Pure Minimalistic Japanese Design …

“Welcome to the 9 Hours Hotel where you can spend the night sleeping in one of 125 small little capsules called hubs that are only large enough for a person to lie down in for $80. They are quite popular in Japan for commuters who have a need to stay in town overnight. This one is located in Kyoto. The 9 h capsule hotel and all amenities were designed by Fumie Shibata of design studio s, which she founded in 1994.”

Michael Moore argues that Wikileaks is pro Democracy

I think these are great statements by Michael Moore, an Amercian Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author. He posted bail money for Julian Assange, the founder and head of Wikileaks. Here are some arguments why he posted the money:

“We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

– Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks “has violated the Espionage Act.”

– Sarah Palin claims he’s “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” whom we should pursue “with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”
– Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: “A dead man can’t leak stuff … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”
– Republican Mary Matalin says “he’s a psychopath, a sociopath … He’s a terrorist.”

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won’t be so easy because the tables have been turned — and now it’s Big Brother who’s being watched … by us!”

I was in London yesterday (and I am still there) – and it was only by coincidence (some of you asked me) that this day Julian Assange walked with a smile and a short statement of quiet defiance, free from custody and into the kind of media scrum more commonly seen after a decades-long prison sentence, rather than nine days on remand.

Nobody knows right now about the impacts wikileaks will have on our governments, on our society. It is a brand new situation for all of us. For us as citizens and for our governments. Are we people able to deal with these kind of information and are we capable to handle it? To make judgements based upon it? We don’t know yet.
Are our governments ready to deal successfully with this new kind of transparency? Aren’t they tempted to see more the threats than the changes? Indeed, wikileaks is challenging their fundamental ideas how they govern. At the moments it seems that they rather use it to restrict our civil rights such as freedom of speech, that they tend to control the Web even stronger than to accept the new terms of communication and transparency. We really don’t know where we are heading to. Nevertheless I do strongly support the ideas going along with wikileaks because I do think that transparency is a not a nice-to-have but a must-have in a lively democracy.

I have the feeling they we’ve reached for the very first time since the rise of the Internet a very critical and crucial moment for our societies as a whole, the Internet has heavily concussed the walls of our established systems – if governments and companies are continuing to control and restrict it, WE will fall way behind of what a great democracy could be.

And I only hope for the good that then a new Web will come into existence …

The Beauty of Statistics

According to the saying, there are lies, worse lies, and statistics. However, statistics can reveal a great deal about the world when understood and interpreted correctly. The problem for the general population is that a list of numbers and percentages is neither appealing nor digestible and most people need a beginner’s guide to understand basic concepts of statistics. That’s where Hans Rosling and gapminder.org come in – Rosling challenges this perception and introduces the world to statistics like they have never seen it before.

Gapminder animates data on charts, turning them from a vague concept to a living organism whose shape, position and movement help visualize and internalize the issue discussed. It makes statistics accessible to people who don’t have a mathematical background, giving them the opportunity to understand it instantly. The interactive software, together with the lively presentation and passion of Hans Rosling, a Swedish professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, are “rockstars” on many events around the globe. His videos are among the top viewed, favorited and emailed of all times on TED, the popular lecture website.

Hans Rosling was voted one of the world’s “100 most important global thinkers” of 2009 by the Foreign Policy Magazine (December 2009), for “for boggling our minds with paradigm-shattering data. ” According to the magazine, his endeavor to use numbers to shatter stereotypes of rich and poor countries has brought him global prominence.

In May 2010 I was lucky to get the chance to talk to him for a few hours. As a result I produced this interview and the following youtube player on gapminder in which Rosling explains the idea behind it and the “media-strategy”.

World Vote Now

World Vote Now is a movie project by Joel Marsden. It was shot in 26 countries, in every region of the planet, and deals with the construction of the first global democratic system.

I personally like this idea very much, even though it needs a lot of work to be done regarding the fact what democracy itsself means to the initiators and to all those who participated. To me democracy is much more than voting … But this still can be done as the projects proceeds … and its future sounds promising …
Click here for online class discussions about global democracy.

Listen to what Joel has to say:

Getting the YES!

Last week I spent at Castle Steinhöfel, 60 km east of Berlin close to the border to Poland.

Somehow the end of the world, hence very relaxing and inspiring. The Bertelsmann Stiftung and GTZ invited 21 so called Transformation Thinkers for a six-day program which is targeted at the rising generation of young leaders from developing and transition countries. It is conceived as a forum for strategic reflection and the international exchange of experience. These meetings serve to enhance the strategic orientation and problem-solving capacities of young experts likely to take on positions of leadership in their country. Knowledge and skills are conveyed by both experienced practitioners and leading scholars engaged in comprehensive political and economic reform. My role in this setting was related in my experience with the Internt. We produced a couple of videos you can find here.

One of the most inspiring sessions to me was Jamil Mahuad‘s one. He took us on a 5 h negotiation journey – how to get the YES. WOW! Jamil is former President of the Republic of Ecuador and co-founder & Senior Advisor for the Harvard International Negotiation Program in Cambridge.

During his presidency, a historical peace agreement with the neighboring country of Peru was signed, resolving the countries’ longstanding border dispute. Under the agreement, Ecuador renounced its claims to sovereignty of the disputed territory under the Rio de Janeiro Protocol; Peru deeded ownership of a square kilometer of the territory to Ecuador. In his lecture he explained us this very process. Everybody was drwan into it. We felt like being an active part in these negotiations.

Jamil strechted the GETTING TO YES grid where the x-axis showed the 5 elements of relationship and y the “substance”, the 5 elements of negotiations.

5 Elements of negotiations (= substance)
Interest – what is the story behind the story?
Reconcile interest, not position
Options – invent before decide!
we are driven by our past
problems can only be solved on the level of causes
Legitimacy – use fair criteria
Batna – know your/their limit
Commitment – I’ll be better off >>>YES!

5 Elements of Relationship
Appreciation – understand, find, express merit
Affiliation – find, share common ground
Autonomy – free to make, influence decision
Status – position in hierarchy
Role – Meaningful, fulfilling

Using various combinations within this grid during the negotiation process, Jumil explained vividly “his way” to succeed – highly complex and dynamic. Having inhaled and understood this grid in its depth you are ready to get any YES you want.

Something Extraordinary Happened …

“You’ve got to be the change you want to see!”


“Heart of Jenin” is a documentary by Leon Geller and Marcus Vetter. It is the story of a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed in Jenin in 2005, by Israeli soldiers who mistook his toy gun for the real thing. The son of Ismael Khatib, a former Palestinian fighter who had been imprisoned in Israel, Ahmed was rushed to an Israeli hospital where he died. But something extraordinary happened. Instead of seeking revenge Ismael’s family allowed his organs to be transplanted into ill Israeli children. His heart went to Sameh, a Druze girl in Pklin; a kidney went to Mohamed, a Bedouin boy in the Negev; and one kidney went to Menuha Rivka, an Orthodox Jewish girl in Jerusalem. The film recounts the events and the transplant, and then follows the boy’s father, Ismael Khatib, as he journeys to visit three of the children that received his son’s organs.

The Story: Cinema Jenin rolls out red carpet

This happened in the beginning of August 2010. It took me a while to complete the story …

Since Marcus had finished “The Heart of Jenin”, he was restless. He wanted to create a place in Jenin where his movie and hopefully many others could be screened. For two years a team of local Palestinians and international volunteers has laboured to build a new cinema from the dilapidated shell of the old movie house, which shut its doors 23 years ago during the first intifada. He saw the cinema’s restoration as a way of challenging the negative image of Jenin, as well bringing a creative space to a city in which the daily grind of living under occupation had virtually erased cultural activity.

See here my entire interview with Marcus.

The red carpet had seen better days. Faded, threadbare and dotted with stains and cigarette burns, it would not have graced a Hollywood premiere. But this was Jenin, one of the most troubled cities in the West Bank over recent decades and a long way from Tinseltown. And, for once, there was something to celebrate: The re-opening of the cinema.

Its smart minimalist interior – thanks to Johannes Hucke, project architect and co-founder of Cinema Jenin – has got more than 300 original cinema seats, restored by local craftsmen. A state-of-the-art sound system has been donated by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. Its new roof, electrical system, 3D projection system, film school, digital library, open-air screen and cafe was paid for, in part, by the German government. And the new cinema runs on solar power. The $1m restoration was largely driven by Marcus and his team at Cinema Jenin.

And, most importantly: “Heart of Jenin” marked the grand opening of Cinema Jenin followed by a three-day film festival. Having helped to raise at least some money, knowing many details and being close to some of the leading figures during this entire process, believe me, it was a very emotional and touching moment when finally “Heart of Jenin” was screened.

Here is my short intro video of the “official” opening event.

Aftermath – We’ve only just begun

Rebuilding and re-opening Cinema Jenin was just the beginning. A very important milestone though. But if the story would end NOW, it would be fatal. So all efforts – financial, educational, political, social, economical, cultural … – are needed to continue the project.
And I know despite all the challenges they are facing Marcus, Dagmar Quentin, close friend of mine and also co-founder of Cinema Jenin, and all the others are working hard to make it happen; to achieve their goal that Cinema Jenin helps Jenin, its people and its neighbours.

For me it is by far the most outreaching example in this region on how “ordinary” PEOPLE from all over the world come and work together and above all SHARE their common goal and their VALUES. Selforganized in many ways. No matter how safe or unsafe Jenin is, how explosive or calm the situation there is, no matter of religion or politics – they are there to make the change (possible). It is this mindset I embrace and this is why I am supporting Cinema Jenin. For me it is ONE way to show how peace can be achieved in this region. Of course we need many more examples …

Travelling throughout Israel and Palestine – and I have done it many times – is a nightmare. Security checks over and over again! No trust, only suspiciousness. Young armed people all over the place. Neighbours without names – Palestinians and Israelis referring to each other as “they”. It really makes me aggressive. Immediately. Don’t get me wrong. I am not argueing against security, I am argueing against the obsession with it. If we anaesthetise young people by hammering hatred and fear in their minds, if governments and media build up a world of distrust and angst … how shall we ever convince our kids that they will look forward into a bright future?

We have to find new forms of governance and security – not knowing how they will look like in detail. But my instinct tells me and very first examples show me that collaboration, networking, participation and as THE key issue transparency will help and that solutions based on these principles and ideas will work out – MacroWikinomics as Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams named it in their latest book.

So far politicians haven’t found an answer for this region. Neither the one-state solution nor the two-state-solution is within reach. As a young Arabic woman, whom we met by coincidence while we were strolling around in some quiet part of Jerusalem a day or two after the opening, said: “This is not about religion any more. Arabic and Jewish people have been living together for hundreds of years. And it worked and is still working. Nothing more to proof. It is all about the power of politicians. Individual interest above people’s interest.”Discussions have been going on for decades without any results … on the contrary! It seems politicians have maneuvered the cause into a dead end street. I am not sure if Martine Rothblatt’s “Two Stars for Peace”
-solution, giving “a grassroots plan to solve the Middle East Crisis by merging Palestine and Israel into the U.S. as the 51st and 52nd states”, will ever be considered seriously in the world of politics. I found the idea refreshing, creative and precious – because it is NOT top-down but bottom-up. It realizes and takes into account that a solution can only be found, if it is convincing and satisfying for THE people. Then people will engage and drive the idea forward … self-organized, in collaborations beyond borders and in peace!

And this is what Cinema Jenin has shown me so far …
So please keep on going in this spirit.

For a better world.

See here my entire interview with Marcus.

Cinema Jenin – A way to solve the Palestine-Israel Conflict

Last week I had the chance to talk to filmmaker Marcus Vetter on his project “Cinema Jenin”.He produced a feature film “Heart of Jenin” – a “sign of the time” movie which really captures the Palestine=Israel conflict.

That’s Marcus mission on his project:
“As a documentary filmmaker I go to a foreign land, and the people tell their stories and open their hearts. In return, I give them back a film, but I don’t believe that a film alone has the power to change their circumstances in the long run. Rebuilding Cinema Jenin gives each of those who participate the possibility to write the next chapter in their lives.”

Here is our interview … for me it was a very emotional and touching conversation.


Youtube player

01 – The filmmaker Marcus Vetter

02 – The Story of “Heart of Jenin” – Marcus’ latest film

03 – Challenges people are facing in the area around Jenin

04 – The Magic of Heart of Jenin – The City of Jenin
terrorism – freedom fighters

05 – The story of 1987 …

06 – The idea behind the project “Cinema Jenin”

07- “Cinema Jenin” and its sustainability

08- The financial concept behind “Cinema Jenin”
It´s all about trust and people!

The entire interview (51 min.)