Germany votes: the Wahl 2013 in photos

Next Sunday, Germany will elect a new parliament, the Bundestag. And slowly but surely, the Wahlkampf is invading our lives. On the radio, in the news, but most noticeably: in the streets. In this photo essay, an impression of how the parties are trying to convice the Germans to vote for them.

Underutilized election campaign boards

Special posterboards have been erected for election campaign posters. But most are not used fully.

Using the trees for posters
The political parties rather use trees…

Using traffic lights for posters
… and traffic lights to spread their message.

A hidden QR code
Some try to lure us to their websites with QR codes. Even if the posters are put up in such a way that the QR codes are hard to scan. If this is a design error, what does that say about the party or canidate in question? And what does the fact that the QR code leads to an non-transparent shortened url say about this party in question?

Oversimplifications are easy messages
And of course, there are those who claim to be the ones with the courage to tell the truth. To me it seems that they are often also the ones trying hardest to hide the truth by oversimplifying issues.

Will this shock you into voting?
In any democracy, there’s always room for parties with an extreme message. Some of them are trying to shock people into voting for them with extremely rude messages: ‘Which a….. will you vote for next time?’

I’m not eligible to vote in these elections, so to me it’s mostly amusing. But then again, with Germany being one of the driving powers of Europe, I think these elections are important for all Europeans. So, please my German friends: be wise with your vote.

A celebration of craftsmanship: Festival des Métiers by Hermès

The maker movement is one of the disrupting forces of the new collaborative economy. It brings a strong focus on producing items yourself with personal specifications, made in an artisanal way. Quite some luxury brands have a similar focus: bespoke items and craftsmanship. One such brand is Hermès, and they show this off in the touring Festival des Métiers. You can see Hermès artisans at work, and ask them all about it. They put up their show in Düsseldorf these days, in the Areal Böhler. Below an impression.

Saddle up
The saddle maker composing a saddle

Double stitching leather
The stitches on leather bags are double, and all done by hand.

Two ties are printed on each piece. They are cut out and sown together by hand.

Decorating ceramics

Ceramics are painted layer by layer, each layer needs to be baked for several hours.

Velvet maker
This lady cuts the silk threads by hand, to create the velvet. It takes days to finish a piece.

Stitching clothes together
I really love this sowing machine, which is used to assemble the several pieces that make up a clothing item.

A rack with paints for printing the designs on the famous Hermès scarves.

Next stop of the Festival des Métiers is Paris. I’m not sure where they go after that, but believe it’s Canada. If you get a chance to visit it, you should definitely go. It’s impressive and inspiring to see these artisans at work.

Park your car in Düsseldorf, pay with your mobile. Or not.

Get your parkschein here, or pay by SMS

Get your parkschein here, or pay by SMS

Every initiative that aims to reduce the need for me to carry coins around, scores points with me immediately. Especially if it’s about paying for a parking ticket in cities. When I lived in Amsterdam a few years ago (is it really more than five already?), I used Parkline, a service that allows you to pay for parking via SMS. When you are a registered user, you get a card to display behind your windscreen, which is linked to your mobile number and your license plate. If you park your car in an area where you have to pay, you simply send a text to switch paying on, and when you leave you send an SMS to switch it off. You pay per minute, for as long as you have parked. No more worries about being back in time, or finding a fine on your car because you are ten minutes late. Or: finding you only have a Euro coin with you, while all you need is to pay 50 cents, because you only have a short errand to run. Surely, the Parkline service costs a bit in membership (10 Euro registration, and 2,50 per month), but that’s a low fee, and easy to earn back.

Anyway, when I heard that Oberbürgemeister Elbers had launched a pilot for paying for parking via SMS in Düsseldorf last week, I was happy. This sounds like something great, and I had to see and test it for myself. The system is super simple to use: you find a spot to park your car, check at the pay-machine which number you have to use, and send an SMS with your license plate to that number. If you don’t add anything else to the message, you will be registered (and charged) for 1 hour. You can influence that by adding a dot and a number after your license plate. For example ‘.30’ for 30 minutes. You can pay in increments of 15 minutes, with a maximum of the limit of the allowed parking time. In Düsseldorf, as in many cities, you can only park for a limited amount of time in certain areas. The ease of use is almost phenomenal. On top of that, you can also download the app, which works nicely. The amounts get charged to your mobile phone subscription, so I reckon that tourists from other countries won’t be able to use the service.
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The people who stand on advertising columns

A Säulenheilige used to be a person who would go up on a pole, and sit there to contemplate and pray. But that was a long time ago. These days, in Düsseldorf, the Säulenheiligen are statues placed on top of advertising columns. There are, as far as I can tell, nine of them; made by artist Christoph Pöggeler. You might not have noticed them, while walking through Düsseldorf, because of their elevated position, and maybe also because they seem to be regular people doing regular things you do in a city. Here are six of them

The first one I noticed, was the photographer, who is making a nice photo of the main station.
Säulenheiligen: Photographing the photographer

One that I like for her cheerful attitude, is the lady dancing through the Altstadt.
Säulenheiligen: Dancing in old town

Then there is the couple taking in the view of the Rhine from the Burgplatz.
Säulenheiligen: Two tourists enjoying the view

But you can also take a cue from this sweet couple, and make Düsseldorf a place of romance.
Säulenheiligen: Lovers near the tv tower

Or, you can do like this lady, who is enjoying the sun, and, if you look at her from the right angle, seems to be looking up to the Rheinturm. Her name is ‘Marlis’.
Säulenheiligen: Marlis

A bit hidden away, close to the Rhine, there’s this mother with her child.
Säulenheiligen: Mother and child looking over the Rhine

Slightly out of central Düsseldorf, a bit in the northern part of town, there’s this guy who’s ready for a swim.
Säulenheiligen: where's the pool?

Have you seen any of these Säulenheiligen? Or maybe one of the other three? Which one did you like best? Let me know in the comments.