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We start with the song: "As I am, I come to you…" (Children’s service agenda "Praise be to you. To be happy and to be sad.", Page 34, Saarbrucken 1983, Publisher: Rheinischer Verband fur Kindergottesdienst)

In the middle is a sun round cut out of clay paper. On the edge of the blue background cut out sun rays and dark clouds of different sizes. Everyone is invited to tell God what’s on their mind or in their head. No one is forced! I can take a ray of sunshine, put it against the round of the sun, and say to God, loudly or softly, "I am glad that …" Or I can take a dark cloud, place it on the sky blue and say, "I’m afraid that …" or "I’m so mad/sad because …". In between you can sing the little song verse again and again.

Sun meditation

Close your eyes and try to inhale and exhale sun rays, or imagine that your heart is a sun.

How do you feel? What happens inside you?

Can you imagine God being like the sun’s rays to you??

The sunflower

More than 60 of the wild sunflower species originate from the Rocky Mountains in the USA. The state of Kansas has even declared the sunflower its national flower. A few decades after Columbus "discovered" America, Spanish sailors brought the first sunflowers to Europe. 300 years later, in the 19. In the 19th century, sunflowers were first cultivated on a large scale in Europe for oil production – initially in Russia. Today, the largest growing areas are in Eastern Europe, France and North America.

The sunflower is one of those plants that can adjust its inflorescence according to the position of the sun. Responsible for this is a special substance that makes the plant grow stronger on the shaded side, so that the stem turns towards the sun. In the garden and in the field, sunflowers grow two to three meters high. With the right variety, plenty of fertilizer and a support structure, some garden owners can even grow specimens more than seven meters high.

The seeds can be sown from April onwards in plant pots or at least 50 centimeters apart directly in the open field. Sunflower seeds from bird feed usually germinate well too. Sunflowers need plenty of water and have high nutrient requirements. They bloom persistently from July through October. If you want to obtain seeds for propagation from a special specimen, you should stretch a net over the flower disc in time before the seed ripens, so that the birds are not faster.

Cooking with the sun

Anyone can build their own solar stove using cardboard and aluminum foil. In Germany, however, there was an average of only 4.4 hours of sunshine per day in 2017. This is only enough for one meal with solar energy per day. In the southern countries of Africa, on the other hand, the sun shines for twice as long. Nevertheless, it is not enough to completely replace wood fires. According to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of the people living there have no access to electricity and are therefore dependent on fire. Solar stoves could provide more time and healthier cooking here, though they still need further development to become lighter, cheaper and more efficient. The normal version of a parabolic stove usually has a power of 700 watts. This means that it takes about 25 minutes to boil three liters of water.

Solar wells for the desert

In Somalia and Pakistan, the sun enables children to attend school. Solar-powered water pumps mean they don’t have to walk the long way to the river every day to fetch water for their family and the village. Instead, they can learn reading and arithmetic in school with the newly gained time.

Sindh province is located in southeastern Pakistan. Away from the big cities of Hyderabad and Karachi, the area is very poor. Large part of the region is desert, precipitation has been decreasing for years. To fetch water, families have to walk longer and longer distances; this work is often done by the children, who then can no longer go to school.

The Association for Water, Applied Education& Renewable Energy (AWARE) was founded in 2005 and focuses on helping disadvantaged populations in remote regions of Pakistan.

AWARE installs water pumps powered by solar energy with the support of Terre des Hommes. 15 villages in the desert region now have access to water for the first time. This leads to far-reaching changes in the villages: children who were often responsible for fetching water now have time to go to school. AWARE and Terre des Hommes have renovated the schools in the region and provide recreational opportunities for the children. For example, children and teenagers can meet in "children’s clubs". There is homework help there, and they can talk about their problems with their peers. With success: the enrollment rates in the region increase significantly. The functioning water supply also significantly improves the food situation of the communities: for the first time, vegetables can be grown in the desert.

The hygiene situation and the health of the families has also improved with the water pumps. In order to further reduce the previously high mother-child mortality rate, women and midwives receive hygiene training.

One challenge for the project is that there is little work in the region. Many families had to earn their living as migrant workers, others moved away altogether. Because of the solar wells, there is now the possibility of farming on site, which can be a great incentive for many families to stay and send their children to school.

Light, air and sun for all: The Bauhaus

The main Bauhaus building by Gropius in Dessau, also the home of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Photo: epdThe main Bauhaus building by Gropius in Dessau, also home to the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Photo: epd

The emergence of a new aesthetic after the cultural collapse

100 Years of Bauhaus: The Short Path from Esoteric Beginnings to Industrial Mass Production – by Martin Schuck

There would be many occasions in 2019, 100. birthdays to celebrate. The old world of the Empire lay in ruins in 1919 after a war the likes of which the world had never seen before came to an -end. New things came into being, such as a democratic constitution for Germany, but the founding of the State Academy of Design in Weimar, which was named Bauhaus, is celebrated on a grand scale. For 14 years, until 1933, this college existed, representing an avant-garde style in architecture and with a reputation for having revolutionized the arts.

"Only perfect harmony in the technical function as well as in the proportions of the forms can produce beauty. And that is what makes our task so multifaceted and complicated."In 1955, long after his emigration to the USA, the architect Walter Gropius (1883 to 1969) described with these two sentences the basic idea of the Bauhaus, which he founded and presided over from 1919 to 1928. More famous than this quote, however, is the short sentence "Form follows Function". It expresses what the Bauhaus still stands for today: a functional aesthetic that aspired to create clear forms that were both beautiful to look at and easy to manufacture industrially.

Gropius and his colleague Henry van de Velde (1863 to 1957), co-founder of the Bauhaus, initially had the idea of rethinking art from craft. This puts them in opposition to the late 19th century understanding of art. and early 20. This was not the case at the beginning of the twentieth century, when, since the triumph of industrialization, it was mostly a matter of copying ornaments of craftsmanship in series production. In the Bauhaus Manifesto of 1919, Gropius wrote: "The ultimate goal of all pictorial activity is construction … Architects, sculptors, painters, we must all return to the craft … The artist is an improvement on the craftsman."

These sentences indicate that the Bauhaus in its beginnings was anything but revolutionary, because Gropius and his comrades-in-arms were concerned in the early phase of the Bauhaus precisely with detaching art from industrialization and restoring classical craftsmanship. This claim is already indicated by the name, because the model for the Bauhaus were the medieval Bauhutten, in which architects, artists and masons had to work together to build and artistically design a building together. Art and craft were not opposites there, and the fact that the Masonic lodges emerged from these Bauhutten shows that, in contrast to the usual guilds, a community practiced across professional boundaries had emerged there.

With this ideological background, the Bauhaus artists were part of a broad movement for cultural crisis management after the catastrophe of the First World War. Some wrote Dadaist lines, others painted Expressionist pictures, some tried out new ways of life on Monte Verità in the Swiss Ticino – for Gropius and his comrades-in-arms it was precisely the harmony between art and craft, transfiguring the Middle Ages, that was to lead out of the crisis. And in these early days, it was some illustrious names that became formative for the Bauhaus: Artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer and Johannes Itten were employed as teachers at the Bauhaus; in the Bauhaus environment, the Dutchman Theo van Doesburg, as founder of the De Stijl movement, exerted great influence through private courses in Weimar.

Perhaps the most enigmatic figure of the early years of the Bauhaus was the painter Johannes Itten (1888 to 1967). He was from Switzerland and was known for wearing a monk’s habit most of the time. He was considered a convinced follower of the esoteric Mazdaznan doctrine, which goes back to the Persian prophet Zarathustra. It is a healing doctrine, which, among other things, is about the correct breathing technique and diet. In some of Itten’s paintings, the focus was on the colorful representation of breathing in and breathing out; in others, the foods of the Mazdaznan diet appeared as still lifes. Paul Klee, too, despite his fascination with mathematical proportions, was a devotee of esotericism, for he was convinced of the colorful aura that surrounds every human being; this very aura is also the subject of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophical writings.

Gropius separated from Johannes Itten in 1923 and brought the Hungarian artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895 to 1946) to Weimar in his place. Moholy-Nagy appeared in mechanic’s clothing and thus outwardly embodied more strongly the unity of art and technology as the new orientation of the Bauhaus.

With the appointment of new teachers in 1923 – in addition to Moholy-Nagy, the painter and art theorist Josef Albers (1888 to 1976) also arrived – the Bauhaus gained contour as a teaching institution. At that time, a common preliminary course for all students was conceived, which is still influential for the education at art and design schools today. In the following year, 1924, the change of power after the state elections in Thuringia brought about another change for the Bauhaus. While the Bauhaus, which was considered politically left-wing, had received state funding from the Social Democratic state government until then, this was cut in half by the new government under the leadership of the German People’s Party (DVP), which no longer allowed work to continue in the previous style.

In 1925, the new location was Dessau, whose city council was dominated by Social Democrats and Liberals. In addition, there was the aircraft manufacturer Hugo Junkers, who offered Gropius a sponsorship. The cooperation with Junkers then initiated the transition to industrial production of the Bauhaus products that are still known today, such as furniture, vases and lamps. The Bauhaus was thus heading for the peak of its influence. However, the founding idea had been completely sidelined, namely to emancipate the arts from industrialization. In essence, this was followed by a return to the mass copying of arts and crafts objects, as was also common before World War I. The only new thing was a different aesthetic, which is still influential today and made the international success of the Bauhaus possible.

On 4. December 1926, the Gropius-designed Bauhaus building opened in Dessau; it was partially destroyed in 1945 and reconstructed in 1976. The glazed front and the flat roof have characterized the architectural style associated with the Bauhaus name ever since. Gropius also designed so-called "master houses", which functioned as homes for the teachers and, just like the Bauhaus building itself, were intended to enable the combination of living and working that was appropriate for the artists.

The Dessau period, which lasted until 1932, saw the emergence of everything that makes up the myth of the Bauhaus. The Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) designed the first furniture made of tubular steel, and the collaboration with industry begun by Gropius was further intensified by his successor Hannes Meyer (1889-1954). The Swiss architect Hannes Meyer was the new director of the Bauhaus after the resignation of Walter Gropius. His concept was "people’s needs instead of luxury needs", which led to the mass production of many everyday objects, including teapots. The cubic building form became the basis for simple residential buildings, which were to characterize entire city quarters. The best-known example of an attempt to implement this architectural concept is the Berlin district of Gropiusstadt.

This golden age of the Bauhaus as a producer of an aesthetic suitable for the masses lasted just three years until 1931, when the NSDAP won the local elections in Dessau. After the National Socialist majority in the Dessau city council had enforced the closure in 1932, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 to 1969), since 1930 new director, tried to save the Bauhaus by moving to Berlin. For a few more months, the Bauhaus was able to continue its work without state support; in 1933, it was forced to dissolve itself as a result of Nazi reprisals.

One of the myths surrounding the Bauhaus is the idea of designer products that were affordable for everyone. In fact, however, they were expensive lifestyle accessories that attracted attention mainly in wealthy circles in the late 1920s and early 1930s. For the masses, both the homes and the teapots, lamps and steel furniture were unaffordable. The orientation towards the needs of the people, which Hannes Meyer elevated to a program, was largely withdrawn by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In the late phase of the Bauhaus, the tendency to produce luxury goods, which were to decorate the interiors of expensive villas, increased.

There is no doubt that the Bauhaus had a formative effect on post-war architecture, but not every building with a flat roof is under the influence of the Bauhaus. The same applies to industrial design. Other design schools also exerted their influence on the design ideas of the postwar period. Thus, the many events and exhibitions to mark the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding. The Bauhaus’ 50th birthday is just an example of the genesis of modern aesthetics as one of the consequences of the cultural collapse after the First World War.

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