A podcast by Alejandro Sandoval, Brandon Drake, Michael Grubb and Reuben Holt
With the closure of establishments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many people lost the only space where they could freely express themselves and create community bonds.
This was the case with Sonntags Club. Originating in the former East Berlin, for years the club has provided a space of visibility and safe gatherings for queer people. It has also expanded into a mental health clinic and counselling services in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.
We spoke with Michelle Hartman, Peter Rausch and Jan-Jules Zimmer, who told us about the importance of the club and the adversities they faced when they had to close their doors during the pandemic. Listen Here, Queer, is a podcast dedicated to the spaces that make Berlin a place where queer people can call this city “Home.”
“How often have I heard in discussions, ‘I thought I was alone, that I am the only one who is like this.’ And then they realize there are others, but they have to find them first. We wanted to create spaces where people could go.” said Peter Rausch about Sonntags Club.
For more information about Sonntags Club, the activities there or the counseling services, please visit the following link:
According to NeoZoa’s own description on its website “Each issue of NeoZoa combines a poignant topic and ‘identity’, with the aim of uncovering how we are defined by cultural intersections and societal ideas”.
NeoZoa is a student-run online magazine written and produced by master students studying the MA in Digital Journalism at HMKW. Students began the magazine as part of their classwork for the module Culture & Entertainment in the summer semester of 2021 and it became a Minor Project in the next winter semester as well, both classes being taught by Prof. Dr Tong-Jin Smith. The main editors of the magazine were Alice Preat, Paul Krantz and Raf Yengibaryan, with everyone else in the class contributing as writers. The project’s idea was to rotate the roles and to give everyone the chance to become an editor, as explained by Airine Nuqi, one of the magazine’s writers and designers of the magazine.
Prof. Dr Tong-Jin Smith encouraged the students to work collectively in launching an online magazine which they would then be capable of enriching further with their creative stories and journalistic works. They had to share roles regarding editing, design and web assistance. The first edition of the online magazine concerns issues of Language and Identity. The magazine is divided into features and multimedia, revolving around the concept of fear from different aspects.
Contributors were Alice Preat, Airine Nuqi, Carina Sheen, DJ Coffey, Hannah Atteneder, Hannah Reiss, Julia Merk, Leo Frick, Paul Krantz, Raf Yengibaryan, Stephen Benkert, Nadine Allgeier and Will Bryan.
NeoZoa..but what is it?
“NeoZoa are animals that have been introduced into an area that’s not their native habitat. Since we all moved to Berlin from various places and had to find our ways in this new habitat, the name was very fitting. We all had to adjust to a new culture of sorts. Plus it sounds cool.” — Leo Frick, a NeoZoa writer.
“One of the ideas behind NeoZoa was to explore the theme of identity in relation to other issues that play a big part in our lives: language and fear for example. Our identities are complex and influenced by so much, and we thought it would be interesting to investigate some of these relationships and their impact on our lives. In the magazine, you’ll find pieces about the US military complex, phobias, voice actors, and more.” — Alice Preat, NeoZoa’s editor and writer.
Challenges and advice
Regardless of which digital storytelling tool we use, it can always be challenging to learn and compress your ideas to create a web magazine. Student-run magazines like NeoZoa are always tricky to manage since they are operated by students for students.
According to the students: “everyone has different editorial and management styles and reacts differently to feedback and criticism. It’s always an opportunity to learn in the end.”
As for the last piece of advice for those who have the idea of creating an online magazine, but do not feel confident enough to do so, the secret is to not be afraid of the challenge and go ahead find your team, theme and get it started.
“Even if your magazine has only one or two issues and never continues on, it will be a valuable experience for all who participate. It will teach you how to work as a team, how to follow editorial visions, and how to follow up on your investments” says the NeoZoa team.
To read the full first issue of NeoZoa magazine, click the link below:
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