The following text is about a response to the renewed VATMH Fellowship Announcement,
geared toward intellectuals and more specifically eminent personalities whose work addresses fundamental contemporary issues relevant to both shores of the Atlantic.
Thomas Mann Fellows are expected to actively and intensively engage in intellectual exchange with and within the United States based on their own work, and to network with partners and institutions in the United States.
This abstract may highlite in advance, what will be explained in detail in the following points:
On the tracks of Thomas and Frido Mann through America - in search of the essence of democracy. Not only in the big cities on the east and west coasts, but also in those places in the middle of the country where the values of this form of society have yet to be rediscovered, in discussions that will be certainly not easy. As Easyrider on the motorcycle on the highway, approachable for encounters, accompanied by the camera, all this will lead to various media evaluations, from a travel blog up to a documentation. Planned and evaluated as Fellow at the Thomas Mann House in Pacific Palisades.
This is the autors’ answer to the requirement formulated in the tender profile:
Thomas Mann Fellows are expected to be willing to travel within the United States to meet and enter a dialogue with new partners, particularly outside of the major cities.
Inspired by the conversation with Klaus-Dieter Lehmann on Deutschlandfunk Kultur, which was documented today, it came to a point where - after much thinking back and forth, conceiving and rejecting, researching and discussing - this title suddenly appears: Democracy Revisited.
And in the first moment you don’t know yourself what might have been the reason for this: Was it this radio interview mentioned above... was it this picture on the VATMH website...
... or this reference to the Springer link page that had just been opened to check the status of the authors publication on Digitale Kompetenz :
The return of the repressed: populism and democracy revisited.
After an initial, although not representative, survey, the title was so well received - also in the USA - that the first online addresses (URLs) have already been reserved :
The idea for this title arose from the connotations with the terms "Visit" and "Re".
It refers to multiple trips and times in the USA since the late 60th, as documented in this entry of 14 January 2019: A New Years’ Application as well as to encoutes with US citizens all over the world, also here in Berlin, for exemple on the occasion of this fireside chat with Jay Rosen on August 27th 2018 in the rooms of the DJV Berlin and its follow-ups: "First We Take Manhattan... Then We Take Berlin" II.
And: He reflects the speeches of Thomas Mann, who lives and works in exile in the USA, who speaks to his compatriots in Germany via radio .
Here as pars pro toto two of his "Listen Germany" speeches
from November 1941:
from January 1943:
Geografisch weit entfernt von seinen Wurzeln und seiner ersten Leserschaft wandte sich Thomas Mann über das Radio an die „Deutschen Hörer“. In monatlichen Interventionen kommentierte er von 1940 bis 1945 die Ereignisse des Krieges, warnte früh vor dem Holocaust, sprach sehr konkret von den deutschen Gräueltaten, aber auch von dem erhofften zukünftigen Sieg der Alliierten über die Nationalsozialisten: „Hitler-Deutschland hat weder Tradition noch Zukunft“. Aus seinem Untergang werde ein Deutschland entstehen, das Hass überwinde, Hoffnung und Versöhnung wieder möglich mache.
And puts them in relation to those sentences that Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in memory of the bombing of Dresden in the night of 13 to 14 February 1945:
Deshalb will ich heute deutlich sagen: Wer heute noch die Toten von Dresden gegen die Toten von Auschwitz aufrechnet; wer versucht, deutsches Unrecht kleinzureden; wer wider besseres Wissen historische Fakten verfälscht, dem müssen wir als Demokratinnen und Demokraten die Stirn bieten, dem müssen wir laut und entschieden widersprechen!
As recorded and presented at 8pm at the ARD-TV-"tagesschau" on February 13th 2020:
Following in his grandfather’s tracks, Frido Mann is going to give lectures in more than a dozen cities in the United States and Canada. He will address the current crises in the American and European democracies and the need for their restoration, on the basis of a transatlantic dialogue as initiated by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
If one looks at the places visited by him afterwards on the map
so only two of the nine stations visited in the USA are in the so-called "flyover states", in Kansas City and Denver.
Sehr viel schwieriger und zum Teil widerständiger verliefen meine Bemühungen in den sogenannten Heartlands des mittleren Westens und der geographischen Mitte. Selbst nach einem erhofften Regierungswechsel 2020 wird man sich auf eine sehr lange Durststrecke bei der Wiederherstellung des bereits über eine lange Periode gestörten Gleichgewichts innerhalb des US-Gesellschaft einstellen müssen.
In the German TV "phoenix plus" interview on October 8th. 2019 at his grandfather’s house, he says:
"Ich habe ja auch in den sogenannten Heartlands, wo ich zwei Vorträge gehalten hab’, in Denver und in Kansas City, da bin ich auch auf Menschen gestossen, auch auf Schüler, ich war zweimal in HighSchools gewesen, die ernsthaft sagen, wir müssen die Mauer bauen und es ist gut, dass wir aus den Klimabeschlüssen von Paris ausgestiegen sind... sowas muss ich mir anhören, und da gehe ich auch gar nicht drauf ein. Da hat ja gar keinen Sinn."
Already in the article DAS THOMAS MANN HOUSE IN PACIFIC PALISADES , January 15th. 2020 a reference was made to his book published in 2018 Das Weiße Haus des Exils referring to these sentences laid down in the introduction:
Dort soll ein von Experten geführter interdisziplinärer Austausch den konflikthaften Polarisierungen zwischen Europa und den USA entgegenwirken und die Fundamente der Demokratie erneuern und festigen. Ein besonderes Gegengewicht soll das Residenzprogramm dieses Hauses wohl auch gegen die gegenwärtige hochproblematische Administration und präsidiale Führung der USA setzen.
Without being able to give all the details, the approach for the own project can be scripted as follows:
after studying and knowing the lectures held by Thomas Mann and his favourite grandson Frido Mann, another kind of "lecture tour" through the USA is to be carried out, a tour that may differ in many ways from the activities of the Mann family:
not the coastal regions will be visited, but the "Drive In & Out Heartland States"
it is not the reknowned houses and institutions that will be chosen, but all those places where a victory for democracy must first be won again
in the own "lectures", the sentences and attitudes from the Mann family will be presented again, explained in their historical significance and at the same time put to the test of the current conditions on site
it will therefore be much more about a dialogue than a lecture, and in many places the task will already be difficult enough to be able to establish sufficient willingness for such a dialogue at eye level
the journey through the country will not take place in a plane , but on a motorcycle
this trip will be accompanied on a second motorcycle by a cameraman as well as a crew vehicle, so that it will be possible to report about it during the trip in a blog format
in addition to discussions with some of the sponsors listed by the VATMH itself, as well as a number of other contacts which will contribute to the success of the project
after a large German manufacturer has signalled interest in such a project, talks are now also being held with a California-based company that manufactures motorcycles that are electrically powered 
names should not be mentioned yet, as long as there are no contracts, but already now the support of the Digital Cinema Society, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers can be announced in advance.
Due to the approaches and key points mentioned here and during the preparation so fa, this initiative received a lot of attention, many questions and then a lot of approval and willingness to participate. And be it "only" by writing further letters of recommendation, in addition to those already submitted with the previous year’s application.
But the decisive question is who, where and why should be visited on this trip through the states.
The first answer refers to a long cooperation with an institution that once was called National Federation of Local Cable Programmers ( NFLCP). Since 1984 the author was responsible for the construction and operation of the "Bürgerservice"-channel in the cable pilot project in Ludwigshafen, and he soon established a lively exchange with other non-commercial projects of this kind, especially in France (ASTEC) and in the USA (NFLCP).
This cooperation became so intensive that the makers from all three countries visited each other and brought their programmes with them and put them up for discussion. And since it would not have been appropriate to do this on their own channel in Ludwigshafen, the project was mainly carried out with the Open Channel in Berlin.
These Access-channels had been established in the United States as well as in Germany for the purpose of documenting and supporting the democratic process on local level: From broadcasts from the city and regional parliaments to a whole series of citizens’ platforms and associations of various origins.
An insight into the USA is provided by the film and video magazine THE INDIPENDENT, which has been documented as a PDF file since 1984. . Here as an example this link to the timeline of the Access-Chanel in Tucson, Arizona, US.
In 1992, the NFLCP became the Alliance for Community Media (ACM), as to recognize the scope to be more than "just cable".
The organization is divided into five regions  and all the members meet this year in the period from June 30 to July 2, 2020 in the Fairmont Chicago Millenium Park, where the ACM holds its annual congress.
Should there be a green light signal for the approval of this project by then, this would be the best occasion to present the project in the US and to fix the possible locations and partnerships with the active participants. It would be a good idea to link these proposals to locations where Goethe-Instituts are located, such as the POP UPs in Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis.
To each of them in a personal conversation - if necessary also in the context of a telephone interview - the question will be asked which place in which community and in which state they would regarded as particularly suitable, in order to ask and discuss there the question about the future of democracy.
Even though the results in both scenarios will be discussed and fixed in the course of this year, a certain framework must be set for logistical, organisational and financial reasons as soon as possible.
The time frame for on-site preparations would be Q1 2021, for example from CES to NAB-Show. There are good relations with both organizers, the CTA and above all the NAB, which have been built up over many years, even decades. In addition, up to 50 trade fair interviews are realized with a DCS film crew every year on the days of the NAB, edited on site and put on the net as streaming offers: here the LINK to NAB 2019 STREAMING COVERAGE.
If it is possible to send the team of at least three people, including the applicant, on the journey, a separate report in the form of a video blog can be produced at the locations visited, provided that sufficient technical equipment is available. In many cases this will be supplemented by local reporting on site.
At the end of this journey, all this material could then be used to create both a travel series and a very special version of a road movie. Working title "Democracy Revisited" .
A travel time of maximum two months and a final editing and reporting in LA in the last month - including a separate event in the Tomas Mann House with all participants - would limit the whole stay to a maximum of 6 months, whereby the stay in the house could be limited to the first three and then possibly to a final month.
Even after the return to Europe this project is not finished. A series of talks with interested institutions, organizers and broadcasters are already being held  in order to present both the results of this process and the travel experiences themselves on both sides of the Atlantic. And thus to stimulate further projects of this kind.
In Germany, October 2021, the month in which Thomas Mann’s first speeches were read out by a BBC spokesman, would be a suitable time for this . The next date would be in April 2022, 80 years after the air raid on the home town of Lübeck. And the third, to repeat the very day on which the last of Thomas Manns speeches was broadcasted, would be May 10, 1945, i.e. 2022.
Yes, of course there is a willingness to contribute after this trip as one of the "55 Voices for Democracy", as they have been so impressively presented so far by:
At the same time, however, there would be a desire to use one’s own voice and the media possibilities available today to make those heard who have so far hardly been heard in the "classical" media of broadcasting.
In this context, we would like to refer as pars pro toto to the exhibition discussed by Andi Hörmann in the Deutschlandfunk programme "Corso" on 17 February 2020
"Radio-Aktivität“ im Lenbachhaus. Individuum und Kollektiv:
"Do not take language for granted, but think in a new way and create forms of international communication"
All this is just the beginning. There is so much more to be said - and to be done. But now I would like to ask you first: yes, all of you: the members of the selection committee who decide on the applications, the pals & fellows, but also you, the readers and readers, without their incentive, encouragement , but also criticism (thanks especially for that) all this would not have come about here until now.
Feedback will alway be gladly accepted: HERE