The useful village
April 14, 2017 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Sumte: Und dann kam es anders
Sieben Flüchtlinge auf jeden Bewohner, das hatte Sumte im Winter 2015 berühmt gemacht, im Winter nach dem Willkommenssommer. Al-Dschasira und die New York Times schickten Reporter, TV-Sender aus China und Russland kamen; die ganze Welt schaute zu, wie in diesem kleinen niedersächsischen Dorf versucht wurde, die Flüchtlingskrise zu organisieren. Auch die ZEIT berichtete (Nr. 46/15).

Und nun, ein knappes halbes Jahr später, scheint es, als sei das Sumte-Experiment wirklich gelungen: Eine Frau jätet Unkraut in ihrem Gemüsegarten, ein Mann führt seine Pferde von der Koppel in den Stall. Sie grüßt, moin, er grüßt, nickt mit dem Kopf, moin, die Pferdehufe klackern über den Asphalt. Sumte, das ist wie Ferien auf dem Bauernhof.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:37 AM on April 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

In the winter of 2015, the winter after the 'Welcome Summer', Sumte became famous for having seven refugees for each resident. Al Jazeera and the New York Times sent reporters, television broadcasters from China and Russia came; the whole world watched as this little village in Lower Saxony attempted to create some order in the refugee crisis. Die Zeit also reported on it (Issue 46/15).

And now, just half a year later, it appears that the Sumte Experiment has indeed succeeded: A woman weeds her vegetable garden, a man leads his horse from the paddock into a stall. She greets him, mornin', he greets her, nodding his head, mornin', the horse hooves clip-clopping on the asphalt. Sumte is like a vacation on a farm.
posted by jedicus at 11:04 AM on April 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Now he stops his work to tell me that what the area really needs—what no journalist will dare report on—is jobs: not the sixty or seventy that the refugee camp provided, but hundreds. It’s sad that the camp closure will mean the loss of work, he says, but where was the public outcry when Apontas moved away? “It has nothing to do with refugees,” he says. “We need jobs.”

I wonder, aside from things like the infrastructure problems, how things might have gone if they went through all this not just as an exercise in finding a place to house all these people, but in figuring out what a community of 900 people should look like, period. How a town should exist today, tomorrow, a hundred years from now, if it isn't expected to be subject to the whims of the hiring patterns of international corporations. It seems like the refugee problem is highlighting this--racism is part of it, but people worry about adding new labor to the pool because there's a pervasive feeling that "jobs" are both necessary to life and also a limited resource that we are close to exhausting. What's wrong with how we currently are doing things that makes an infusion of labor a burden instead of a blessing?
posted by Sequence at 11:38 AM on April 14, 2017 [28 favorites]

Artificial scarcity, surplus wealth hording, monopoly effects--basically capitalism, ignorance about what money even is, and outdated ideas about purity.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:18 PM on April 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

The thing I find interesting is that they need jobs, and they want to build that bridge. Could building that bridge not be a job?

Well, no, of course not, because the market in its infinite wisdom doesn't allow this exchange of labour to take place. Someone has to pay for these workers, so someone has to pay for the bridge, and even though everyone in town wants the bridge they have to raise the money first to ensure there's enough before they can them pay themselves to build the bridge.

(I am simplifying, of course; any internet artist knows that 'everyone wants it but no-one's going to pay anything for it' is the norm.)
posted by Merus at 6:21 AM on April 15, 2017

To me the saddest part is that there sits a nicely finished refugee center & they're closing it down because the EU can't get its shit together about how to handle the refugee crisis, & there are so many people who desperately need the safety of a place like that, all the ambivalence of the locals aside.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

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