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Street life in Berlin

I’ve just walked into my Berlin apartment after an after-the-conference dinner with some of my favorite people from SIIA. The restaurant happened to be 10 minutes’ walk from the apartment (which is a lot less expensive than a hotel), so everyone else cabbed back to the Marriot and I got to see a bit of Berlin night life. It’s a wonderful city for outdoor life; there were children playing with horse chestnuts and berries and a basin of water on the sidewalk this afternoon, and I tried to remember when I last saw children playing outdoors with natural things in the U.S. Here, you see lots of children outside, eating ice cream with their mothers after school, sitting at cafes with their parents, and on bikes. As I walked back at the end of the conference, I saw a woman I’m going to think of when things are overwhelming. She had a toddler sleeping across the handlebars of her bike and a tiny tricycle and a bag of groceries on the back, and held a bunch of yellow and orange gladioli in one hand while she steered with the other. She looked back occasionally to check on a small girl, perhaps five or six, cycling along behind her, and seemed to be utterly at ease as she negotiated her way along the pavement, amidst the people on foot, and crossing the side streets, too. I’m going to remember her and try to emulate her calm confidence.

There’s a ton to say about the conference, which I found exhilarating and even more helpful in terms of future strategy than I expected. I’ll write my overview tomorrow, before leaving for London, thought of course not comprehensively the way some bloggers would. So I’m hoping that we captured, and can get permission to post, the closing remarks by Arnoud de Kemp, who did a wonderful overview of the conference and made some amusing observations about American habits and terminology. The only reason I may have this is that I recorded – with permission and at their request – the previous panel on copyright, and we happened to leave the recorder on stage and running when Arnoud spoke. I’m sure he would include “exceeded my expectations” among the horrible Americanisms one hears at conferences, so I will be sure to avoid the phrase or anything like it in writing about GIIS.

If all goes well, we’ll have a couple of podcasts from the conference, too.

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