After many years of planning, preparations, and fundraising, the interactive exhibition “Wow! Basic Income” finally had its public debut: The first module opened it’s lion’s mouth gate for the public at a conference in Switzerland, and at the German Unity Day parade in Hamburg, the project’s hometown.

A report by Anett Hahn and Rainer Ammermann

Finally, our first exhibition module has been completed and used for the first time. The module invites people to follow the path of a courageous life and to explore the idea of an unconditional basic income in a playful way.

Part 1: Dornach, Switzerland, World Conference at the Goetheanum

We, Rainer, Martin, Kristejna and Anett from the WOW! BAISC INCOME! project of the Hamburg Basic Income Network, went to the World Conference of Anthroposophists. Anthroposophists meet regularly at the Gotheanum in Dornach (Switzerland) to discuss the challenges and questions of our time. This seemed to us to be the right opportunity. Our idea: To give impetus to the debate on an unconditional basic income, to find supporters for our exhibition project and to engage in dialogue with people. This is exactly why we travelled to Dornach.

The exhibition module at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland
The exhibition module at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland

When we saw the Goetheanum, which is located 10 kilometres south of Basel, we realised what we had actually set out to do there. The architecture of the Goetheanum is remarkable. The sprawling concrete building filled us with awe. More than a thousand participants and volunteers had registered, and we were motivated to talk to as many as possible.

To present our vision, the team of the exhibition project WOW! BASIC INCOME! had a first exhibition module built. It is not an ordinary stand. To enter, visitors must first pass through a lion’s mouth, which is a curtain. As you pass through, a lion roars from the loudspeakers and you see the question “What makes you lionhearted?”, the slogan of our exhibition module.

We asked all visitors if they could imagine living in a world with an unconditional basic income. We rarely encountered arrogance or scepticism. On the contrary, many people were optimistic. Fishing for courage sayings, stimulating info-boxes on the wall and the slogan definitely aroused interest and provided inspiration.

Part 2: Hamburg, celebration of German Unity Day

German Unity Day is celebrated in a different federal state every year. This year it was Hamburg’s turn. Around the Binnenalster, a small lake in the city centre, political institutions and civil society initiatives were able to present themselves on 2 and 3 October on several music stages. Hundreds of thousands of people from Germany and abroad visited the city for the occasion. This was the best starting point for our first exhibition module, for which we had registered a space on Ballindamm, a central boulevard in Hamburg.

Children fishing words of courage printed on wooden fish from a pool at the Wow! Basic Income exhibition in Hamburg
Fishing words of courage in Hamburg

Over the two days, hundreds of children and adults took up the opportunity to test their courage by walking through a lion’s mouth and to fish for courage spells by duck-fishing. While the children were captivated by the fishing rods, their parents could pick up suggestions on the idea of an unconditional basic income through the texts of the module or through personal contact with activists of the Hamburg Basic Income Network. In this way, numerous signatories could be won for a new popular initiative for a Hamburg pilot project on basic income.

In this way, our exhibition module proved that it is possible to reach many people who do not attend lectures and discussions, and who are difficult to reach through our social media activities, by using playful and interactive offers with an eye-catching design in public places.

The first module of the Wow! Basic Income exhibition set up in Hamburg
Public debut in Hamburg