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Dublin, view from Google European HQ. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

Dublin, a view from Google European HQ. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

What happend to Avant-Hard after she left Berlin? How did it feel to leave the hip and jive dark-dancing mass? Where did Avant-Hard go and what does she drink now if not Club Mate?

The life after Berlin brought a massive change. If there is no change, you’re not living. In Berlin I was comfortable living the uncomfortable life. I was cleaning apartments while photographing festivals, writing blogs, editing videos, managing social media, organising events, fighting for the intern rights, doing city tours and graphic design for free or very low pay and dancing at night. It is hard to break the routine that has been working for years. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. People often fear the change. And it’s totally human. And the older you become the harder it is to make that step. But I got tired, more than that, I was emotionally exhausted and it was time to face the challenge.

Polishing toilets, thinking golden statue

It’s been a year since I left Berlin and it’s been a year since I haven’t written a blog post. Just a year ago I was polishing toilets imagining they were golden statues. I’d pay with a €100 note in McDonalds for a €2 ice cream, saying “sorry, I don’t have smaller”. In reality we just had to break it for two of us to get paid for Cinderella job. I was rejected by the Copenhagen University where I wanted to do multi-media MA, I was rejected by hundreds of small and big companies across Europe for over a year. Rejections were like arrows in my back, making me bleed stronger and stronger.. The three diplomas I had been keeping so proudly in the folder, lost the importance and I felt like I could flush them down that toilet I’ve just polished. In the end I was not only exhausted, I became apathetic and pessimistic and I wanted to puke in that toilet. I secretly dreamed about life grabbing my hair and smashing my face against an absolute fortune.

Google bridge

Dublin, Google bridge. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

Dublin, the space office.

Dublin, the space office. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.

google xmas

Google. Xmas orchestra. All right reserved by Avant-Hard.

Latvia – the home I never loved

After seven years of living abroad I left 24h party people Berlin and I moved back to mum’s place. It felt miserable.

It was easy to get a job in Latvia because Latvian marked lacked specialists. I went to job interviews at well established organisations without preparation and almost always got the job. I became picky and would choose between the companies. I started working for one of the largest fashion labels in Latvia – QooQoo, organised a Twin Peaks party, did graphic design and social media work remotely for a startup in Vienna and joined an ambitious marketing agency as a social media manager. But I still was not happy, I did not believe in my future in Latvia.

I never felt the connection with Latvia. I could never deal with the extreme level of nationalism, racism, homophobia, lack of tolerance, Scandinavian prices and miserable €370 minimum wage, broken health and pension schemes.

This half a year in Latvia felt  like sitting in a dark box hoping somebody will open the lead. In April all of a sudden, I got a call from Dublin and it changed everything. I packed my bags and two weeks later I left the country. After being rejected by hundreds of companies across Europe, I was the perfect fit for the #1 rated company in the world – Google.

Though honestly speaking, I feared this was a scam until I entered the European headquarters. I mean, who needs an avant-garde bottle collector/Silicon Allee toilet polisher?

Bear foot and water guns

I did not expect Google to ever select me – I was too imperfect for everybody. But what other companies saw as a disadvantage in my portfolio, Google saw as an advantage. I had the warmest welcome of my life. It felt like they waited for me their whole life. My desk looked like a birthday party – full of balloons, candies, and funny memes. They pranked me so hard too and we all laughed for like a week after. Me being an underground Berlin artist that had holes in the pockets, thought that a big corporate company like Google was meant to be a boring suit-wearing routine. No, I never read any articles about Google offices and I haven’t watched “The internship”.

And so I entered this space that looks like a playground dream of my childhood with all the toys I never had. And I question myself – who are these people wearing no shoes, shooting water guns, pranking each other, hugging after long holidays and just having a blast? These absolute strangers made me feel so special, literally that there is no better person on the planet for this position than me. They opened the doors of their homes to me, the person they have just met. And after my ego was flashed down the toilet that I polished so diligently, I suddenly felt like I am standing on the top of the Everest chewing the Extra gum. Damn cool Everest.

google games

My team is like no other team I ever worked with. We are all very different. Different cultural backgrounds, different personalities, different political views and life values. If we were animals, we all would be different species. Like a mix of a dinosaur, a panther, a bull, an elephant, a dolphin, an owl, and a crocodile – basically the whole jungle. We are just a perfectly combined team. We are highly respective, supportive, tolerant and incredibly fun. My team are a bunch of supermen.

Healthy Environment

What blew my mind and still is blowing daily – is how much Google takes care of their employees. I could never even dream of meditating at work – well apart from sitting at my desk with the eyes closed and colleagues asking you if I was okey. Google offers a range of options how to distress, how to maintain the work balance and not overwork. The company kindly encourages you to do sports. The gym provided to anyone at any time of week has also free of charge yoga and pilates classes. Or during the lunch you can go for a swim, get a massage done or simply have a nap in the isolated char. If hitting the drums is something that will help you to relax, you can go to the music room or play computer games, play ping pong or pool and get totally detached from work for half an hour. My manager got us legos and a puzzle for this New Year’s, and as an adult you do realize that sometimes it’s the best way to have a break from work. There are special meditation sessions and a D vitamin room for the wellbeing too. There are also doctors on campus, should you need them. Google gives various relaxation options for everyone to choose what works best.

The quote below is complete opposite to the Google environment, because all of a sudden you realise that Google is your friend or as I jokingly say – Papa Google, since he cooks for me three times a day. Similarly to Scandinavian business model, Google makes sure you are happy at work and have enough time for private life. The company encourages to not stay after 6pm and also kindly reminds you of your holiday days for bigger productivity. Google motivates by providing a happy relaxed environment in all offices across the globe. There are also special perks an employee gets for outstanding performance and being Googley.

work quote

Possibilities at Google

Another thing that does not stop to amaze me is the possibilities of personal and career development. Google strives for innovation and initiative. And the sky is the limit. The projects that one can get involved in are endless. If you don’t have the skills, you can get them. Google gives the space for growth even outside of the contracted role.

For example, there is a peer-to-peer learning program where Googlers teach other Googlers on topics that can range from yoga to coding — and it’s all completely free!

Mayra Felix

In other words, Google does everything for you to be passionate about your job. This company created the atmosphere where you are self motivated to explore the limits and think outside of the box. You don’t need your manager to give you a project, you pick it yourself.

I Google, therefore I am

You never know where you will lose and where you will find. Google found me sitting in the puddle doing the math. I was trying to calculate my future, but since I was never good in maths Google said:”let’s do something different.” I have taken the role I never considered before. And to my big surprise I really enjoy it and not sure I’d go back to marketing. Google does not limit me to the title I was given, Google gives me the necessary space for being who I am. I left the puddle and the rain won’t stop me now.

And what happened to Berlin? Berlin is still there, dancing and making love to the strangers. I pass it by occasionally.  Berlin is the wild bird I never managed to get into to the cage.

Twin Peaks.

After 25 years from the last episode of Twin Peaks, the spirit still lives and the fan base is still growing. These Lynchian places where are they?

There are several Twin Peaks related bars in the World. There is The Black Lodge in Bulgaria, which is more for metal heads; there is The Black Lodge in Vancouverwith impressive well thought through design, there is Black Bear Lodge bar in Brisbane, Australia, “where stag heads, fir trees and Johnny Cash rule, the red velvet curtained stage still provides the back drop and ‘a cast of Blue Velvet characters hang out.” And there is a restaurant/sports bar chain called Twin Peaks  in DallasTexas, which did not impress me at all.

Inspired by the deeply strange Club Silencio in Mulholland Drive, the film director himself has opened a nightclub in the French capital. Everything from the toilet bowls – black on black – to the saltiness of the nuts on the bar was decided on by the master himself. He even created the 1950s-inspired furniture, the chairs designed to “induce and sustain a specific state of alertness and openness to the unknown”. (the Guardian) And here you can still smoke inside; and of course there is a small Blue Velvet stage.

Silencio. David Lynch club. Paris. Photo: Copyright Alexandre Guirkinger | Silencio

Silencio. Image taken from artinfo.com

Yet, there is another Lynnchian place on earth, and it’s in Berlin. It’s been here for a while, but it has just relocated (well a few months ago) to Kreuzkölln. It is also called The Black Lodge, and we are totally ok with it. The place is nicely hidden on Sanderstrasse 6, and there is no indication that this is the Twin Peaks bar; because the old huge signboard says something unrelated and the windows are masked. The first room is completely black except for the ceiling and radiators; it is also a bar which is pretty ritzy. On the walls there are two gold framed mirrors and the white candles on tables, typical. The bar has a great selection of strong dutch beers and a mix between cocktails and long drinks. The prices are standard. The 2nd room is more exciting if you want to get the real feel of the Black Lodge, as it has red heavy curtains and the stripy floor; however it is very narrow, suppose to the real spacious room in the TV series. The tables are tiny and you sit along the wall. There is a hidden door which leads you to the restrooms and.. yet another room, which is totally bizarre because it’s a smoking area and it looks like a typical Berlin bar, grey ragged walls authentic furniture, all in all totally not fitting the mood of the previous two rooms. I’d would paint it black and put an owl there or at least a framed Laura Palmer photo, like Madame Claude did. If there was no 2nd room, you’d never get a Twin Peaks feeling, other than that it’s a lovely stylish bar, which gets 4 stars from me, and we’ll ignore that 3rd room.

P.S. They make fantastic event posters; check their Facebook page.

The Black Lodge. Vancouver.

 

© picture alliance­: dpa

© picture alliance­: dpa

Because Germans have a program called Food Sharing.

We all happen to buy sometimes too much, or the wrong item, or we simply go for a holiday and need to empty the fridge. Or maybe you had a birthday party with lots of cakes and salads and now you don’t know how to finish them all. There are many reasons why we throw away food.

Foodsharing.de found the way to save the products we cannot or don’t want to consume anymore.

Read More

Image rights: by George Gastin, Design: Katja-Avant-Hard

Image rights: by George Gastin, Design: Katja Avant-Hard

When startups are trying to reach the moon with paying an intern €300/m, it is clear – their business model is wrong. They are fooling you by saying “you will have a great chance to learn how to… and you’ll get individual tasks and responsibilities where you can show your creativity and strategic thinking”. In translation to the reality language this actually means: ” You will work 40+ hours a week, replacing an employee who otherwise would have been paid at least €2000/m”. Mummy does not pay my rent, daddy does not cover my food expenses. And I say I need a health insurance, which I cannot pay for when I only have €300/m.

Once I left a negative comment on a company’s Facebook page under an unpaid internship offer, to which they said:“If we could pay, we would; we all work for this project with a great passion and hope to find interns who will share this vision with us”. And when I said :” Can’t pay, don’t hire. You don’t work for free yourself, why should anyone?”, they deleted the post entirely. After a similar comment on Praktikum Berlin not only they deleted my comment, but also blocked me from commenting or liking their posts. 

They don’t want to hear me on Facebook, then they will have to hear me speaking out loud on the 13th of November at Supermarkt where I will be giving a masterclass presentation on this very important topic. After a coffee break Nicholas Wenzel from InternsGoPro will join us for an open discussion.

This free workshop will give a deep insight into the different aspects of an internship across the world. We will discuss what is a useful internship and what is illegal. I will talk about the biggest internship scandals in 2013 wrapping it up with Berlin startups policy. A great collection of videos, comics, stats and infographics will be provided for visitors to understand the problem and see possible solutions.

Please share the Facebook event with anyone who might be interested:  DIY MASTERCLASS: Know Your Rights! Internship Culture in Berlin

↓ The most creative way how to leave the company which destroys your life.

On this same topic a new promising German article, which I recommend to read: The Local: If the Internship is Really bad, Walk away. 


Masterclass Programme
14:00 Presentation from Katja Petrova on the problem with unfair internships, intern laws across the world, material and psychological aspects of unfair internships, case studies with source material from a range of articles, video and activist resources, problematic startups business models in Germany, and last but not least, solutions!
15:00 Open discussion where participants are welcome to share ideas, fears and experiences.
15:30 Coffee break
16:00 Nicholas Wenzel from InternsGoPro, a European community fighting for intern rights, presents his activities, ideas and action plans, including building a team of activists and a possible demonstration in Berlin in March 2014.
17:30 Hosts will be available for private talks and consultations.

Cost: The Masterclass is free, but a donation box will be present should you wish to make a contribution to the host organisations.

Language: The language of presentation will be English.

Registration: Please register your attendance by sending an email to rsvp@supermarkt-berlin.net with the subject heading “Intern Rights”. Everyone is invited to attend and participate in this Masterclass, especially activists and those who have come across this problem and/or experienced Berlin’s internship culture first-hand.

I thank Supermarkt for all their help ans support!

Bio Kiwi. Bio Label in Germany. Image taken from: http://www.southafrica.diplo.de

My Latvian friends are very sceptical about my bio/ecological gifts from Germany, saying that I should  not pay more for what is no different from other products. So, it’s very hard to buy us, the ex-soviet countries, with the “Bio” sticker. However on the first month of my move to Berlin I was told that Germans are very strict with what they call organic, therefore it’s time to find out the real answer.

History

The agriculture has become more mechanical after The World War II. Chemical adherence and intensive farming techniques have caused food safety and environment problems. As a result, countries started looking for new methods, and organic farming became more and more popular. (Rehber and Turhan, 2002) Germany was participating in biological farming quiet actively from the beginning of the 20th Century. It became especially stimulating in the 60s and 70s.

The Federation for Organic Farming was established in 1988. Standards and policies for the organic food in Germany were setup in the 90s when bio agriculture started to develop rapidly.

What’s bio/organic, ecological, natural, green or eco-friendly?

A 100% natural product is made of natural ingredients like pure fruit, water, and sugar in the case of a juice. But when a product claims to be organic or bio it also means that its ingredients were produced without any synthetic inputs and do not have any chemical additives. (study-in.de)

➔The bio/organic-products do not contain toxic substances: parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben) who only act as curing agent; phthalates (dibutylphthalate, diethylphthalate) who preserve the pleasant flavour, the colour and texture of the product; sodium lauryl sulfate and other substances only produce foam; imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidin urea are used as curing agents; oil by-products (mineral oil, paraffin), lanolin.

Image taken from static.ddmcdn.com

➔A product called “Ecological” is a product developed in accordance with criteria for the formulation and packaging in order to have less impact on the environment. This does not mean that the product is respectful of the person and the environment throughout its life cycle. In the absence of a recognized label, the consumer has no way to know if these arguments are satisfactory if there are no specific and complete criteria to respect, or official organism to confirm the veracity of the responses to criteria.

➔A product called “natural” is a product extracted from nature. The word “natural” is more or less defined by legal instruments. On the other hand the term “natural” does not always guarantee a satisfactory respect of the person and the environment. Many natural substances are classified as “toxic” to the person and / or to the environment or are classified as allergens.

➔A product called “green” is a product that organic compounds are mainly of plant origin.

➔A product called “environmentally friendly” should have a very good biodegradability and low ecotoxicity and respect the person, because humans are part of the environment.

The European Ecolabel guarantees the consumer that the product which has obtained ECOLABEL “the European eco-label” has satisfactory environmental qualities.  (http://www.arbrevert.eu/)

Bio Labels & Standards

EU Organic Logo

Germany is the biggest organic importer in Europe, with almost 40% of the total market. In 2011 Germany was by far the most important organic market in Europe with a turnover of €6.59 billion. France took the second place with €3.76 billion, and the UK €1,88 billion. 6,2% of agricultural land in total is being used for organic farming, that is 1034355 hectares. With Berlin being the least active, and Bavaria the most productive. More recent data, in German, can be found: HERE

There are several organic associations in Germany: Demeter, Bioland, Biokreis, Naturland, Biopark, Ecoland, Ecovin and Gaä that have contracted farmers all over Germany (press on the name to read more). Some of them operate worldwide and follow much stricter rules than EU ones. Demeter for example, which is bio-dynamic, rather than basic organic and uses holistic approach*. But all of the above mentioned ones meet very high standards and are advisable for use.

*Holistic agriculture has an aspect important for the environment: fertile soil can sequester carbon. That our soils are no longer alive is a major cause of global warming!
In Egypt the SEKEM initiative for example has been working for 35 years according to the principles of holistic agriculture. To date, nearly 700 acres of desert has been made fertile by SEKEM alone.

Other bio names

Cheaper bio named products (without any labels) from EDEKA, NETTO and LIDL meet only basic organic regulations and are not so advisable (read EU rules: here).  First let’s clarify that the simply claim “100% natural” or “without preservatives” written on the packaging doesn’t make it a bio-product.

The rules also vary from region to region. But regular checkouts are carried out through the country in order to control the liability. (auf Deutsch: hier ) Currently, 4,269 companies use the organic seal on 66,941 products. The mimimim organic level in germany is 95%.

Since September 2001, all agricultural products and foodstuffs from organic farming may be labelled with the national Bio-Siegel (eco label) of Germany. The small hexagonal logo with the inscription <- “Bio” brings about clarity, uniformity and orientation for organic or eco products respectively. Consumers can rely on it: “If it says ‘Bio’ on the outside it contains organic products.” For only producers and manufacturers who comply with the provisions of the EU Organic Farming Regulation and subject themselves to the mandatory inspections may sell their products as organic or eco goods and label them accordingly with the Bio-Siegel.

The Eco-Labelling Act contains criminal and administrative fines for misuse of the organic label. (list of regulations auf Deutsch: hier )

The guidelines of the German organic farming associations are stricter than the EU legislation on organic farming in some points (says http://www.bmelv.de/). Most of the market chains have their own bio label, this one on the left is from ALDI ( I did not know it was bio).

“I know a girl in Hessen who worked for a company that packs exclusively for Aldi and Lidl. The testing is fucking rigorous and the quality is heavily controlled.” (Bad Doggie from ToyTownGermany)

McDonald’s Beef in Germany is organic

Someone in France on the Fool’s Day made a joke about McDonalds going organic, while Germans are pretty serious about it.

In the presence of minister Renate Künast, McDonald’s has signed an agreement with organic farmers(2001). Now the “Qualitätsfleischerzeugergemeinschaft Weidehof” in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
belongs to the list of official suppliers to the well- known fast food restaurant chain. Full article in German can be read HERE 

Testing

I found two type of tests (for food and everything else): Warentest and  ÖKO-TEST

Warentest was established in 1964 after the decision of the German Bundestag to offer consumers comparative testing of products and services through an independent and objective support.

  • We buy – anonymously
  • We test – using scientific methods in independent institutes according to our specifications.
  • We rate – from “very good” to “poor”, exclusively on the basis of examination results objectified.
  • We publish – free display test in our magazines and financial test and online at http://www.test.de.

Recently for the misusage of the Warentest label on the mattresses, LIDL had to pay €25,000. 

You have seen their label in Rossmann and Kaiser’s. It’s just a quality test, when the EOKO-TEST is the ecological test, which existed now for over 25 years. OEKO-TEST works only with specialized laboratories, which have proven their qualifications for the testing through the appropriate approval (accreditation).

EOKO-TEST also publishes their results and especially the violations. See the full list of label violations HERE. In case of breaking the law it asks companies to donate between a few hundreds and a few thousands to the Green associations in Germany. Both testing companies put a date of the label issue, and it is valid until the product is changed.

BIO labels in cosmetics

With cosmetics being bio/organic, they have different from food labels. Most common ones I found are:

Bio Cosmetics' labels

Bio Cosmetics’ labels

I started using only organic cosmetics after I read an article a year ago, which counted the terrifying amount of chemicals a woman puts on herself every day. Even though it is very hard to prove what exactly causes cancer and allergies I decided to switch in order to stress my body less.

I use mostly cheapest companies like: Alverde, BIO Belle and Sante. Now the last thing for my birthday will be the bio parfume, which also lasts up to 6h and costs no less and no more than the regular parfumes from famous companies.

Even my toothpaste after 27 years is bio and without fluoride.

Like so many everyday substances that have been found to be toxic, fluoride has its roots in World War II research into weapons of mass destruction. Massive quantities of fluoride were essential for the manufacture of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War.

Post-WWII, fluoride was a popular form of rat poison. However, as fluoride production began to greatly outstrip its use as a rodenticide, scientists were spurred on by industry and the government to find other uses for it.

Today, fluoride is routinely added to the water supply of around 10% of the UK population (though this figure is set to rise) and more than 60% of the US population. These figures are in stark contrast to the 98% of Western Europe that has rejected fluoridation on the grounds that it does not work and that it is morally reprehensible to forcibly medicate whole populations of people.

There are significant differences between naturally occurring calcium fluoride and what is essentially industrial waste – namely, hydrofluorosilicic acid, a byproduct of the phosphate-fertiliser industry – added to our water, and known to contain human carcinogens in a toxic mix of arsenic, beryllium, lead, cadmium, mercury, silicon and other major contaminants, including radioactive polonium.

While most of us have been taught that fluoride protects teeth, research does not bear this out. Most studies into the benefits of fluoride are based on calcium fluoride rather than the more toxic form that is added to our water supply. (http://www.nyrnaturalnews.com/article/qa-whats-so-bad-about-fluoride/)

In addition, several review papers have attested to the fact that dental decay does not increase when communities stop fluoridation.

“Generally, in Germany fluoridation of drinking water is forbidden. The relevant German
law allows exceptions to the fluoridation ban on application. The argumentation of the
Federal Ministry of Health against a general permission of fluoridation of drinking water
is the problematic nature of compuls[ory] medication.” (Gerda Hankel-Khan, Embassy of
Federal Republic of Germany, September 16, 1999).

Eco cleaning

The bigger the company the more likely it will cheat. There are several cleaning supplies’ companies available in Germany, one of them is pretty famous also outside the country – Ecover. It is interesting, but Ecover WC cleaning I have at home now does not have the eco label, it only has the label saying “The green bottle”, which means good for recycling, but about what’s in the bottle?

According to businessgreen.com, Ecover commissioned an independent investigation into 15 washing products that currently carry the label. 13 did not meet the European Commission’s criteria. (read full article HERE

From my personal experience the best on the market seems to be Sodasan, it smells extremely well and carries all the eco labels. It is also significantly more expensive than Ecover.

Bio box

Image taken from schmaelzle.com

There are several farmers’ associations, which offer fresh bio boxes of fruits and vegetables just picked from the fields. They will usually offer you the best quality (because they have to follow extremely strict guidelines), for a reasonable price between 14 and 30 euros. They deliver everywhere in Germany. There are 46 Bio Box companies, but only ten received 5 start rating.

TOP TEN:

Dirks Bio-Kiste
Dirk Agena, 69256 Mauer

Guidohof
Armin und Silke Lucht, 09212 Limbach Oberfrohna OT Uhlsdorf

Die rollende Gemüsekiste
Herrmann Haas-Hübsch, 86444 Gebenhofen

Hof Engelhardt Ökokiste
Hartmut Engelhardt, 74547 Untermünkheim

Bioland Gemüsehof Hörz
Die Grüne Kiste, 70794 Filderstadt

Bioland Gärtnerei Hüsgen
Rita und Till Hüsgen, 53773 Hennef-Süchterscheid

Hofgut Letten Vertriebs GmbH
Beate Mayer, 83670 Bad Heilbrunn

Martinshof Biobus GmbH
Gerhard Kempf, 66606 St. Wendel-Osterbrücken

Rengoldshauser Hof GmbH
Geert Neyrinck, 88662 Überlingen

Naturgarten Schönegge
Erhard und Horst Schönegge, 85405 Nandlstadt

To find a bio box in your region use this website: oekokiste.de

Lines and numbers on the products

In school a chemistry teacher told us that the lines on the toothpaste indicate the quality: black being the worst and red – being the best. No surprise, I thought, I never saw the red line in Latvia, thinking we get only law quality toothpastes. But today I found out that it is actually not true. In reality, these are merely marks used in the printing process. They are referred to as “eye marks” and read by a sensor in the manufacturing process in order to detect and align squeeze tubes.Typically, the color of the square is also a color of something else being printed on that side of the tube.

However, there are numbers on eggs, which indicate the quality. If the long code begins with 0 – it is fully organic, when 1- free range, 2 – don’t buy. And guess what, I have the twos…

Egg number decoding system

Organic studies

However there is no study which would show that people who eat organic are more healthier and those who don’t – experience health problems. Wiki actually says there is no difference for the organism, as the study could not prove that there is. Some people buy organic tomatos just because they taste better in comparison to cheap hybrids.

Although it has not been scientifically proved yet that these products are healthier than the ones produced with normal techniques, it is believed that the more natural a product is grown and the fewer chemicals it was exposed to, the better it is for our health. (study-in.de)

http://www.test.de/unternehmen/ueberuns/

All in all it’s a debatable question how much better our lives are with organic products, however putting chemicals down my body I do not feel indifferent, and when the cost between a bio a non-bio product is not that high, my choice will be organic. Plus, a bio apple will always taste better.

Taken from DailyMail.co.uk

I often admire Berlin for colourful blocks of flats instead of grey boxes which can be seen everywhere in post-soviet countries. Berlin could have easily been the most depressing city in Europe, but artists turned it into the world of colors. Now the walls of the city are pained in animals, flowers, butterflies, faces and other funny creatures. Recently a team from a French firm CitéCréation painted the wild life on the row of apartment blocks, which, they hope, is now the World’s Biggest Mural. The mural was inspired by a nearby zoo and covers an impressive 20,000 square metres of wall facing the street. The mural features birds, bears and even imaginary residents are interacting with the painted wildlife that adorns the Wohngenossenschaft Soldaritaet Coop apartments in the German capital.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415742/Artists-create-worlds-biggest-mural-cover-STREET-apartment-blocks-imaginative-designs.html#ixzz2eVNrCEeW

Image taken from DailyMail.co.uk

Image taken from DailyMail.co.uk

Image taken from DailyMail.co.uk

Image taken from DailyMail.co.uk

Xposed queer film festival berlin

Xposed poster

My homeland, Latvia, is just a little less aggressive towards everyone who is not white and straight than Russia. Gay, lesbian, transgender – this topic makes post soviet countries take a hostile reception. Everything forbidden and “wrong” in my country always evoked in me compassion and will to support the minority. Trying to prove something in Latvia is like trying to plant tomatoes in concrete. We are blind and are not willing to change.

That’s why leaving my country was a celebration, I could avoid things I could not change. I did not want to waste my energy on people who don’t want to be happy. In Berlin I celebrate the variety, freedom and peace. XPOSED International Queer Film Festival is one of those events which reminds me that i am in the land where being yourself is normal.

It’s about eXposure and eXposing. It’s about fun, it’s about Berlin and the rest of the Queer World!

The best way to shine a light on Queer life in another land is to mark it with a giant X and open peoples eyes to it, therefore, the festival grew into it’s new focus. Every year we would dedicate to a specific region around the world and bring queer stories from these lands to an International audience in Berlin. Not only have we XPOSED Queer Australian short films, but also short films from Canada, Korea, Turkey, Germany, Spain & The Middle East!  X marks the spot, and that spot this year is AUSTRIA (Xposed)

30 May – 1 June 2013

@ MOVIEMENTO

Kottbusser Damm 22 ubhf – Schönleinstr. U8

Full Program and other venues

Kurt Kren 10/65 Selbstverstümmelung

Albert Sackl Im Freien

Germany, Micaela Schaefer, Eurovision. Image taken from: http://ruptly.tv/

I stopped watching Eurovision more than 10 years ago. When I was a teenager, who lived in a small city, with no Internet connection, Eurovision on TV was definitely the night to get excited about. Then you grow up and simply forget about it. Countries like Latvia, and certain groups of people who carefully follow this event from year to year take it extremely seriously. Did we send the best one to represent our country? They get really worried. And then the country which holds the event, gets super frustrated about the stage, building it specially for this occasion.

It’s politics under the shiny dresses. It’s love and hate between countries.

But in Berlin it does not matter, in Berlin it is another reason to have a party. They organise a big open air, with a huge screen and beers, and simply have a good laugh. Berlin has definitely gathered all European nationalities by now; so it is extremely fun to watch Eurovision if you and your friends are all from different countries. Is my country representative more ridiculous than yours? It gets sentimental only when it’s time to vote. It’s funny, but all the small shops, bars and cafes screen Eurovision. Everyone is watching as if it was football.

And then if your friend’s country is the winner, it is another reason to get another beer.

May the 18th, Malmo 2013. Have fun!

And it does not matter before the actual night, but if you want to know who is participating, please find all the details here: http://www.eurovision.tv/

Berlin: New Year fireworks

When it comes to celebrating New Year in Berlin it also comes to surviving a war. Without exaggeration – Berlin gets very dangerous.

They officially start selling fireworks on the 28th of December,the whole year before that they are forbidden. This is the main reason why the Berliners are discharging to the fullest within the next 3-4 days. They get totally loaded with that shit! They start shooting on the 28th, culminating on the 31st as soon as it gets dark and continue until they drop. Fireworks fly to the windows and balconies, passing by your head and dropping next to your feet. People set the firecrackers on fire in subways and trains – they totally lose control. It gets especially insane in Neukoelln and Kreuzberg. Many families with kids leave the city. Poor dogs get paranoid to death, scratching their bellies against the window sill after 5h jumping.

Today this 2 days old video footage became available online and was widely shared on Facebook because it captures some really scary moments of the New Year’s night in Neukoelln.

At the same time Dubai got a great attention thanks to a special set of fireworks, which you can also now watch online. Happy New Year & save your head!

Alejandro Jodorowsky Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Holy Mountain’

For the last two weeks I have been actively ignoring Transmediale newsletter bombing. It’s still 2 months before Transmediale 2013 starts. But yesterday on Facebook a familiar picture attracted my attention. The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

on Feb 2nd, 2013, Transmediale Festival will host an evening with legendary author, filmmaker, comic writer, and esoteric: 
Alejandro Jodorowsky

http://www.transmediale.de/

See his Holy Mountain film trailer:

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