Donnerstag, 15. Juni 2017

Urban Commons Newspaper - Bologna as a Laboratory for Urban Commons

The Berlin Urban Commons Series event on Bologna as a laboratory for urban commons in January 2017 resulted in a publication. In cooperation with "Actors of Urban Change" the "Urban Change Newspaper Nr. 3" was published. Download the newspaper here

Dienstag, 30. Mai 2017

Urban Commons Series: Mapping, Big Data, Civic Tech…

Urban Commons Series: Mapping, Big Data, Citizens Tech… What role does digitalization play for urban commons?
In the panel the potential of digitalization for commoning is being critically reflected and questioned. The central question is, to what extend  the connection of digital data and people lead to new ways of commoning and potentially make these more mainstream?

Adrien Labaeye, Urban Researcher Urban Commons and Mapping, Berlin
Konrad Braun, Architect, Openberlin 
Nils Grube, Geographer, Leerstandsmelder

Prof. Marian Dörk - Urban Complexity Lab, FH Potsdam
Adrien Labaeye, Urban Researcher Urban Commons and Mapping, Berlin
Katalin Gennburg, Speaker for urban development, tourism and smart cities of the left party in the Berlin state parliament  

Organisation and moderation by Dr. Martin Schwegmann, Urban Research Group Urban Commons - GSZ

When and Where: 
08.06.2017; 6.30 pm;  Georg Simmel Zentrum, Mohrenstraße 41, Berlin Mitte 

Montag, 10. April 2017

Urban Body and Mind Sessions - Urban Mindfulness – 20 & 21 May 2017

Dr. Majken Bieniok (Dipl. Psych.) & Co.

The city, with its places, streets, parks and other Commons, provides the space and possibility to meet other people and to interact. The meeting might be intimate or superficial, yet the space always offers the opportunity to stay a bit longer and observe what is going on. You may discover architectural or natural structures, as well as underlying social structures, patterns, and communities and perceive their communality and individuality. Mindfulness is an old Commons! The practice of mindfulness can be a tool to focus on these discoveries as well as on your personal or shared associations, thoughts, and experiences.
We would like to invite you to a walk through your body, mind, and the city, in the tradition of mindfulness, detecting potentially overseen secrets. You don’t need special skills or knowledge for this journey; it is all Commons. You just need an open mind and the right clothing for standing or sitting still for a while in any weather condition. Please be minimalistic with what you carry along the journey. The instruction language will be English.

(max. 12 participants per group/date – registration and detailed information via e-mail – - donation between 5-15 Euros)

Where: City of Berlin
When: group A: Saturday the 20.May 2017 exact 15:00h (duration 3,5h)
and group B: Sunday the 21. May 2017 exact 15:00h (duration 3,5h)

Donnerstag, 5. Januar 2017

URG feat. URBAN CHANGE TALK - Bologna, a Laboratory for Urban Commons?

Urban Change Talks 2017:  Bologna - a Laboratory for Urban Commoning?
27.01.2017| 7 pm | Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 23, 10969 Berlin (taz Café)

In Bologna, a new legislation was adopted in 2014 to encourage residents to develop their city in the sense of the Urban Commons together with the city administration. The legislation, "Colaborare e Bologna", fills a legal gap, which allows the city administration to work unbureaucratically with individuals and organizations from different sectors. Prof. Christian Iaione, Rome (input), Giovanni Ginocchini, Bologna, Marco Clausen, Berlin, and Dr. Mary Dellenbaugh from the URG in conversation with Dr. Martin Schwegmann, Berlin.

Please register at 

Mittwoch, 23. November 2016

After the “Summer of Migration“: Practices of Citizenship as Urban Commons - Summary

On Friday, November 4,  Jochen Becker (metrozones), Bettina Bauerfeind (Campus Metropolis) and Arwa Aladin (Refugee Academy) discussed the topic of citizenship as an urban commons. Moderated by Markus Kip and Martin Schwegmann, the discussion confronted the challenge of envisioning models and practices of citizenship allowing for undocumented migrants to access to services such as health, education, jobs and housing.

Becker stressed the importance of concrete and spatial interventions in order to create situations for interaction between the majority and minority populations. He further reminded the audience of the productive struggles in the context of citizenship in Berlin in 2013, around the Oranienplatz refugee camp and the Gerhard Hauptmann School, both in Kreuzberg.

"The struggle for the improvement of refugees’ living conditions and their possibilities to participate in urban live have to be understood as an act of commoning." 

These struggles seemed to have at least the potential that they could have led to a more fundamental change in refugees’ living conditions and legal status. However, it seems that today we are far from that situation. According to Jochen Becker, the struggle for the improvement of refugees’ living conditions and their possibilities to participate in urban live have to be understood as an act of commoning. The challenge is to bring these protests and activities to broader strata of society.

Bettina Bauerfeind explaines the work of the initiative Campus Cosmopolis, which is an initiative of old and new Berliners that wants to create a center for autonomous and communal living and learning in the middle of Berlin. One goal is to allow residents to stay as long as possible in Berlin, in order to get a better chance of becoming a legal resident in Germany.  

Arwa Aladin from the Refugee Academy points out that the different ways in which migrants from different countries are treated by authorities, undermine solidarity among them. The residency status is of utmost importance to any refugee. "If I could only work, than I could take care about my own problems" says Arwa, an IT professor from Iraq, who struggles for permits to continue working in her field in Germany.  The Refugee Academy seeks to offer a space for refugees to mutually support and educated each other, from language proficiency to dealing with authorities. 

"Does activism supporting people with insecure status only cures the symptom or actually addresses the underlying root causes of illegalization?"

Moderator Martin Schwegmann (MitOst, Berlin) poses the question, whether the activism to support people with insecure status only cures the symptom or actually addresses the underlying root causes of illegalization? The panel stresses the great difficulty of those directly affected to become and stay politicized in order to bring about lasting change for the once in similar conditions. Therefor it needs a strong solidary movement across sectors, that systematically works on creating precedents that show an alternative to current practices of dealing with migration and refugees in Europe.    

"It needs brave and committed people, both civil society actors and politicians who want to make a difference."

The bottom line is, it needs brave and committed people, both civil society actors and politicians who want to make a difference, especially in times of growing xenophobia and right wing political agitation. The experience from Kreuzberg in 2013 shows as well, that rights can be claimed effectively also from below!. Even when only having temporary impact, it created a memory to inspire new struggles.

Donnerstag, 27. Oktober 2016

After the “Summer of Migration“: Practices of Citizenship as Urban Commons

When: Friday, November 4,  6-8 pm
Where: Stresemannstraße 95, 10963 Berlin, Deutschland

**Please note that a password is needed at this event space - please register by sending a mail to**

In the context of the “Berlin Urban Commons Research Series” the Urban Research Group at the Georg-Simmel-Centre (Humboldt University Berlin) is pleased to invite to an event on “Citizenship as Urban Commons”.

After the “Summer of Migration” the question of how to promote an open society gained relevance for many activists. In conjunction with refugees, several initiatives and organizations developed practices of citizenship, from shared cooking events, the organization of private accommodation, health care to protest camps. With the passing of restrictive asylum legislation in recent months, it is to be assumed that many persons with uncertain “residency perspective” (Bleibeperspektive) will remain in a status of deficient rights for years (such as an “exceptional leave to remain” (Duldung)) or will go into hiding when threatened by deportation.

Resistance emerges against such state-enforced exclusion. It is not about doing good to “the other” – the refugees – but to create new forms of sociality and appropriate collective means of reproduction irrespective of residency status. In this event, we wish to address such practices of citizenship that go beyond the law or even contradict it – and we refer to such practices as commons. We want to investigate on what conditions such commons can be sustained or even be expanded. What kind of political challenges or opportunities can we identify today? What is the role of “the city” as a space for developing such alternatives? What role can/should/must the state play with respect to such practices?

Panelists include: Jochen Becker (metroZones), Bettina Bauerfeind, Campus Cosmopolis Berlin, N.N. refugee academy (solicited)

Please note that the event’s main language will be English.

The event is hosted by the Modellprojekt “ZUsammenKUNFT”, Stresemannstraße 95.

Organized and moderated by Martin Schwegmann (MitOst, Berlin) and Markus Kip (URBANgrad, TU Darmstadt) - both Urban Research Group : Urban Commons.

Interview on the Role of Urban Commons in the New Urban Agenda

This is an interview of Martin Schwegmann (URG) with Bea Varnai and Cyril Royez from UrbaMonde (, an international platform for initiatives working on the social production of habitat. The question, if urban commons or related thinking plays a role in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), was discussed.

Royez and Varnai point out that articles 107 and 31 include thoughts of collective and cooperative use of urban resources, which go beyond state and market mechanisms (see excerpts below). However ideas of anti-speculative, inclusive and collaborative production of habitat and cities are not prominently represented in the NUA.

Therefor UrbaMonde issued a commitment on the Habitat III website, "Supporting Community-Led Habitat" and the implementation of art. 31 and art. 107 of the New Urban Agenda. Please support this commitment actively by signing in to the Habitat III online platform:

Excerpt from New Urban Agenda:
"We will encourage ... cooperative solutions such as co-housing, community land trust, and other forms of collective tenure ... This will include support to incremental housing and self-build schemes, with special attention to slums and informal settlements upgrading programs." (art.107)

.".. while enabling participation and engagement of communities and relevant stakeholders, in the planning and implementation of these policies including supporting the social production of habitat... " (art.31)

Cyril Royez, coordinator, UrbaMonde, is an architect and urbanist of the EPFL-SIA-FSU school in Lausanne. He has formerly worked as a project manager at the architecture studio Charles Pictet Architecte, as a real estate expert at the Office for Building Appraisal of Geneva, as a sociologist in the development of management instruments for real estate at Estia+Epiqr, as well as at the civil engineering company in wood construction "Guajard Technologie".

Bea Varnai, project manager, UrbaMonde-France, is passionate about community-driven processes shaping contemporary city-making: community-led housing models, cooperative financing strategies, innovative partnerships in area development and civic participation and cooperation. Her personal and professional background have provided her with valuable insights into innovative, sustainable and inclusive habitat solutions across Europe and Latin America. She holds an MA in International Development (Graduate Institute Geneva) and coordinate UrbaMonde's activities around the Social production of habitat platform.