Tag Archives: tempelhofer feld

Let us stay on Tempelhofer Feld!

13 Aug

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The security guard in the puffy black jacket was shining his flashlight in my eyes. I had turned on my iPhone’s flashlight and was shining right back at him. We held this pose for at least a minute. If this were a Western, I’m sure I’d be in the John Wayne role. But to an impartial observer, our flashlight standoff might have looked rather silly. How did we end up here?

Night was falling on Tempelhof Park and a group of friends had just finished their Grillfest. We were gathering up the grill and the blankets – the beer bottles had long since been snatched up by Flaschensammler – when security came to tell us that it was one hour after sunset and we had to leave. We said we were already on our way, but the bulky young man insisted on illuminating us while we worked. The only way I could explain to him that he was being annoying was a practical demonstration.

I won that standoff – he moved on – but it got me thinking: Why, exactly, does Tempelhof Park have to close at night? Over 700,000 Berliners voted to reject the construction of luxury apartments and keep the field open. But why does that only apply during the day?

I asked the PR agency – the brave souls in charge of spreading the lies of the construction mafia – but they couldn’t give me a straight answer. They also wouldn’t tell me how much the city spends on the nightly evictions.

The park needs to close at night because of “Sicherheitsaspekte” (security issues) apparently. But whose security is in danger? The neighboring Hasenheide is open 24 hours a day, and I’ve walked through at night without being murdered even one single time. Or are they worried that people will damage things? What, exactly, on that giant empty field?

The decision was made by Grün Berlin GmbH, a company that belongs to the Berliner Senat. Grün manager Christoph Schmidt and his team get to decide which gardens, which parties and which demonstrations are allowed – and how much they have to pay.

The field isn’t a public space – that’s why they can throw us out whenever they want. Grün isn’t really accountable to anyone – they don’t even have to answer to the Senat, let alone to park visitors. The Pirate Party, for one, demands that the parks stay open at night. The private company should be replaced by a public institution under at least some democratic control.

But still, why kick us out? An architect friend explained that there’s a whole science of making people think a certain way about a certain urban space. When Grün kicks us out every night, they’re letting us know it’s not our space – we can only enter their space with their permission. That way, the next time they try to sell the land to their realty speculator friends (and that’s just a question of time) it won’t feel like the robbery it is.

To summarize: Your tax dollars are being used to kick you off your field. And the reason, it seems, is to make it easier to steal the whole thing from you.

Does anyone else find this displeasing? The field was only opened to the public after massive protests and attempts to squat it back in 2009 (“Did you ever squat an airport?”). Now I think it’s time to squat the park at night too.

Source: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/let-us-stay-on-tempelhofer-feld/

Screw you, Senat! (And good for you, PARTEI!)

26 May

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A typical Sunday evening at Tempelhofer Feld. The sun is setting over the gardens. The guy from the Parkaufsicht comes by to tell us the park will be closing in 30 minutes. We’re still considering whether we’re going to make a scene and demand the park remain open at night (as we usually do), or just pack our stuff and leave peacefully.

Right at 9pm, all across the field people start cheering. Soon, fireworks are screaming into the sky and hundreds of people gather on the runway for an improvised rave.

We won: 738,124 Berliners voted to save the Tempelhofer Feld – well above the 25 percent quorum of eligible voters necessary for the referendum to pass into law. And not only people living near the park voted in favor: Even in far-away Spandau or Marzahn there were two JAs for every NEIN.

This is a massive defeat for the Senat and the corporate media supporting them. Above all, it’s a defeat for the city’s Baumafia (construction mafia) who stood to make billions with luxury condos and office buildings at the old airport. The government spent months spreading lies, claiming they were planning to build social housing on the field.

Berliners might be desperate for cheap housing – but they weren’t ready to believe a government that privatized 200,000 social apartments in the last decade. Why would they now want to build public housing on the most exclusive real estate in the city? As the community activists from Kottbusser Tor said: “Of course we want new housing. But we’re not stupid.”

Around 460,000 Berliners were excluded from the election because they don’t have German citizenship – 160,000 of them live in districts adjoining the park: Tempelhof, Kreuzberg and Neukölln. So the campaign “Wahlrecht für alle!” invited them to a symbolic election on Saturday – 1000 non-Germans came to the Tempelhofer Feld to cast their votes for the European parliament and the referendum. (The results will be published on the internet this week.) Sebastian Mehling from the campaign said the goal was to create “residency-based election rights”, rather than passport-based, so anyone living in the city can participate in democracy.

On Sunday, I went to the local polling station to make my voice heard as well. “I know this isn’t your decision, but I want to file a complaint that I and hundreds of thousands of other Berliners aren’t allowed to vote, even though we live here and pay taxes.” The women working there were very nice but told me they couldn’t help. “Talk to your member of parliament,” they said. “But that’s the problem, I don’t have a member of parliament!”

The European elections, in contrast, were not nearly as exciting. There were some big surprises in other parts of Europe – with an extreme right party winning in France, while a radical left party was in first place in Greece – but Germany only experienced a tremor: Die PARTEI won 0.6 percent of the votes, just enough for one seat in Strasbourg.

Martin Sonneborn, leader of the satirical party, had held a speech in the Olympiastadium which he had copied from Hitler, only replacing “Germany” with “Europe”: “Europe stands before us, Europe is marching in us, and something or other is following behind.” Die PARTEI saved money by covering up other parties’ materials. On CDU posters, the PARTEI wrote: “Merkel is dumb.” While the Pirates said: “Borders are so 1980s”, the PARTEI countered: “Pirates are so 2011.” And Sonneborn was the only party leader to be seen on the street with a bucket of paste hanging up posters himself.

Now Sonneborn will go to Strasbourg, but he plans to resign after just one month. His replacement will quit after one month too. In this way, in the next five years 60 different PARTEI MPs will pass through that one seat. Each one will get €33,000 for their one month of work, plus six months of “transitional pay”. My local PARTEI representative told me he will be up in just over three years. And as Sonneborn said: “We’re not the craziest ones in the European Parliament.”

Source: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/screw-you-senat/

Photo: John Riceburg

Everyone is lying about Tempelhofer Feld

12 May

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On May 25, Berliners can vote on whether the Tempelhofer Feld should be turned into a sand-box for realty speculators or maintained as an eccentric park. As with any political debate with billions of euros in profits at stake, the air is thick with misrepresentations. So, what are the biggest lies? Who’s doing the lying? And how should you vote if you want the field to stay the way it is?

1. The ballot paper is lying to you.

Say you want to save Tempelhofer Feld. Then you check “Ja” for the “Gesetz zum Erhalt des Tempelhofer Feldes” (law to conserve the field) on the ballot. That’s easy.

But there’s a second question right below: Do you support the “Gesetz zum Erhalt der Freifläche des Tempelhofer Feldes” (law to conserve the open area of the field)?

Sounds good too, right? But this other law from the Senat would allow for a “Randentwicklung” – that literally means a “development of the fringe”, but actually means that over 100 hectares will be turned over to realty speculators to build luxury condos, expensive shops and other buildings for the city’s extremely wealthy. The law’s misleading name doesn’t mean they have something to hide, right?

2. The Senat is lying to you.

The PR company advocating construction, Tempelhof Projekt GmbH and owned by the city, says they are planning to build “affordable housing”. But look at the numbers: They want to build 4700 apartments. There is an agreement – legally non-binding – between the city and realty companies that 850 apartments should have rents between €6-8 per square metre.

Obviously, €8 per square meter is not affordable. If a person living in such an apartment loses their job and has to go on Hartz IV, the Jobcenter will force them to move out. I asked if that was affordable at PR company’s information pavilion. “Well, the apartments won’t be for unemployed people,” I was informed.

So 850 apartments will be expensive but somehow “affordable”. By definition, that leaves 3850 apartments – a full 82 percent – that will be “unaffordable”. It’s true that the plans aren’t finalized yet. We could be optimistic and hope the rest will be cheap. But this government hasn’t built a single social apartment for 10 years – are they going to start right when park-side real estate opens up?

3. Seymour Gris is lying to you.

Now Seymour Gris is an optimistic guy. But he can’t really be naive enough to think that building “will have a positive effect on rental prices,” as he wrote back in January on this site. The luxury condos will be sold to Russian oligarchs and Qatari sheiks who need a place to park some capital. Maybe they’ll even drop by once a year for a crazy party. But that won’t free up any Berlin apartments.

In fact it will raise the rent index in neighbouring districts, thus allowing rent increases for old apartments too. If Seymour is so excited about throwing money at Berlin’s construction mafia, why doesn’t he just put some cash in an envelope and stuff it in their mailbox?

And before anything could be built on the field, the taxpayer will have to shell out at least €180 million to build streets and sewers, according to a secret internal report.

4. This whole referendum idea is lying to you

The information pavilion refers to Bürgerbeteiligung (“citizens’ participation”). Its windows were smashed on April 12. Angry Berliners spray-painted: “This is our form of citizens’ participation!” Because the government has held some public discussion forums, but always carefully stage-managed to prevent citizens from saying anything.

Last year we asked people at the field to sign a petition in favor of construction. We collected exactly 0 signatures. Now satirical activists have called for filling the Weißensee and building apartments there – the idea is equally popular.

This might be more democracy than usual, but expats still can’t vote. Even EU citizens who will be voting in the European elections on May 25 won’t be allowed to vote on the park.

Don’t put up with everyone lying to you. Vote “JA” on the ThF-Gesetz and “NEIN” to the senate’s proposal. And if you can’t vote, then convince someone who can.

Source: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/everyone-is-lying-to-you-about-tempelhofer-feld/

New apartments, anyone? Anyone?!?

14 Nov

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Who in Berlin wouldn’t want new apartments?

It’s a Sunday afternoon and the sun is shining. A colleague and I have gone to Tempelhofer Feld, once an airport and now a 355-hectare park, to find the answer to this question. We have a giant banner – “5000 new apartments and a new city library!” – and petitions so that visitors can express their support for the government’s plans to put this giant field to use with housing, a library, a school and more. The Tempelhofer Projekt GmbH recently wrote in a press release that their plans for construction implement “citizens’ wishes”. So we set up at a Neukölln entrance to the park in order to find a few of these citizens.

People walk past us with strollers, kites and bicycles. They smile and approach us – and then they see the banner. “Wait, you’re for the construction of the field?!?” Whether they are young people with dreads, new parents with babies or old people with canes, the smiles disappear: “Nein!” “Auf keinen Fall!” “Tschüss!”

My colleague and I had even dressed in bright red to avoid being confused with the activists from the initiative 100% Tempelhofer Feld in their lime green jackets who oppose any construction.

We studied all the arguments in favor:

“There will only be construction around the edges, no more than 15 percent of the total space,” I tell an inline skater, “so there will still be an enormous field in the middle.” You don’t need a full 355 hectares for skating, right?

“New apartment buildings will release pressure on the housing market” my colleague reassures two young men, “and the city needs housing.” We smile like Mormon missionaries – we won’t be deterred in our quest for signatures.

When people say “they’re only going to build luxury apartments”, we repeat the government’s promise that half of the housing will be affordable. But then we have to admit that this is only a non-binding declaration of intent, and in this case “affordable” means €6-8 rent per square meter. “I could only afford that if I squeezed onto two meters” says a bike rider as he drives away.

We repeatedly hear that there are enough empty apartments in the city or enough space elsewhere to build new housing. Most people snort and walk off, but some get really angry. “People like you should be beaten up!” says a middle-aged woman we assume is a preschool teacher. At least she used the respectful Sie form to threaten violence.

Somewhere out there must be Berliners who favor the construction plans. But after almost an hour, we still haven’t found a single one who wants to sign. The woman a few meters away with a petition against construction has gathered 30 signatures. This seems, at least according to our experiment, to be the wish of the citizenry.

Source: http://www.exberliner.com/blogs/the-blog/john-riceburg-new-apartments/

Picture: Benjamin Pritzkuleit

Wir sagen mal Ja zum Beton

13 Nov

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Unterschriften gegen Neubauten am Tempelhofer Feld ­sammeln kann ja jeder. Aber dafür? Berlin braucht doch Wohnungen. Wir haben einen Selbstversuch gewagt

“Lobbykacke!” Das ruft uns ein dünner Herr mit grauen Haaren zu, als er mit dem Fahrrad vorbeirast. Vorbei an uns. Und unserem Plakat: “Feld bebauen – jetzt!” Der Mann will offenbar keine 5 000 neuen Wohnungen in Berlin. Selbst schuld.

Es ist ein strahlender Sonntag im Herbst, viele Menschen gehen vom Neuköllner Schillerkiez auf das Tempelhofer Feld. Am schmalen Tor stehen wir. Ein Journalist, seine Begleiterin, eine Unterschriftenliste und ein Banner, das ein befreundeter Grafiker gemacht hat: “Neue Landesbibliothek. 5 000 neue Wohnungen.”

So, wie es der Senat vorhat mit dem ehemaligen Flughafenareal. Dagegen will die Initiative 100 % Tempelhofer Feld bis zum Januar 174 000 Unterschriften für ein Volksbegehren gegen jegliche Bebauung am Feld sammeln. Dabei versicherte doch die stadteigene GmbH Tempelhofer Projekt per Pressemitteilung, der Senatsbauplan setze nur “Bürgerwünsche” um.

Wir sind heute hier, die Bürger zu diesen Wünschen zu suchen.

Ein paar Meter weiter steht eine Frau, die Unterschriften für das Volksbegehren sammelt. Gegen die Bebauung. Gegen uns. Sie guckt ein paarmal zu uns rüber. Was die wohl denkt?

Und die Bürger kommen. Mit Kinderwagen, Fahrrädern und Drachen. Viele lächeln, bieten gleich Unterschriften für unsere Liste an. Der schnelle Erfolg überrascht uns. Wir erklären nochmals unser Anliegen. Das ändert alles.”Waaaas?” Ihr seid für die Bebauung? Nicht dagegen?”

Dabei haben wir uns extra knallrot angezogen, um uns von den limettenfarbenen Jacken unserer Gegner abzuheben.

Nun aber trifft uns die geballte Verachtung der Bürger. “Nein, danke!” – “Das will ich nicht!” – “Tschüss!” Eine Dame mit Filzhut wütet gar: “Leuten wie Ihnen würde ich am liebsten eine runterhauen!” Dann schimpft sie noch über den “Schwachsinn” der “Investoren”. Immerhin siezt sie uns.

Die Frau von der Bürgerinitiative nebenan ist sehr freundlich. Sobald die Menschen sich entsetzt von uns abwenden, läuft sie ihnen hinterher und gibt ihnen die Gegenliste. Ihre Kollegin dagegen beschimpft uns: “Wer bezahlt euch denn?”

Aber so schnell geben wir nicht auf. Wir sind schließlich argumentativ voll auf Senatsebene. “Höchstens 15 Prozent des Feldes sollen bebaut werden”, erkläre ich einem Inlineskater, „da wird es immer noch eine riesige Freifläche in der Mitte geben!“ Zum Skaten braucht man doch nicht ganze 355 Hektar, oder? “Neue Wohnungen werden den Markt entlasten”, predigt meine Kollegin kurz darauf zwei jungen Männern. Und den nächsten Passanten versichere ich, als wäre ich Michael Müller persönlich: “Es sollen nicht nur Luxuswohnungen entstehen! Auf der Tempelhofer Seite wird auch bezahlbarer Wohnraum gebaut!” Die Leute gucken kurzzeitig interessierter. Bis wir zugeben, dass “bezahlbar” eine Kaltmiete von sechs bis acht Euro pro Quadratmeter bedeutet. Wir können ja auch nichts dafür.

“Das kann man nur bezahlen, wenn man sich auf zwei Quadratmeter zusammenquetscht!”, sagt ein Fahrradfahrer. “Sozialbauwohnungen in öffentlicher Hand wären gut”, grübelt ein junger Mann, der ein bisschen bekifft wirkt. Andere schimpfen: “Berlin hat schon genug leer stehende Wohnungen!” Oder: “Es gibt genug Fläche für Neubau, wenn sie überall neue Baumärkte errichten können.”

Eine Stunde und einige Beleidigungen später geben wir auf. Unsere Bilanz: keine einzige Unterschrift für mehr Wohnungen. Die Ausbeute der Volksbegehren-Frau in dieser Zeit: 30.

Quelle: http://www.tip-berlin.de/kultur-und-freizeit-stadtleben-und-leute/Volksbegehren-Tempelhofer-Feld

Bild: Benjamin Pritzkuleit