In connection with our commitment to give up short-haul flights, I have written to people and asked them to help crowdfund #12062020olympia. One person replied that they do not want to see their signature on the short-haul flight action in public because they do not want to be associated with the Olympa. I was somewhat surprised by that. 1) because I am not the organizer of Olympia and 2) because Olympia is just great. In this post I want to explain what Olympia is and why I like the idea.
The basic idea
While we ordanary people are thinking about whether we should go to the FridaysForFuture demo or whether the next scientific essay is somehow more important and whether we should create an association in which we can get involved at some point, a few crazy people from Berlin Kreuzberg decided to start the biggest democracy project Germany has ever seen. They reserved the Olympiastadion in Berlin in order to pass petitions to the Bundestag on 12.06.2020. You can’t admire them enough, even if we scientists would have planned many things more carefully: we don’t have the time! The planned things must take place now. In very short periods of time. The motto “We just start and adjust on the way” is just right for the time we live in.
The Olympiastadion is the largest venue in Berlin. Up to 90,000 people fit in. If you want to make sure that all participants see and hear well, alternatives that might come to mind are eliminated. Individuals cannot rent the Olympiastadion. That is why the madmen and -women and their company have booked the Olympiastadion as contractors. In order for a petition to be discussed in the Petitions Committee of the Bundestag, you need at least 50,000 signatures. The petitions are to be prepared in the next six months (see below) and then submitted jointly on 12.06.2020. The event will be streamed so that people who cannot or do not want to come to Berlin can participate as well. As the meeting takes place on the day on which the European Soccer Championship begins, screens will be set up all over the country for live streaming. So there is the possibility to stream Olympia content before the soccer match.
The petitions will be presented in the stadium and outside the stadium there are stands where you can talk. NGOs will be present, special interest groups. A huge network event.
The whole thing also has a fun part: there will be contributions from musicians and other artists. A huge celebration of democracy!
Topics and cooperation partners
So far, the following topics have been earmarked for petitions:
- climate protection and biodiversity
- social justice
Fridays for Future Berlin and Scientists for Future (S4F) are cooperation partners. S4F supports the project with scientific advice. Other initiatives are currently being addressed as to whether and how they wish to support the petition process.
The effects of the climate crisis are becoming more and more visible and the scientific forecasts are becoming increasingly threatening. At the same time, the countermeasures are totally inadequate. The majority of Germans are not satisfied with the government’s climate package. The government somehow does not, but speaks of the “politics of the feasible” (see Tagesspiegel). The petitions are intended to show what could be done and that the suggestions have strong support in the German society.
In addition to the climate issues, questions of democracy theory are to be taken up, because we now need ways to extend what is ‘feasible’. We have to do things that politics cannot do because politicians are entangled in lobbyist networks and/or are afraid of the media/voters (e.g. establishing a speed limit). Opportunities include representative citizens’ assemblies (Wikipedia) and lobbying control, as demanded by the Bürgerrat Demokratie as an extension of parliamentary democracy (Tagesschau).
It will be impossible to implement the things demanded by the For-Future movement if social issues are not taken into account. That is why a third topic for petitions is social justice.
A fourth area is still open. This field can then be filled when active work on the petitions starts and it turns out that there is a topic relevant for many and not listed so far.
Participants: the first democratically drafted petitions and accompanying demonstrations
Many who have heard about the idea for the first time only see the huge event, but it is not only the huge event, but much more: the petitions are prepared in the six months before the meeting at the Olympiastadion by various working groups: by people who really burn for a certain topic and by experts invited by these people. This makes the Olympic petitions very much different from the petitions that we have all signed in the hundreds. Often petitions have simply been put together by individuals or small groups. Here, however, they are worked out by larger groups and it is also possible to ensure that people from different social backgrounds are involved. Some of the petitions drawn up in the next half year will be selected for presentatin in the stadium on 12.06.2020.
Such a joint drafting of petitions is unique so far and I see it as a great opportunity for our democracy and for the participation of citizens in what is happening in this country and at this time.
The importance of petitions
Members of the Bundestag say that petitions have become more important in recent years and are being taken more seriously. Regardless of this, however, we are in a special time. If in June 10 petitions are passed with great buzz, which may have 100,000 or 200,000 signatories (streaming and signatures in the aftermath of the campaign), then no one will get past these petitions. Parties must take a position on this. We determine the political agenda! And: There are elections. By 2021 at the latest. In other words, we can determine which topics will appear in the election manifestos. The Olympia idea thus allows many people to participate in democratic processes who would otherwise be desperately at home or sitting on a psychiatrist’s couch.
As an internet person, you know crowdfunding, but for Olympia we need everybody. So here’s a small comment on how crowdfunding works. In a crowdfunding campaign, one commits oneself to pay a certain amount of money. This money is debited and you acquire a right to a specific service. If the crowdfunding goal is not met, you get your money back. So the whole thing is completely risk-free for the crowdfunders.
Currently 555,000€ are raised (update 24.12. morning: €1.668.456). However, €1.8 million are needed. This amount is gigantic, but it is needed for renting the stadium, technology and security. When the Rolling Stones play at the Olympiastadion, tickets cost €96.
The 96€ do not go entirely into the accounts of the Stones. A huge machinery has to be paid for. The effort for Olympia is similar (perhaps minus the cost of the fireworks at the end, which was not environmentally friendly anyway), but much of this effort is done on a voluntary basis. The organizers have calculated a ticket with 30€, whereby a CO2 compensation is already included.
In order for the event to take place, a minimum of 60,000 tickets must be financed. If there is anything left of the crowdfunding money, it will be donated for appropriate purposes.
At startnext you can buy a ticket for yourself, but also a ticket for yourself and a ticket that someone else gets as a gift (https://www.startnext.com/12062020/). You can also donate 1001 or 1000 tickets. If the required sum fo €1.8 Mio does not come together, the supporters get their money back.
Check you bank accounts and go for the crowd-funding at startnext: https://www.startnext.com/12062020! Thanks!
Appendix: More information
- Psychologists For Future (18.12.2019)
- Scientists for Future Berlin/Brandenburg (18.12.2019)
- Parents For Future (19.12.2019)
- The Cooperative Bank GLS-Bank
- the Basic Income Association
- Günter Faltin and the Entrepreneurs For Future
- More Democracy e.V.
- Open Petition
- German Zero (21.12.2019)
- Democracy on the move
- School on the rise
- 19.12.2019 Video Marian Wendt Chairman of the Committee on Petitions of the Bundestag
- 18.12.2019 Report in the RBB
- 16.12.2019 Opinion of some Scientists For Future Berlin/Brandneburg with signatures
- 15.12.2019 Contribution by Waldemar Zeiler (organizer)
- 06.12.2019 official website of the organizers (with FAQ)
- 04.12.2019 Radio interview with organiser Markus Wörner at MDR Sputnik
- 04.12.2019 Contribution to the press conference in the founding scene
- 03.12.2019 Contribution to the press conference in the Tagesspiegel
Edit 24.12. In social media and even in the classical ones, the same points are
discussed mentioned again and again, although these have long since been dealt with in the FAQ of the organizers (unfortunately, this FAQ came too late in the whole process). I wrote another blog post about the unbelievable reporting of the taz (background: taz is a left-wing paper with ecological orientation. comparable to the Gardian). Here are two more points.
Representativeness, regional bias
There are repeated accusations that the assembly is not representative of the German population. This is a somewhat absurd accusation, because no rally, no assembly is representative. Unless it was put together in a special way so that it is indeed representative. The Citizens’ Council for Democracy is fighting for such representatively selected citizens’ assemblies to become part of our democratic process, and I personally would also like to support this in the context of Olympia.
Apart from this: Fridays For Future is also not representative. They’re great nevertheless.
Likewise, the accusation of regional bias is not a sensible argument:
What is the problem with this event taking place in Berlin? It was just organized by Berliners. The event could also take place in Munich. I would still support it. The disadvantage would be that there is no such large venue in Munich. The Olympiastadium is the second largest in Germany. In petitions can be worked out nationwide. There are ways to do this. Extinction Rebellion works nationwide (in fact gloabally), they use teleconferencing tools. No problem at all.