The living situation in many countries is bad, dangerous and daily life becomes a struggle for survival. For many, fleeing to Germany and coming to Berlin is the only way, to get a chance of a new life in safety and peace. But arriving here isn’t always easy. The journey is often a very traumatic experience for most refugees, who not only leave behind their homes, but often family members, friends and everything that they are used to without knowing what to expect. Also fleeing a country is often extremely dangerous which is why projects like Jugend Rettet e.V. have been created. This project is sending volunteers to regions where many refugees are crossing the sea. Patrolling on boats and rescuing people from open waters is the kind of intense help that is needed.
Help for refugees has many different faces in diverse Berlin. In the past year we came across projects that amazed us with their positive attitude, their empowering ideas and practical ways of integrating and assisting refugees. We want to share our excitement about some of those projects with you, which is why we have collected a small number of them here.
There will be a lot of people who will not go to vote on Sunday. For those, who are wondering “For What?” right now, let me remind you that on the 18th of September the Berlin elections 2016 will take place. It is true that there is a myriad of legitimate-sounding arguments against bothering to care about it.
Granted, it is not a national election, which means there will be no drama or momentum for the outcome compared to the national elections. Besides that, the results will not have tremendous consequences on an international level, like e.g. the upcoming American elections for the presidency. The local character of such elections creates, thus, to quite a few people a sense of exhaustion and indifference, which leaves them wondering what the point of it all is.
photos: Manuel Moncayo
There are these moments, where all you want is simply to pause your life, take a deep breath, clear your head from all the annoying and time-consuming distractions that you let govern you and just exist without thinking that you are running late on your schedule. All that is needed is just these few minutes, where you get to really think about what you are doing and/or what you have become, not necessarily in an existential or an overanalysing way, but in the fashion that suits you best. How often do we even stop for a moment to observe our surroundings, appreciate what we have and realize that the majority of what we like to call “problems” are very insignificant considering we only live just a couple of decades? While pausing your life might not be possible, escaping from its worries just for a bit might prove just as rewarding.
photo: Jacob Schickler
Summer in Berlin is a blessing of another world. Everything seems weightless, effortless and without complications. Pleasure is spelled differently all of a sudden. All the things that are only possible in these few month, few weekends of heat and sun become part of a ritual. A jump into cold water of a green sea means purification. Breathing in the dust of a festival dance floor means contemplation. Looking into the sun until your eyes start to cry means devotion. Kissing a stranger at night, while sitting on a concrete sidewalk still warm from the sun means dissolution.
Time to save some light for the long months of darkness and cold. Every sensation, every taste of watermelon and mango, every lick on salty sweaty skin is experienced and immediately stored into a library of memories. Some of these memories are only meant for yourself. Others are meant to be shared with others to make them turn to life over and over again.
The photographer Jacob Schickler was kind enough to share his private visual memories of this never-ending summer in Berlin. Take a look, but promise me to cherish them without discontent. That summer will end one day is a fact that we can’t ignore. But we don’t have to taint our sunny days in grey even before Autumn will do his job. Enjoy his photos after the jump.
photo: Chris Phillips / Pornceptual
Out there in the world, Germany, and Berlin in particular, have a reputation of being sexually liberal places. Nudist beaches, sex parties, uncensored breasts on television, experimental sex practices, acceptance towards various sexual orientations and identities. You get the general idea. We Berliners are wild, excessive, and constantly horny – well, at least in the eyes of the rest of the world.
As a Berlin resident and German citizen I would never say that Germans are particularly naughty or more sex-crazy than other nations, nor did I have the impression that Berlin is sexually more open than other cities in Europe. Yes, maybe we have a few sex clubs more than other cities, but I doubt that there aren’t any places like that in the rest of the world. They might just be more behind closed doors and less publicly advertised. Here sex was always there: swingers clubs, dark rooms, fetish parties. But it was almost an alternative scene from my perspective, you could only see it if you knew where to look. It was the underground. But this is changing.
Now there is sex positivity, body positivity, feminist porn, and you could say a general awaking in the society from the bad dream that sex is something to be ashamed of and to keep in private. People are embracing sex more and with it, their own bodies and desires. Isn’t this something we should all strive for?
photo: Rowena Waack / CC
I’ve written about the digital debris broken relationships leave behind. In this day and age, it seems that something always lingers, even when you do the leaving. Of course, in most cases, ditching people for good ultimately turns out to be the better choice. A recently published study suggests that only narcissists and/or psychopaths (and Berlin has enough of both) like to stay friends with their former partners. That may or may not be true. In my experience one of the dominant reasons we still pine for people that we got rid of is nostalgia, rather than the fact that your ex was such a good friend or even partner.
Rejecting the idea of “the one” seems like the best place to start. Even if you’ve left everyone you’ve ever been with, you’ll have realized that it doesn’t mean the whole thing will be painless. The aim is of course to get through the suffering.
photo: Burg Schnabel
With the election results from my home state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the right-wing populist party AfD has managed to move into yet another state’s government. The leading party of Germany, the CDU, turned out to have even less votes than them, which is the lowest result they ever had and not a good sign for the elections of next year.
So far it seems that the established parties are doing very little about the uprise of the AfD. It seems they are helpless even though it would be clearly in their responsibility to educate the people of the true intentions of this party. So the Berlin club scene united under the helm of the Club Map and the Zug der Liebe parade took it upon themselves to tackle the task of spreading the word about the true agenda of the AfD with a new poster campaign. They are fighting for an open and tolerant Berlin and hope to convince the people not to give their “frustration vote” to the AfD at the Berlin elections on September 18th 2016. Have a look after the jump for the posters and their important messages.
photo: Rowena Waack / CC
I never thought that I could be asked a question as many times as I urinate during a single day. Yet, life is full of surprises, sometimes dull ones. Just like the old times, when at every age you were supposed to achieve certain goals, nothing has changed other than the nature of these goals.
Instead of looking for a decent match after completing your studies and starting to procreate, nowadays people tend to experience their twenties by ripping off the benefits of their youth to the fullest. This comes along with collecting as many sexual experiences as possible; experimenting and exploring, discovering yourself and sometimes (re)setting boundaries you would never cross is a prominent part of the contemporary narrative; and there are a few places as fitting as Berlin for diving into the “new normal”.
illustrations: Johanna Dumet
It all started one fateful Tuesday morning as I stood in my bathroom. The previous night I’d submitted the manuscript of How to be German 2 to my publisher and I considered my German Integration project finished. I was integrated. Standing in the bathroom, I looked below the mirror to a shelf where I saw the toothpaste tubes Elmex and Aronal. They knew, that I knew, that it is wrong to use the same toothpaste for both morning and night. This is not the German way, for it is obvious that your teeth have different cleaning needs depending on the time of day. Logisch. Right? You wouldn’t use the same shampoo when showering at night, as when showering in the morning, would you? Exactly.
photos: Valerie-Siba Rousparast
Using something old and repurposing it for something entirely different – doesn’t this sound like something totally typical for Berlin? Just think of all the old, disused buildings close to the “death strip” back in the early nineties that were re-used by the artist and subculture scene for various new purposes, all the nightclubs in old factories and power stations. Think of all the cafes and bars fully furnished with granny’s old interior, the urban playgrounds like Holzmarkt or Klunkerkranich made of scrap wood and metal. There are countless examples here in Berlin that paint a picture of a city that constantly recycles and repurposes itself.
Stuart N. R. Wolfe is one of the creative minds in Berlin that perfectly understands the spirit of Berlin. For his project berlin-re-cycle he found one disused material that Berlin has quite a lot of: Old abandoned bikes. The streets are full of them and Stuart saw them as a great source for material. Through his work as a sculptor and furniture designer he already handled a lot of unusual materials and created new shapes in the past. With the scrap pieces of the bikes he now extended his repertoire with something quite practical: lamps.