FIRST GI CAFE IN GERMANY OPENS ITS DOORS
by Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon
Kaiserslautern, Germany, March 25, 2012
U.S. soldiers in Germany now have a GI coffeehouse. The Clearing Barrel Bar and Café opened Saturday, March 24, in Kaiserslautern, Germany, home to Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, among a constellation of U.S. bases, with 50,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel living in the area.
The grand opening was a big success, with over 60 people in attendance. Well-wishers enjoyed good food and drink, and marveled at the large beautifully remodeled space, with couches, tables, chairs, a bar and barstools, his and hers bathrooms, and a full kitchen.
Beautifully printed posters from the “War Is Trauma” art exhibit were displayed on spacious white walls. “War Is Trauma,”a collaboration between Just Seeds, an art collective from Brooklyn, New York, and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), is about “Operation Recovery”, a campaign to stop the deployment of traumatized troops and to focus public attention towards Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma.
Neighbors, friends, and activists convened from far and near, including Germans and U.S. citizens living in Germany. Nathan Peld, an IVAW member, arrived after a long train ride from Vienna, Austria, where he is working with the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Young German women and men mixed easily with Vietnam-era friends. Political discussions were lively and interesting. Live music was provided by two young men, one German and one American, who sang and played guitars and were joined by guests in a sing-along.
Chris Capps-Schubert, an Iraq veteran and war resister, and his German wife Meike, an organizer-extraordinaire and member of Military Families Speak Out, have been working very hard for the past two years to make their dream of opening a GI coffeehouse in Germany a reality. Their efforts have been supported by the Military Counseling Network, Connection-EV, the Center on Conscience and War, the German Mennonite Peace Committee, members of IVAW and Veterans For Peace, and many other German and American friends and activists.
Meike and Chris are both counselors with the Military Counseling Network, the European branch of the GI Rights Hotline. Chris has been a member of IVAW for several years and went on a speaking tour around Germany to gain support for The Clearing Barrel project. Chris and Meike and other counselors will be available to help soldiers who are seeking to be discharged from the military, facing other difficulties with the military, or seeking help dealing with military trauma.
Meike said, “Having this space available allows us to bring together in one place what we do personally, socially, culturally, and politically. I am very grateful for all of the help and support that we have received from the peace community and we hope that they will continue to support us.”
Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon representing Veterans For Peace spoke of the importance of supporting alleged Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, and GI resisters like André Shepherd, an Iraq veteran who refused to redeploy to Iraq and is seeking political asylum in Germany. Dave Blalock, a Vietnam-era GI organizer who lives in Heidelberg, Germany, said “This is the beginning of resistance.”
GI coffeehouses were a mainstay of GI resistance in the Vietnam era, providing safe, alternative spaces for soldiers to socialize, learn about their rights in the military, receive counseling, engage one another in political discussions, and organize themselves to resist illegal wars and occupations. The coffeehouse movement grew throughout the 60sand 70s. Today’s veterans have revived the coffeehouse tradition in order to build community and resistance. There are two successful GI coffeehouses in the U.S., Coffee Strong just outside the gates of Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington State, and Under the Hood at Fort Hood, Texas.
You can find out more about The Clearing Barrel on their Facebook page, GI Café Germany, and on their website, . Donations are still very much needed, so it’s not too late to contribute to this important new resource for our GIs in Germany.
Grand Opening 24th March 2012 Eröffnungsparty 24.März
The Clearing Barrel Cafè and The Military Counseling Network e.V. present
"War is Trauma" print portfolio series
In conjunction with the opening event, The Clearing Barrel Café and Military Counseling Network e.V. is excited to welcome veterans and allies to the – War Is Trauma – Exibition
War Is Trauma is a portfolio of handmade prints produced by the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative in collaboration with the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). For this project over 30 veteran artists from Justseeds, IVAW, and their allies have each created a print that addresses “Operation Recovery” – a campaign to stop the deployment of traumatized troops to focus public attention towards Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).Important issues not being publicly discussed.
Update March 2012
Update February 2012
In the latest news, we have got the contract for “THE CLEARING BARREL ” Café, renovation is starting, we are already starting to move furniture in, and we are planning on having our opening party on March 24th (invitations will start going out soon)
Here is a picture of “The Clearing Barrel”outside:
There is still a lot of construction/renovation to do, especialy with the plumbing and the electricity.
If you can continue to support us – here is how you can help:
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT !
Update January 2012
Dear members, supporters and friends,
GOOD NEWS !!!!
With your generous donations and support we were finally able to sign the rental agreement for an empty store front which will be converted into “The Clearing Barrel Café”.
Thanks to your support we are now able start with the renovation and the set up. We will be able to open “THE CLEARING BARREL” around early March, mark your calendars !
We will be posting pictures and updates on the progress of the renovation as soon as we start.
“The Clearing Barrel” and the Military Counseling Network e.V.
In order to not endanger the non-profit status of the Military Counseling Network e.V. we decided to use two entities to administrate “The Clearing Barrel Café”.
“The Clearing Barrel” will be run as a regular business and be open to the general public . The Military Counseling Network will be using “The Clearing Barrel” as an office and to conduct its counseling. “The Clearing Barrel” will be partially staffed by volunteers from MCN and a GI-Rights counselor will be present during the opening hours.
Please consider becoming a sustaining donor of the Military Counseling Network e.V. to keep up this important work. We have gotten this far with your support, and your continued support can help change the lives of several active duty military personnel in the Kaiserslautern area.
Donations are tax deductible within Germany
The Military Counseling Network e.V. is a registered non- profit under
VR 30411 / Steuernummer 19/672/27818
Donations can go to : Military Counseling Network
intended use: GI-Café Donation
Account NR. 6019886400
Bank Code: 43060967
BIC/SWIFT Code: GENODEM1GLS
Supporters in the US can also donate to our fiscal sponsor:
Center on Conscience & War
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009-5706
Write in Memo Line: GI-Café-Germany Donation
The Center on Conscience & War is a non-profit organization recognized under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. As such, donations to the Center are tax deductible to the extent of the law.
Or donate via Pay Pal to : email@example.com
Thank you for your help
Meike & Chris
Update December 2011
we decided to run the GI Café as a business. This will allow us to have a café that is open to the public, where we can actually make a living with the work we put in. At the same time, we are open to having all kinds of events for the Military Counseling Network e.V. – and of course to be an open public space for military personnel for counseling, information or just a listening ear.
of at least 5,000 € / 6,775 $ to sign the rental agreement.
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009-5706
Update December 2011
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009-5706
Update November 2011
First off we are very sorry for the long delay -
- Speaking tour past September
- Membership Assembly
- Veterans Day Occupy Frankfurt 11.11.11
- Speech Veterans Day at Occupy Frankfurt/english
- Rede zum Veterans Day Occupy Franfurt/deutsch
*Ross Caputi :Fallujah veteran: ‘I served the 1%’
WE GOT THE BUILDING!
For those of you who haven´t heard, the final details are stil being negotiated, but it appears as if we have the building in the Helenenstraße of Kaiserslautern. The GI Café will be located on Helenenstraße 8 in Kaiserslautern, and will be named „The Clearing Barrel“.
As was mentioned in the previous post, it is around 180 square meters on two floors with space for the Café and a big basement for events. The rent will be 800€ + around 300-400€ for Electricity, Heating etc., so we definitely need some help with the financing the first several months. That is much more than what we have planned on, but we think the location is great for what we want to do. It is located between a very busy shopping street and a street full of bars regularly frequented by US Soldiers.
The place used to be a Portugese sports club, and the sports club was in that building for 45 years, where it was regularly used as a restaraunt (of course with Portugese food, primarily fish). They recently had some difficulties, and were forced to shut down their place. I´m hoping to breathe new life into the building, as can be seen from photos in the last post, it is large and has a lot of possibilities, but is in need of some good renovaion.
New Tour Dates!
We have just recently filled up our information and fundraising tour for the Café, here are the new and additional tour dates:
22.09, Bremen, Villa Ichon Goethe Platz 4- 19 Uhr
23.09. Berlin, Büro Die Linke Richardplatz 19 Neukölln, 19 Uhr
24.09. Neustadt Holstein, Forum e.V. Kulturwerkstatt, Wieksbergstraße 2 18
26.09. Kiel, Subrosa, Elisabethstr. 25, 20 Uhr
27.09. Ansbach, Eugens Weinstube, Pfarrstraße 35, 19.30 Uhr
28.09. Wiesbaden, Kontext, Welfenstr. 1b, 20 Uhr
29.09 Mannheim , Bürgerhaus Neckarstadt-West, Raum 106, Lutherstr. 15 – 17 Mannheim-Neckarstadt, 19.30 Uhr
If you´re in Germany, I hope to see you on the road, I´m packed and ready to go right now. I may be a few days late with the next update due to the fact that the tour is going until the end of September. To everybody who gave Patrick and I some time to explain what we want to do, why its important, and assist us with raising money for our endeavors, thank you.
The new “Support GI-Resistance” T-Shirts are here !
The new shirts are here!/ Black with white print and a frame around the logo in S, M, L, XL, XXL! 15 € per shirt + 1,45€ € (so 16.45€€) shipping in europe — $21 per shirt + $4,30 shipping to the US ($25,30, sorry about the exchange rate) — if you like to order one please send us a message and we will send you the bank information ! We will be setting up a portion of the website where you can order shirts (and hopefully other merch) soon.
Ryan Harvey Show
We just had a fundraising show with Ryan Harvey at the Roachhouse in Kaiserslautern on September 11th.
A video of the show should be coming up on the Kok Roaches website here within the next few weeks. I´d like to thank Ryan for doing a solidarity show for us, the show was great. Its a shame more people didn´t show up for the show, they missed out. Unfortunately the fundraising part wasn’t as successful as we expected – not to many people showed up on a Sunday.
As was mentioned in our previous entry, we do have an object we have been interested in for a number of weeks, and we have been attempting to negotiate some terms to rent the building. The building is family owned, and we have currently been negotiating with a member of the family who does not own a portion of the building, but who has been acting as a middleman for his brother who lives a good distance away. It has therefore been a slow process, as all information must be passed on to his brother, and it can of course be difficult to negotiate through a middleman. We were hoping to meet with his brother on Monday, so that we could come to agreements on things like renovation, the deposit, when we exactly we can move in an start setting things up etc., and hopefully at some point soon signing a rental agreement. Unfortunately the brother is busy with work currently, and was not able to attend on Monday. We will hopefully be hearing something back this week, but for now with the delays there is no prospect of opening in September, opening has been pushed back until atleast Ocotber 1st.
Below is a slideshow for a quick look at the building we´re interested in:
A bit of info about the building, its about 180 square meters on two floors. The first floor has about 80 square meters, a kitchen and 4 parking spaces outside. The other floor is a nice mostly noiseproof basement, with 100 square meters, one womens bathroom, a mens bathroom, a personnel bathroom, a small office, and a broom closet. We are excited about the property, it is located in downtown Kaiserslautern and is not to difficult to find, and the property itself is ideal for both a Café, as well as for larger events and displays.
David Rovics Show
We´d like to thank everybody at the David Rovics show in Frankfurt on the 27th of August. After giving a short speech on stage during the intermission we were able to raise over 100€ for the Café. Thank You everybody there who supported us, and those of you who ordered T-Shirts, you´re order is being made. Remember there is a Ryan Harvey show here in Kaiserslautern here on September 11th to help support the GI Café.
David Cortelyou Joins the Project
David Cortelyou has recently moved from the Gießen area to Kaiserslautern to help with the Café. Dave is an Iraq Veteran, and is currently looking for a place to stay here in Kaiserslautern (he´s living with us shortly until he gets set up here). We´re definitely glad to have him here, we can use the help.
Patrick Spahn and I are hitting the road here soon. We are looking for more tour dates, so if you would be interested in hosting a fundraising and information event about this project make sure to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org:
22.09 Bremen Villa Ichon – 19 Uhr – Friedensforum Bremen, die Linke Bremen, Antikapitalistische-Linke Bremen, Solid – Linksjugend, DFG-VK Bremen
26.09 Kiel – Subrosa – 20 Uhr
27.09 Ansbach – Eugens Weinstube – 19.30 Ansbacher Friedensbündnis
28.09 Wiesbaden – Kontext – 20 Uhr LISA Wiesbaden, DFG-VK Mainz, DFG-VK Wiesbaden
Please disregard this post / email if you are not a member of IVAW.
After talking to Jose Vasquez (the executive director of IVAW), receiving a few emails from the IVAW board of directors, and talking to a few people from other GI Cafés, it was realized that any direct funding from IVAW for GI Cafés would rely on Jose putting support for GI Cafés in the budget, and the board approving of the budget Jose proposes to them.
However with the convention coming up, a new board is about to be elected, and there will be no new IVAW budget until after the new board comes into place. Another volunteer and I decided to participate in the elecotral process and ask the current board candidates of IVAW what their specific stance on this is.
We asked every board Candidate available two specific questions:
A) How do you feel about GI Café´s? Are you aware of the work they are doing? Do you think GI Café´s are being productive?
B) What is your position on IVAW giving direct support to GI Café´s in the form of funding or
The answers from every board candidate are below (in the order in which IVAW presents them):
A) I know of the existence of Coffee Strong, however I am not that familiar with GI Café´s.
B) (This question was answered after a very brief summary of what a GI Café is). Coffee Strong may have trouble staying afloat, GI Café´s should be more self-sufficient. I personally like the idea of GI Café´s, they can be important for recruiting around bases, and for things like Operation Recovery. It would be great if IVAW could help them, however I´m not familiar with the budget of IVAW and can´t make any promises until than.
A) I´ve been to Under the Hood a couple of times. I support GI Coffeehouses. They have a certain amount of power to do on the ground work, and each Coffeehouse seems to be effective in their own way. I would however like to know more about them.
B) IVAW has been talking about an internship program, but I believe it depends on how it is framed and how each independent Coffeehouse runs. It shouldn´t be blanket funding with no questions asked, and it has to do with what they expect to do with the money, and what we expect from them. It is topically however not something I would categorically turn down, we would just need to know about the planning and the funding etc.
A) Yes, Yes, and Yes. Coffehouses are on the frontline and doing good things.
B) Here is where it gets difficult. The whole idea of Cafe´s´is for them to be self sustaining. I would be open to the idea of things like starter cash to to help get more open, but if they´re not self sustaining we shouldn´t be helping them. It would be in effect adding more people the payroll of IVAW. They need to be self sustaining, and not become a burden for the national organization. It also can put the Café´s in a precarious situation having to rely on IVAW for money.
We have not been able to reach Jason for comment yet. We will continue trying, and post his reply here as soon as we recieve it.
A) I know what GI Café´s are doing, I think it depends on who is running them. They can be the best tools for active duty organizing, and cen be extremely valuable if they are built as safe spaces. It can be an outreach center for people having difficulties in the military, who may be against the war, or who are looking to get out of the military. I have concerns with Coffee Houses becoming to radical and creating more problems than solutions. As an example Under the Hood was the center of a very radical movement, which can become polarizing and can drive away more soldiers than it attracts.Coffee Strong is the best out there, it is a good balance between a commercial and non-profit enterprise. It is not to radical, it is a safe space, and I would like to see more Coffeehouses like that.
B) Who is running it? If this is a Coffehouse controlled by IVAW of course it should be funded. Funding should of course be done through a process. Coffeehouses are a very valuable assett for IVAW, but we should make sure they are inline with IVAW´s mission.
A) I don´t know what Under the Hood is doing so I can´t comment on that. I feel GI Coffeehouses can be very effective. Soldiers feel comfortable at Coffee Strong, there are Active Duty Sodlier´s that want to be involved. Numbers are going up on the amount of soldier´s getting involved, Soldier´s walking in has gone from an average of 150 a month to around 400 soldier´s per month.
B) I would welcome IVAW support for the Coffehouses on the condition that the Coffeehouses can retain their autonomy. I would welcome IVAW as a sustaining donor, but with the condition that they have no more influence over the Café than any of the other sustaining donors do. I do not want IVAW to be there asking us why we do things the way we do nor telling us how to do things.
A) GI Coffeehouses are integral to our work. Having Under the Hood as a base of operations for Operation Recovery and for organizing has been absolutely critical. I do feel more work needs to be done around Coffee Houses though, during the 2 months I was at Under the Hood I feel the community around it needs to be built up upon.
B) We can have specific fundraising endeavors for the Coffeehouses, we may need to support them. (there was more he said, but I couldn´t write that fast, it was a ys but the tone of his voice sounded tenous on the phone).
A) I am aware of them, I know what they do, and I do think they are productive. I think becuase of the location they can become targets, but I do believe in the work that they do.
B) I´m not against support for Café´s, but I don´t know what the budget looks like right now and what the priorities are. If we have the money available than why not? But first there need to be some definitive questions about priorities.
For any board candidates who would like to correct or change their statements please email me at: GI-Cafe-Germany@gmx.net. Notes were taken from phone conversations and I can´t necessarily write as fast as people speak, so if you were misquoted I apologize, and thank you for your participation.
My List of Suggestions, and my comments regarding the Candidates Statements
First I would like to say that these statements are my personal opinions as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and is in no way an official position nor opinion of the Military Counseling Network eV.
My suggestions for voting (thus far, it may change depending on Jason´s remarks) are as follows:
1, Jorge Gonzalez, co-executive director of Coffee Strong
2. Scott Kimball
3. Brock McIntosh
4. Wendy Barranco
5. Bryan Reinholdt
Based on their statements, those are the candidates I believe would be most likely to help draft and pass a budget with support for GI Café´s without a significant infringement upon the autonomy of the Café´s.
After talking with people from Under the Hood and Coffee Strong, what was readily apparent is that while they welcome any kind of support from IVAW, and would be willing to use any financial support they receive from IVAW to further shared goals, they are also afraid of losing their autonomy to IVAW, or money coming in with strings attached. Indeed this tendency has been shown in such statements as that of Jennifer Blain, and it can easily veer towards political censorship and an attempt to influence the autonomy of the Café´s if the relationship is not clearly defined. Its our position that IVAW should be a supporter and donor in the same manner of the Coffeehouse´s other donors and supporters, nothing more and nothing less. If IVAW would like to take applications and essays similar to a grant application that would definitely be acceptable and welcomed by me atleast.
I think the people „on the ground“ running the place are able to better see where funding allocations are necessary or critical much better than someone sitting on a conference call not involved with the Café. I don´t feel that any kind of political censorship is needed either. The stated goals and methods of the Coffeehouses coincide 99% with the stated goals and organizing methods of IVAW. The Coffeehouses are there to assist veterans and military personnel with various issues, and help organize and reach out to active duty military personnel who are against the war. Even if there are differences of opinion between the national leadership of IVAW and people running the Coffeehouses the fundamental goals of IVAW and the Coffeehouses remain similar. The Coffeehouses can play a critical role for IVAW and vice versa. I feel it is important to build upon and develop a mutually beneficial constructive relationship without necessarily having outsiders dictate the terms and conditions of how the Café is run, and attaching unnecessary and counter productive strings to the funding.
As far as the recrurring argument of „The GI Café´s need to be self sufficient, and IVAW should not get involved in an unsustainable operation“ here is my personal opinion:
GI Café´s are not commercial enterprises (they are non profit), and are there to perform a service for the military community and simultaneously create a safe place for dissent, the same way IVAW is not a commerical organization and has 3 distinct operational objectives. While they do attempt to raise some revenue through Café operations, hosting concerts and events, merchandise. and having fundraisers, they are also heavily dependent on money from grants, and foundations, and particularly on individual donors the same way IVAW is.
I would not expect a homeless shelter which provides services to those in need to be a „self sustaining“ operation, and neither would I consider a GI Café to ultimately be a completely self-sustaining operation. In the end support from donors has always been and will continue to be needed to make them possible. These aren´t some kind Starbucks with an anti-war sticker in the window, and as long there is any kind of anti-war stance being presented with the Café than that will directly effect the business end of the Café as well. Even a Café like Under the Hood which has no real revenues from selling Coffee has had amazing success in the past organizing and providing a safe place for active duty military personnel, and helped a multitude of War Resisters (most of whom were IVAW members) with their cases.
I believe that IVAW and the GI Café´s are largely co-dependent. Many people donate to IVAW under the impression that the money donated goes towards helping War Resisters or towards such projects like GI Coffeehouses. That shouldn´t be a false perception, that should be a reality. When it comes time for IVAW to do fundraising I know there is no problem mentioning Coffeehouses, as well as some of the Operation Recovery work done at Ft. Hood recently. I don´t have a problem with that, I think thats great. It brings publicity to those Coffeehouses that they otherwise may not have had plus it helps raise money for IVAW. On the other hand however when those donors give money to IVAW with the impression that it will help day to day operations at those Coffeehouses, than that would be a case of IVAW using their activities at the Coffeehouses for their own fundraising (for example here or here ), but not giving the reciprocal support needed for those Coffeehouses.
I would like to personally urge all IVAW members to vote, regardless of whether you agree with me or not. The link is here on the members section of the IVAW website, the deadline to vote is tomorrow (August 6th). If you need to create an account I would recommend you contact Selena (email@example.com) to get an account as soon as possible. Everyone at the convention, enjoy yourselves and have fun.
Move to Kaiserslautern Complete and the Café is coming!
On the 4th of July Meike and I completed our move to Kaiserslautern, Germany. For those of you interested in our new address and telephone number please contact us a GI-Café-Germany@gmx.net.
On the 28th of July MCN had its founding meeting to become a non profit registered association/organisation – The Military Counseling Network e.V. Now the German IRS needs to approve our charitable/non profit status and we need to get it registered at the court. All the questions regarding the membership will be decided at the first full general meeting . We will gladly provide you with further information on the.articles of association upon request.
We expect to be signing a rental agreement and begin with the renovation this August!
We are currently looking at and debating over a few pieces of real estate in the inner-city of Kaiserslautern. Kaiserslautern itself is pleasant if you can ignore the very loud, low, and regular overflights of Learjets, C-130´s, C-5´s, and C-17´s into Ramstein. Where we´re living is right around the corner from Daenner and Kleber Kaserne (US bases, one of which has a Warrior Transition Unit).
Jello Biafra comes to Germany
On the 17th and 18th of June Meike and I had the pleasure of tabling Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine shows in Saarbrücken and Schweinfurt. We´d like to give Jello and everyone else in the band a shout out and a thank you for the opportunity to table the show.
We made a batch of T-hirts to fundraise with just for the occasion, the designs are below. We´re not out of T-shirts, we have some available in mostly in XXL and a couple in XL. More sizes should be available in the coming months. If you would like to order shirts contact us at GI-Café-Germany@gmx.net. Designs are courtesy of Loki English and Dennis Schröder of supporter shirts.
IVAW will wait for new Board of Directors to decide on funding for GI Café´s
On the 23rd of JulyIVAW officially opened voting for its national convention, unfortunately there was no resolution to support GI Café´s as was mentioned at the GI Rights Hotline Conference in Albequerque. Jose (the executive director of IVAW) however has said he stands behind the idea of IVAW supporting GI Coffeehouses. After the upcoming convention when there is a new board, support for Coffeehouses will be worked into the 2012 IVAW budget. The budget will of course have to be reviewed and voted upon by the new board of directors.
A couple of volunteers and I will be asking current IVAW board candidates on their position regarding GI Café´s and posting it here soon (before the convention) since it is an issue obviously not mentioned in the questionnaire for current candidates.
Ryan Harvey show booked!
It will be preceded by a screening of „Sir No Sir!“ with German subtitles, and a Vokü (people´s kitchen). Entrance is 5€ at the door, doors will be opeing at 14:00. Proceeds will be going towards the Café.
Patrick Spahn and I will be hitting the road here in Germany from September 15th to October 2nd. We´re looking for dates for a fundraising, networking, and informational tour for the GI Café. If you´re in Germany (or somewhere close to Germany) and would like to arrange a speaking date sometime within that timeframe please contact Patrick or I at either Patrick.Spahn@gmx.net ot myself at GI-Cafe-Germany@gmx.net. Dates will be posted here as soon as planning fo the tour is complete.
What is in a Name?
There have been several ideas for a name for our Café being kicked around, some more seriously than others. Up until now the project has simply been known as a GI Café in Kaiserslautern. The name is important, it will partly determine how we market the Café and possibly how we renovate and design it. It should be something that sticks out and is easy to remember. Some of the ideas that have been getting thrown around are:
1. „8 up“ (from the Army term „Ate Up“)
2. „Away^2“ (from the Army term „Squared Away“)
3. „A Galaxy Away“ (a reference to the regular overflights from C-5´s, and can be used as a „Star Wars“ theme for Air Force geeks with the hope we don´t get sued by George Lucas)
4. „The Stoned Ram“ ( the stein in Ramstein literally means stone)
5. „The Clearing Barrel“ (A clearing barrel is a barrel at which US military personnel safely unload their weapons. Its a great metaphor, unfortunately according to the Urban Dictionary it also has other meanings).
6. „Cannon Fodder Café“ (alliteration, I like it)
7. „Army Land“ (a reference to the German slang term for the United States of „Ami Land“)
8. „Kaiserslautern Kultur Kaserne“ (Kaserne is the German word for base. This one was a joke of course, we don´t want our initials to be KKK)
9. „At Ease“ (I don´t want anyone to get the idea of screaming that)
10. „People Making Commanders Suck-It“ (PMCS, also jokingly)
If you have any other ideas, half serious or not please make sure to let us know, and give your thoughs about these names. We appreciate the feedback, You can contact us anytime at GI-Cafe-Germany@gmx.net.
Here at last is an update on the progress we’ve made with the GI café project. Quite a lot has happened over the past few months!
Move to Kaiserslautern
On July 1, 2011 we’ll be moving to Kaiserslautern, where we’ll have a three-bedroom apartment. We don’t have a suitable location for the cafe yet, but there are many vacant spaces in Kaiserslautern, and we are confident that we’ll be able to find something suitable there once we relocate in July. We also have a better chance of being able to finance a somewhat larger space with a room for workshops, exhibitions, etc. Three Kaiserslautern artists are interested in sharing an atelier with us and would be prepared to contribute 100€ per person per month toward the rent.
Military Counseling Network / Deutsches Mennonitisches Friedenskommittee
Since January of this year Chris has been working officially as a counselor for the Military Counseling Network. He will continue this work in the cafe, and the MCN will play a major role in the cafe. Chris is employed via Connection e.V. and will receive 200€ from the Deutsche Mennonitische Friedenskommittee (DMFK) until April.
At its last meeting in April the DMFK decided to continue supporting and promoting the counseling work and the GI cafe.
Beginning in May Chris will receive 400 € per month for his counseling work. The DMFK will also grant us an interest-free loan of 5000€ as a startup for the project.
The presentation of our project at the DMFK met with great positive feedback, and the continuation of MCN’s work at the cafe will continue to be an important part of the DMFK’s concrete and practical peace work.
We’d like to take the opportunity to thank E., J. and M. for their advocacy and personal support at the meeting!
The DMFK is also allowing us to use its donation account.
Donations will be tax deductible in Germany. You will receive a receipt for donations to the account below! (Please don’t forget to provide your address.)
DMFK | Kreissparkasse Heilbronn | BLZ 620 500 00 | Konto: 212 400 69 |
Keyword/Stichwort: GI Café
GI Rights Hotline / Center on Conscience & War
The Center on Conscience and War and MCN have had a very positive cooperation for years; the MCN is part of the GI Rights Hotline.
The GI Rights Hotline Conference was held Albuquerque/USA from May 19-22, 2011. Thanks to a private donation, Chris was able to attend this conference. Apart from the important opportunity to participate in various workshops on counseling work, this also allowed us to build on existing contacts, present the cafe project and the changes at MCN, and above all to convey the importance of this work, especially here in Germany.
Unfortunately, it is still the case that far too few Americans are aware of the strategic role of the many US military bases and the large number of US military personnel stationed here in Germany.
Above all, of course, we also hoped to gain more support from organizations and individuals in the USA.
The CC&W has agreed to take over the fiscal sponsorship for us in the USA. That means that in future it will be possible to make tax-deductible donations to the cafe project in the USA via the CCW. The details will be worked out soon.
(SEE Chris’s report on the GI-Rights conference below )
Speaking / Fundraising Tour
At this time Chris and Patrick are planning a speaking/fundraising tour for August/September of this year. Patrick completed his alternative service at the GI Rights Hotline in Washington DC and is now studying in Bremen.
A committed American has helped us apply for a Social Justice Endowment Fund from a local United Methodist Church in the United States, which may help fund the tour.
The goal of this tour is to reach groups, parties and individuals who are not yet as familiar with these issues.
Of course we are always happy to do events to present the project and MCN’s work and to solicit support – if you are interested in an event or would like to organize something or know people we could contact, please let us know!!!!
The website finally went live a few weeks ago. At the moment it is still a beta version, with everything in English for the time being. It still needs a lot of work, but you can sign up for the newsletter on the website to automatically receive information and news on a regular basis.
You´re looking at the webpage right now, there is still a lot of work to be done on the website, so please excuse us for any bugs or errors, and please report them to me so that we can correct them.
-You can support us here:
DMFK | Kreissparkasse Heilbronn | BLZ 620 500 00 | Konto: 212 400 69 | Keyword/Stichwort: GI-Café
(If you need a donation receipt, it’s important that you leave your address.)
Check out the Donations page in the donations tab ————>
Thank you for all your support – we look forward to continuing the positive cooperation!
Meike & Chris
A couple of weeks ago I attended the GI Rights Hotline´s national conference in Albuquerque New Mexico. Here are some of the more important points and results that came out of the conference:
A. I´ve become more familiar with several people in the GI Rights Network, and become more familiar with who does what and how it works. While I´ve had contact to and worked with MCN over the past few years, I´ve had very little contact to the GI Rights Hotline in the US and it was an excellent opportunity to exchange information with them and learn about some of the other nodes of the GI Rights hotline.
B. Jose Vasquez, the executive director of IVAW has mentioned that IVAW will finally be putting forward a proposal during the upcoming IVAW convention to concretely help support GI Café´s. The exact amount of support, and the details of the resolution are currently unknown, but expect to see it rolling around at the IVAW convention. For all the IVAW members attending the conference, vote for it, fight for it, support it. Even if you´re not attending vote online. Under the Hood can definitely use the support and I imagine Coffee Strong does as well, as do *ahem* we. Our donation page is in that tab over there. ———>
C. I learned about CMRN, the Civilian Medical Resources Network. One recurring problem I´ve had over here in Germany is helping clients who are having medical problems (whether physical or mental, although mental problems seem to be more common) locate the appropriate medical professionals off base. With CMRN I can put MCN clients into contact with medical professionals in the United States who can keep in contact with my clients by phone, email, and Skype in order to help them through their troubles, and when appropriate they write diagnosesis and letters to chains of command . This is especially important since at times it seems as though most Army medical professionals have the interests of the Army in mind more than the interests of their patients.
D. After meeting with some people from the Military Law Task Force I learned that there were lawyers here in Europe trained in military law within the past decade. The MLTF is sending me the contact info to some attorneys they´ve trained here in Europe, how relevant or up to date this info is remains to be seen, but its good to have possible alternatives to David Court in the event an MCN client needs a lawyer.
E. I should hopefully be getting plugged into a working group for GI Café´s in the US soon, which is great. My default contacts for when I wanted to contact Under the Hood or Coffee Strong in the US were the old executive directors, neither of which are up to date anymore. How much will actually come out of this group I don´t know, but its good to know how the GI Café´s in the US are doing, and to learn from their experiences. I imagine we´ll be operating in an environment that is not directly comparable, but I´m sure some experiences will be very directly relevant nevertheless.
F. I had the opportunity to explain the future of MCN here in Germany to the GI Rights Network as a whole, and the role this Café will be playing in continuing MCN´s work over here.
Now its off to Kaiserslautern. Meike and I are preparing to make the move already. We´ve made appropriate arrangements to get our utilities shut off, and we´re looking at utilities for Kaiserslautern, making appointments for getting rid of bulk trash, and will be making measurements and planning the layout for our new home. More news to come soon.
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