Wednesday, 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.



Thursday, 27 October 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 gsz.urbancommons@gmail.com**

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 (www.urbamonde.org), 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: tiny.cc/quito-commit

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)

Interviewees:
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.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

New Urban Agenda - Do Urban Commons play a role in this?



Berlin Urban Commons Series II: Urban Commons and The New Urban Agenda - Inventory and Outlook

PODCAST available by 25/10/2016

organized by Dr. Martin Schwegmann

On the occasion of the UN Habitat III the URG investigates if and how the New Urban Agenda for future urban development incorporates the ideas of Urban Commons and collaborative urban development beyond state and market.

To explore this question Dr. Martin Schwegmann interviews critical observers of Habitat III as Bea Varnai and Cyril Royez (UrbaMonde), Anja Rok from ICLEI (TBC) and Alvaro Puertas, secretary general of HIC (TBC).

** the talk will be available as a podcast on this site after October 25**


find the facebook event here: 

 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

First Urban Mindfullness Workshop





















On October first, we took the Gleisdreieckpark in Berlin as a common resource to meet as a group of 11 people. We discovered architectural and natural structures, as well as underlying social structures in the tradition of Mindfulness Meditation and we developed our own imaginative urban utopia. We shared our personal associations, thoughts, experiences, and two apples. Having the right clothing we were able to enjoy also the rain which was not stopping to drop from above.
It was fun and inspiring.

Program - 01.10.2016 (3,5h)

Introduction:
  • Commons and their major aspects: resources, people and relationships
  • The witness
  • How to practice Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness exercises:
  • Warm up and formal Mindfulness Meditation
  • The mirror
  • 3 major aspects
Imaginational exercise:
  • Relaxation
  • My urban utopia (with drum)
Metta, reflection and wrap up and goodbye!
Majken & Sarah

further reading

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

„Die Stadt und … Gemeingüter“

Dr. Markus Kip of the Urban Research Group was interviewed by the Berlin based urban magazin Stadtaspekte within the first edition of a new interview series "The city and..." ("Die Stadt und..."). published on March 23, 2016

Photo by Agnes Katharina Müller

URG in Egyptian TV

Egyptian Science TV-Show SciTech features Urban Planning in Berlin and Cairo - and Urban Commons- (only in Arabic)


broadcasted in March, 2016
Dr. Martin Schwegmann talks with Ahmed, an Egyptian urban planning student on his way through Berlin in Prinzessinnengarten about the concept of Urban Commons and what that means for cities as different as Berlin and Cairo. (from min 17:50 on).

Furthermore Ahmed visits Gleisdreieck Park and a waste water farm in the middle of the city. Also in this episode: The amazing community project "Gneina" at the outskirts of Cairo!

Dr. Martin Schwegmann interviewed on Urban Commons in Egyptian TV