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EXPO in Shanghai

Arriving at the EXPO sight makes you feel like you have entered a modern city with electric buses and one building is more impressive than the other. Not all of the pavilions focused on the topic of a better city as in being more environmental friendly. A visit to the astonishing Saudiarabian pavilion showed the use of digital technology to show of beautiful sceneries and architecture, but the message of a better future was somewhat lost in the technology and the WOW-feeling.

The EU celebrated Europe Day with a drum party and a EU-China Youth Summit to prepare for the EU-China year of youth 2011. The youth representatives from China and the EU countries discussed together with representatives from the European Parliament and the European Commission as well as a few representatives from Chinese ministries. One of the political themes of this year’s discussion was also the topic of dealing with climate change. This is obviously an important theme for the younger generation. A panel discussion with panelists such as Jie Yu from the Climate Group’s Policy and Research Program in China and Dr Elina Bardram, climate change policy coordinator from the European Commission discussed climate change as a major challenge how ever with opportunities of more employment with green jobs and innovative ideas. Having this discussion in Shanghai was very effective due to the gray air from the pollution and the massive spread of lung cancer that has followed.

Mr Gunesse, the ambassador of Mauritius in the EU also mentioned his friend’s island that is likely soon to dissapear a long with his friend’s house and millions of people are dying due to the lack of drinkable water or sanitary means. The pavilion Urban Planet was one of the few pavilions really taking the issue of climate change seriously and very effectively visually showed the visitors how we have to change our lifestyle to be able to save the environment.

After visiting a lot of pavilions and spending three days basically living in this EXPO land, I started referring to the different areas of pavilions with their continents and found myself saying sentences like “I am going to take the bus down to Africa” or “I think I am going to eat in Italy today”.

Leaving the EXPO feels a bit like leaving Disneyland behind and going out in the real world.

Categories: Archive
Written by on 18.05.2010. Last updated on 15.10.2012.

Kamruzzaman and Mrs. Schmidt

The last photo slideshow blogpost showed frollicking ponies and happy children. Now it gets more serious. The AKINDA project, a network for one-on-one guardianship in Berlin, provides unaccompanied refugee minors in Germany with mentors who see their side of things. I this way, AKINDA brought together Kamruzzaman Sarker and Mrs. Schmidt, whose shared everyday lives are captured here in a collection of beautiful photographs by Melek Yoendem from the Ostkreuz School. What do you think?

Created with flickr slideshow.

Categories: Archive
Written by on 17.05.2010. Last updated on 17.05.2010.

A Chinese Tail of censorship and butterflies

After spending a couple of days outside of Shanghai in Hangzhou, a tourist paradise in China I already feel my addiction to Facebook and twittering to share my life with friends and family is kicking in. I can get online and access all the international media websites that I wished to. I could read about the British election and even Skype with my friends but Facebooking or twittering is impossible. Many Chinese instead use services like QQ or BBS. To me this censorship or violation of my free will is like being addicted to coffee and caffeine but only being served decaf. The people don’t seem to complain though. After discussions with many Chinese I realized that they are used to the control and understand that the government wishes to keep this control as much as possible. Or they have installed some sort of proxy server to be able to illegally access these websites.

I met representatives from the State Administration of Radio, Film & TV as well as the China Youth Daily (the University Media Union Network of China and a part of the China Daily New Agency) and managed to get them to speak about the media in China. They both talked about how much China is changing and developing and they see their organizations as progressive. China Youth Daily is said to be the producing the most progressive journalism in China. How ever the control of the media is in the hands of the state. Control is something that to many seems to be seen as something positive. When visiting a Community Center, they showed us their latest technology with which they registrate the inhabitants in their community. It was a 3D tool in which they could see on a screen how their community looked like, whom and how many lived in certain houses as well as who is a party member and who is not.

A Chinese legend similar to Romeo and Juliette was told to me today when I visited the Song Dynasty Theme Park. It was about a girl who wasn’t allowed to go to school because she was a girl. So she dressed up as a boy and went to school anyways. At school she feel in love with her classmate and he with her as well. But as everyone thought that they were too boys in love they could not be together since this was also illegal. The couple then decided to commit suicide but reincarnated as butterflies.

China has come a long way and it is in many ways more modern than Berlin and Germany with their technical development, but what is the price? And how long can the people keep paying this price?

Tomorrow I am traveling further to Shanghai to visit the Expo Shanghai. So say tuned for more blog post from my visit in China.

Anna Siitam

Categories: Archive
Written by on 11.05.2010. Last updated on 11.05.2010.

An equestrian feast for the eyes

Last year we sent out out betterplace works! brochure (in German only). But we think the photos that Ostkreuz Photo School photographers made about five different projects continue to be beautiful. We only published photos from three projects in our printed version of the brochure since there are limits where paper and printing is concerned. But a blog has endless space, and therefore we are presenting photo slideshows over the next five weeks of the various projects that were documented. What do you think? Comments?

Created with flickr slideshow.

Categories: Archive
Written by on 6.05.2010. Last updated on 15.10.2012.

Journalism for all

We can all be journalists – citizen journalists. Start right away by writing what cool projects you are working with or supporting!

Maybe you could even get the chance to see your article featured by BBC one day!

We would also love to read your stories. Write us a comment with your website so that we can have a look! Do you also know that you can write blog posts with your project on the platform?

Written by on 4.05.2010. Last updated on 15.10.2012.

The Garden of Freedom

3rd of My 2010: Today is the international freedom of Press day:

Reporters without borders states that already this year (20101):

9 journalists have been killed

167 journalists have been imprisoned

9 Media assistents have been imprisoned

120 netizens have been imprisoned

We would like to invite you to take a tour through the virtual Garden of Freedom at the World Expo 2010:

What can do to help support the Freedom of Press? Let us know what you think!

Categories: Archive
Written by on 3.05.2010. Last updated on 3.05.2010.

Fun can create change

We often hear that is great because we think that making the world a little bit better is fun and nothing that should be misused by appealing to someone’s bad conscious. We are how ever not alone with this perspective: an Image-campaign called the Fun Theory, claims that fun is the easiest way to bring people to change their behavior to the better.

A few fun movies have been made to support this campaign, such as the Stockholm Piano stairs, the world’s deepest trash bin and the speed camera lottery. Elements of surprise and humor seems to motivate us more than rational reasoning, monetary gains or deterrence:


Categories: Archive
Written by on 3.05.2010. Last updated on 3.05.2010.


More than 2600 Projects and over 2,5 Million Euros in donations- but most importantly over 30 000 active supporters!

We all deserve a great High-five! Hier you can see how to do it – but also what you should be aware of:


Please leave us a comment and let us know why you think someone deserves a big High-five (a project manager, a member or maybe the entire Community)!

Categories: Archive
Written by on 29.04.2010. Last updated on 29.04.2010.

From zero to 10,000 in 30 years

Wolfgang Buchner doesn’t talk much; he acts. When he was 24 years old, the trained water technician travelled to Bolivia in 1980 to develop a simple-technology for drilling wells. It was a success. The method became established and already 10,000 of the affordable and easily-attained wells have been built throughout Latin America. The wide reach is also due to the well-schools that Buchner founded to transfer the knowledge and training. You can see for yourself, watch the video and visit Bucher’s organisation at our Water Knowledge Portal.

When you’ve absorbed some useful information, why not change tides and give back? These project are especially suitable:

The Water Knowledge Portal is a project of the

Categories: Archive
Written by on 19.04.2010. Last updated on 19.04.2010.