Anna-Ida Almus is behind the podcast "Mission white flamingo". She is doing a voluntary social year (FSJ) at the Münsterland Cultural Office and has developed and implemented the podcast as her own project. Her goal: to help people discover or rediscover cultural institutions, places and projects in their own region. To do this, she not only acquired the equipment and know-how to produce a podcast, but also broadened her own horizons.
In the interview at the start of the first episode, she tells us more about the podcast project, how she came up with the idea, what challenges she faced and what impressed her most:
Anna-Ida, you have now launched your own project and are producing a culture podcast. How did you come up with this idea?
During an FSJ in culture, you are supposed to develop an independent project. I had that in the back of my mind the whole time, so to speak, and observed what tasks the cultural office has and how you can combine that with the project. One of my tasks is to be present at seminars of the further education series Kulturakademie Münsterland and to look after the participants. Last year there was the event "Social Media Update", which I supervised with Andre Sebastian, who organises the academy and heads our cultural office. When the speaker presented individual social media platforms, the topic of podcasts also came up. The podcast stands out because you can listen to it flexibly anytime and anywhere and you, as the maker, give the listener special insights into your field of work. Andre thought it was a great idea for the cultural office to share the knowledge you get there. And since I like to do research myself, but above all I like to talk a lot, we had the idea at the same time that a podcast would be a great independent project. I then continued to philosophise about it and thought about what would actually be interesting for outsiders to the Kulturbüro. Would it be interesting to do the podcast from my point of view as an FSJ and describe my everyday life? Or would it be more interesting to introduce the Kulturbüro itself? Or the Münsterland cultural region in which we are active?
And what did you finally decide on, what is the podcast about?
My podcast is about cultural institutions and projects in the countryside: I explore Münsterland and present its cultural places, which I know through my work at the Kulturbüro. My goal is for other people to discover or rediscover these "treasures" as well.
How exactly do you do that?
I go directly to the cultural places, look at them in peace and question the people behind the scenes. This aspect is particularly important to me and is also the most fun.
Why is it interesting for you to present cultural institutions in rural areas at all?
I think people often don't have the time or the leisure to get away from their familiar, usually centrally located cultural venues and actively search for new places - especially if it involves a little trip around the world to rural areas. I got to know these places during my FSJ, and I hadn't had them on my private radar before. And I just want to pass that on with the podcast.
The podcast is your FSJ project, as you said. But you are also supported by an additional funding programme, right?
That's right, I also receive funding within the framework of the programme "land.schafft - Kultur in ländlichen Räumen" ("land.creates - culture in rural areas") of the Federal Association for Cultural Education for Children and Youth. The aim of the programme is to support facilities in rural areas in a meaningful way and, above all, to make them accessible. Many institutions are located off the beaten track and thus fall out of our field of vision. When we are on holiday, we have a completely different, wider field of vision and want to see everything. At home, we think we know everything and tend to overlook the unusual places. But a second look at our own surroundings and their cultural sites is doubly and triply worthwhile!
What is it like for you to work on your own project?
It's definitely a lot of fun, although it's more work than I would have thought. At the beginning, I had it in my head that I would do the podcast "just once". That's definitely not the case! You have to do a lot of research. I took part in a podcast seminar in Frankfurt am Main especially for this purpose. In addition to all the information, there is also a lot of technology involved, which was challenging for me as an absolute layman. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying it. I had a lot of time to practise because I wanted to start with the podcast at the beginning of the year. The recordings were supposed to start in March and the first episode was supposed to be released in April. However, that didn't work out because of Corona. I used the time to come up with a new concept, a "lockdown" alternative, so to speak. But this alternative was overtaken in no time and I was able to return to my original concept. Therefore, all in all, it was a big up and down. I learned a lot from it. Above all, to throw things overboard and not to hold on to anything too tightly.
It sounds like you've gone through exactly what most cultural workers have probably gone through. What are you most looking forward to now that it can finally start?
Getting in touch with people in person. Not always just writing emails, but actually visiting the houses. To put into practice what I have been thinking and pondering about for months. Until now it was a passive phase and now it's finally getting active!
Who absolutely has to listen to your podcast?
To put it bluntly: everyone! It's a podcast from Münsterland, but at the same time for Münsterland. For people who want to find out more about the region. For people who say they already know Münsterland inside out. There are so many little places that want to be explored.
Last but not least: Why is the podcast called "Mission White Flamingo"?
I can't remember exactly either. I sat down with my colleague Simone and philosophised about names. That's when the white flamingos from the Zwillbrocker Venn in Vreden came up in conversation. The birds have settled in a nature reserve in Münsterland, of all places, and don't get enough crustaceans there, which is why they are almost white. They are something very special here in the region - just like the cultural sites I would like to introduce in the podcast. We then combined my initial idea of adding a touch of action to the whole podcast with this: Done was the name "Mission White Flamingo".
The Mission White Flamingo to discover the special features of the cultural Münsterland! That answers all your questions. Is there anything else you would like to say in conclusion?
I am very happy that it can finally start. So, tune in, everyone! I'm very curious to see where the journey will take us or whether there will be any spontaneous events in between.
The interview was conducted by Anna-Ida-Almus and Simone Schiffer on 4 June 2020.
The Voluntary Social Year in Culture (FSJ Kultur) offers young people the opportunity to try out cultural work institutions, find orientation and develop personally and professionally. The Münsterland Cultural Office has been offering an FSJ in Culture for several years. Anna-Ida Almus chose it because it provides practical knowledge:
"After my Abi, I wanted to spend a year being active rather than passively just learning material by heart. So I did some research and came to the FSJ Kultur, where you can work in a profession for pocket money. Alongside the work, there are also seminar trips with other FSJs, where you can exchange ideas and learn about yourself. I applied to a variety of places around where I live, had a few interviews, and at the Kulturbüro, the content and the chemistry were right from the start.