TRACES brings people of different backgrounds and perspectives together to speak with each other, respectfully and expectantly, in order to exchange experiences and opinions. In the process, old stereotypes and current ideological limits shift, making space for greater openness and new possibilities when we encounter one another. We tap the past for clues about what to avoid repeating in the future, as well as what worked well in the past that might serve us well now as we seek a better way forward towards a more peaceable world.
Spuren e.V. bringt Menschen verschiedener kultureller Herkunft und mit unterschiedlichen Anschauungen zusammen. Respektvoll und neugierig tauschen wir unsere Erfahrungen und Ansichten aus. Hierbei vertrauen wir darauf, dass sich alte Stereotypen und aktuelle ideologische Prägungen langsam verändern können – und sich dadurch Räume größerer Offenheit und neue Möglichkeiten im Umgang miteinander eröffnen. Wir spüren u.a. der Vergangenheit nach, um eine Ahnung davon zu bekommen, was wir zukünftig meiden sollten, aber auch um Impulse für Heute zu nutzen ... auf unserem Weg hin zu einer friedfertigeren Welt.
Per our motto, TRACES projects "bring history to life!" by creating compelling events, with informative and inspiring content. The biggest in 2020 will be our eight-month-long BUS-eum tour across America’s Heartland and beyond, concluding on Election Day. It consists of an exhibit, presentations and events.*
Per Spuren’s motto, our bi-cultural programs enable audiences a chance not only to “[re-]live history” but to “[re-]live [one’s own or others’] stories.” A word play, “Geschichte(n) leben” also means—roughly translated—we “bring history to life!” In this case, in Germanic culture, the phrase is an invitation both to experience history personally but also to find meaning in individual stories—including one’s own.**
In that spirit, we at TRACES and our sister organization in Germany, Spuren, offer the following stories as historical case studies, where the micro is a stand-in for the macro, where each individual’s own experiences are small pieces in a cosmic mosaic that, as a whole, reflect the collective human journey through time and space. By exploring history, we [re-]live what our ancestors experienced—and, by recording ours, at least in some modest way we might touch the lives of those who will follow us.
* All panels or media presented externally are accessible to everyone, gratis; access to the BUS-eum’s internal treasures do require the support of those who benefit from them in the form of a donation. An exhibit catalog and related titles are available in the bus for purchase; all proceeds subsidize the tour. To host the BUS in your community, contact:
** All participants in a BUS-eum tour have experiences of value to share with others—including staff, docents and volunteers. That said, all views or opinions expressed by such persons in or at the BUS are their own, not necessarily TRACES’ or Spuren’s.
USA tour-project summary
view previous BUS-eum
"tour" previous BUS-eum
BUS' floor plan
BUS-eum tour press release
BUS-eum tour poster
BUS-eum 2020 tour schedule
Heartland Home exhibit catalog
Historical Case Studies
topics with videos:
go to that web page
1) "Out of Hitler's Reach: The Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees"
- "Out of Hitler's Reach" (10 mins.)
- texts and photos
- related exhibit
2) "Camp Crystal City (Texas): Civilian Internment Camp"
- original US-government version (21 mins.)
- condensed version (10 mins.)
- "History in Five: FDR's Secret Enemy Exchange Program" (3 mins.)
- texts and photos
3) "German POWs in the Midwest"
- in-depth film (57 mins.)
- Camp Algona (Iowa)
- POW-built nativity scene
- texts and photos
If we don’t find effective ways within the next decade to manage the spectrum of crises now facing us, we won’t survive—mid-term certainly not intact as a society and, long-term, likely not viable as a species.
We can’t wait for supposed messiahs—of any political stripes—to appear to “rescue” us: We must shift into self-rescue mode and take direct, daily responsibility for the well-being of our families and ourselves.
Only by reclaiming power from those who we’ve allowed over time to usurp the public forum can we muster the means to make meaningful changes in our communities and, subsequently, in our world.
* This website is offered solely as historical documentation of Michael Luick-Thrams' 2016 US Senate campaign. Neither TRACES' or Spuren's board of directors nor any sponsors or underwriters of either organization's current programs endorse the executive director's past or current political activism, or the views espoused in this, his website from that campaign, the hosting and domain fees of which he continues to pay personally with his own funds, not those of either organization he leads.
TRACES of Green was an educational and service project that used the history of European settlement in the Upper Midwest’s Loess Hills as a context from which to project, explore and work towards more livable possible futures. It measured those scenarios against the instructive timeline of earlier experiences. Informed by lessons of the past, we boldly strove to face present crises as we attempted to build more humane, nature-sustaining lives, as individuals and as enduring communities. To succeed, we tried to tap deeper, more fulfilling values and craft new narratives through which to see ourselves and the world.
Rural Iowa Its Past and Some Proposals for Its Future
New York as an example of ecological history: