Conversations and Events from Yesterday, Saturday 22 at SHE Berlin
Wow, what an amazing introduction to Berlin.
I woke up on a couch in the community floor flat of a community share project in Berlin. I'm not even sure where it was. Hitch hiking on Friday for 10 hours left me in a dizzy state that lasted through my arrival at the community share flat that prohibited me from remembering street names. I do remember that I had my first sight of the fallen WALL on my walk to the location.
Robin and I had a nice walk and also caught a ride on the M10 Tram that stops near Rigaer Str. I was greeted by many new friends. Pavlik from Poland and Yurian from Belgium. We talked over coffee about how a Federated communications system is a beneficial addition to the league of OPEN-oriented individuals and organizations we are touching more often and on a regular basis. There's a real sense, as we talk, that there is enough as far as resources and time, and that our challenge is coordination, respect, and trust.
I mentioned Status.net as an example of a standard for a micro-blogging format for the Federated system. We also talked about OAuth in addition to OpenID and how these technologies are now foundational for a networked multi-participant communications system. I then sat down with Robino and Jeremy to discuss some housekeeping issues. We wrote some documents for the wall about how small groups can do work during the conference and share that work with the community.
At 6pm 6 of the Nomads, including myself, set out for the Kamps Backerei dumpster. We brought back 50 or more loaves of heavy, tasty German breads as well as more than enough sweet pastries for breakfast. We enjoyed the bread with a stew composed of onions roasted in wine with brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Dinner is served at the Tea Haus every night under the auspices of the Volks Kutchen project. Dinner is 2E in most of the kitchens. What a great feeling! Every place is home :) Afer dinner I worked on the NomadBase site for a while setting up soem features that will collect conference information together. After that it was time to head out on the town with Jeremy and Sam! Off o the Berghain. We arrived at 1:15 to find a line of 400+ people waiting in 12c weather to enter this exclusive Berlin techno hotspot. We had heard it was exclusive and as we enjoyed a good conversation we became more and more nervous as it became apparent that 30% of the people who reached the door were not permitted entry! As we got closer we saw the droogs watching the door. The lead droog was sporting a pony tail of jet black hair that framed a menacing tattoo etched down the right side of his face across his eye. One shrug of his head to the left, pointing towards the exit set the other 2 droogs in action, waving the waiting parties off into the cold night. No Dancing for you! The club is the re-invention of a gay club, and it was also apparent that women had a 50/50 chance, and men, especially pretty ones, had a 70-80% chance. Needless to say our delightful (and nervous!) trio was permitted entry and we daned until 930 AM when we walked home amongst the strolling Berlin sidewalk traffic. The Berghain is only a 1km from the Tea Haus! I slept well and woke today in time to have some coffee and conversation with Tea Haus staff before starting work with the Drupal folks on the NomadBase site. At the moment we're working on upgrading profiles and giving out some tours to Drupal to others who haven't yet used the system for managing websites and building out organizational communication systems. There's still a lot of talk about crabgrass from RiseUp and we aren't yet in a position to quickly deploy crabgrass because the features needed for NomadBase aren't yet present. After dinner (which is more like lunch in Berlin, the city that really, really never sleeps) we'll head out again to see some of the sites around the town. We just finished getting a bunch of people online here using alternative DNS on the Tea Haus network. Here's that information: DNS: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 You may also need to edit a etc/resolv.com file if you are on Linux. Dinner tonight is in prep mode now, and a group of 15 of us are sitting around chatting, hacking, writing and generally enjoying the relaxed atmosphere that this city is swathed in. As an example, this morning our walk home took us through a strip of land peripheral to the train tracks. We needed to hop a rather tall industrial fence to get on a stairway to an overpass in order to save a 1km backtrack. We noticed an official from the railway and my peers and I reflected on the implications. We were about to go off the reservation, and this official might have an opinion about it. He didn't say anything. Berlin is not a place where people critique each other. There's space, time, and resources for everyone. There are many other issues in such an environment, but peer policing and peer pressure are not on the list.
I have an inquiry: how does the Berlin environment inform and co-create the issues that projekt communities regularly encounter here? I heard that it is very common here for a project that rents space from a landlord to be required to have a single individual on file as the responsible party for the rent and liability of the the rental contract. In general I would think this would create issues with power sharing in long term projekts, but I don't know if this is really the case or not. What are some examples of the methods used for participatory democracy in small, medium, and large sized communities here in Berlin? Are these methods sufficient to allow for the emergence of effective resource management schemes? If so, how are these schemes working together in the larger community for the benefit of all? Is there another level/layer of participatory community that has already arrived in the sense of a broad consensus about resource management and long term planning? What can the NomadBase projekt learn from Berlin? The Volks Kutchen seems to be such a consensus. In reference to this projekt and the community of Berlin Ike, a staff member of the Tea Haus, said that "you can always eat. If you have no money, you still eat. You have the pay next time, but you eat." I was just asking Jeremy if there's a name for this wider community in Berlin. I was asking to see if such a thing had emerged or not as much as I was wondering what it was. Apparently there is no name, but there is a website! http://www.stressfaktor.squat.net/ Jeremy asked Ike what to call this community and he said "The Leeches! Just sucking everything out!" Jeremy said "The Village" or "The Family." Because Berlin seems to have so little coercive pressure, in any direction (squat raids and riots aside, of course) perhaps the community is simply allowed to be whatever you perceive it to be, and everyone really can have their own conception and name for it. Perhaps.
On that note I was reminded that on the journey back from the bread skipping last night our tram ride was halted 2km before our destination because of a solidarity action preventing the raid and eviction of a squat in the neighborhood of the Tea Haus. The pressure for reform of some kind are real in Berlin and I don't want to downplay something I certainly can't claim to understand. In the case of those who tenancy is in some way in question with regard to the legality or business arrangement with the paper holding property owner the pressures are very real. In many cases it appears, though, that this alternative culture, running on very low currency input, functions as a real and preferable alternative to the day to day capitalist, profit-driven, disconnected culture that is so prevalent in other world renown cities of the size of Berlin. Fascinating! Come! Stay! Enjoy! Berlin!