Saturday, 17 December 2011 06:52

Welcome to Berlin!

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When students arrive in cities for language courses, conferences or workshops one of the first things they usually do is walk around the city centre. But Berlin is different. To explain why, a group of friends created the “lettuce theory” a few years ago. Please forgive them for the name and try to take them seriously! The theory states that most European cities are “lettuce like”, that is, they have a heart - which is the city centre -, and the rest of the neighborhoods grow around it like the lettuce's leaves. Unlike them, Berlin is what we decided to call, “the package of lettuces”. There is no real unique heart, but lots of them. And instead of having the classic city centre, the German capital has several important neighborhoods with individual hearts. Yesterday, the participants at the E&M workshop “Do you speak European?” didn't do the classic city centre tour but instead, ventured in the many different hearts of Berlin.

KREUZBERG: The flower bud
Asked to choose a symbol that described each of the neighborhoods, some of our group walked around Kreuzberg decided to go for a flower bud. “Just like it,”  they said, “the neighborhood is about to bloom”. Described as dirty before the fall of the Berlin wall, suffering from high crime rates in the 70's and after having received big waves of immigration, the neighborhood is now the favourite destination for young people. As we were told by some of the young people we asked on the street, it is becoming more and more popular, and is “the European Brooklyn”.

NEUKÖLLN: The Haribo Bag

Similar to Kreuzberg, but perhaps on an earlier stage of blooming, Neukölln surprised its visitors with its diversity. They all noticed the process of gentrification, which is being softened by the actions taken by the neighbuors to stop the rents from growing. To represent the cultural background of the 'hood', mainly shaped by its Turkish citizens, the participants brought a bag of Haribo sweets. “We know it's a German brand”, they said, “but it says Halal and is both in German and Turkish!”.

Prenzlauer Berg is probably something like the aftermath of a flower's bloom. Just like Kreuzberg today, it used to be the mecca for young artists and intellectuals in the 80's. But after the wall was demolished it attracted wealthy families and celebrities, who are still the main part of the hood's population. The participants represented it with a bottle of organic drink, because the biggest organic shop in Europe is located in the neighborhood and because it is a popular drink for those wealthy people that now live in the area.

FRIEDRICHSHAIN: The Sunflower leaflet
Friederichshain is hosting the workshop participants in its Sunflower hostel. What can better represent this than a leaflet from the hostel itself? For the group who visited it, it showed the young and international atmosphere of the neighborhood. Perhaps more industrialised than the rest, it was characterised as “cool” and “slightly run-down”, with a more active night life than the ones mentioned so far.

CHARLOTTENBURG: The Christmas Market Newspaper
The only neighbourhood that wasn't described as cool! While Kreuzberg and Neukolln seemed to be the present 'cool', Prenzlauer Berg is the past 'cool' converted into a familiar hood and Friedrischain is the international cool... Charlottenburg was just the business district. The participants described how the streets, decorated in modern architecture, were actually quite empty. But after spending some time in the lively Christmas Market, the participants chose its newspaper to represent it. After all, the pictures there were worth a 1000 words!


This workshop was organized in cooperation with: Kulturstiftung.Compressed
youth_in_action Jugend_fuer_Europa


This project is financed with support from the European Union through the program YOUTH IN ACTION. The content of this project does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the national agency JUGEND für Europa and they cannot be held responsible for them.

Last modified on Thursday, 02 February 2012 14:18

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