Vienna, Austria - We all know we have a housing crisis all across our country. Rents have skyrocketed; there are insufficient numbers of apartments and houses available; many people in our cities are unhoused; rent control is considered too radical; there are few protections against evictions. The American dream has long included home ownership and stable safe neighborhoods. But the dream has become a nightmare as racism and capitalism leave some without homes altogether, and have displaced so many more. Most discouraging, few people see any alternatives to the current system of how housing is allocated and paid for. But there is an alternative. Two members of Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) were in Vienna, Austria recently and saw how things could be different.
On Saturday, September 17, trade unions and other working class sections hit the streets across Austria protesting the government’s inefficiency in tackling the ongoing cost of living crisis. The protests called by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (OGB) saw the participation of various groups including the Party of Labor of Austria (PdA), Youth Front, Communist Youth of Austria (KJO), Communist Party of Austria (KPO), and Links, among others. Marches were held in cities in all federal States including Vienna, Eisenstadt, Bruck an der Mur, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Bregenz, Lower Austria, and Upper Austria. According to the organizers, over 30,000 people participated in the protests, with 20,000 people having marched in Vienna alone. The protesters called on the politicians to take concrete actions to tackle the current crisis.
Vorarlberg is a state of about 400,000 people lying at the western tip of Austria and bordering Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. The state government has a history of exploring and experimenting with a variety of participatory approaches to involving citizens more deeply in shaping public policy. While cost considerations proved an impediment to using many them over the long term, for over a decade now the use of Citizens’ Councils has been a regularly recurring part of the state’s governance. In 2005, Manfred Hellrigl, former director of what is now the Büro für Freiwilliges Engagement und Beteiligung (Office for Voluntary Engagement and Participation), attended a workshop with the organizational change consultant Jim Rough on Dynamic Facilitation (discussed below), where he learned about this powerful way of working with small groups.
By Kasia Anderson for Truth Dig - Austrian voters have sent a message that they are unwilling to allow their country to be swept up in the populist wave that has boosted far-right politicians to powerful positions in the U.S. and Europe. On Sunday, one such politician, 45-year-old Freedom Party presidential nominee Norbert Hofer, was defeated by independent challenger Alexander Van der Bellen in Austria’s national election. The 72-year-old Van der Bellen was backed by the country’s Green Party, of which he is a former leader. Now he will be Austria’s president. Bloomberg reported that Van der Bellen bested Hofer by 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent.
By Al Jazeera - Hundreds of mostly Syrian refugees have begun marching to the Austrian border after being prevented from boarding trains to Germany in the Hungarian capital Budapest. Authorities appeared to be allowing groups of refugees to make the 170km journey to the border crossing on Friday amid tense scenes across the country. Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from near the M1 and M7 motorways outside Budapest, said authorities appeared to be helping the refugees make the journey despite fears the road would be blocked. "There are hundreds of people who have marched something like 10km from the centre of Budapest from the rail station to here...they say they have no option but to do this. "It may sound far fetched but they're intent on reaching the border.