Open Living Room
Format Neighbourhood Platform Workshops
City Berlin, Germany
The Open Livingroom offers a room for exchange between neighbours, different social backgrounds, generations and cultures. Organized by and for neighbours.
All offers are donor-based.
Moabit, as many other quarters in Berlin, underwent and still undergoes essential changes in its socio-economic patterns.
Not being well connected by subway lines, Moabit, although lying in the centre of Berlin, has seen slower changes than other quarters. It also used to have a very engaged neighbourhood which has declined over the years due to an increasing turnover of residents. Simultaneously, new places, like co-working spaces and cafés emerge right next to Turkish supermarkets and old typical Berlin Bars. Groups which frequent these places don't mix a lot, long-term residents perceive changes in their neighbourhood and newcomers are unable to understand long-existing structures. Moabit used to be a worker's neighbourhood with industrial infrastructure and Berlins biggest harbour. Neighbours at this time shared a similar situation, places for leisure were used together at certain timeslots. Nowadays, the situation is totally different and few situations of encounter emerge.
These changes create separation among residents as anonymity is rising and long-term residents don't feel heard or understood. Displacement in Berlin has become a real problem and creates anxieties and solitude. Sometimes, people live door to door and don't even know each other. This is a situation which can cause generalizations, conflicts and political extremisms.
Location Find an open space
Find an open space. It can be a space that is only vacant for some time or permanently. It is also an option to ask other community projects to use their space. Ideally, it is not too expensive to allow everybody to participate. Possible rent can be paid by donation. The place should be easily accessible, have sitting possibilites, water/electricity, and a heater in winter.
Things you need Equipping the Collective
Use pages such as the local "free your stuff" or ask people for objects they have twice or don't need anymore. Also ask for paint, spray, paper, pens - anything that could be of use for your project. Mostly, people have more of this stuff than they really need. Put it all together and get boxes or cupboards to order all these creative materials. Also, make a list of things which are still missing.
Communication Get started and expand
Open up a Facebook page, homepage, put up posters, go the libraries and cafés in your quarter - whichever way works best for you to get the word out. Organize the first event and give people room to freely express themselves while giving them a topic to work on. Make them feel comfortable, it is not about professionalism but exchange. Put the results up the wall and support each other's work. Tell the municipality and autorities about your project and seek support. Engage people participating so that they also bring in their skills on crafts, creativity, photography and other techniques.