Netzkraft Movement

The Institute of Systemic Research in Xanten is the editorial office of the Netzkraft Movement

The sponsoring agency is the charitable association Spix e.V..

Previous work of the Netzkraft Movement

First of all, - from 1990 until 1995 - the Netzkraft Movement was the name of a research project at the Institute of Systemic Research. We were looking for people with the ability, i.e. the willingness and energy, to commit themselves beyond their private and professional interests to act for the public welfare and who would have the effect of 'multiplicators' which means they would be able to pass on their ideas to others. By analysing indices, journals, internet data and other sources we encountered many people who - apart from their own objectives - also had the energy to work effectively for political and social aims such as various aid projects for people in need, a peaceful world policy, protection of the environment, equal rights for women, or anti-racism.

The Netzkraft Movement aims to support these committed people to make their work even more efficient. Their power lies not only in their courage to influence their personal environment but also in their strength and persistence to stand up for long-term objectives. Because they are clearly acting beyond their personal interests, they are able to convince others and win them over to work for their objectives. Usually they are free to work in a company or a party without having to make allowances for their career. Their specialization, their long-term commitment in a small field of action, however, are strength and weakness at the same time. It does make them recognized experts in their respective field of action and give their work a clear profile, but it also leads to a loss of energy in distinguishing themselves from others, and to a fragmentation of active persons and groups.

The Netzkraft Movement starts from the assumption that the urgent problems and threats to peace, the environment and human rights do not exist independently of each other, but are closely connected and frequently interdependent. Therefore, approaches to solutions must form a common integrated concept, even if the individuals or groups involved have to focus on individual issues. To overcome these problems we need to realize that the different forms of social or political commitment are equally important and are parts of a common objective. There are, therefore, good reasons for mutual support and uniting forces, in short: for networking.

The women's, peace and environmental movements in the West and the citizens initiatives in the East during the years 1960-90 have shown that even "ordinary people" are able to bring about changes as long as they agree on a common goal and stand up for it for a long time. Can they also combine their power to change the prevailing politics which are prevailing in matters affecting the survival of our globe? The Netzkraft Movement should find appropriate ways.

From 1990 until 1995, we analyzed literature, conducted interviews and sought advice in expert meetings, through correspondence and in personal discussions. We learned that networking is not an organizational problem: we need neither another umbrella association, nor a new organization. There are already enough good ones for all kinds of issues. Networking today is no longer a problem of the distribution of information either: all the information you could wish for is currently accessible through specialized magazines, newsletters, television or the internet; we are more likely to be in danger of 'drowning in ' or losing courage due to the excess of important information. After all, networking does not grow by an increasing number of demonstrations, happenings and appointments: 'committed multiplicators' are already working up to the limits of their capacity. What they need is rather a network to ease their burden and to support their work.

Most of the persons we interviewed agreed to participate in a network on two conditions, i.e. to communicate, to collaborate and maybe co-operate with other active people:

1. The network is decentralized and the participants are autonomous

Instead of creating a new organization or a central decision-making body, the participants in the network remain autonomous, they act as independently as they did before. They themselves decide spontaneously and, according to their particular requirements, when and to what extent they look for partners for exchange and possible cooperation through the network. The only thing they have to know is who the other net participants are.

2. The net participants have common objectives (basic consensus)

The network rests upon a basic consensus of active people, pursuing very different programmes and objectives in their respective work. Therefore, only overlapping basic demands are appropriate as ones on which to unite. But they have to be so concrete and binding that clear socio-political decisions are demanded. And they must have an effect going beyond the questions of everyday politics, which means they must have a long-term perspective. The basic consensus was developed with the objective of creating unifying common contents for the net participants.

Staff and financing of the Netzkraft Movement

Jo Becker

Mrs. Gertrud Sivalingam and Mr. Jo Becker work for the Netzkraft Movement at the Institute: editing the directory of the net participants and answering letters. Both of them serve in an honorary capacity. A secretary is available for an hour or two at a time.

Jo Becker, Dr. med., born in 1956, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, grew up in the Rhineland. He was influenced by long stays in Asia, by working in the peace movement and by his counselling and therapeutic work with families, with work teams and in psychosocial establishments. After many years of clinical work as Head of Department in the Rhineland Bedburg-Hau Clinics, he took over the management of Spix, which organises aid for the mentally ill. He is married with three children.

Gertrud Sivalingam

>Mrs. Gertrud Sivalingam, born in 1962, is a religious and social education teacher. She has worked both paid and unpaid in various institutions with disadvantaged groups (asylum-seekers, foreign children, children and young people who are environmentally disadvantaged, welfare beneficiaries). She is guided by the responsibility which she feels follows from her Christian belief. Commitment and concrete action for people and the creation derive from this responsibility. She works as pastoral advisor in a Catholic parish in Wesel and lives in Xanten together with her two daughters.

All material expenses of the Netzkraft Movement - such as rent, equipment, postage etc. - are financed from income gained by the Institute from training in psychotherapy. The fact that there are no research commissions or other contributions from outside persons means that the Institute is indeed independent, but also that its ability to work for the Netzkraft Movement, is limited:

Telephone inquiries cannot be answered at all, written inquiries cannot be answered immediately.

But don't let this discourage you! Networking thrives on the diversity of ideas and contacts - any information about your work, any proposals or criticisms are welcome!

The Institute of systemic research

Spix e.V. has been running the Institute for Systemic Research in Xanten since 1989. Therapists are trained in systemic psychotherapy, clients are offered systemic advice, and supervision at psycho-social institutions is offered in the Rhineland free of charge.

After termination of the phase of research (from 1990 until 1995), the Netzkraft Movement became a long-term project of the Institute: for people and groups who engage themselves in the community.

Other institutions and services of the Spix e.V. Association

Spix e.V. is a non-profit making charity whose aim is to help people in the county of Wesel (in the Lower Rhine area in Germany) who have mental problems, and to encourage the work of people outside this area who are engaged in community work.

Within the county of Wesel, Spix e.V. offers assistance to people with emotional problems and to their families while they remain in their normal surroundings. This is achieved through one-to-one consultation, discussion groups, home visits, leisure activities, the running of meeting places, residential care and work opportunities for the mentally ill.

The services of Spix e.V. include: