When Susa told me about the uneasy relationship between the old residents and newcomers in the Schillerkiez neighbourhood of Berlin, I didn’t really understand how much tension was in the air. This city hosts many people I have come to love; over time it has become my second home, but I have always been hesitant to really move here because of the work situation. With property prices in the capital having risen by nearly 40% between 2003 and 2011, it is clear that unless creative ways can be found to better share the city, many of its less affluent residents will eventually be driven out.  Some are reacting by blaming the tourists and bohemian hipsters and openly showing their rage …


I am not sure that placing the blame on newcomers alone is really fair or constructive. The existing residents are themselves partially responsible for the social exclusion of others; as China Mieville puts it, all city-dwellers collude in ignoring real aspects of the cities in which they live — the homeless, political structures, the commercial world or the stuff that’s ‘for the tourists’ …. In a community where there are underlying tensions we need ways of constructively raising to the surface conflicts of interest between different community members. Rather than approaching this head on in terms of unmet needs one way of doing this is by surfacing the perception and the potential in terms of well-being in the community. To do this kind of work requires a sense of shared responsibility. And awareness of others sharing the same physical spaces .

How to go about doing this is the subject of the workshop that we are hosting at Schillerpalais at 19-21 on Saturday, 29.09. The aim of the gathering was to meet others who would like to make a positive contribution towards addressing these issues that affect all our communities and to see what we can learn from past or existing initiatives. Susa wants to explore sustainable ways of using our knowledge and hands on skills in goldsmithing, product design and  yoga to build community projects that fight social exclusion and poverty. I know a bit about public policy and building collaborations with government institutions from my work with the Council of Europe. Others will have other ideas and initiatives that they are excited about. Who knows, perhaps some would even like to explore the possibility of collaborating in some way….See you there 🙂  Original post written by Nadia EL-Imam on Cookies’n’Code