The Planning Juggernaut (Part 1)

Gropiusstadt in Berlin

Gropiusstadt in Berlin

by Natalia Garzón Arredondo and Nicolette Pingo

Citizen led governance initiatives’ dependency on informal networks in Gropiusstadt

The proliferation of citizen participation in decision-making, particularly at devolved local government level has spread to democracies across the globe. Highly influenced by the institutionalisation of radical protest movements in South America[i], in particular in Brazil; cities in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have implemented various governance mechanisms to allow citizens to have their say in the development of their neighbourhoods. Since 1999 the Senate of Berlin, Germany have been implementing the national programme of the Socially Integrated City[ii]. A key tool of this programme are the Neighbourhood Management Areas, the programme based on the following premise, “An essential prerequisite for stable communities is to create ownership in the community by involving its members into the improvement and development process on an on-going basis.” Continue reading

Community organizations between formality and informality (Part 2)

blog2-01by Trusha Mitha and Sylvana Jahre

After talking to the different organisations Aufbruch Neukölln, IBBC e.V., Nachbarschaftsheim Neukölln e.V. and AWO), we did an analysis of the structures of the organisations compared to each other and which way they chose in order to realise their projects. Based on this we were able to formulate findings regarding [in]formality in community based organisations.

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Community organizations between formality and informality

by Trusha Mitha and Sylvana Jahre

The widespread understanding of informality as a) informal economy in opposition to formality, explaining economic activities as survival practices in the absence of alternative opportunities or b) in connection to housing, characterised as unauthorised or unplanned urban settlements, conveys certain limitations making it hard to analyse informality in Berlin.  The negative implication is mainly triggered by the notion of informality as opposition to the prevailing legal and institutional frameworks. Continue reading

Informality at the core of reinvention: ExRotaprint (Part 2)

The canteen

The canteen

by Melisa Chávez Moreno and Gert van der Merwe

Part 2 – Informality and Politics

Informality at the Basis

ExRotaprint is a robust model of self-organization. The formal structure in itself is simple, two foundations own the complex and a non-profit operates it and is held accountable to the foundations. However, both its success and, according to Daniela Brahm, the biggest challenge and risk of failure revolved around the group process. Coming into agreement on what the association of renters should pursue and their internal organization structure was a difficult process that certainly left some incompatible interests behind. For this case, the latter was negotiated on an informal basis, it was the result of the relations that were built during the time they all rented space in the former Rotaprint factory and constant negotiations, meetings and clashes of interests. Once the internal agreement was reached, a process of incorporating formal structures, in the form of long term legal binding arrangements, was started with the purpose of guaranteeing the permanence and continuity of the project and use of the facilities.

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Informality at the core of reinvention: ExRotaprint (Part 1)

 

Exrotaprintby Melisa Chávez Moreno and Gert van der Merwe

Part 1 – History and the ExRotaprint Model

The so-called ‘de-politicization’ of cities is currently a matter of wide discussion. In few words, this speaks of a feeling of unrest against technocratic and neo-liberal approaches to the contemporary urban life. Where cities are assumed to be spaces that serve productive processes, promoting standardized lives, as if they could only produce objects and its dwellers valued according to those needs, thus excluding those who are not ‘useful’. A move against this tendency points toward the need of people of taking matters into their own hands. To re-use, re-signify, re-politicize urban space by proposing different approaches of both production and organization of urban environments, on re-imagining how we want to live.

In this sense, ExRotaprint – a former industrial complex in the sub-district of Wedding- can be counted as an exemplary effort against the previously mentioned tendency. It is an attempt to re-signify productive and social processes in a sub-district at risk of the negative influences of gentrification in Berlin by means of informal relations protected by formal structures.    Continue reading

Bottle Collectors in Public Urban Space –Berlin/ Kreuzberg (Part 2)

Part2_1by Malve Jacobsen and Tebogo Ramatlo

One central aspect of (in-)formal practices occurs around economic interaction. We decided to work on the aspect of collecting things in order to generate income. Therefore, we did a short empirical research in Berlin on deposit bottle collectors. Collecting bottles is a prevalent economic practice which can be found all over the city, particularly in public spaces like parks, metro stations and streets of the inner city.

The first part (see here) described our understanding of informal economies, and gave some background information as well as a short insight into the media and scientific discourse. The second part will deal with our research in the field and what we experienced there.

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Bottle Collectors in Public Urban Space –Berlin/ Kreuzberg

Part1_3by Malve Jacobsen and Tebogo Ramatlo

The exchange program between two cities – Berlin and Johannesburg – called The [In-]Formal City is a project which researches and unpacks the term informal practices within the formal cities. The aim is to understand the term informality in its broader sense and how it impacts or rather co-exists within the formal structures. One central aspect of (in-)formal practices occurs around economic interaction. We therefore searched for a common economic practice which can be found in public urban space of our two cities.

The first part will describe our understanding of informal economies, and give some background information as well as a short insight into media and scientific discourse. The second part (which will be published next week/ URL) will deal with our research and findings in the park.

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