Yes indeed, our community matters a great deal to an awful lot of people, some of which are a little overwhelmed by the prospect of being the only ones responsible for the wellbeing of our mutual concerns. Every German Canadian club has a similar problem, that of who will carry on when "we" are gone? Some are financially very sound and can afford to expand their operations, like the Hansa Club. There we are awaiting the completion of a member lounge that will keep the big hall available for banquets and other outside events. The kitchen is equipped to handle the extra traffic and the land that is owned by the club will keep the club financially sound for quite a while.
Other clubs, like the Danube Swabian Club in Scarborough are going through a rough patch due to all sorts of problems that crept up over time or were previously unrecognized. However, it does not matter what precisely the problem is, as long as it is connected to money something can and should be done about it.
This kind of a problem is not only the problem of the board of directors but also a problem for every member of the club, and I dare say for every member of the community, because a community is only as strong as all the individual members combined. If there is a weak link then the entire group is weakened. Therefore we can deduce that we are all somewhat responsible for the wellbeing of a club that has forwarded German culture for so many years.
Another thing that needs looking at is the body of rules that govern the membership. In most cases these rules are as old as the club and served well for the conditions in the past. Since then much is not the same any more and changes have to be implemented to ensure a survival of our organisations. No longer is it feasible to keep so-called outsiders out or insist on a German only clause. We know for a fact that it is this exclusionary thinking that is responsible for much of the shrinking membership, other then natural attrition.
It is vital that more, many more community members get involved in the affairs of our cultural institutions, may they be grass routed or of another calibre. German culture is all of our business and we need to stick together and help, or else…Do I have to spell it out?
It has been over 15 years when I first addressed these problems. We foresaw what is happening now and I am actually astounded that it took so long to get to this point where we are now. Strangely enough we are still diversifying our media outlets and split the meagre revenues many more ways than ever before. Much has fallen by the wayside and more is going to disappear, especially if we do not pull together in an effort to keep our community as a strong presence in the Canadian political and cultural landscape. We have much to be proud of, we just need to show it more overtly.
During a concert with a visiting Bavarian band, the Rainhardt Reissner Big Band from the beautiful town of Neuburg at the river Danube, I had opportunity to speak with one of the major benefactors of the Danube Swabian Club in Scarborough, Mr. Adam Bissinger. This member of long standing has done much to help the club over the years, as has his son Eduard Bissinger, president and manager of the Non Profit Housing Committee, when he for instance found the location where the club is now and more. Being involved in the club and with the club and taking responsibility for this community venture with its many under-groups is important to him, as it should be to many more who can and could do a bit more to help the club back onto financially good footing with a reserve that takes care of emergencies.
The Swabians of the community are not without means to help but perhaps a bit reluctant to do so overtly. One might want to point out to those that could help that nothing is gained by holding old grudges or by holding on to money one does not really need. No one can take anything with them.
Surely I am not saying anything that we all do not know already. I also do not want to make anyone wrong. I just want to remind all of us that it is important to give and to help. As long as we are helpful to each other our purpose is good and wholesome and will be fruitful. If we all pull together in an effort to build up our clubs to a stable point for the future of our children and grandchildren, even if they sometimes do not always show much interest, the day will come when they remind themselves of their heritage. And if then there is nothing to show for, it is us to whom they will look for to find the reason the destruction took place.
Mr. Bissinger, a long time member with 15 years on the housing committee an serving 7 years on the board, who lost his wife last year at Christmas after 65 years of marriage, has all reason to be sad, yet he is actively helping. His 2 sons and the 6 grandchildren are all taken care of. As a land developer he has been very successful and fortunate in his business endeavours. Thus he can help with a full heart. As a true opinion leader in his community he sets a good example as a good group member, and as an outside member of the greater family of German Canadians we thank him for his efforts as we thank those that have always done more then their basic duties. It is that just now more is needed and we call on all people to help any which way they can to ensure a stable future for our German grass route organisations, such as the club of the Danube Swabians in Scarborough.
The evening with the band, singing and dancing together as a group, talking to people, was a rare glimpse into the soul of our clubs.
|Visiting with friends|
We get to see some folks that otherwise never turn up or we do not see them when they sit in a cozy lit hall on the other side of the room. The bright sunshine made everyone more accessible.
|Watching kids play|
|the sack race|
Sitting under the old trees, watching the kids play, and there were many children, chatting away with friends and acquaintances while listening to Peter Henkel play the accordion and sing, (who knew he can sing?) enjoying a favourite beverage and our traditional foods, all that makes for a tighter knit community. If you have not tried it for a while give it another shot! It is good clean fun! How much fun?
|Lou Wegner||Echo Germanica fan|
|The youngest attendee||Lou with Sabine Becker & wife Lilo|
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If you are into other types of entertainment like jazz you could go to the Frankfurt Jazz Fest or the German Ball, or at the Film Festival in Toronto you could visit a few movies. There is one I highly recommend. Called the "Counterfeiter" it deals with the attempt of the Nazi regime to undermine the allies’ economy with the help of a master counterfeiter who is sitting in a concentration camp. His lot becomes easier as he is recruited to do his best to create an English Pound and an American Dollar.
Of course there is a whole lot more to it, especially the human implications. I thought I had seen it all, but this angle is new and interesting, touching and even educational. Watching this part of Germany’s history is becoming more interesting over the years, because there is a certain distance to the material and it therefore becomes more realistic and fair, something we all welcome, I am sure. The era of black and white story telling is definitely over!
See you around, here, there and everywhere!
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