Futureperfect It’s possible!

Tigers and bees: signals of hope often have black and yellow stripes
Tigers and bees: signals of hope often have black and yellow stripes | Photo (CC BY-SA): Márton Botond - Sziget Festival Official

Sculptures that fuse with nature, how to make your own edible tableware and the rooftop gardens of Gaza: Futureperfect presents stories that demonstrate there are other ways of doing things. Imitators are expressly welcome!

It happened in the summer of 2012. For days, the word went around in the village of Szakácsi that the tiger was nearby. Some shook their heads in disbelief. Others swore they had seen him with their own eyes. At night, the children pulled their quilts over their heads and traced the tiger’s stripes with their fingers on the ceiling. The old folks sat on the front stoops smoking their pipes until dusk and peered into the distance before turning in for the night. In the twilight they sometimes thought they saw the tiger’s eye flickering from afar.

Then, in July he arrived. Szakácsi is Hungary’s poorest community, populated almost exclusively by Roma. The tiger that would now guard the entrance to their town may not be flesh and blood, but is bigger than life size and a joint work by the artist group Hello Wood and the sculptor Gábor Miklós Szőke. Hello Wood is a handful of architectural students who build just about anything of wood that the material allows – including tigers. The one that they gave the inhabitants of Szakácsi now belongs to no one and to all. The villagers had sat down with Hello Wood to think about a project and finally agreed on an Indian tiger. After all, the Roma people are originally from the subcontinent. The big cat has managed to bring the previously divided town a little closer together.

The stories of Futureperfect aim to demonstrate how small things can make the world a better place. The tiger architects in Hungary are only one example among many. For instance, there are the three American surfers who make skateboards out of fishing nets that were discarded in the ocean. And Ahmed Saleh, who creates rooftop gardens in the Gaza Strip. The website by the Futurzwei foundation and the Goethe-Institut presents people and initiatives that have done something visionary. The Futureperfect project thereby continues on an international scale the mission that has made Futurzwei a success in German-speaking countries in recent years, based on the belief that the social and ecological crises of our day cannot be solved by politicians, engineers or the market; they have to be tackled by individuals.

To the Futureperfect portal To the Futureperfect portal | Copyright: Goethe-Institut The website of Futureperfect tells the story of poetry readings in the slums of Brazil, of a bank in Switzerland that advocates small and medium-sized businesses, and of young people who are working to help the residents of a nursing home in Tunisia. It started with 39 stories from 17 countries, but now at least one story is being added every week.

There’s the story about Uwe Marth and how he found a place for his bee colonies to live – church asylum, shall we say – on the thirty-metre roof of the Berlin Cathedral. Marth is a teacher and one of the dozen of hobby beekeepers who are drawing attention to the precarious situation of the bees with the initiative Berlin summt! (Berlin is buzzing). Although the tiny pollinators are absolutely crucial to life on earth since many varieties of fruit, vegetables and nuts cannot bear fruit without them, their free services to nature and humanity receive little appreciation. As a result the bees are severely threatened. Every year, on average one third of the population in Germany perishes, and even higher numbers in specific states and regions.

This is why bees fare better today in cities than in the countryside. Urban settings offer a greater variety of trees and flowers, and plants are less frequently treated with chemicals. In Berlin, 298 of Germany’s 560 native types of wild bees have found a home and about 700 volunteer beekeepers look after the city’s 3,200 colonies. In order to welcome the new immigrants in style, Berlin summt! has found homes for them at notable locations: on top of the Berlin house of representatives, the planetarium, the House of World Cultures and on the copper roof of the cathedral. The city roofs, it is hoped, can provide a future for these endangered creatures.