▶ International Network of Houses of DemocracyWe proudly present to you the first newsletter of the International Network of Houses of Democracy, edited by the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin!
You are receiving this newsletter because you participated in the workshop “Houses of Democracy around the world” at the Global Forum on modern direct democracy in Rome in September 2018 or you were interested in this network.In the workshop mentioned above, we talked about houses of democracy (HoD) and an international network of these houses (see below). This newsletter itself was one of the ideas for this network. Therefore, we completed our first task! :-)
The basic idea of this newsletter is to stay connected, to get to know other HoD and to exchange experiences. Another HoD will edit every newsletter. We from Berlin admitted to write the "Number One" proposing a structure for it. Our proposal consists of three parts: (1) news from the network, (2) actual topics the editing HoD is working or thinking on and (3) a brief presentation of the editing HoD.
Join the network!
- If you are interested in following and contributing to our network, please let us know. You find our names and emails below.
- If you know other institutions (Houses of Democracy), sent this newsletter to them and let us know as well.
- Any comments and inputs are most welcome!
If you are interested in preparing HoD-Newsletter #3 and present your House of Democracy, let us know ASAP.The next newsletter will be edit by the «Politforum Käfigturm» in Bern/Switzerland, located in the heart of the capital of Switzerland in a former medieval prison tower.
So enjoy reading and be inspired for your work.
Rainer Wahls & Martin Burwitz
For the Foundation House of Democracy and Human Rights, Berlin
ContactsMartin Burwitz, Berlin: martin.burwitz[at]mehr-demokratie.de
Thomas Göttin, Bern:thomas.goettin[at]polit-forum-bern.ch
1. News from the Network
(co-written with Thomas Göttin & Bruno Kaufmann. Thank you!)
1.1 Towards a Network of „Houses of Democracy” worldwide
The «Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy» 2018 in RomeFrom September 26 to 29 this year the 7th “Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy” took place in Rome/Italy. The Forum was full of inspiring ideas and projects in the field of local democracies and developing people power from across the world. All over the world, citizens and cities are engaged in democratizing our democracies – for the citizens, with the citizens and by the citizens. more informations ▶
Houses of DemocracyConversations during the 2018 Global Forum highlighted some of the HoD-key features:
- A space linked to (local) civil society
- Covering topics related to current issues
- Giving place for public debate
- Including communication, civic information & political education
- Being easily accessible, i.e. in the city centre and open for everyone
- Having reputation of political independence
- Setting up laboratories for new forms of participation
Towards a global network of Houses of DemocracyThe core idea of an international HoD-network would be to get to know each other, to exchange our experiences and to support each other: What are similar challenges we are facing and what can we do to solve them? As elements of an international HoD-network we talked about the following:
- Connecting by newsletter which allow HoDs around the world to get to know each other, present their concepts and exchange ideas. Every newsletter is edited by another institution, starting with the «House of Democracy and Human Rights» in Berlin, including general information and a portrait of the institution.
- Permanent Information: Houses of Democracy information can be included in the forthcoming Global Community Platform established by the Global Forum co-host Democracy International Global Forum. Register here: www.democracy.community.
- Meetings: A next workshop is planned to take place during the 2019 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy in Taichung/Taiwan, 2-5 October, 2019globalforum.com
- Staff Exchange between participating HoDs
- Developing a “House of Democracy” Guide: We want to frame common understandings and recommendations for the HoD-network around the world
Participants of the workshop in Rome:
1.2 Magna Charta for an International League of Democracy CitiesThe Global Forum in Rome agreed on a draft «Magna Charta for an International League of Democracy Cities» (Link) where Houses of Democracy (“physical spaces”) are included as important elements of a Democracy City: «A Democracy City seeks to create physical spaces where people can be with each other, discuss with each other, and make democratic decisions together, freely and safely. In democracy cities, these spaces may take any number of forms, from previously abandoned buildings, to libraries, to schools, to streets reclaimed from brutal traffic, to centers that are explicitly houses of democracy.» You can find the complete text here: 2018globalforum.com
1.3 Initiative for a coordinating office for the NetworkTo promote and support the development of an international network of HoD the Foundation House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin (managing insitution of the Berlin HoD) is trying to establish a little coordinating office. As the origin of the Berlin HoD goes back to the democratic revolution in 1989 in Eastern Germany we are also interested to build up a network between the local HoD founded all over the GDR back then in 1989. So we would like to combine these efforts to build up a structure for developing these two initatives for networks of HoD. To realize this we try to get financial funding from public programmes for supporting (local) democracy, civil society or international cooperation of citizens.
Any comments and ideas on this project are very welcome. Please contact: martin.burwitz[at]mehr-demokratie.de
2. What the HoD in Berlin is working on
Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the Democratic Revolution in Eastern Germany and also of the HoD in Berlin and others founded 1989 everywhere in the former GDR. They were hard-won by the dissident movements of former GDR. That`s one of the two origins of the present-day “HoD” in Berlin.
2.1 1989 & 2019
Last October, groups, organizations and citizens from Berlin met in a workshop weekend “Do we call it revolution? 30 years after autumn ‘89” to prepare for activities and topics in 2019, plus a critical remembrance; and this process will be continued with groups, organizations and citizens beyond Berlin in January 2019.For more information about our events ▶
2.2 CommunicationWe re-founded the so called “Hauspost” (“house letter”), a little printed publication, as another component beside our monthly newsletter about events and exhibitions in the HoD. The “Hauspost” is an internal newsletter for the organizations working in the house. In this way, we want to support their interacting, cooperation or at least the knowledge of the many organizations in our house about what the others do in the HoD. We also use this to share general news about the house with them.
3. About the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin
Dialogue and diversityThis is the motto of the House of Democracy and Human Rights in Berlin. It is a platform of solidarity work for over 60 NGOs working in the house in a variety of areas of activity: political and civil engagement, human rights worldwide, environment and more.
The house is administrated by a civil society trust foundation, politically independent with no funding from state, political parties or private companies. It provides seminar rooms, organizes political events and shows regularly exhibitions with different topics.
HistoryThe beginnings of the house are set in the democratic revolution from 1989 in the former GDR (Eastern Germany). The new “House of Democracy” provided offices for the new founded civil movements of the GDR for their work. The first address was in today very trendy and commercial Friedrichstraße. Before, the house was the local quartier of the SED, the communist state party. After the reunification of Germany, a phase of trouble with the transfer from public property followed. In order to save the initiative of the house, a new foundation was established and this foundation received a down payment for the relocation in a new house at the Greifswalder Str. 4. While this relocation, the house united with the initative for a “House of Human Rights” from western Berlin and became the current “House of Democracy and Human Rights”.
In the present location, there is a mix of organizations from the East and West Germany.
4. Who's Next?The next newsletter will be edited by the «Politforum Käfigturm» in Bern/Switzerland, located in the heart of the capital of Switzerland in a former medieval prison tower. Contact: Thomas Göttin ▶
- Foundation House of Democracy and Human Rights
- Greifswalder Str. 4
- 10405 Berlin
- Phone: +49 30 201 655 20
- Mail: kontakt[at]hausderdemokratie.de