Archive for the ‘English’ Category

The plan : update

March 21, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/le-plan-definitif/

Informations about the project here.

—-

Months are going away one after the other, spring is coming and the first part of the project is soon reaching an end. Since the return from Ireland, I have a better view of what will be possible to do.

I have until the 15th of April to work on the project. After five months full time on it, it will be time to let the brain cool down.

In the time that is left, it will be possible to finish the editing of the episodes about Greece and Ireland. Normally, episodes 2 & 3 about Greece, and episodes 4 & 5 about Ireland.

So here is a major change with the original project : I will not have time to visit a third country as I originally intended to. But I will accept complaints only from the people who will have listened to the five first episodes in full.

Another change is that I will try to make a real video for the international versions with subtitles : putting some photographic or video content would be a nice improvement.

If anyone has contacts of people doing photo/video works about the same subject, I would be very happy to hear from this.

The end of this season and those five episodes doesn’t mean that the project comes to an end : a second part is in preparation for the next winter. Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Island, Germany… There is so much more to say about the topic.

There are some new ideas for this future step : it would be really nice to produce some kind of video footage that could come together with the radio documentary. And working with other people on this project would be really refreshing : being alone is of course a lot of work, but moreover, I really missed to be able to discuss and enrich the project during the making. So if anyone is curious, don’t hesitate to get in touch. (eurowinter@riseup.net)

But for the moment, there are a few weeks more of hard work. Bringing a new episode very soon !

 

 

 

 

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A few impressions on the way back from Ireland

March 17, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/quelques-impressions-au-retour-du-sejour-en-irlande/

Informations about the project here.

—-

Ireland is not Greece, and it will get out of the mess keeping the head up, paying back all its debt no matter the time it will take. It is at least what a lot of Irish people think, even if austerity is only starting to hit the population. Most of the measures enforced until now were aimed at reducing public services. This was not that hard to accept in a country whose model is the USA, so only civil servants really had a reason to complain. And when the constant increase of university fees is mentioned (the last in date being an increase from 2000 to 3000 euros for one year of bachelor level), most of the people comment that “it’s okay, it is so much more in the USA for example!”.

Luckily, Ireland is competitive, and that is why everything is fine. One of the most cherished thing in modern Ireland is the 12,5% corporate-tax rate, to compare with a 20 to 35% rate elsewhere in Europe. And for a reason : this “competitive advantage” is the engine of the new irish economy. The island seems to be the european platform for the “2.0” american corporate world, cheered not to be robbed by the State : the words “Google”, “Facebook”, “LinkedIn”, “Microsoft” and cie are present in every three sentence of discussions and newspapers. And not without some pride. This is well worth a few presents, like for example letting Google, a not so desperate company, pay not more than 3% tax on its profits… Ireland is competitive and that is why it will get out of the mess. When one remembers the poverty of the 80s, these few concessions still seem worth it for the middle class household.

Moreover, the big choc is already behind for Ireland. Apocalypse took place in 2008 and 2009. The burst of one of the most magnificent housing bubble in history is already something from the past, and the change in the situation is now finally accepted. The ten years of mass hysteria are now lying on the couch, and everyone shows wisdom to accept the return to reality and understand what happened.

But some details are quite inconvenient when one tries to look further.

The boom years are now behind, true. But especially for those who managed not to take a mortgage between 2002 and 2008. The others, having bought one or more houses, on credit, will need a long time to see those years really behind. And this is a huge lot of people. Their house is now worth less than half of the price they signed for and promised to pay back to the bank, and the value keeps diving. But the banks, of course, want to get the whole loan back. And the irish law is on their side.

In the USA, during the “sub-prime” housing crisis, it was possible to give back the keys of the house and get rid of the loan to start a new life somewhere else. This option doesn’t exist in Ireland. If someone wants to leave his home, he nevertheless will have to pay 100% of the loan back. Discussing the matter with someone in this situation is taking a look in an abyss, the exact symmetric from the peaks of the financialized economy.

Of course the subject is everything but black and white. Raising the issue of responsibility requires a big assembly of sociologists, economists, philosophers, and advertisement specialists, if possible interesting and of integrity. But for a start, just raising frontally the issue would not be a bad thing.

Especially when blank checks from the taxpayer are signed one after the other to the financial industry of Ireland. Is it necessary to remind that the huge increase of the irish public debt is for a big part due to unlimited guarantees offered by the state to the big banks of the country, in order to ensure the “stability” of their risky assets?

And this process is not going to stop tomorrow : the irish banks still have more than 400 billions euros of loans to households and non-financial firms in Ireland, which amounts to more than 240% of the Irish GDP (this figure was 60% in 1997). With arrears on mortgages steadily rising, now at almost 10%, future losses for banks coming along with future bailouts from the taxpayer are almost certain.

But for the moment, everyone wants to believe to a way out. Nothing is really certain, and hope dictates to consciously open the wallet and contribute to pay back the debt through austerity. If a strong growth comes back, maybe we will see a miracle happen, and it will be possible to go further on the way to the american dream.

So there is no alternative : the beloved competitiveness has to be protected at all cost, if not improved. And then, just wait and hope, in the shadow of a huge mountain of debt, much higher than its greek little sister, once added household, state and financial debts.

First episode online!

February 19, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/premier-episode-en-ligne/

Informations about the project here.

And here is finally the first episode of the Chronicles of a European Winter. It is available in English on the new website of the project : http://eurowinter.wordpress.com

For the moment, there are subtitles only in french. I hope to add some more languages as soon as possible (wished first : greek, german, spanish, portugese, italian…). If you think you can help for that, contact us : eurowinter@riseup.net

And for what comes next, I am just arriving in Ireland for two weeks of recordings, in a context that seems at the same time similar and very different from Greece.

More news about this very soon.

Looking for contacts in Dublin

February 4, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/recherche-de-contacts-a-dublin/

Informations about the project here.

I will arrive in Dublin on the 16th of February, staying two weeks long. I am now trying to gather contacts there : people who would be curious about the project, and would have time to share thoughts about the matter, and also people who would be ready to tell their own stories to the microphone.

More informations in the document there : http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2237586/Chronique_hiver/Looking_for_testimonials_IR.pdf

So spread the word and this document to your Irish connections !

And about the Greek story : the first episode is ready, and will be online in two weeks, when the website is done. Patience…

See you soon.

Coming soon…

January 20, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/problematique-linguistique-le-choix-final/

Informations about the project here.

Post-production work is making big steps, with long hours and days of editing, writing and thinking.

The Tower of Babel

I made the final choice concerning the language. As most of the recordings in Athens were in english, I am first editing an english cut of the whole work. It will first be released in english, and simultaneously as an internet video with french subtitles to read. I hope to get greek and german subtitles as well as soon as possible, and if I get some help, some other languages as well.

Release date

At a first sight, there will be three episodes of 45 minutes about the situation in Greece.

The first episode will be released in english in the middle of february, and the other episodes will then follow every three week, hoping to keep the rhythm until the end…

So see you on February the 15th!

Back from Athens (and some links to follow what’s going on there)

January 3, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/apres-athenes-et-quelques-liens-pour-suivre-ce-quil-sy-passe/

Informations about the project here.

——–

After three very intense weeks in Athens, I am back home after a christmas holiday with friends and family in Germany. The contrast is weird. The situation in Athens is so unknown to our society that it is difficult to relate it to people living outside Greece and not experiencing it themselves. I had the strange feeling of putting people in an uneasy mood when trying to tell them about what is going on in Greece : the reaction was sometimes as if I was talking about starvation in Africa or child-labour in Pakistan at an inappropriate moment. People try to change subject instead of getting curious. But this is maybe exactly what is happening : the social drama unfolding is taken at a good distance by people still living normally. One can easily understand this : who would like to waste its own life by getting concerned too early about a potential catastrophe, but not certain ? But for me, the biggest change is that belonging to « european (monetary) union » doesn’t mean a common destiny anymore, as it used to be the case in my « Erasmus generation » student life. Societies taking the dive into austerity are looked from a very distant point of view by the ones still on the good side of the cliff.

Maybe I had the feeling of being a party spoiler at my come back, but at least I got convinced that this radio work can really bring something, after seeing the dazed looks of the people who let me tell them a little bit of what I saw and heard in Athens. Listening to those stories told directly from the mouth of those living this will not let someone indifferent.

And it is actually exactly what happened this year inside of Greece. Everyone will tell you this there : one year ago, the same day, people still lived in collective denial of what was coming. Austerity, decrease of living standards, threats of big damages to the society : all this was still abstract in December 2010. Statistics were already showing a trend, but for the majority of the population, this situation was still hiding in a pile of newspapers and reports, or by the far echoe of people who had already lost their job. Then, along the year of 2011, threats came closer to everyday life : it was parents who couldn’t pay the rent anymore, friends who lost one third or half of their salary, a husband or a wife who hasn’t been paid in the last six months, an appreciated café or the next door baker that closed from one day to the other, friends who have not heating in their building anymore, the neighbor moving out to the countryside… Every person living in Greece hears those stories from first hand all the time. Everyone is threatened and experiencing those changes in its own life.

And this completely changes the point of view on the events unfolding. Living styles, ways of thinking, trust in the media, life plans : everything falters more and more. In Greece, it is talked about “mass disillusionnement”. The former world now belongs for good to the past, and the last hopes of coming back to the “normal” have faded the last months. And the necessity to begin something new very soon is now an evidence to a majority.

In less than a year, the passage through the mirror happened. In France or Germany, this strange reality is still perceived from our old well known universe. As it was the case in Greece in 2009 or 2010. And creating a tangible link between the two universes is not easy.

The links

Waiting for the first episode of the radio documentary at the end of january, for those who would like to get more informations about the situation in Greece, I highly advise the reading of these blogs and news :

Keep Talking Greece, a greek blog in English, giving everyday informations about life in Greece and Athens. It is very interesting to see the contrast between the articles of one year ago and those of now :

http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/

The Guardian’s correspondent in Athens writes very interesting and serious articles about the situation there. It is the only newspaper that I found that has some depth reports of the situation.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/helenasmith

And for those speaking french, two blogs telling the situation from Greece in Moliere’s language :

Okeanews : http://www.okeanews.fr/

Greek Crisis Now : http://greekcrisisnow.blogspot.com/

Good readings.

Work in progress

January 3, 2012

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/lavancee-du-travail/

Informations about the project here.

——–

After my come back from the three weeks in Athens, and a small end of the year pause, now can start the big work of editing for the first series of episodes about Greece.

Things went on really fine in Athens, although it was a quite exhausting process, running through the unknown metropole for eighteen days, having a huge lot of extremely interesting discussions and many hours of recordings. But things went clear from the beginning : a lot of people didn’t have to be convinced a long time to tell their stories, and the 30 minute appointments quickly evolved to two or three hours discussions. The situation is so dramatic in Greece that people don’t need at all to remind this one another. But that an ear from outside get interested in this is another story, in the hope that the drama will be known somewhere else, maybe nearer from where it is engineered. The support to the project was big, and now gives me the energy to go on fully in this project.

And of course, huge thanks to all the people that welcomed, hosted and supported me during the work, showing even in the biggest despair a generosity and a hosting sense with no equal.

Doing multilingual radiophony…

The biggest question now it to decide how to work out the language problem. Most of my recorded discussions were in english, and some of them in french, after discovering that foreign languages were in average at a much better level in Greece than in the latin countries. The idea to produce original greek-language interviews turned out to be too utopian to organize.

I will then most probably start with an english speaking version, followed by a french dubbed version, and with the hope to get help, offer an international version with subtitles and a video part, in greek, german, spanish and others…

Any suggestion on how to optimize a multilingual radiophonic work will be very welcome, as things are not yet completely decided.

What is in the program

So here I am now, trapped in my home studio, listening and structuring all the recordings done in Greece. I really hope to deliver the first three episodes before leaving for Ireland on the 15th of February. But the load of work is huge, with almost 40 hours of sounds to listen to!

The other big step will be to bring the main website of the project online, where one can find the radio series to listen to or to download.

If everything goes on fine, the first episode will be there before the 15th of february!

In between, I am already looking for any tip that could help in preparing the work in Ireland : contacts, informations, ideas…

More news will come during this month.

See you soon.

Coming to reality

December 10, 2011

La version française se trouve ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/les-choses-concretes/

Informations about the project here.

——–

Short impressions from the stay in Athens

Here I am, in Athens, almost a week already, discovering the reality of the situation. At a first sight, without knowing the city and the country before, nothing seems to be so different from another big city, except for small yellow and red stickers. And it is not a surprise, life goes on here, of course. But with a bitter taste. It is after discussing randomly with people that one discovers the incredible situation. And apparently, it is only since last summer that things are evolving quickly. It is the biggest surprise for me, I was so convinced that the situation had been on a constant pace the last two years.

People are slowly giving up, the massive demonstrations of last spring came to an end and everyone is more busy helping relatives in big difficulties, « adjusting » their lives to violent salary cuts, renegociating their rent, reshaping an everyday life that has to fit to the new standards of living. The « internal devaluation » imagined by the « troïka » is now getting real, and at a high speed. Hopes in having a weight in the decisions through massive citizen movements are fading, after one year and a half of protestations ignored by the international deciders and violently repressed by the greek state. Time has come for personal « adjustments » , as there is nothing else to imagine. Adjustment means preparing for emigration, to the countryside or abroad depending on the age, or changing the lifestyle : streets are emptying, shops, restaurants and cafés are massively closing, even in the very center where empty and trashed shops are already part of the landscape. One has to stay focused on the essential. And there it comes back to the yellow and red stickers, the first strange signal one sees coming to Athens. In a few months, these « for rent » or « for sale » stickers covered the walls, the empty shops, the bus stations and the pillars of the city, from the Acropolis to the remote small streets of calm middle class suburbs, not forgetting the lower class districts in between.

It is in the middle of this universe that I am collecting testimonials of people met by chance, telling me the « adjustments » in their own life, or true dramas unfolding or to come.

But the general situation has a monstruous aspect, where everything is accelerating in the last months, so fast that it is hard to believe it is real. A new kind of world is appearing and people, to go on living, have to do with that. The hope to be able to weigh anyhow on this evolution seem to have faded, maybe after the strange cancelation of the referendum, a few days after its announcement last November. But this event already seems so far away. Very recent surprises in polls are a sign, showing the decline of the old domination by the two ruling parties : the dynamics seem to change quickly.

But for now, the idea of a future is disappearing when the one of survival is coming. In the 30’s, the word « depression » was used. But it would be interesting to check if at that moment, the first ones to use this semantic were thinking of the economical or of the psychological aspect of the situation. Here, there is no doubt : it is the economical side for those already taken apart, and the psychological side for almost all the other.

Ce que je ne vais pas faire… / What I am not going to do…

November 28, 2011

Voici un article virulent d’une journaliste Grecque fustigeant le traitement médiatique de la crise dans son pays.

http://fr.myeurop.info/2011/11/26/crise-grecque-le-blues-du-correspondant-3937

Au moins, ça décrit très exactement ce que je ne veux PAS faire!

 

Here an article of a Greek journalist, angry about the media coverage of the crisis in her country. Only in French, but maybe understandable with google translate…

http://fr.myeurop.info/2011/11/26/crise-grecque-le-blues-du-correspondant-3937

At least, it describes exactly what I DO NOT want to do ;)

Well done

November 28, 2011

Version française ici : https://coulissesdunhiver.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/bravo/

Informations about the project here.

——–

Everything is coming so fast : just a short week to go before going to Athens, and everything is going on smoothly with the preparation. The fund raising was a big success and a lot of nice supporting messages constantly cheer me up. So, let’s do it !

Congratulations to all of you for achieving the fund raising

The fund raising through the solidarity funding concept of babeldoor.com ended yesterday the 27th of November, and the success was much bigger than I hoped! I have to specially thank Mr. Paul Jorion who accepted to publish my call for help on his renowned website, which helped the fundraising a lot. If you speak a little bit of french, I can only advice you to check this invaluable source of informations about the current events. (http://www.pauljorion.com/blog/)

This success is also a proof that there is a lot to hope from internet, and that when traditional media are maybe endangered, there are also new doors to open and new ways to explore. But no victory claim as long as there isn’t a documentary series to listen to!

Fundraising conclusion

A little reminder : the minimal aim of the fundraising was to get 1300 euros, and the optimal aim was to get 3000 euros.

1705 euros were collected through Babeldoor.com, plus 330 euros that were sent with checks, for a total of 2035 euros collected. I have to admit I hardly hoped to get the required minimal amount of 1300 euros, so the success is total.

Adding a little bit of personal savings, I don’t have to worry and will be able to work full time on this project until next April, five months that are probably necessary to plunge as deep as possible in austerity Europe.

Last checks for Athens

Departure is in just a short week, on the 4th of December to Athens, and the preparation couldn’t go on better. The biggest fear not to find support for translation was overcome thanks to a huge level of solidarity towards the project.

I already have about fifteen contacts there, and almost everyone I communicated with was really enthusiastic about the idea. The average feeling about the situation there seems more to be despair than anger, probably a reason for some people to want to support a project that relates those feelings. Some emails even described the things almost like a psychological depression : a deep despair, no hope in the future, except the one to go abroad for those who can.

The stay in Athens will unlikely be a happy trip, but I hope not to miss some green shots.

More to know next week, and this time live from Athens!

PS : I’m still looking for interesting informations about the situation in Greece. So don’t hesitate to forward me any interesting content! (at this address : europeanwinter@riseup.net)