek, and virtually ended child labor in the United States. We should celebrate its legacy by giving all young people paying jobs instead of worthless lines on their resumes.

 Ross Eisenbrey

The coffee myth
Would I like to be paid a minimum wage for making coffee all day? If I did, I’d find a job in a cafe. Making good coffee could be important if this is an internship at the coffee factory, but working in the office I want a teaching process which is relevant to my studies. However employers are not interested only in coffee making; they quickly understand that a young flesh could also be used for calls, sales, orders, PR, marketing, business, design, documents, calculations, well pretty much everything. Let’s boost the business with a young energetic spirit. The companies looking for interns now have longer lists of requirements, because when you want one person to do everything, he/she can not be just a college graduate who only worked before as a packer in a super market. An internship for the experienced? No, thanks.

Family Support

I am 28, I am the only child, I don’t have a father, my mum is an accountant in Latvia, where wages are ridiculous. And even if she could support me financially, she’d avoid it to the last minute. From the age of 18 she made me leave the country and build a career. 8 years later as an intern I am paid 3 times less than for selling goods in a shop when I was 20. I am forced to work overtime, late evenings and weekends, so are my friends who took un(der)paid internships.

My rent in Berlin is €270. When I was paid €400, I left with €130 for the rest of the month. I cycle until it snows, and then I am forced to get a monthly travel card for €75. So, there is no way I could survive on this money without extra income.

Those taking fully unpaid internships can not pull living outside of parents house, even if they work during the weekend. This violates human rights, and excludes students with jobless parents. These students are forced to postpone career and work in shops, bars or similar places.

Where exactly is the problem?

1. Internships became longer (from 3 up to 18 months)
2. Mostly full time (no flexible hours)
3. Remain being un(der)paid
4. Non-educational but employee-replacing (and this is illegal!)
5. Exclude those from poor families (postpone their careers)
6. Internships which don’t exploit or teach, ask to make a coffee (there are not many of those, but still..)
7. Stop graduates from paying back their tuition fees
8. It’s not enough with just one internship
9. Un(der)paid interns aren’t protected by health and safety laws.
10. Their intellectual property goes to the employer.
11. Unpaid interns don’t receive a pension scheme.
12. There is an enormous gap between the internships and professional jobs. Millions of junior positions have vanished from the market.

Internships are almost impossible to avoid. That’s why a question “Who forces you taking those internships?” is no longer relevant. Firstly many more universities force students to take internships and secondly without experience you cannot get far, and since the junior positions can be counted on fingers, for many of us internship is the only way to go.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S., more than 1.1 million secretaries vanished from the job market between 2000 and 2010.

What are we talking about if even White House and European Parliament have unpaid interns?

Law

Of course, the law varies from country to country; Germany for example is too loose at the moment about the interns’ rights and this is what minimizes the acuteness of the problem. So, what is illegal in America is most likely legal in Germany. There is no clear guidance in Germany, which would help intern to choose the right company. New York and London have been taking care of this question very seriously for quite a while now, and I will list their solutions in the end of this article.

“I have heard employers say that they just love their unpaid interns because they see them as free employees,” said Charles Lamberton, president of the Pittsburgh-based Lamberton law firm who represents plaintiffs in employment disputes and other civil rights cases.

In France for example, the law says if the unpaid intern is in the company longer than two months, he has to be paid. And the number of interns per office is also regulated by law.

Company’s Size

Should we only blame big companies? Should we close eyes on the startups? I don’t think so. The unhealthy business model creates unhealthy conditions inside the company; and the first ones to suffer are interns.

I have been inside both of those higher mentioned. And the true answer to this is: that young companies who have to work extreme hours in order to achieve their first goals need full experts and not interns (as startups ONLY use interns for their profit; if there is an acception, please let me know!), whose performance is  less effective. It is very important for a startup to get first good, professional impression, and if the intern (who’s mostly never controlled by anyone) does a mistake on a social platform, which is recognized by someone big it can cause the company much bigger lose than 300 euros a month.

Can’t plan the budget, don’t start the business!

Besides there are young professionals without 5-10 years of experience, who’d rather do it for a slightly over a minimum wage pay rate instead of taking another internship and hope that it will lead to a full employment.

In case of a  big company it is simply effrontery:

At Bank of America in London, an intern died after working 72 hours straight. (Read full story HERE)

Sheryl Sandberg made $91 million last week, the same week her Lean In organization was searching for an unpaid intern. (Read full article HERE)

An unpaid internship is a great thing for a person who is still in school, as long as they get to observe a lot and work only a little. An unpaid internship for a graduate is a violation of labor laws. (Steven Craig Wood)

Our students are so paranoid about putting a famous company’s name on our resume that we end up not seeing the bigger picture. (Anjita Chowdhury. Read full article about internship scenario in India HERE )

The BFI has been accused of using unpaid interns to fill the gap after it axed nearly a 5th of its workforce. (You can sign the petition against it HERE)

India

Psychological preassure

How do I pay tuition fees when i work for free? I never had guts to ask the employer how he thinks I am living on €300/400 a month. The fact is the entrepreneurs do not waste time on such questions, they have more difficult tasks in their lives, like for example pleasing the investors.

A useful tool turned into a trap. Now many employers simply take an advantage. The number of unfair internships will vary from country to country, even from city to city; and there is no summarized data by countries. Brussels, the heart of EU, is not better than London or Berlin; July 17th 2013 there was an intern protest against unfair internships. 

When Alex Godson accepted his first unpaid internship in Brussels after receiving a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Manchester, he believed a full-time position was just a few months away. (The Globe and Mail: read full article HERE ) 

But the approximate picture has been visualised by Intern Aware in the following infographic.

An infographic created by Intern Aware

An infographic created by Intern Aware

What can we do? What are the solutions?

Since I am talking here globally, there is no one simple answer. But I would like to point out several organisations and pages which take care of intern rights.

The UK:

1. Intern Aware http://www.internaware.org/

Share your experience, they can help you claim the money, if your internship was unfair.

2. Graduate Fog graduatefog.co.uk

Interns’ rights campaigner and author of How to Get a Graduate Job in a Recession.

Intern Aware

Intern Aware

The USA 

1.  Ex Intern unfairinternships.com

A critical look at un(der)paid jobs called internships

2. Unpaid is Unfair unpaidisunfair.org

Unpaid internships are unfair. The United Nations should be no exception. Please sign our petition and tell the UN that young people matter.

3. SLAP studentlabor.org

The Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) engages students in economic justice campaigns.

4. Interns ≠ Free Labor https://www.facebook.com/interns.x.free.labor

Working to end #wagetheft guised as #unpaidinternships. Law student & Public Interest Fellow at Georgetown. • Contact: eric.glatt[at]gmail

5. Intern Labor Rights internlaborrights.com

In this era of historic inequality, class divide, soaring student debt and persistent unemployment we call for an end to unpaid internships: Pay your interns!

6. Intern X Twitter: @InternX

My mother got a pregnancy internship. As a result, I was born as the first baby-intern in the world. Still interning, at 52. #workforCV

7. Intern Justice internjustice.com/aboutuspress

Protecting the rights and wages of interns, workers, and college athletes. Pianko Law Group PLLC

Canada:

1. Canadian Intern Association https://www.facebook.com/CanadianInternAssociation

The Canadian Intern Association advocates against the exploitation of interns and aims to improve the internship experience for both interns and employers. Visit our website at www.internassociation.ca.

internships by wes and tony

Belgium

1. Internship Black List https://www.facebook.com/InternBlackList

Informal network of concerned citizens aiming to take social action to end the illegal exploitation of unpaid interns in the Brussels EU Bubble.

Germany/Austria

1. Plattform Generation Praktikum https://www.facebook.com/PlattformGenerationPraktikum

Ein weiteres Anliegen ist uns das sammeln von Erfahrungsberichten.

2. Planet Praktika http://www.planetpraktika.de/fair.php

Know your rights in Germany.

3. GPA-djp Jugend https://www.facebook.com/gpadjpjugend

Die “Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, Druck Journalismus und Papier” (kurz GPA-djp) vertritt Angestellte, JournalistInnen, Lehrlinge, Studierende, SchülerInnen, A-Typisch Beschäftigte und Zivil- und Präsenzdiener. Mit fast dreihunderttausend Mitgliedern ist die GPA-djp die größte Teilgewerkschaft Österreichs und damit ein wichtiger politischer Akteur.

Netherlands

1. HIA hagueinternsassociation.org

HIA is an association of interns working at UN-related and intergov’t orgs in The Hague. We work to improve intern welfare & promote intern rights.

EU:
1. Quality Internshiphttp://qualityinternships.eu/
On this website you can find the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships that lays basic quality principles for internships and apprenticeships to become a valuable and quality experience across Europe.
2. InternsGoPro http://internsgopro.com/
Let’s build the quality database on companies in the EU together! (this one is highly recommended)

We have to reach for those who can affect the law, internships should be fixed to one month, and during the studies. Internship can be unpaid, but never exceeding 2 months. When exceeding 2 months should provide a National Minimum. Universities should explain students the definition of the internship and their rights. 

If you are from Germany or Berlin in particular and you feel my pain, join this Facebook page to unite https://www.facebook.com/berlin.internship.justice

Here is the updated Power Point Presentation on Internship Culture in Berlin: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! 

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

This blogpost is not a review on film, it’s a sentimental note about Berlin then and now. How the landscapes of the 80s look today, based on the film “Der Himmel über Berlin”.

It so happens that I live in the yard, where in 1987 Wim Wenders has filmed very important “Wings of Desire”moments – the circus scenes. It is the yard by Hallesches Tor, very close to Friedrichstr. When I started watching the film I did not expect to see the yard I cycle through every day, or Tommy Becker Haus (then – a squat, now – a house project), which famous wall paintings are being regularly photographed by tourists until now.

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

Wings of Desire with Tommy Becker House on the background. Screenshot.

Berlin, Tommy Becker Haus almost hidden in the green. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

Berlin, Tommy Becker House hidden by the trees. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

My house was not even there in the 80s. But the building across the street, with the yellow windows – was (you can see it on the screenshot above). Now it is quite a special feeling to have this view in front of me. After I finished watching the film I thought it will be interesting to compare “then” and “now” with photographs.

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

Wings of Desire. Screenshot.

Tommy Becker House. 21/05/2013. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

Tommy Becker House. 21/05/2013. All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard.

The empty yard, where almost 20 years ago was circus, turned into a truly green spot for local kids, alcoholics and drug addicts who come here from Hallesches Tor metro station.

Not only the whole town… the whole world is taking part in our decision.

                                                                     – Marion

On 21 July 1990, ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters staged a gigantic charity concert of his former band’s rock extravaganza The Wall to commemorate the end of the division between Eastand West Germany. The concert took place at Potsdamer Platz. The enormous buildings “grew” within 10 years time and changed the face of the area completely. Now finding the Potsdamer Platz wouldn’t be a problem. 

Former Potsdamer Platz, 1986. Image taken from: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/05/writing-on-stone/

Potsdamer Platz today. Image taken from http://www.potsdamer-platz.net/

Wings of Desire. Screenshot. Hotel Esplanade Berlin, Kaisersaal (the emperor’s hall). Stars like Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo stayed here.

Hotel Esplanade once stood on Berlin’s busy transport and nightlife hub Potsdamer Platz. During its colourful and turbulent history it went from being one of the German capital’s most luxurious and celebrated hotels to a bombed-out ruin lost in the wastelands alongside the Berlin Wall. A section of it still survives today, albeit as a fragment incorporated into the soaring modern complex of the Sony Center.

Ok. There are a lot of nice and informative blogs about Berlin. They cover a wide range of Berlin happenings, but the one I saw today definitely stands out. It talks about ‘Berlin special moments’ you can experience only here.  All the posts are very short and pick up on the essence

ENJOY: WHENYOULIVEINBERLIN

This is my favorite, but you have to see it in motion

From Directors Lounge Tumblr

Let’s face the fact, February in Berlin is really big by all means, the shortest month with the most important happenings.

You have the biggest digital art Festival in EuropeTransmediale with tons of special events and important guests from all over the world, and you have the most important Film Festival in GermanyBerlinale which equals Cannes Festival in France. But let’s forget about Berlinale for a second because it is not the worldwide famous actors we artists in Berlin are for – it’s the art which is initially made for art’s sake and not the money.

And real artists are always the most generous ones! Directors Lounge is a Film Festival taking a place in Berlin, also in February, which lasts for wonderful 11 days and is for free (this year admission free BEFORE 8pm) before 10pm. It offers everything from professional art feature films and documentaries to experimental music clips and avant-garde short films. They also provide music events, which makes it even more fun. And of course special guests!

Read More

Big fluffy snowflakes are whirling outside and it’s time for the annual Year summary, which reflects my experiences in the city (Berlin).

Thank you Justice Yeldham, Bruce LaBruce, Nick Zedd and Air Cushion Finish for quoting/featuring me on your websites!

I shall start with some blog stats, as they were pretty interesting to follow through the year. I am truly glad you found my blog helpful and interesting and I am thankful for the shares.   In fact WordPress shows the stats only since February 25.

TOP 5 country readers:

Avant-Hard in Berlin blog readers in the year 2012

blog readers in the year 2012

________________________________________

Top 5 search terms:

Lydia Lunch 509 times

holi open air festival 160 times

futurism  158 times

die antwoord 141 times

spreepark 141 times

________________________________________

All rights reserved by Pierre Fudaryli

All rights reserved by Pierre Fudaryli

The most amusing things people were searching for and came to my blog ( I am not asking for explanation):

cycling orgasm lock pedals

cà phê thuốc lá

hard 6

funny pics with people that have an attached tongue

prison turned into theme park

women on bicycles with their clits showing 

fucking 10 percapita

avant 8 bit

how to stop your porn from glitching ( this is my absolute favorite) 

how am i suppose to attend too many party  (split in three?)

 

All right reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

All rights reserved by Katja Avant-Hard

  • The place of the year: Tempelhof airport ( this is the most amazing open air space in Berlin. Huge expenses stretching away welcome sport lovers, families with BBQ and their gardens, flying snakes, cyclists cutting the roads where airplanes used to take off…)

 

  • The person of the year: Lydia Lunch. Lydia, we should have met earlier. Lydia knows how to live. Read this if you haven’t yet ➝ PARADOXIA

 

  • The film of the year: The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover (the film I watched in 2012) – that’s the first one that comes to my mind. It’s sick, unusual and very sensitive too!
  • The Fact of the year:  In Berlin there are more people partying than working. Metro at night has more traffic than at 8am and 6pm working days. I am not sure if it’s good or bad..
  • The band of the year: Death Grips. They did surprise me like noone else!

 

  • The concert of the year: there were quite a few. But i got extremely sentimental during MONO show and fell in love with the guitar player. I was also truly thankful to them for sharing their tour Instragram photos which made their travelling especially intimate and open. Yet, I shall admit I was totally taken away by sexually charged The Mars Volta concert. It was epic.

 

 

  • The event of the year: This year I’ve attended more events than within the entire life before it. 7. Porn Film Festival Berlin. Best organisation: friendly, cosy, open, chilled. Always provided an introduction to each film with nice commentary, introduced guests who came from all over the world and never let down! Always great film selection( for all kind of tastes) and this year the audience had a chance to enjoy The Golden Age of porn. They even screened THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES on 16mm old projector, it was a lovely noise! Thank you!
Projector. 7. Porn Film Festival Berlin. All right reserved by Katja Avant Hard

Projector. 7. Porn Film Festival Berlin. All rights reserved by Katja Avant Hard

 

  • The book of the year: PARADOXIA. Screwed my mind.

 

  • Quote of the year:  oh man, TOO many.  Let me share a few:

“You never seem to get really warm, sleeping alone”
-Christopher Isherwood

“I love you, even if there isn’t any me, or any love, or even any life. I love you.”
— Zelda Fitzgerald

“Oxygen gets you high. In a catastrophic emergency, you’re taking giant panicked breaths. Suddenly you become euphoric, docile. You accept your fate. It’s all right here”
-Fight Club

  • Food of the year:  this year I was introduced to Honey Pomelo. I was quite surprised about the size of it. €1,79 at Netto.

 

  • Animal of the year: Dog. Berlin is city of dogs. Simple as that.

 

  • The disappointment of the year: fashion on Internships. Hurts like fuck!

 

  • The achievement of the year: I joined German classes and on the 31st of Dec I am finishing B1!

 

  • Image of the year: There were two amazing images taken in Berlin this year and which became viral within a day.
Pony on the S-bahn train in Berlin. All rights reserved by: Jarkko Riihimäki

Pony on the S-bahn in Berlin. All rights reserved by: Jarkko Riihimäki

A naked man in the U-Bahn, Berlin. Author?

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

New York underground: Image taken from: http://subwayartblog.com/ by Richard Sandler

“Berlin now is: New York in the ’80s, London at the height of Britpop, Paris in the ’30s.

If you believe the hype, and you really should, Berlin is the coolest city on the planet.”

Scott Roxborough

 “Berlin is everything Germany is not: spontaneous, exciting, open and cosmopolitan.”

Caterer K.P. Kofler

Read More

All rights reserved by Katja Avant Hard 2010

Today the symbol of art, chaos and freedom – Tacheles was cleared out. It has existed for 22 years as an Art House and squat.

Originally called “Friedrichsstadtpassagen”, it was built as a department store in the Jewish quarter (Scheunenviertel) of Berlin, next to the synagogue. Serving as a Nazi prison for a short while, it was later partially demolished. After theBerlin Wall had come down, it was taken over by artists, who called it TachelesYiddish for “straight talking.”

“The graffiti-smeared, bomb-damaged building was a major tourist attraction because it gave visitors a taste of the chaotic, heady days of freedom Berlin enjoyed after the Wall fell. But the city has moved on.” (Spiegel.de)

Entering Tacheles, a strong smell of urine hits your nostrils, a dim staircase leads upstairs to the endless pieces of art, for sale. The entire wall space is used for graffiti and posters. The yard is full of crazy constructions and activities. Tacheles has seen a lot.

Read More

A little bit too much is just enough for me.

It is so easy to miss a good party in Berlin just because there are so many posters and flyers around, being over-glued and replaced constantly. Facebook invitations seem to work best, while others spend money on printing.

One of the most welcome parties in Berlin is Gegen, which once a month takes a place in a Kit Kat Club . The Kit KatClub is a night club in Berlin, opened in March 1994 by Austrian pornographic film maker Simon Thaur and his life partner Kirsten Krüger.

Guests are allowed to engage in sexual intercourse openly at the venue. A strict dress codeneeds to be respected in order to get into the Kit KatClub door, most of the time being held by Kirsten herself, her door policy being very strict. The dress code allows fetish, latex, leather, kinky, high style, glamor. The venue consists of three dance floors and an outdoor area with a pool. It is decorated with ultra-violet light and fluorescent color paintings done by the Berlin based painter Der Träumer.

╣GEGEN TITANS╠

Let your weakness take volume.
Be Titan. Be Gegen.

Read More

Image taken from: http://www.rad-spannerei.de/

Most of us learn cycling at an early age, what contributes to the development of a child, both morally and physically.  We learn how to focus circling the obstacles, keeping the balance and making sure we do not run into neighbor’s car. Later in life we understand all the advantages of cycling for real..

Moving from a small city to Riga in 2003, – meant no bicycle. Even though the roads are wide, the amount of cars and busses is too high, especially early in the mornings and around 6pm. The traffic gets insane, and the blockages on the streets do not dissolve for hours. There were no bicycle paths in Riga until last year, still there are just a few. Therefore you can count cyclists on your fingers!  I could only cycle, visitting my grandparents on the countryside. The situation in Riga is hopefully starting to change now little by little.

Going to Amsterdam and Copenhagen in 2008, made me think for how long i have not cycled!

Today Amsterdam is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture. 38% of all journeys in the city are made by bicycle. Most main streets have bike paths. Bike racks are ubiquitous throughout the city. There are about 700,000 bicycles in the city. Each year, about 100,000 of them are stolen and 25,000 end up in the canals (“Amsterdam Fietst” (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2007-03-06. Retrieved 2007-04-19.)

BUT

Netherlands had to fight really hard for their ability to cycle!

All rights reserved by Katja Avant Hard

All rights reserved by Katja Avant Hard

Image by FaceMePLS via flickr under a Creative Commons license

In Denmark there is everything made for people. The government always tries to improve cycling infrastructure: by providing small road lamps for fast cycling, pumps, painting especially dangerous turns in blue, leaving the car roads brick laid, so the cyclists can go on the pavement and many other things. So, the cyclists here feel really safe, going by hundreds day and night. And nothing can stop them! Young, old, pregnant, businessmen, in mini skirts, with kids on the board etc. everyone cycles!

Image by MaxKatz. Taken from http://maxkatz.livejournal.com/57083.html

Pay attention to where the car parking is. Image by MaxKatz

The cyclists stay before the cars! Image by MaxKatz

Now this is super cool! Image by MaxKatz

Now Berlin.

Just like in Amsterdam the first thing you have to be aware of is that cycling roads are everywhere, and very often on the pavement, so you can easily get hurt by bike! There are plenty bike shops around, for buying, renting or fixing your bike.

Stolen bikes for the price of 30 euros are available on flea markets. But I’d try Craigslist first.

Berliners just like Danes and Dutch cycle almost 12 months a year. But this is what sometimes happens when you wake up early in the morning….

Image taken form: http://www.worldhum.com/

In comparison to London, where cyclists are squeezed and are forced to slip among busses and cars, Berlin streets are nice and wide (in most of the places). There are not so many hills in Berlin, at least not as many as parks, where you can go down the cycling path.

Don’t know about the other 2 cities, but Berlin surely breaks the rules, and the car drivers and also pedestrians will scream at you.

The other thing which is so typical to creative city Berlin is the usage of old bicycles as shop signs or marketing tools. The other day I saw a bike locked at the crossing with a shoe glued to the pedal, which was a sign for a shoe shop..

I personally smile when I walk or cycle to work. I see fathers with a kid sitting behind him or a mother  with 3 kids in the front basket. The other day when the father was pushing his pedals the little boy was singing songs filling the street with his baby language. I just wish I could see the same scene in Riga…

There are bike workshops too! So, you can make your individual one. Just recently there was a Berlin Bicycle show to celebrate bicycle culture, gathering a great amount of fans and showing all kind of bicycles made by all kind of people and companies.

EU stats.

EU stats.

Soviet soldier attempting to steal a woman’s bicycle – Berlin, 1945 (this is one of the versions)

© berlin bicycle show – cool bikes galore

Get imaginative! Image taken from: http://blog.brooksengland.com/

One of the 1st bikes. Image taken from: http://www.ruudvisser.com/suzanne/page/2/

It is true, there are not so many fat people in all 3 cities…

burn it. Image taken from: http://www.urbanophil.net/

Read here the Bicycle History: http://www.pedalinghistory.com/PHhistory.html

1001 nights at the cinema, all in eleven days. A romping, cinedalic party, the place to see films, rub shoulders with filmmakers and spectators, meet a global set around the bar… and see more films. What’s up and coming, with performances and music thrown in for good measure. This year topped off with a celebration with all the Berlin Film Festivals: Festivals United, The Official Festiwelt Party Wed., Feb. 15 – the night to party with all the movers and shakers of the Berlin (and beyond) film universe. Enough festivals to kill a rhino!

BERLINALE or Directors Lounge???

The 8th Berlin International Directors Lounge, the festival for contemporary media and film.
February 9 – 19, Naherholung Sternchen, behind the Kino International
U Schillingstrasse | Berolinastr. 7, 10178 Berlin-Mitte

Daily from 6pm, no admission till 10pm 
Opening reception Thurs., Feb. 9, 8pm
Festivals United | The Official Festiwelt Party Wed., Feb. 15

Join on FACEBOOK

Homepage: 
http://directorslounge.net/

Program:
http://berlinlounge.tumblr.com/

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS - A MAN WITHIN | Yony Leyser

Featuring never-before-seen archival footage of Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with colleagues and confidants including John Waters, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Sonic Youth, Laurie Anderson, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, and David Cronenberg, WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN is a probing, yet loving look at the man whose works at once savaged conservative ideals, spawned countercultural movements, and reconfigured 20th century culture. The film is narrated by Peter Weller, with a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonic Youth.

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