24
24
23

Stories from the Borderland

$1,705 of $6,000 goal

Raised by 32 people in 22 months
Join me on an expedition along the Green Belt –  Germany’s longest, wackiest nature preserve!  (and once the "death strip" between East and West Germany)

I grew up in a divided country.  For forty years, one of the most heavily fortified borders of the world ran across the German landscape like an ugly scar. 

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 brought about the end of the division – less than one year later, the two German states were reunited.  

That was an amazing turn of events, you might say, but who cares at this point?  All of this is history now – it’s been almost thirty years. 

But history, of course, consists of events and stories that happen in real people’s lives – today’s events and stories will be part of the fabric of history before we know it.  By the same token, the stories of "real" people are often considered too mundane to be listened to and written about by journalists and historians. 

I’ve been fascinated by the former border for some time now. Each time I have visited portions of it, I have discovered stories that have stayed with me – human stories and stories in the landscape.  Some of these stories are heartbreaking, others are stories of hope and Zuversicht – a sense of possibility, or faith in the future.  One of the great “good news” stories of our time happened right here – the transformation of the once brutal border strip into a long (close to 900 miles), skinny (100-500 feet) nature preserve:  The Green Belt (Grünes Band)!

Photo by Klaus Leidorf

This summer, I plan to trace the former border by bicycle, learning about its natural and cultural history, visiting towns on both sides, and talking to people I encounter. In part, this will be a personal quest to help me reconnect with Germany and to understand how the country and the people have changed since the border ceased to divide people.  But I will also be contemplating  questions that I believe are relevant for most of us alive today – questions of place and belonging, of borders and identity, of personal history and “big” history: 

* What is national identity, and how does it change over time? Since reunification, Germany has become an increasingly multicultural and multi-ethnic society that has only recently recognized itself as a country of immigration.  Many residents of Germany have roots in other countries. The sense of national identity is likely to be quite different among young Germans compared to those who had to define themselves as East German or West German, and different again compared to residents of Germany who have migrated from other countries.
* In this mobile, fast-paced world, many people long for a sense of home or belonging. How do we relate to the places we are from and to the places where we live? If we don't have a strong sense of belonging, are we missing anything?  Can one cultivate a sense of belonging?
* What is the meaning of borders? I was born on the Western side of the former border, and so grew up with considerable privileges compared to most East Germans – and continue to be privileged compared to people from many other nations.  How are our lives affected by the luck of the draw that drops us on this earth in one place rather than another?  And what does this mean for how we live together in a given country and on this planet?
* How do we learn from history, and how does history become meaningful?

If you feel moved to support my expedition and the Green Belt, your donation in any amount will be much appreciated.  10% of your donation will go to the organization that maintains and protects the Green Belt (BUND, the German affiliate of Friends of the Earth).  A portion will help cover the cost of accommodations, maps, books, food; and train tickets for me and my bike to get to and from the former border.  And, depending on the level of interest and support for this work, a portion will support my writing about it all.  What’s in it for you?   See the perks listed in the side panel!  And many thanks for your interest.

For updates, see my blog

+ Read More
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a post about Heimat and gratitude (and sauntering).
http://kerstinlange.net/more-on-heimat-and-sauntering-and-gratitude/
+ Read More
Boo! This is to alert you that my blog came back from the netherworld. Today's posting is about Heimat. Read more here: http://kerstinlange.net/reflections-on-heimat-by-britta-kowalski/
+ Read More
Dear friends,
tomorrow is June 17, an auspicious day to share an excerpt from the chapter in my book about the meaning behind the former West German June Seventeenth holiday. You will also learn about the true flatlands and how I learned to ride my bike.
http://kerstinlange.net/the-true-flatlands-and-the-true-meaning-of-a-childhood-holiday/
+ Read More
Dear friends,
thank you as always for your support and interest. Please see my blog for some reflections about my expedition, inspired by this light show at the Brandenburg Gate.
http://kerstinlange.net/remember-the-good-news-stories/
All the best to you in 2018,
Kerstin
Brandenburg Gate light show
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update

$1,705 of $6,000 goal

Raised by 32 people in 22 months
Your share could be bringing in donations. Sign in to track your impact.
   Connect
We will never post without your permission.
In the future, we'll let you know if your sharing brings in any donations.
We weren't able to connect your Facebook account. Please try again later.
DC
$50
David Copley
16 months ago
CS
$50
Claudia Stoeffler
17 months ago
JK
$25
Joan Knight
18 months ago
$50
Patricia Hoffmann
19 months ago
JS
$50
Julie Soquet
19 months ago
DC
$35
David Copley
20 months ago
WP
$50
Walter Poleman
21 months ago
PH
$50
Pat Hoffmann
21 months ago
HW
$50
Heiner Wischhusen
21 months ago
BG
$50
Barry Gruessner
21 months ago
or
Use My Email Address
By continuing, you agree with the GoFundMe
terms and privacy policy
There's an issue with this Campaign Organizer's account. Our team has contacted them with the solution! Please ask them to sign in to GoFundMe and check their account. Return to Campaign

Are you ready for the next step?
Even a $5 donation can help!
Donate Now Not now
Connect on Facebook to keep track of how many donations your share brings.
We will never post on Facebook without your permission.