Local news translated – March 24, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, March 24, 2023

Large-scale, nationwide transportation sector strike planned for Mar. 27

Trade unions have announced plans for a large-scale daylong warning strike on Monday, Mar. 27, which will impact public transportation at all levels across Germany, including local and long distance trains, buses, and airports.

Baden-Württemberg – Large warning strike brings traffic to a standstill on Monday

Commuters and travelers will have to prepare for far-reaching restrictions in Baden-Württemberg next Monday. With a large-scale nationwide warning strike, the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) and Verdi want to paralyze large parts of public transport. As the two unions announced on Thursday, long-distance, regional and local transport, airports and freeway services are among those affected.  In B-W, the unions expect that much of the local and long-distance rail, road, air and water transport will come to a standstill. Local public transport in Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Freiburg, Constance, Mannheim, Esslingen, Ulm and Heilbronn will be affected. The long-distance and regional trains as well as the suburban trains of Deutsche Bahn and other railroad companies are also not expected to run. This alone is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of people in B-W.  “We organize on Monday the maximum pressure on the employers”.  The unions have also called for further work stoppages at the Water and Shipping Administration and at Stuttgart Airport. At the airport in the state capital, both public service employees, those in ground handling services and security personnel are to strike, according to the statement. According to an airport spokeswoman, it is still being examined whether regular flight operations can take place at all under these circumstances. What consequences the strike might have for the Autobahn company was not yet clear at first.  “The all-day strike action is generally scheduled to begin at midnight on the night of March 26-27 and then end at midnight. With the actions, Verdi is increasing the pressure for the third round of negotiations with the federal and local governments, which begin on Monday. Together with the civil servants’ association dbb, the union is demanding 10.5 percent and at least 500 euros more in wages. The agreement is to run for twelve months. The employers presented an offer at the end of February. Among other things, it includes a total pay increase of five percent in two steps and one-time payments totaling 2,500 euros.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Mar 24)

Wilhelma (Zoo/Botanical garden) in S-Bad Cannstatt comes into bloom – Magnolias unfold their splendor

The warming sun of spring has awakened the blossoms. While in the Kurpark near the June Fountain the star magnolia, donated by the Bürgerverein Bad Cannstatt in 2010, already opened its first blossoms last week, the time has now come at Wilhelma. Thousands of palm-sized blossoms are transforming the elongated oval of the Moorish Garden into a pink and white sea of color, attracting numerous visitors to Wilhelma. In the Moorish Garden, 80 magnolia trees are in bloom. With their gnarled branches and fragrant blossoms, they form a charming optical contrast to the dark green cones of the yews and the blue-green oriental-ornamental Moorish turrets.

“The magnolia blossom is the first main attraction of the year in the outdoor area,” explains Katja Siegmann, head of the park maintenance department. The magnolias have a long history at Wilhelma: they go back to King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. He had ordered them in 1850 for his newly built refuge. The exotic plants are at home in East Asia, North and Central America. “We still have nine trees that are over 170 years old,” Siegmann says, “which is quite unusual.” Yet magnolias are originally even older – more than 100 million years old. They are the oldest flowering plants on earth. This is easy to understand when you look at the trees in Wilhelma with their spreading, gnarled branches that reach down to the ground.  Incidentally, of the 335 magnolia species, half are threatened with extinction in the world due to habitat loss, according to Siegmann. Wilhelma has been supporting the nature conservation organization Jocotoco since 2019. It searches for rare specimens in the Andean forests of Ecuador and buys up the pieces of forest where they are found in order to protect them. The reforestation with magnolia seedlings is also promoted with the so-called species protection euro.

The magnolias at Wilhelma will now bloom for another three to four weeks, until mid-April, if no frost intervenes. Then the petals would quickly fall to the ground. At the moment it doesn’t look like it will be cold. Until then, all 27 species will be in their flowering glory at the same time. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Mar 24)

Majority of Germans in favor of abolishing the time change

A large majority of Germans are in favor of abolishing the time change, according to a recent survey. In a representative opinion poll conducted by the research institute Yougov, 75 percent of those surveyed were in favor of putting an end to the double clock turning. According to the survey, only 18 percent want to diligently continue to set the clocks forward and back. On Sunday (March 26), as in most European countries, clocks will be set forward from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. to daylight saving time.

The Germans are also most clearly in favor of abolition compared with six other European countries. Majorities in favor of ending the time changeover also exist in Sweden (58 percent), Denmark (56 percent) and France (49 percent), according to Yougov data. Italians (56 percent), Spaniards (46 percent) and Britons (45 percent) are more likely to want to continue turning the hands.

Should the time change actually be abolished again at some point, Germans would prefer to keep daylight saving time and do without winter time, according to survey data. Just under half (48 percent) favor this option, while 37 percent would prefer winter time. However, the double changeover of clocks is still prescribed by law and the PTB (physical and technical federal administration) in Braunschweig is responsible for displaying and disseminating it. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Mar 24)

Earth Hour in Böblingen – Lights off for more climate protection

With Earth Hour, people, cities and companies around the world are calling for more commitment to climate protection and nature. This Saturday, March 25, at 8:30 p.m., they will turn off the lights for one hour to send a strong signal.

Böblingen is again following the call of WWF Germany and participating in the “Earth Hour”. For this purpose, the lighting in the Wandelhalle as well as the illuminated rings in Bahnhofsstraße will be switched off on Saturday – as is the case with more famous buildings such as the Brandenburg Gate, Big Ben in London or the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro.

Mayor Stefan Belz: “After a year of devastating extreme weather events, an energy crisis and changing political priorities, Earth Hour 2023 is an important moment to show our support for ambitious climate protection.” Citizens can also join in by signing up at www.wwf.de/earth-hour.  (BB.heute.de, Mar 24)

Downtown Boeblingen: No more passing through Wilhelmstraße

From this Friday on until 2025, the passage through the Wilhelmstraße is over. The reason for this is the construction of the so-called boarding house, an accommodation facility with 71 apartments at the corner of Bahnhofstraße and Wilhelmstraße. The builder, according to the city administration, needs the area on Wilhelmstraße for his construction crews.  The closure From Friday, March 24, until probably the end of 2025, Wilhelmstraße will be fully closed to motor traffic between the buildings Wilhelmstraße 28 and Bahnhofstraße 27. This means that it will no longer be possible to drive through from Olgastrasse to Karlstrasse and vice versa; only cyclists and pedestrians will be able to get through.  People living in the eastern Wilhelmstraße have to drive via Wolfgang-Brumme-Allee and Uhlandstraße. Those who live in the western Wilhelmstraße must take Talstraße and Karlstraße, where parking is still possible in isolated cases. If you want to drive to the doctors, stores or businesses in this area, the city administration recommends that you use one of the adjacent parking garages. This closure particularly affects the Mercaden: The shopping mall can no longer use its loading zone and must organize its goods receiving differently. In a press release, the city administration has asked for understanding for this traffic restriction. The difficulties: The boarding house is the second major construction site in Wilhelmstraße. Due to the construction of the Inside BB next door, the western Wilhelmstraße is already quite narrowed. Pedestrians struggle along the sidewalk narrowed with signs, trash cans and parked bicycles. Drivers enter Wilhelmstraße, realize they are stuck, and hold up traffic by making U-turns. Sometimes wrong-way parkers block the narrow lane completely, sometimes cars and especially trucks can’t get past each other because they can’t agree on the respective right of way.  If you want to get to the eastern Wilhelmstraße, you have to take Uhlandsstraße, which used to be a pedestrian zone. Many passers-by do not notice the new pedestrian lanes and, as always, walk in the middle of the pavement where cars are supposed to drive.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Mar 24)