Notes from Berlin

Notes from Berlin

Illustration: Christoph Schäfer

The conference “Learning from Context” in late September was held in an appropriate location: the Aquarium at Kottbusser Tor next to the Gececondu of Kotti & Co. In other words a hot spot of urban activism and as such a good context to discuss “urban education, knowledge exchange and capacity building”.

The conference was the closing event of the EULER Erasmus Plus project coordinating training programs in the cities of Antwerp, Barcelona, London and Berlin. Most interesting of the 4 projects was the project by the Citymine(d) people in London — Elephant Path developing the overlooked skills of local people – and the Tesserae team from Berlin and their “Switch on Mehringplatz” developing tools and skills for neighbourhood initiatives — or a “Solidarity Curriculum”

The Keynote was by Michael Edwards, The Bartlett, London and what was most interesting for the UEL project was his principles for educational institutions that works with local organisations — see photo above — as a part of a presentation of his work with “Just Space”. Also it was great to be introduced to the tools of pol.is — machine learning and partcipation — and the “local hub” Supermarkt — a “platform for digital culture, alternative economies and new forms of work”.

What is probably the most relevant for the UEL project was the Schoolbook for Urban Action by metroZones, Berlin. See photo above/top. A quote from the introduction:

This expanded schoolbook emerged from an ‘educational’ experiment: over a period of two years a wide range of urban actors, activists and other urban citizens met in Berlin and in Hamburg in the „metroZones School for Urban Action“ in order to discuss and put into practice some conceptual ideas and tools of critical urban studies for the purpose of urban explorations and interventions beyond academia. Some of the most crucial issues and ‘lessons’ are published in this manual

As if Berlin as a city also wanted to give a statement, a rumour started circulating among the local people at the conference, that an occupation of “Volksbühne” was happening. The issue was that the legendary leader of the theatre, Frank Castorf, was replaced and many Berliners were not happy. Even the mainstream international news has noticed it.

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