The story of the meeting

What was your intention while planning to host your meeting?
Lena (Interactive Workshop of Europe)
The Berlin meeting was dedicated to get to know each partner, to co-work the flow and the working principles of the two-years Partnership program and to decide on concrete next steps to take. Due to our open, participatory and process-oriented design of Local Squares it was important to start with an strong internal meeting in order to set a common ground and to get used to the present diversity in the group. So that's the core difference: it was focused on the internal group dynamic and much less on the content work of the hosting partners and the local setting of Berlin.

What do you love about working with participation?
Lidia (Inca)
I like to challenge people, to make them feel alive, reactive, present, engaged. Sometimes it starts just from a little detail, which opens the imagination and invites to change perspective.
To trigger a process that can open people to new perspectives, that's what mostly I like.

What would you say are the unique qualities of the city shown thru your visit?
Niels (Elos)

The unique quality I saw was to especially mix the creative- and artscene with the abandoned places, re-use of existing places and giving different meaning to existing places. I felt a mixture of a huge creative energy, activism, the will to express that in the urban space as a way of communication and the will to express that in the different use of current infrastructure. I felt that Berlin is constantly using urban space to make a creative statement and that the city embraces that, probably, to a certain extend.

What did you experience in the dynamic of the partnership?
Lena (PlanSinn)
An important question is, what and how much do we want to produce for the toolkit without getting overloaded by the tasks?

Projects we visited

Tempelhofer Freiheit
ASCIIOn the area of the former airport “Tempelhof” is nowadays a huge green area, with different activities. It's like a park but only open at day time. We recommend it because it's an area that the citizens claimed for public use, finally succesful with its opening in 2010. Today you can find there an amazing varitey of leisure and community activities.

berlin_gecekondu.jpgThe association “Jugendkunstschule Neukölln/ Jugendkunst Neukölln e.V” is building a village together with youngsters. They recycle (wooden) materials that the children found themselves. We recommend it because it's one of the examples for interim use projects on “Tempelhofer Freiheit”, working in a participatory way with interesting youngsters of the neighbourhood…

Photo by Marco del Pra'

HomeBase Project

HomeBase Project, a site-specific residency and research program exploring the notion of home, operating at the intersection of contemporary art and social change. We recommend it because HomeBase project invites their artist residents to collaborate with the surrounding neighbourhood in order to co-create their living area together.

Urban Theater: Ortswechsel
ASCIIOrtswechsel is telling stories of the diversity of the Reuterkiez (Neukölln). A Theater project (2011) that invites the visitors to discover “normal” spots with different eyes. We recommend it because it's a great example for a participatory project that start with the desires, needs, and thoughts of the citizens themselves and invites to re-discover the own urban neigbourhood.

Methods we used

Graphic facilitation

As hosts of the Berlin meeting, we, Interactive Workshop of Europe GbR, wanted to share some of our facilitation approaches. So we used graphic facilitation tools in order to support the working flow during the 3 days meeting.

Walking as a principle
Local Squares started to define some working principles that could guide its learning process such as “walking”. The Local Squares arena has indeed an itinerant character: We defined “walking” in each visited city as one first key element of the meetings that are taking place all three month in another European country - on that basis the reflection follows. We chose this principle because it goes local, it's a simple way to gently enter in a local context, it makes you experience challenges & opportunities in a space, it makes you think & act at the same time, it foster an intercultural perspective on what we see & experience, it creates a common ground for further discussion, it's way to learn new methods, you can invite people to join…

World Café Brainstorming
Using the collective knowledge of the group is the key approach of this participatory project. So we started working with methods like “world café” in which you rotate around working tables in order to discuss different topics in changing groups.

Inbetween the different working sessions we used “energizers” to wake up, to laugh together and to make our minds think different. Tito (INCA) wrote even a short article about it…