Democracy does not work without me!

We asked 25 very different people what democracy means for them. And what you want to change. As versatile as the persons were the answers. But on one point everyone agreed:

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Participate - What does your democracy look like?

What is the most important thing about democracy for you? What good example of lived democracy have you experienced? Share yours history with us - per e-mail at or here as Facebook$sComment or per Twitter With #openDemokratie
Hilde Wels-Gramann
In a KiTa, in which I was able to work some time ago, participation, participation was very important and consistently implemented in everyday life. (I sometimes thought with a smile: children and parents are better off than we are educators.)
I am firmly convinced that these children, taken seriously at a young age and provided with VOICE, which is also heard, later think more politically, go to the polls and actively participate in "society".
Great action, this!
Dr. Christian Juranek
Democracy has always been a continuous process and is basically in constant struggle for the right path. Therefore, there is never an exclusive claim to the truth or the right way.
I feel constantly involved, through direct contact with our Bundestag members and contacts with our members of parliament. We are constantly talking about various topics and I also experience feedback through feedback, even if a wish or a request for support did not work out.
However, this path also presupposes one's own willingness to establish contact and continue holding the contact. Therefore: Democracy is a constant and ongoing business that also lives through personal engagement. And I expect this commitment not only from the deputies, but also from myself.
Christine Beutelhoff
I lead a cultural ring. He has over 200 members. We make the cultural program of our district town, which has 15000 inhabitants. Again and again we engage in decision-making processes and demand the support of the city administration. This year we had our 25th anniversary. We have achieved a lot by courage, sincerity and dedication. Democracy needs committed citizens. Citizens must engage in (local) parliaments. My demand: Local politicians must listen more to the citizens and create the necessary forums, eg question time at city council meetings. You must invite citizens to open discussions.
Ralf Kraak
My story about democracy contribution goes like this:
In the year 2006 we founded in the district Lindenberg of the municipality Tauche (district Oder-Spree) an association, with the goal to build a meteorological museum (weather museum eV, see, which has the main goal, broad To provide educational work on the many questions about climate change. The educational work of the museum should attract as many people as possible to climate protection, or at least encourage it. Of course, we also wanted to contribute to science education through project offerings to the schools.
This museum has meanwhile been successfully established, has a remarkable permanent exhibition and, through cooperation with the German Weather Service, is technically competent to develop into the central museum for meteorology in Germany. It also makes important contributions to cultural work in a rural area and to village development. All the work that the club members do to build and run this museum is unpaid, volunteer work. Over the next 10 years, tens of thousands of unpaid hours have come together for each one of us.
Democracy is because something 'from below', ie from the citizens, has been developed, which is actually a public education task. This task is so important to us that we initially started it completely without government support, and every cent that was initially spent over many years was spared by 'self-employment' or donated. Meanwhile, we also have EU funding and individual project grants from public agencies, such as For example, the municipality or the state of Brandenburg have built up a showy 'infrastructure' and permanently make a significant contribution to science education for numerous schools, but also for numerous groups of adult visitors an important publicity work on a socially relevant topic, climate change.
Carlotta Raum
First of all my congratulations for your initiative. My own activities may not pay more attention, they were and are limited to the narrow circle of my home environment around the Mecklenburg district town Güstrow. In the GDR it was necessary to demand the good monument laws in the application of administrative decisions, also against the resistance of short-sighted interests of municipalities and the largest part of the population. In principle, this also applied and still applies after the turnaround: obstruction of special local characteristics, protected landscapes, such as in Born on the Darß, etc. The successes were and are minimal despite great personal effort. These experiences also concern areas of responsibility in environmental and animal welfare. All who do not resign, is to be thanked. Above all, it is all about a very comprehensive change of attitude, about the constant balancing of self-interests and perspectives concerning current and future societies. Consolation: that there are quite clever and strong characters 'makers' who always start again.
So respect you and your work!
Anita Maria
I live the democracy by volunteering as a social worker with refugees in the intercultural garden in Kiel. I and other volunteers dig the garden with them, sow, plant, harvest and grill and eat with them. This is democracy for me, because I position myself strong-minded against right-wing extremism through my commitment and thereby make these people feel welcome as friends and not as strangers.
Ingrid Roth - Berlin
Democracy gives me opportunities to participate in many areas, one of the most essential and comprehensive is certainly to be allowed to vote as a single citizen, as a single citizen! Is there a greater and more important opportunity to participate than to be able to decide for yourself, to decide which representatives of the people, which representatives of the people determine the laws and interests of our country for the next four years? I do not think so. Simple and yet so great ... Democracy.
Elisabeth Penzias
In November 2014, we got the first 250 refugees here in my small Lower Austrian city off Vienna, they were housed in a disused barracks. The mayor - probably to prevent misunderstanding - announced these people by circular. In return, many asked what and with what they could help - and then a grassroots sensation started. Never before have I experienced democracy so close and moving, but never so successful.
In a few days, the premises for barracks were full, a private school close by opened the door every Saturday afternoon for all refugees, with cakes, coffee and German courses, and from January on, the first organized support was provided by ours Doctors, speech therapists, therapists. The result was the facebook page "klosterneuburg hilft", in which more than 1000 people quickly joined in. The Essl Museum, which is close to the barracks, has been inviting refugees to paint, watch and jausen every Friday. Every Wednesday musicians are allowed to join the refugees Making music in the barracks, every Thursday there is a Capueira course (a dance form of self-defense), in front of the barracks, morning fitness courses are organized, in which young men like to participate. Like most of the others, I also get to do things day after day that will strengthen this democratic network and help the refugees into a stable new everyday life. Every few weeks there are "teacher meetings" to regulate the Derutschkurse and develop cleverly. We get support from the charitable organizations, were allowed and allowed to use rooms in parish courts, scout homes and finally in the barracks area. Yes, also in the Ministry of the Interior has responded friendly by the democratic pressure "from below". Since then, there is a large "open space" equipped with plenty of donation material, to which the refugees can get in just a few steps. Many UMF (unaccompanied refugee minors) are among them, some are already attending free state courses, families with children and more and more women and girls - "we" were allowed to recover hearing aids, initiate therapies, operate on a one-year-old girl with a cleft palate and a clubfoot More and more frequently, neighborhoods are emerging in the area (which can then be prepared and set up) for those who have successfully passed their asylum applications. Each and every one gets involved with his contacts, and over the summer numerous actions have emerged that no-one would have thought possible: concert visits in chartered coaches to open-air festivals, local football matches with big clubs, sing-along concerts, theater visits and over again Open up opportunities, the refugees themselves play along and take part in. The mood in Klosterneuburg has changed a lot, from well-to-do living side-by-side and shining citizen families have become conversational, more and more donation-minded people, who loudly and openly think about a more democratic Europe.
This corresponds to the behavior in the large wave of refugees in recent weeks. It has awakened unbelievable organizers in Klosterneuburg, numerous citizens work enthusiastically day and night, participate in transports between and at Austrian border crossings. The mayor is just as active as many of his local councilors, many Klosterneuburger businessmen and entrepreneurs are packing too. I myself - having moved here from Vienna two years ago - suddenly knew incredibly many warm-hearted, democratic and politically minded people, many of them became friends.
Such a practical democracy is great contagious! Around Klosterneuburg - above all in Vienna, but also in Tulln and other cities - similar citizens' initiatives have been emerging for weeks.
Hans Berkessel
Democracy is not just the supremacy of those up there, whom we choose once every four or five years at federal or state level ("democracy as a form of government / rule"). In a vibrant democracy, not only the state and its institutions, but society as a whole is required - at all levels: in the community, in the parties, unions and associations, in associations and youth organizations. And in all these areas - especially now in the refugee issue - there is a great, varied and extensive volunteer, civic engagement without which democracy can not function ("democracy as a form of society"). And finally, democracy - so get involved and help to shape it from the very beginning, even in elementary or daycare - is all of us. Democracy needs to be learned and lived from the young, and opportunities must be created at school, in the club, in the youth organization to make this possible and easier ("democracy as a way of life").
Together with a large network of civil society and state partner organizations, we in Rhineland-Palatinate are now holding the "Democracy Day of Rhineland-Palatinate" for the tenth time - this time for the anniversary at a special location, the Hambach Castle in Neustadt adWeinstraße, a cradle our democracy on 2 October 2015. All are cordially invited.
Ellen Karnstedt-Scheffer
I was born in September 1945 - so 'postwar'. My life has gone so far without war and bad social upheavals. If I am lucky I will end my life sometime without having experienced a war. That does not sound very spectacular, in fact it is. In human history hardly a generation has been allowed to experience such great happiness, a life without war. Our democracy is the basis for this peace gift. I am grateful for that.
Stephan Schevalje
I do not need to inform you about the turmoil of German history. My story begins long before my birth. Our family had a hard time fighting National Socialism and got away with a black eye. My life has been in order. "No war, hunger and suffering. All this we owe to the mistakes of our history.
External powers had to bring us this blessing. First we Germans had to learn democracy because they threw us into the cold water. During my schooldays I found out that old cliques still had too much influence. Many of my teachers gave us no information about the past, because they still did not want the defeat true. There was talk of the impregnable nimbus of Germany. Questions why this nimbus did not exist were answered with pressure. There came the 68 where we rose against the old, because we could no longer endure their hypocrisy. For the first time in my life, I had the feeling of having experienced democracy.
Today I have to realize that many of us see this feeling as irrevocable. The danger of this view is stagnation and stagnation has always led to far-reaching changes in history. Today, Europe is again facing a change of heart and you have not yet recognized the signs of the times. Euro and EU are no guarantee for the preservation of our freedom. Jointly solving problems based on democracy is a much more important component than the euro and the EU. Europe is in the process of gambling away this opportunity because the old thread of European history is coming to the fore again, egoism and nationalism. I do not want to give examples that are known to them.
Our society complains about law and our Democrats in Berlin join this. My story is: let's change what we say to our politicians, if you fail and you are not capable of reform, then you are preparing the way for right-wing radicalism in our society. Europe has a standstill where a political clientele secures its benefice (Brussels, Strasbourg).
Democracy in the current form will no longer be tolerated by history. One does not want to believe that we need a reform of our democratic system in Europe. My story ends here with a big one?.
Dietmar JaCobi
DEMOCRATIC WILL FIRST, when many start to look for justice in their personal environment in contacts of all kinds, not only for 'adequacy, fairness'. Because that is for the more independent of the innumerable similarities like something more than all PARTIES satisfied. Anyone who believes that it is not just about mutual satisfaction that allows for further satisfaction, because what is higher behind everything, can continue to give as much as possible of what he does, upwards ...
One way to influence the powerful is to use the law, which gives everyone enough legal clarity. It is even already-somewhat scornful-anchored in the Basic Law...
Wolfgang Schroeder
Dear Colleagues, dear colleagues of open petition,
Our company is part of an authority and authorities are organized hierarchically. This is how (most) their members behave. Decisions are made top-down, sometimes discussed at eye level, but often just announced. If it is not said, often sounds a 'basta' with.
That would not be so bad if we were only managing files ... - But as a youth welfare agency we should not only have a self-image of democratic, participatory and respectful treatment, but also be role models for us and the children, teenagers and their families we look after , - It has taken years for teams of employees, now almost as a matter of course, to be involved by supervisors when a vacancy is to be filled. Presumably, it will take decades for employees to judge their superiors. They can do it today, very confidently! - When the power of the superiors becomes the place of critical dialogue, we meet at eye level and have added an essential element to the idea of democracy. - Hopefully I'm not just a daydreamer and one day I can tell my grandchildren about this process!

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