A tree standing alone in the landscape. At former Tempelhof Airport.
by Ares Kalandides and Markus Kather
In the warmer months of the year Berliners of all ages and backgrounds flow into the squares, parks and gardens of the city. The more adventurous ones are not even discouraged by the bad weather: under rain and snow, sleet and fog, there are children in the playground while adults take longer walks in the woods, crossing frozen lakes and snow-covered fields. Nature is an integral part of the city; for many people it is the quintessence of public space. Its deep roots in German culture – exemplified by German 19th century romanticism – cannot be stressed enough. Yet, the importance of nature in the city has taken many different forms and there is no doubt that it means very different things to different people. In this article we focus mostly on gardens (and parks) as community spaces, though in order to understand what that means we take a closer look at some of the other functions.
Diepsloot, Jo’burg, from above
You can download the full call here.
This call for participation is addressed to students and young professionals (incl. PhD candidates) who want to work on the subject in a team composed of 10 participants from Germany and 10 from South Africa, two weeks in July (30/6 -14/07) and two weeks in November (17/11- 01/2) 2013.
The (In)formal City is a project initiated by Inpolis and the Goethe-Institut and funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, aiming at bringing together practitioners and scholars from urban and cultural studies in Berlin and Johannesburg to work on the broad issue of informality.
The candidates need to address their interest until May 15th to email@example.com (see below for details). Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview. The maximum number of available places is 5 students (2 in a waiting list) and 3 young professionals (1 in waiting list)
by Renard Teipelke
Before I actually start with the topic, I would like to contend: Once a city is at the top of statistical economic rankings, it is in a quite good position to stay there. Just refer to New York, London, and Tokyo in various kinds of rankings…
Frankfurt came out first (again) in this year’s study by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) and Berenberg Bank on the locational qualities of Germany’s 30 largest cities (here). The average productivity output of an employee in Frankfurt is 87’000 Euro per year. Two fifths of the city’s workforce can be found in knowledge industries, and employment rates are improving. Those are the prime facts for the economic category of the study as SPIEGEL Online reported recently.
Typical graffiti from Sao Paulo
by Valentin Schipfer
Did you know that some years ago the megalopolis São Paulo in Brazil had banned commercial advertising in the city? Since stone-age cave-painting we know, there has always been kind of a natural urge of humanity for signs and symbols in public space. That’s why after the ban in São Paulo graffiti increased exponentially. Nevertheless the city continued to exist and 70 percent of city residents find the ban beneficial . Some times I wish the landscapes of European cities strip too all of its billboards – at least the boring ones. Fortunately, some advertising agencies have discovered more creative modes to utilize urban public space. My first example on how this is done comes from Berlin. Continue reading
A shocking report by Der Spiegel on the coercive practices of large developers in the Berlin exploding rental market:
“International financial investors have spent billions to gobble up cheap real estate in Berlin. But a look at Scharnweberstrasse 111 shows how they and their ruthless middlemen are exploiting immigrants from Southeastern Europe to make profits.”
Read the whole story here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/investors-and-middlemen-exploit-helpless-in-berlin-real-estate-market-a-887039.html
Research Committee 21 (RC21) of the International Sociology Association, the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR), the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (FURS) and Humboldt University at Berlin invite applications for 25 places on our third collaborative School on Comparative Urban Studies, to be held in Berlin from 17 August to 3 September 2013. The School is being held in conjunction with the RC21 Conference on the theme of “Resourceful Cities”, to be held on 29-31 August. Continue reading
A landscape of wind turbines in the Niederlausitz. In the background, the chimneys of Jänschwalde powerplant
by Ares Kalandides
Every planning process has its own logic, which depends both on the culture it is embedded in and the particularities of the project. Today, I would like to reflect upon a process I have been involved in for the past 15 months or so, which is now coming to a close: a Regional Development Concept (REK) for a part of the Niederlausitz area in northeast Germany. An interdisciplinary team of almost ten people worked in identifying new development potentials for an area with serious structural issues. After analyzing several aspects of the region, demography, economy, culture, environment, the group proposed a strategic development plan to foster growth potentials that included economic, touristic and leisure-oriented activities*.
My aim here is not to give a detailed acount of this work, but to point out several issues that turned out to be serious challenges in the process, hoping that I can share my concerns with others:
Jonas Rest/Berliner Zeitung/dpa (c) dpa – Bildfunk
by Ares Kalandides
A funny story – and photo – hit the news some days ago: Käthe Kollwitz’s statue in Berlin covered with “Spätzle” – a particular type of noodles, a local speciality from the Swabia area in Germany. There was something very heartbreaking about poor soiled Käthe, the sculptress who gave her name to the small park in Prenzlauer Berg, as she sat there patiently bearing her lost dignity. But there was something much more threatening in the whole story that needs explanation.
With his intolerant comments about Swabian newcomers, long-time Berlin resident and former Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse has taken the debate about gentrification in the German capital to a new low, argues Christian Bangel of ZEIT ONLINE.
read the whole story here: Thierse laments Swabian invasion of Berlin
and the commentary here: Thierse ‘drags Berlin debate to a new low’ – The Local.
Market at Maybachufer in Berlin-Neukölln
by Gabriela Chavez*
I knew early on in my research project that I wanted to focus on some aspect of the Turkish community but I began at first with an arguably unanswerable question: are the Turkish communities “integrated” into society in Berlin? After attempting an interviewing process with young Turks in Kreuzberg I soon realized how obtuse my focus was. Every person I spoke to had such different opinions of their own “integration” in Berlin that it would have been impossible to extrapolate or come to some sort of yes-or-no conclusion—especially with the small amount of interviews I could feasibly conduct. After spending so many Tuesdays and Fridays at the Turkish market, however, a new focus began to emerge. I began to see the space as more than just an opportunity for me to talk to young Turkish vendors, but as a space of recreation, business, and social interaction among many different types of people. This realization then inspired me to also visit the sports club Türkiyemspor and the Hamam Turkish Bathhouse in order to look at how all three of these recreational institutions function as spaces of interaction and cultural exchange for all sorts of Berliners. Furthermore, I hope to connect these observations with discussions of multiculturalism, social integration, and the specific integration of Turkish communities in Berlin (Bloomfield 2003, Silver 2006, Mueller 2007) and see how they might play into Berlin’s status as a global city, a bridge between East and West, and a future metropolis (Cochrane and Passmore 2001, Eckardt 2005, Molnar 2010, Scott 1997)