Last December I wrote the post 5 Coolest Leipzig Blogs. This was before Ana Beatriz Ribeiro started her extremely cool Leipzig Glocal site last March. Also known as LeipGlo, Ana’s site has very quickly become one of the most popular webzines based in Leipzig. If I wrote the ‘5 Coolest’ post again today LeipGlo would definitely be included.
Back in June, Ana featured a Q&A with me on LeipGlo. So recently I got in touch with her to return the favour. Ana heads up the diverse team of contributors producing regular daily and weekly content for LeipGlo. Read what she had to say below and click on the images above.
Q: Ana, tell us about yourself? How did you end up in Leipzig?
A: I’m originally from Brazil, lived in the U.S. where I studied and worked as a journalist, and been in Europe for five years to further my studies, going into the social sciences. In 2012, my PhD project dealing with development studies and international relations was accepted at the University of Leipzig, and I moved to this city without expecting to fall in love with my surroundings…
Q: What were your initial experiences like living here?
A: I knew little about the city when I moved here, and only knew a few colleagues from my program and people I’d met while studying in Wroclaw, Poland, two of which coincidentally moved here at the same time I did, so we shared an apartment in Reudnitz for a while. Soon I got restless and wanted to expand my circle of acquaintances, so I started going to Internations meetings, through which I ended up meeting a few people I became and stayed good friends with. However, a long-distance relationship and field work I had to do for my PhD abroad had me leaving Leipzig too often for me to put in any roots or considerably nourish my social life locally. When those two things ended, that’s when I really started getting to know the city and seeing myself staying here for a while.
Q: What inspired you to start LeipGlo?
A: The idea for LeipGlo started one February morning upon waking up, after I’d written my first poem in German and then done a random Google search for my old poetry and stumbled upon a forgotten backup version of the poetry blog I used to run in the U.S. On impulse, I put out a status update on Facebook saying I’d be starting my own blog featuring poetry and musings but didn’t want it to be all my own stuff, so was looking for creative contributions from other people who might be interested. A few people did start sending their own stuff and friends noticed what I was doing and pointed out to me that this may have the possibility of becoming something bigger, with the right efforts in social media and by getting people to write more regularly about topics of interest to international people in the Leipzig area or those wanting to come to Leipzig. There was simply a demand for more information being available in English, and for getting more diverse voices represented here. And so our columns on various topics, events and movie listings [Ed: including ones in English or English subtitles] evolved more or less organically, and six of us are now actively and regularly working on further developing the project in terms of content, layout, promotion and reach.
Q: Who is your target audience?
A: We try to reach international people who have just arrived in Leipzig and because they are new here and might not speak enough German, do not have access to information that would make them feel more comfortable and welcome in Leipzig – information that could probably keep them in the know about some important topics, and also having fun and having the possibility of meeting interesting people and learning exciting new things, so they can fall in love with the city as we did and want to stay and help make it a more cosmopolitan and vibrant place. We also try to reach international people who have been living here for a while or are German or from Leipzig and still like to read and write in English, just enjoy the content we have to offer and also like to find out about things going on in the city they might not have known otherwise, as well as different perspectives on various topics.
Q: If LeipGlo went viral and crazy popular with 10,000 visitors a day how would it change? Would you put advertisements on the site?
A: We might be able to live off of it, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, considering that up until now it has been a full-time job without pay! But while we are currently welcoming advertising proposals, we want to make sure that any sponsored content is relevant for the site and is not invasive for our readers.
Q: Can a middle-aged computer programmer nerd write for LeipGlo?
A: Yes. We try to include a diversity of voices, on various topics, as I’ve touched on before. In fact, we would very much like to feature an IT column, especially if it’d involve tips for laypeople who’d like to get started with this very useful skill. Know of anyone who might be interested in writing such a column?? 😉
Q: Is Leipzig (a) the coolest boomtown in Germany, (b) past its peak, or (c) neither?
A: Maybe I would actually say all of the above! As our column from December 9th states, Leipzig has now been dubbed Germany’s fastest-growing city – so it is a boom town. And probably the coolest, as well – look at all the underground parties and concerts, inspiring urban art, and the amazing solidarity and sense of sharing of people – though I haven’t lived in other German cities to be able to appropriately compare. However, I’m not sure what its peak could be, and Leipzig actually used to have a much larger population density, as the same article points out… but I’d say that its peak of contemporary cosmopolitanism has definitely not been reached, that there’s a lot of potential stemming from international interest in the city and a large influx of international students and other migrants bringing in their own stories. Skills and creativity contribute to our society.
Q: It’s winter, what are your favorite things to do?
A: House parties, for sure!
Q: I’m pissed-off the low-cost of living in Leipzig is being ruined by property speculators. What do you think?
A: Move to Leipzig East! But don’t tell a lot of people how cool it’s becoming…
Q: Best place for a second date?
A: LoveLy, our dating columnist often recommends taking someone on a second date to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, for a picnic during the day, for a romantic walk at night, or for an excuse to try to keep each other warm at winter time…
Q: How have recent developments (e.g. Paris attacks) changed attitudes in Leipzig towards refugees?
A: People I know are actually worried that the attacks will make right-wing people even more hostile towards these migrants, so I feel they are coming together even more to try to dispel misconceptions and help make sure the refugees coming in feel safe, comfortable and as welcome as possible in the city; hopefully this tide of goodwill and solidarity wins out. But it’s important to remember that Pegida and Legida were around way before the Paris attacks happened, protesting every Monday for the past year in Leipzig, and becoming progressively more violent and segmented towards the far right, from what I hear.
Q: Leipzig or Berlin?
A: Leipzig! You can bike everywhere here, and it doesn’t take an hour to get to one’s favorite bars or to that super cool friend’s party…
* * *
Many thanks to Ana and her team. Hopefully this will be the start of a series of similar posts about interesting people and projects in Leipzig – of which there’s no shortage.