Ronja von Wurmb Seibel on constructive storytelling, the media and Afghanistan

Episode #16

When she had just become a journalist Ronja went to Afghanistan for almost two years.

There she did reports about the war, about drug addiction, poverty and other really devastating things. Sometimes all the misery left her hopeless and without perspective. So she started to look for the constructive aspects within her stories: for people who are trying to find a way out, for projects that are offering solutions.

This is called constructive journalism or solution journalism. She didnt know it by then because it is a recent but very much needed version of journalism. It doesnt mean to ignore the problems and crises but rather to focus on possible solutions.

Now, ten years after her first journey to Afghanistan Ronja wrote a book about constructive storytelling. She finished it last summer while the Taliban were taking over Kabul. On the phone in Germany she helped people escape the deadly regime thousand miles away. So, around her the world was falling apart and inside her head she was thinking about good news.

We talk about what stories and news can do to your mind and mood. How we all are storytellers in our everyday life and how we can turn the negative narratives into constructive ones without ignoring reality. She even has a formula for it. It goes like: Shit + X

Her book is called “How we see the world” in German. It’s still not available in English yet, but soon it will be published in Polish, Czech and Korean. Maybe in Arabic.

You can find her here:


Carolyn Ekyarisiima: Why coding is a superpower in Tanzania and anywhere

Episode #15

Carolyn Ekyarisiima wanted to become a doctor to help people. Now she is an IT-Expert training thousands of girls in Tanzania how to use technology to create the world they want to live in.

She founded the organization Apps and Girls. They are teaching girls how to code. And how to use IT and technology to get their voices heard and ideas out into the world. When she founded the NGO in 2014 she was pregnant, today she has four kids and 11 employees. In the last eight years more than 100.000 girls learned about the power of IT with Apps and Girls.

Thez focus on girls and young women from underprivileged backgrounds to reduce the gender gap in IT and empower more change makers in Tanzania and across Africa.

We talk about:

  • Her story on how she managed to build Apps and Girls, starting with voluntary teaching sessions in her living room up until now with 11 full time employees and some voluntaries in almost 200 schools in Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Best practice example of one of her students: coding against harassment
  • How it is still not easy to get funding, but how they do it anyway.
  • What Europe could learn from Africa Tecwise.
  • How coding is a super power.

Carolyn`s Utopia:
Apps and Girls becoming an Pan-African organization. Offering girls the technology to create different solutions and to have a positive impact on their communities. I see female developed big start-ups creating a better world everywhere because technology is an enabler. You need it in health, in economy in everything.





Carlos Zorrilla on how to say NO to mining in the cloud forest of Intag

Episode #14

Since almost 30 years the people of Intag are successfully fighting a huge open pit copper mine in the tropical Andean mountains in northern Ecuador. It´s one of the most biodivers places left on earth, there live more species per hectare than in the Amazon.

But underneath it lies copper and some gold, worth millions and billions of dollar. Different transnational mining companies and also the state of Ecuador are trying to get it out. Exploration phase is now almost completed. Next step would be a huge and toxic hole in the rainforest. Meanwhile the hunger for copper is growing with the global shift to renewable energy.

Last hope now: Nature Rights. The people of Intag are suing their own government. Ecuador is the first and so far only country in the world where nature has rights as a legal subject on a constitutional level. That sounds a bit abstract, but is super fascinating. Some say it is as revolutionary as the end of slavery or women´s right to vote.

Carlos Zorrilla has been a leader in the resistance of Intag since the 90. He tells us what methods have helped to drive out two transnational mining companies and put another one on hold. Where his energy and hope come from and what to do with politicians you don´t like.

His Utopia: That people find another definition of wealth and a good life. For Carlos it´s not about money and cars but about harmony, with neighbors and with nature.

What you can do to support his Utopia: Ask yourself what a good life means to you and how much things and money you need for it.


ORGANISATIONS working on the case:

Host: @elisabeth_weydt
Executive producers: @_charlotte.horn and @christinafeemoebus
Music: Robert Pilgram http://robertpilgram.com/
Studio Sound: @seike_sound

recent articles in English:

Under Rich Earth
Javier con I, Intag

Radio Feature
German Public Radio


Helena Gualinga from the Amazon on making people understand

Episode #13

The people of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon are protecting their territory in a very special way. They call it Kawsak Sacha, the living forest. It grows on land under which there is a lot of oil, like in many parts of The Amazon.

Helena Gualinga is one of them. She is 20 years old and her way of fighting consists of photo shoots for lifestyle magazines, of traveling to international climate conferences and of dancing with her friends and family at traditional ceremonies. About 75.000 people watch her doing this on her Instagram channel. I had the honor of talking and dancing with her.

Kawsak Sacha, the living forest, means the forest is considered a living being and humans are just a part of this living organism. But a crucial one. Animals, plants and even spirits live in community with each other. To protect and nourish this community the people of Sarayaku developed a sophisticated system of values, rituals and responsibilities. With medicinal plants, small scale farming, with drones, maps, excel sheets and with a frontier planted out of flower trees.

Helena tells us what challenges she faces when trying to explain this concept to the outer world and what role the women played in a land mark court ruling against the state of Ecuador and an oil company.

Her Utopia: That oil will not be exploited anymore anywhere

What you can do to support it, she says: Tell their stories. We need more people watching. That‘s something that they are scared of: People watching what they are doing.


Host: @elisabeth_weydt
Executive producers: @_charlotte.horn and @christinafeemoebus
Music: Robert Pilgram http://robertpilgram.com/
Studio Sound: @seike_sound

*On Sarayaku and Kawsak Sacha:
Kawsak Sacha – Selva Viviente – Living Forest
Back to nature: the story of one family’s retreat into the Amazon forest to escape Covid | Environment | The Guardian

*On Nature Rights + Indigenous People
Ecuador Court Gives Indigenous Groups a Boost in Mining and Drilling Disputes – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Challenges and Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples’ Sustainability | DISD

*Climate and Biodiversity
IPCC report: ‘now or never’ if world is to stave off climate disaster | Climate crisis | The Guardian
2021: when the link between the climate and biodiversity crises became clear | Max Benato | The Guardian


Architect Angelika Hinterbrandner on alternative building, housing and thinking

Episode #12

The problem we tackle in the first episode of our second season is huge and it is everywhere:


It is the most widely used substance on the planet after water! And it obviously works: The Pantheon in Italy was built out of Roman concrete almost 2000 years ago and still standing.

But it’s destroying nature big times: Eight percent of all carbon dioxide in the world comes from producing concrete. That’s more than double than those from flying or shipping.

To produce it you need a lot of energy and a lot of sand. So much that we are running out of sand on this planet. And the water! And the people driven away form their land to mine cement, and all the ugly buildings and deadly walls and boarders built out of it, and, and, and. BUT we focus on the solutions and Utopias here. And we have indeed found quite some:

*alternative building materials like clay, wood, bamboo

  • reusing building materials
  • recycling concrete
  • producing concrete with a carbon capture and storage method
  • alternative housing concepts where people share space, tasks and ressources

Host: @elisabeth_weydt
Executive producers: @_charlotte.horn and @christinafeemoebus
Music: Robert Pilgram http://robertpilgram.com/


Recycling Stones:
Circular Construction Lab:
Architects for future
Studio Almeria ETH Zürich
Copenhagen wants to get climate neutral by 2025, also with alternative building

On Clay:
On reusing building materials:


A Human Rights Lawyer and a Psychologist on how to stay hopeful / Ayotzinapa II

Episode #11

We’ll visit the forensic institute of Guerrero to look for a missing son, we see if Padre Fili can establish a side hustle with a Mezcal brewer for his human rights organization Centro Minerva Bello. We learn about the connection of the violence in Guerrero to drug trafficking in the US and about the connection of illegally exported weapons from Germany to the missing 43. And Padre Fili will reveal his secret: how to talk to Narcos.

Along the way we will talk to Guadeloupe the psychologist and Hegel the human rights lawyer in Fili’s team.

Guadeloupe says: I love working with kids because kids are still shape-able, they are so innocent. All they give to you in their being is pure, no filter. Adults often have their way of living and their world view. They don’t want to change much she says even though they are suffering. With kids it’s easier to help them have a better live.

Hegel says: Of course I cannot solve the problem of the violence here. It’s way to huge. I don’t have the power to do anything close to solving the problem. The only thing I can do is defending human rights for the people I work with. This is better than to stay silent and become complicit. And who knows one day I will become a victim of the violence here or somebody from my family and then I hope somebody is doing the same for me.

And you? What do you say? Tell us! We are really curious: radio.utopistan@posteo.de or @radio_utopistan

Executive producers: @_charlotte.horn and @christinafeemoebus
Host: @elisabeth_weydt
Music: Robert Pilgram http://robertpilgram.com/
Illustration: Christine Anas https://cargocollective.com/christineanas





Padre Fili on drugs, violence and justice in Mexico / Ayotzinapa Part I

Episode #10

We are in the field again for this episode: In the drug strongholds of Mexico, the violence is unimaginable and the justice system overwhelmed or even involved. Less than two percent of crimes are solved. Padre Fili has gone to one of the hot-spots there to spread some peace, joy and vanilla cream cake. He set up camp in Ayotzinapa, where 43 students disappeared seven years ago. They were on their way to a demonstration, their buses were stopped and shot at by the police. Illegally supplied weapons from Germany were used.

Fili’s mission: to create dialogues between everybody involved: the Narcos, the police, politicians, students and victims. “To talk to the wolves, that’s my job”, he says. He has seen the Netflix series about the Narcos and they made him laugh he says. Spending a week with him in Guerrero made me laugh many times even though all I felt like was crying and hating all humankind. So much cruelty.

Fili’s Utopia: a world without suffering. Especially for the most vulnerable: the children and the poor, the elderly, the sick. That they will always have someone who cares for them, for their lives.

Music: Robert Pilgram http://robertpilgram.com/
Illustration: Christine Anas https://cargocollective.com/christineanas
Proofreading: Gavin Steingo @gstarrrrr
Host: www.elisabethweydt.de




Snorkeling for plastic in Mexico and talking to science in Germany

Episode #9

We know there is way too much plastic in our world. And we produce and use more and more every day. It’s destroying ecosystems in the ocean and on land, our basis for life.

In the Mexican Caribbean Antonio and Alberto play Don Quichotte every Sunday morning at 7am to fight against the windmills of plastic on our planet. They pick up the trash that came with the ocean or with careless visitors. On different beaches along the Riviera Maya south of Cancun or in the waves off the coast. They are part of the initiative @snorkeling4trash.

Their Utopia: To create a culture where more and more people use less and less plastic and take care of the rubbish they produce.

In a German laboratory an on research vessels and boats around the world Mark Lenz from Geomar is doing research on plastic and ocean ecosystems.
He says, beach cleanups are nice initiatives to make people aware of the problem. The solution he sees on a more structural level: better recycling systems, more taxes on plastic production.

His Utopia: A world that is more balanced between the interests of humans and aspects of ocean conservation, sustainable use of resources and protecting the climate.


Musicians from around the world on their very own Utopias

Episode #8

Happy New Year! What is your Utopia? For the very first episode of the new year we asked musicians from around the world to answer us this very question – not with words but with music. Because music sometimes is the only language left. It can articulate feelings, complexity and even politics in a way language will never be able to do. We got some musical answers from the Altai mountains in Russia, from the capital of DR Congo, from Spanish Berlin and Arabic Berlin. From the green hills of England, the streets of Moscow and the Caribbean.

Some musicians also sent some words. One who also has a degree in physics for example explains how your body resonates to music and how this is connected to the soul. Another musician is calling for cooperation in a world of global inequalities. And then there are some butterflies.

Check them out and tell us which musical Utopia resonate most with you? And why?


Exit Part II: Fabian Wichmann on how to fight right wing extremism and racism

Episode #7 Part 2

Exit Part I is about stories, Exit Part II about facts and strategies.

Fabian Wichmann grew up with Nazis in his schoolyard. Today he is working for Exit, an organization that helps people get out of extremist circles. His Utopia: To see that people can change. That is the biggest narrative in a democracy, he says. People can come back into society.

Fabian gives some hands on strategies of what to do about extremism and racism within your neighborhood or family. He is telling the story of the first involuntary charity march where Nazis marched against Nazis. It went viral and was copied in Sweden and the US for example.

We talk about what media could do and why there are so many stories about the perpetrators and just really few stories about the victims of terror attacks.