Geschichten aus Kalifornien

Ein Dichter, der mir im Café ein Gedicht vorliest. Eine Schülerin, die mir erzählt, wie sie mit acht Jahren von Schleusern in Mexiko festgehalten wurde. Palmwedel, die nach dem Wintersturm unsere Straßen blockieren. Eine nächtliche Fahrt mit dem Bus durch Los Angeles.

Von Begegnungen und Beobachtungen wie diesen kann ich in meiner journalistischen Arbeit selten erzählen. Das finde ich schade. Deshalb habe ich dieses Tagebuch angefangen.

It's Complicated - An Oral History Project

"Our students often don't have an elder to talk to. They left them behind in another country."

ManualArtssmall At a South Los Angeles High School

I was heading to the first volunteer session for one of my favorite writing programs expecting a few fun hours spent with students. Our task was to prepare them for interviews with elders from their families and later support them in writing stories about what they heard.

I figured that this assignment would be easy for me. I prepared a thousand interviews in my reporter life. At least! So I could not wait to meet the students and hear the stories they were about to collect.

The task turned out to be very different from what I had expected. Not only had I completely forgotten that most teenagers find it anything but exciting to sit down with their parents or grandparents for an intimate interview. I also had not thought about the possibility that some of these children do not really have an elder in their family to interview ...

When The Moon Is Up - Stories From Watts

This year has been full of new adventures for me, so many and so exciting adventures that I sometimes forgot to update this blog and write about them.

But I absolutely do not want to end this year without mentioning one of my favorite experiences of 2017: volunteering for the non-profit 826LA, which supports students finding their voices, telling stories in their own words and finding the confidence within themsleves to create the stories of their life. 

"When The Moon Is Up" is one of the books they created during the year. I was lucky enough to support a few students at Alan LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy for this project and am happy to share some of their experiences here. 

Thank you Myke Dodge Weiskopf for the mix!

Happy New Year! Go and tell your stories!

[link to the book]

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StoryShack - My Newest Adventure on the Road

StoryShackAudreySept17

In my early years as reporter I loved one assignement most: taking an Ü-Wagen (a mobile studio) on the road and talking with people wherever I met them, from kids at a newly open ice rink to dancing Techno-Music fans at the Berlin Love Parade. I have been dreaming of getting my own mobile studio ever since.

Now I have come one step closer to making this dream a reality: at the last Mar Vista ArtWalk I set up my first 'Story Shack' in the middle of all the wonderful happenings of artists painting, bands playing, DJs spinning tunes, businesses offering special deals and the community enjoying a night out to meet their neighbors. 

The shack could not have been more beautiful: A vintage 1965 Airstream owned by great friends, decked out with psychedelic decoration and of course my recorder and microphone. All night long people joined me inside to tell their stories. SO FUN! Here are a few of the stories they told of love, gun shots, a punk show and the perfect first day in Mar Vista

Lilly's First Day In Mar Vista - Perfect!

Where Marianne Heard the First Gun Shots in her Life 

Brendon's Surprise at a Punk Show

Rusty's and RoseErin's Love Story

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The Logistics Of Homelessness

 

"I lived here about four years. I understand the logistics of homelessness. You are trying to find a bathroom, brushing your teeth, just those little things. I mean, YOU'RE ON A SIDEWALK!
One thing that makes me happy is to find this person who would not have reached out to me, and I reached out to them, and turns out they needed help. I like to find those people."
Shanae Cannon, outreach worker at C3, a homeless service on Skid Row

I remember when I first came to Los Angeles as a reporter for German public radio, my first assignment were the Oscars. I reported about diamond studded shoes on the red carpet, gift bags, glitz and glam, poolside junkets under palm trees. A few weeks later I was on Skid Row, homeless capital of Los Angeles. Wow! It was like enering a different universe!  

Super-Bloom and Desert Love - Remembering Steve Bier

steve

"You can fall in love with the desert which happened with me the first time I topped the rise of that hill. The view just goes on forever."
Steve Bier, March 17, 2017 Borrego Springs

The first thing I saw was Steve Bier's wide, friendly smile under his big-rimmed ranger's hat. He stepped out of his truck, handing me a water bottle before shaking my hand. I had come to Borrego Springs to report about the record wildflower bloom for German public radio. I had not arranged for an interview with a ranger. Steve volunteered to give me the information I needed. I am sure thousands of tasks were waiting for him as visitors poured into Anza Borrego desert from all parts of the world. But Steve took his time, telling us the most wonderful stories about flowers, creatures, pollination and climate change while in between making sure an ambulance got to a stranded and dehydrated hiker in the nearby mountains. 

While my friend and photographer Dirk Rohrbach took pictures, Steve talked to me about his love for the desert and why a city guy like him ended up in a remote place like this.