Collaboration as a driver for regional development: Learnings from the transnational COBRA project (I)

COBRA 38_by_Sebastian-Marggraf

Photos: Sebastian Marggraf

By Markus Kather and Tobias Sieblitz

What can we do if certain cities or regions are facing difficult socio-economic situations? What if for example skilled labour is missing, what if qualified and educated people are leaving – commonly known as the brain drain? Together with the city of Guben as well as transnational partners from Gubin (Poland), the region of Crete (Greece) and the Institute for Place Management at the Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), INPOLIS and Multiplicities undertook a project called COBRA in the Lausitz region, situated in the German state of Brandenburg, close to the Polish border. The project was funded by the state ministry of labour and the European Social Fund (ESF). The idea of the model project was all about collaboration and cooperation – the most important means to alleviate above described problems. But what exactly did we do? And what did we learn from the experience in the Lausitz? In a series of two blog entries, we present the most important findings. Here is part one:

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shortage of Skilled Labour in Germany: Does it really exist? (Part 3)


Photo Credit:

by Paul Köper, Tobias Sieblitz and Ares Kalandides

Are we really heading towards a major shortage of skilled labour? Is it the demographic change as we are often told? While more and more people retire, there are simply not enough young people to replace them. That´s what we said last time (Part 2). However,  this explanation should not be taken so lightly and without questioning. The last part of this blog series examines the issue with geographical differentiation.

The Federal Office of Statistics predicts a shortage of people in paid work up until 2060: “The part of the population that is able to earn one´s living will shrink dramatically. The number of 20 – 65 year olds (2013: 49 million) will decrease from 2020 on and it will, depending on the net immigration, be at 34 or 38 million (- 30% or – 23 %). The number of 20 – 64 year olds will decrease from 61 % in 2013 to about 51 or 52 % in 2060.” Continue reading

Posted in projects | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Shortage of Skilled Labour in Germany: Does it really exist? (Part 2)


Photo Credit:

by Paul Köper, Tobias Sieblitz and Ares Kalandides

In Part 1 of this blog series we ended by asking the question whether the debate about a shortage of skilled labour in Germany had any substance. Is the phenomenon of a skilled labour shortage a real problem to be taken seriously or are we chasing a figment of imagination? The answer is clear: It depends on what data you use and how you interpret it.

Continue reading

Posted in projects, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Shortage of Skilled Labour in Germany: Does it really exist? (Part 1)


Photo Credit: courtesy of Siemens

by Paul Köper, Tobias Sieblitz and Ares Kalandides

The term skilled labour or rather the shortage of such seems to be omnipresent these days. While, for example, the inter-trade organization Bitkom reports that there is a lack of 41.000 IT specialists in Germany, the website of the news magazine Focus goes even bigger. It headlines that soon enough the German economy will be short of millions of skilled workers. According to the media and mainstream politics, it seems like Germany is heading towards a substantial shortage of skilled labor. But is there really an all-encompassing shortage or do we maybe blindly follow a delusion created by economic lobbyists? Tasked with assessing the current and future need of skilled labour for the association “Schönefelder Kreuz” – a coalition of three municipalities in Brandenburg just outside Berlin – Inpolis asked the exact same first question: is there actually a shortage of skilled labor?

Continue reading

Posted in projects | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Vila Autódromo in Rio de Janeiro: The big, the bad, the ugly

Picture 1by Daniel Wagner

The scenery: a wild and isolated lagoon about 40km west from the centre of Rio de Janeiro. This was what the first dwellers of the favela “Vila Autódromo” encountered when they first settled in the region about 40 years ago. Back then, far away from the urbanization, the community lived without many problems on this Rio da Janeiro’s wild west. Mostly fishermen, dwellers of the Vila Autódromo manage for decades to healthily coexist with the neighbour motor racing circuit built at their side, where the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix took place until 1989.

Continue reading

Posted in stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis

Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis

Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis, (Department of Geography, Harokopio University Athens)

Monday, 22nd June 2015, 6 PM

Think & Drink Colloquium, Humboldt University, Berlin

Room 002: Universitäts Strasse 3b, 10117 Berlin


LECTURE: The exploitation of land, but also of natural elements linked to it ―such as water, forests, landscape, the subsurface and biodiversity― nowadays comprise investment targets for local and international speculative capital at some unprecedented extent, intensity and geographical spread. From 2009 on, Greece became a target country due to the current debt crisis which has decisively contributed to the devalorization/depreciation of the exchange value of land, decreasing monetary values by 15-30%―depending on the area―when compared to the 2005 prices. The special legal status imposed by the Troika as of 2010, forms a lucrative environment for speculators-investors, dramatically altering the legal, constitutional order and imposing something of a semi-protectorate status upon the country. This short presentation, based on author’s book, explains how the debt crisis in Greece made public land via privatizations and fire sales a major target for dispossession by global and local capital. Continue reading

Posted in conferences | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


”Refugees Welcome”- Initiator Jonas Kakoschke and Bakary Konan in their kitchen. Credits: Der Tagesspiegel

”Refugees Welcome”- Initiator Jonas Kakoschke and Bakary Konan in their kitchen. Credits: Der Tagesspiegel

by Hagia Jany

Among the countless refugee initiatives, there is one which has frequently come across my path in recent times: The initiative “Refugees Welcome” which asks the uncomfortable question, why refugees just can’t live in normal housing situations instead of mass accommodation. After I bumped into a presentation of the project on a little festival a few weeks ago, I took a closer look at that inspiring project.

Continue reading

Posted in opinions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Olafur Eliasson, The collectivity project, 2015. (Timothy Schenck/Friends of the High Line)

Olafur Eliasson, The collectivity project, 2015. (Timothy Schenck/Friends of the High Line)

by Ares Kalandides

Oh no, not yet another artist playing at being a planner –  was my first thought, when I stumbled upon the Wall Street Journal headline this morning:”Artist Urges Urban Planning, With Legos”. Of course it was not just some artist – it was Olafur Eliasson, whom I respect and admire. And despite the WSJ heading it was not urban planning – it was art. In cooperation with the High Line in New York, Olafur Eliasson invited passers-by to play with the million white plastic bricks of legos and assemble with him their own utopian buildings, in an interactive art installation called The Collectivity Project. The artist had invited several well-know architecture studios (including Renzo Piano) to start the game with their own buildings. From there, visitors would take over, deconstructing and reassembling. Continue reading

Posted in opinions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Bildschirmfoto 2015-05-29 um 17.48.49by Ares Kalandides

The above photo and headline appeared in the Daily Mail on May 27th 2015 causing an understandable uproar. A Greek site retorted almost instantly with an entry titled “Brits turn Greek island into disgusting hellhole for refugees” and the path was set for a dirty name-calling war. The photo shows “Anne Servante, a nurse from Manchester, [who] had come to Kos expecting a relaxing break with her husband Tony, a retired plumber.” What she finds instead are “penniless migrants who are in Greece to claim asylum sit outside their restaurant and watch them eat”, turning her “summer break […] into a ‘nightmare'”. Continue reading

Posted in opinions | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


Shoreditch & Hoxton Aug'14 (Renard Teipelke) 2On the Creative Question – Nine Theses*

By Geert Lovink, Sebastian Olma and Ned Rossiter

‘Culture attracts the worst impulses of the moneyed, it has no honor, it begs to be suburbanized and corrupted’. ― Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’. ― Oscar Wilde

1. Goodbye to Creative Industries

A creepy discourse on creativity has captured cultural and economic policy. Creativity invokes a certain pharmacological numbness among its spruikers – a special sub-species entirely unaware of how far removed their version of creativity is from radical invention and social transformation. Their claims around the science of economy are little more than a shoddy con. While ‘creativity’ is increasingly seen as a main driver of economic development, the permanent reference to creative classes, creative cities, creative industries, creative innovations and so on has rendered the notion all but meaningless. Degraded to a commercial and political marketing tool, the semantic content of creativity has been reduced to an insipid spread of happy homogeneity – including the right amount of TED-styled fringe misfits and subcultures – that can be bureaucratically regulated and ‘valorized’. To this rhetoric corresponds a catalogue of ‘sectors’ and ‘clusters’ labelled as creative industries: a radically disciplined and ordered subdomain of the economy, a domesticated creative commons where ‘innovators’ and ‘creatives’ harmoniously co-mingle and develop their auto-predictive ‘disruptions’ of self-quantification, sharing and gamification. Conflict is anathema to the delicate sensibilities of personas trading in creative consultancy.

Continue reading

Posted in opinions | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment