At this month's DA Germany ExCom meeting, leadership voted with overwhelming support for our name change from "Hamburg Chapter" to "Hamburg and Northern Germany Chapter." This new name, which took effect on October 18th, better reflects the broad geographic region we represent, including the German states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, the northernmost part of Lower Saxony (Lüneburger Heide), and the westernmost part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. We hope the name change will be more welcoming and inclusive as new members sign up. We are especially hoping to start precincts in Lüneburg and Kiel. In addition to the new name, we have a new eastern border: We will soon be welcoming Americans from parts of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with the zipcode (Postleitzahl) beginning with 19 to our chapter.
WELCOME TO DEMOCRATS ABROAD HAMBURG AND NORTHERN GERMANY!
DAG Hamburg and Northern Germany Chapter serves Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, and portions of the German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (PLZ 19) and Niedersachsen (PLZ 26-29, excluding the city of Celle and surrounding Landkreis). Nested under the main chair in Hamburg are three precincts: Bremen, Lübeck, and Flensburg. These precincts are headed by Precinct Captains who act as local coordinators and organizers for their geographical region. Future chapter development seeks to build up the Democratic American community in Lüneburg, Schwerin, and Kiel. Through monthly meetings and regular social and practical events, we work to "Get Out The Vote," keep Americans informed about and involved in politics back home, and offer a home away from home for Americans living abroad.
Magdalena Dieterle took over the role of Bremen Precinct Captain in April of this year. Magda has been living and voting abroad for the past 20 years. A former peace corps volunteer in Azerbaijan, she has lived in Bremen with her family for the past 10 years and will start a new position working in the International Program at Jacobs University in September. Since she took over the role of Precinct Captain, Bremen Dems Abroad have been meeting for "Better Know An Issue" sessions, covering HR 1, the Green New Deal, new bills threatening choice rights, and the ERA.
Hamburg chapter members organized and/or took part in important meetings during the first quarter of 2021.
On February 28, we held our official chapter election via Zoom. Candice Newton was elected our new Chapter Chair, and Geoff Simmons was elected Treasurer. We congratulated both Candice and Geoff on their new roles. We also thanked Vinnie Cabrera for his service as Chapter Chair and Candice Newton for her work as Treasurer (especially in 2020 – a very busy year for getting out the vote!).
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place on March 20 via Zoom, and several Hamburg members attended. This meeting also featured important elections in addition to a recap of the past year and goals for 2021. Our former Chapter Chair Vinnie Cabrera was elected as one of the DPCA Voting Reps.
On March 28, we held the first chapter meeting presided over by Candice. We took stock of both Germany-wide and Hamburg accomplishments in 2020 as well as goals for this year. Discussion included plans to draft a proposal to rename the Hamburg chapter to encompass other Northern German cities, such as Bremen, Flensburg, and Lübeck, where we have a significant number of members and active Precinct Captains.
On November 3, we hosted Election Night 2020 – A Digital Party, a live theater performance on Zoom by Julia Hart, director of the play Neuland and starring members of the DA Germany Hamburg Chapter.
After the 2016 election, Julia Hart created Neuland (Uncharted Territory), a theater performance created in response to the election of Donald Trump, based on the collected true stories of American women's reactions to the results of that election. Election Night 2020 was a sequel of sorts to Neuland, with new stories and perspectives from Americans from even more diverse backgrounds and genders reflecting on the events of the last four years. With a mix of personal stories, scenes, and songs, Julia Hart and the ensemble cast reflected on the most significant moments, impressions, and feelings from the last four years. The performance was produced in partnership with the Lichthof Theater in Hamburg and was also part of DA Germany’s live, all-night election night program on Zoom, which was attended by hundreds of viewers across Germany.
Text by Vincienzo Cabrera
Did you know...?
DA Hamburg's Elaine Thomas is a member of the 2020 Democrats Abroad Global Black Caucus Poet Laureate Circle. Elaine's presence has been a real highlight of 2020. Here are some of the poems she wrote, inspired by this year's elections as well as other major events.
No Bullets Prize: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_no_bullets_prize
Biking Home: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_biking_home
In Fall of Corona: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_in_the_fall_of_corona
Time & Time Again: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_time_and_time_again
An Amiable Heart: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_an_amiable_heart_to_heart
Malcolm and Martin Revisited: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_martin_and_malcolm_revisited
Feeling Vulnerable Amidst the Chaos: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_feeling_vulnerable
A Grain of Hope: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_a_grain_of_hope
Unjust Indigestion: http://www.democratsabroad.org/bc_unjust_indigestion
IN-PERSON VOTER ASSISTANCE IN HAMBURG, LÜBECK, AND BREMEN (August—October, 2020)
Each one felt like a small victory: three new Texas voters in a state perhaps poised to turn blue; the American man who had lived in Germany for years without voting from abroad; the woman who needed a fellow American as a witness before sending her ballot to Wisconsin; and the couple who came all the way to Hamburg for advice after missing the voter assistance table in the city where they lived. These are just a few of the many grateful voters we met during two months of in-person voter assistance in Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen.
We are so pleased to have been able to help all of you to vote from abroad, and so grateful to those volunteers who made it possible. Thank you to: John, Geoff, Kira, Candice, Elaine, Mallory, Jessica, Katy, Nils, Cynthia, Emily, Sean, Sam, Lou, Lisa, Mandy, and other volunteers in Bremen.
In the words of Vinnie, our chapter chair: "It's been amazing to see how much we've been able to accomplish despite all the difficulties and curveballs this administration, the pandemic, and this year in general have thrown at us. We've been able to help so many people over the last couple months, and I'm so proud of all the work we've done together. You all are amazing! Thank you so much."
Text by Maryann Schmunk
Photos by Nils, Candice, and others
Hamburg was in the fortuitous position to have a considerable group of highly talented artists to support its last celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
This year's event was arranged and moderated by myself (Elaine Thomas), as were the two years before. It's purpose was multi-fold. One was, of course, to acknowledge Juneteenth. Tyrone Chambers II did a wonderful reading of the Juneteenth Proclamation. There were unforgettable songs from Melvin Edmondson, Darrin LB, Julie Silvera, and a spontaneous talk from the well-known DJ Gordon Clay.
Because of the recent number of Black Americans who have died from police brutality lately, we also did a commemoration #SAYTHEIRNAMES ceremony with electric guitar backings from Randall Brown. The ceremony concluded with Marshall Titus, Johnny Tune, and Tony Potts leading everyone in a very stirring rendition of "We Shall Overcome."
It was a very emotionally touching experience that, I am sure, left everyone who attended lifted and inspired.
Text by Elaine Thomas