Experimentdays 12 – The end (for now)

It’s hard to believe – the Experimentdays 12 are over. Nine days of constructing, learning and networking, over 50 projects and groups involved, a self-organised and self-built camp including a cosy hut – all this made the 10th celebration of collective sustainable living a very special one. There will be more thoughts, thanks yous, pictures and ideas on this blog over the next couple of weeks, but for now, here is a little summary of the final day:

The project market at the weekend offered a platform for extensive exchange between different living projects, banks, foundations, groups and interested visitors. More than 30 projects exhibited their work in the summer tent at the ufaFabrik, accompanied by presentations and discussion rounds on specific practical issues. Visitors came to get inspiration for their own housing projects, to find existing ones or to learn about support. One example is the Landhof Münchberg e.V, a group of currently 11 people, who are creating a cultural housing project on an old farm. At the project fair, they were looking for inspiration for the kind of collective they want to build, as well as for possibilities of financing. Of particular interest here was the crowdfunding option presented by GLS bank, which offers an alternative model of financing parts of a bigger project.

The days found their conclusion in the final discussion round on Berlin’s real estate policy and the position of self-organised projects within that. Representatives of Wagenplatz Lohmühle, Schokoladen and Prinzessinnengarten summarised their experiences and struggles, put into context by the perspective of ID22 and Initiative Stadt Neu Denken. The groups all emphasised how a lack of contacts on the political level, and the fragmented field of self-organised projects mean that many initiatives have to fight similar struggles for their continued existence, which uses up huge amounts of time and resources. Developing communication structures to deal with these issues is therefore a goal beyond the survival of their own initiatives. At the same time, there are diverging opinions on whether the problem of political inertia can be solved by cooperation and good arguments alone. Maybe there is a small reason for optimism in the fact that this discussion is held so widely right now, making it increasingly harder for decision-makers to ignore it.

Finally, the participants of the camp and the Experimentdays came together one last time at the “Camp kitchen” for a joint dinner, courtesy of Suppe & Mucke (more on our wonderful cooks soon…). Although it was an exhausting week, it was great to see the energy and enthusiasm that people bring to an open space like this, and the talk was already about Experimentdays 13 – a great prospect. For now, a huge thank you to everyone who made this week possible, and lots of energy for realising all your ideas.