Letter from the Editor
As I am writing this in a cold Toronto receiving yet another wintry blast, hopefully the last one, the world is mourning the death of an extraordinary man. Pope John Paul II was a leader and an idol, transcending traditional roles of the Catholic Church, or perhaps we should say, he was setting new parameters for the job of Chief Sheppard. If there was a flock to tend he went to tend it. He addressed, changed or influenced the past, present and future of countless millions -regardless of which religion - on this planet through his actions. He demonstrated his believes as personal convictions right to his last breath. He set selfless examples and revived mankinds believe in its spiritual nature, something that most of us applaud in the oppressive corporate world climate we find ourselves in.
The future, no doubt, will hail him as a wiser man than we realized him to be in his own time, one that understood human nature, the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. An expert on globalisation, speaking many, many languages, he was able to reach out and touch people all over the world, who suddenly realized that the pope was not just an idea, but also a real entity, someone who understood their plight. I recall the last visit of His Holiness in Toronto. In the article of August 2002, Nr. 8 (you can go to the website at Sybille reports or Sybille berichtet and find the whole report in that issue) I wrote: "I was not surprised to hear testimony from a Sikh, who was in tears at the airport on Monday, when the pope was leaving. He felt that this man was capable of bringing to people what they needed most in this world: Peace!"
In my neighbourhood there was no car traffic because countless thousands came walking towards the Downsview Fields for World Youth Day. I remember the shining faces of the young people from Germany, the fervour they displayed when they spoke of their faith and their Pope after the event, when we met in St. Patrick’s Church.
I also recall how this particular event revived more than any other my personal resolve to address more and more the younger generation within the framework of our community and beyond, something we had always planned on doing, tried, but did not always succeed in fully. Only in recent years did we manage the transformation to a more universal publication that combines the old with the new, the grassroots culture with mainstream issues of a cultural and artistic nature; and only in these last few years have we been able to let young people speak their minds and what is in their hearts, something we want to continue and expand.
After 15 years of intimate contact with this purpose on behalf of Echo Germanica, and 2 plus 6 years with other publications, we our nearing our ideal. I think we have learned and observed enough to speak with some authority about the affairs of our community.
We have watched, looked, and listened.
We have admired, praised and supported.
We have participated, planned and executed community events.
We have surveyed, evaluated and drawn conclusions.
We have searched, found and helped worthy causes.
We have enough data to write a comprehensive report on German Canadian affairs in this region, and eventually probably will.
We have met people of all walks of life and learned first hand about human nature. We found that most of them are of good will; some of them are very helpful and want to help any way they can; and very, very few are less than helpful, perhaps even actively hindering the efforts of others.
In our community specifically we have many different powers and trends at work; some of them bind us together, others separate us. One of the dividing factors is the "German only" crowd, which is starkly separated from the liberal "German-Canadian English is ok" crowd. The latter part of the population is what we have always addressed. It is the one thing that guarantees future for the local organisations.
We certainly support the practise and study of the German language, but for a better and broader understanding of the local German language based cultures, may they be of German, Swiss or Austrian origin, we have learned to use the English language for extended reach into the community.
People with some German background in their heritage do not have the necessary language skills to easily read in German. If we want to keep people of mixed heritage interested in our culture we have to offer it to them in English.
One example is provided by Graham Young from Hamilton, who wrote the following to us: I am happy to hear that you are celebrating 15 years of service to the German -Canadian community. I first began reading your paper while dining at the Black Forest Restaurant in Hamilton and also pick up the paper regularly at Denninger’s. It started me on a journey of discovery of my German family roots. At first - I admit - I used it primarily to find locations of restaurants and shops that feature products from Austria and Germany. I have also come to appreciate the news of events in the community. I can read German but not with complete fluency, so the English portions are welcome as well.
Thanks for all your hard work,
Graham J. Young, B Mus, B Ed
Hamilton Music Services 904-575-5440
There are many such sentiments out there from couples and singles with a mixed heritage, in mixed cultural marriages of 2nd or 3rd generation Germans and Austrians and Swiss. There are people out there that are simply interested in our heritage because it is familiar to them from their home country, like all the countries that had ties to East Germany behind the iron curtain.
What better way to celebrate our heritage, then share it with other cultures in a way we all understand, in a language that binds us together in Canada.
We will always pay homage to the German language and publish also in it, but not exclusively. It is our bilingual approach that has won us our awards, that and the way we get involved in our community.
I must thank firstly all our wonderful voluntary writers and contributors, especially our young participants.
Caroline Kuehn in Vienna, who is embarking on a very exciting musical career, takes time out occasionally to share in her adventures with us from Vienna. Her sister Elizabeth Kuehn writes to us from Zurich, where she is seriously engaged in creating the next generation of music interested individuals at an international school by heading up the music department.
Rachel Seilern has to be one of the busiest individuals I know. As part of her amazing family she performs with the Szauter Fold, or Forget-Me-Nots- as you know them, she plays and teaches piano, studies seriously violin, writes from the heart the most touching accounts of life I have read in a long time, and is otherwise so busy, we are astounded that she is contributing to us.
Martin sends his personal notes to us from mostly overseas while doing business and displays a side mostly unknown by fellows nowadays. Refreshing to see a guy be confident enough to show a softer side!
We crossed a cultural barrier by inviting Darren McKague into our house to report "From the Locker-room" and are astounded at the sentiments this young man expresses though living in a world of jocks! Way to go!
And then we were very fortunate to latch on to one Paul Bernhard, originally from Cologne, now living in Zurich, writer, poet, educator. His view of the world adds to our sense of responsibility.
Andy, our satirist from Augsburg is currently busy writing biological masterpieces, but he has done much to amuse us.
So has Eberhard Gerlitz in the past with his humorists’ verses, signing them ege.
Eberhard Kurt Walter with his wry and crusty point of view often puts things into perspective for us, employing common sense and old familiar values.
Dick Altermann faithfully follows the German organisations like his star throughout the year, reporting on their good deeds and festivities.
Friedhelm Krumme writes the most delicious recipes for us.
Bernard has sent us on occasion some of his quirky poems, and so have other people.
We have worked with extraordinary people. Talent has always flocked to Echo Germanica. Some of our past affiliations have moved on to other endeavours or professions, some are still with us and we hope to attract more young people to try and test their abilities in a creative setting such as Echo Germanica.
Most of our articles are originals. Our artwork, like the front pages, is designed to be enjoyed and remind us of our heritage. Rolf Rentmeister is the technical wiz behind the scene, working quietly, composing the website and the paper, keeping the network going, servicing the rather large technical apparatus.
And you certainly know what I do. I am trying to be everywhere I can where there is a German connection to our culture to be found. Sometimes I wish I could be 10 people, because there really is so much of it. Unfortunately I have to be selective.
Sometimes I go just because I enjoy it and I know you would too. The arts have so much to offer to keep us happy.
I would like to continue in this way and expand the youth theme. We could do a lot more if we had more partners of like mind. Every reader could be a partner. If we had a dollar for every paper that was read we would have a nice fat paper with lots of interesting reports on all sorts of subjects. We could really go to town!
So how about it? Would you make a contribution to the future and subscribe or pay a lump sum for all the years you read the paper for free? If you would send a donation and then continue to pick up the paper where you did before then we actually would have something left over to reinvest into the expansion of the paper!
I am sure that you, like most people, think that the merchants pay for the paper and pass it on to you for free. Not so, only a very few pay a very small amount for gas to the person delivering the paper. So you see, we have been carrying the load for 15 years. How about participating?
We are also looking for other participation. We are inviting young people to write for us, explore their world with thought, and share their concerns.
We are the community’s most awards winning paper with six major citations, as well as much more minor recognitions. We would like to continue to serve you and get better all the time.
We thank you for your loyalty to us, to our sponsors and advertisers, and invite you to continue to celebrate life with us. Tell us what is important to you; tell us what we are doing right within our chosen parameters. Tell us what you want to see what we have not got yet. We will try to please.
Until next time
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