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entstanden im Rahmen des Projekts urban commons \\ Kassel - Athen des Fachgebiets Urbane Praxis des Fachbereichs asl der Universität Kassel unter der Leitung von Markus Bader, unterstützt durch Tristan Lannuzel im Sommersemester 2015 mitwirkende Studierende: Alexander Derksen (ad) Arthur Detterer (det) Dennis Gleitze (dg) Floriana Cane (fc) Jasper Thalmann (jt) Jon Rohrbach (jr) Jörg Schrader (js) Jürina Luka (jl) Lisa Wagner (lw) Nancy Smolka (smo) Nora Buhl (nb) Patrizia Haggenmüller (ph) studentische Redaktion: Jon Rohrbach Jörg Schrader Jürina Luka Nancy Smolka Nora Buhl Patrizia Haggenmüller

contents chapter 1 searching for commons learning from experts

the city development of athens talk about a commons‘ openness the legacy of exarchia and navarinou park rhetorics of the crisis

personal impressions

naked athens to own a world heritage elliniko - a vacant, and a lost space? ruins of our time or maintaining a system running athens - a city of questions athens - personal stories impulse for commons consuming images and memories

visual impressions


common interaction

commoning in cassel chorals against over-regulation shiftng Friedrichsplatz public power napping commoning is about trusting each other posting questions

chapter 2 learning from athens

chapter 3 learning from athens II


introduction spatial (in)justice civic economy society, self-reliant play - create - rethink where is urban practice?

coming soon...

bibliography table of figures

The City Development of Athens - As shortly reported by Prof. Panayotis Tournikiotis, NTUA

The NTUA is closely linked with Greece’s struggle for independence, democracy and social progress. The demolished gateway remains as a memorial of the violent struggle in front of the main building. At the meeting with Professor Panayotis Tournikiotis and some of his students at the NTUA, we were shortly introduced to the city development of Athens to get an understanding of the current morphology. Afterwards a group of students presented their work on “Vacancy in Athens” as a multilayered phenomenon not exclusively attributed to the crisis. In Athens a certain sprawl of the buildings can be determined. This is due to discontinuous steps of city development and master plans. Entering the 19th century marks a change in the city‘s development by Schinkels students Schaubert und Kleanthes rationalized and strictly symmetrical Plans for Athens 1833: Including building grids with wide avenues and harmoniously and functionally inserted buildings. This can be seen as the beginning of Athens expanding towards the North and later to the South, bursting the former city wall. Until 1865, the actual core of the city

center was Omonia which marked the end of the city. Following the city‘s development from the 19th to the 20th century was the kind of metropolitan or cosmopolitan development of the city: Buildings were demolished to realize big squares, such as in front of the University, which translated Athens into a vibrant city.

The National Technical University (NTUA), also known as Athens Polytechnic, is the oldest and most prestigious educational institution of Greece in the field of technology. Its traditional campus, located in the center of the city of Athens on Patision Avenue, features a suite of magnificent neo-classical buildings by architect Lysandros Kaftantzoglou (1811–1885).

Omonia Square, Athens “The crisis now came to stick over the urban crisis, which was already there: The center faces the problems, while at the same time, the periphery is living in prosperity” - Prof. Panayotis Tournikiotis

The 1940s became to be known as a decade of modernity in which a new typology of Apartment Buildings, the Polytoikiakis, arises. Formerly two-story-buildings got replaced by these six-story-buildings with an enlarged, commercial zone at the groundfloor. On a larger scale, Omonia Square, the former center of Athens faces big changes. The Square has always been relevant and was formerly planned as the city center. It has since then been the first square in Athens developing into a square with an underground metro station at the beginning of the 20th century. Until the 1960s there was still an optimistic attitude to this car adapted development: The ability of driving around the squares has been seen as a sign of success in city development. The spreading of office buildings and apartments made the city urban and vibrant. Resulting in a really crowded, dense and polluted city which caused the arising of Suburbia Paradise out of the car adapted city. Alongside of that, a master plan under the rule

of decentralization being vowed in 1980, introduced nine peripheral centers, which had a powerful development with commercial and shopping centers and offices – all connected via highways. There was actually no metro network. At this time, plans for the city center included historization as a method to ‘pedestrialize‘ the city, especially for the unification of archaeological sites. Problematic aspects of historization appear in the renting and restoration of houses due suburbanization, because at the same time capital moved out of the city center, as well as all kind of department stores formerly located in the center. In the upcomming a group of students of the NTUA, tried to make an approach on how all that affects the urban morphology.

Following the question: Vacancy in Athens - a circumstance of crisis? “The city is constantly changing, it is shifting into different topographies. The build environment generates its own topography. And the condition of these buildings, is what defines this topography as a flow of moving citizens.”- NTUA Student Group * eventuell Namen herausfinden Following the approach of Athens as a multi layered construction: with the social layer, the build environment mosaic, the natural ecologies, the cultural asset, economies, stakeholders, administration and politics defining the city - the status of vacancy is an indicator of a longtime urban failures meeting the recent crisis. The obvious vacancy can quickly be connected to affects of an economic crisis, but has its roots in the past, namely in the decentralization process. The decentralization was not only about the people moving to the suburbs, it was about the dynamics of the city moving towards the suburbs. The relation between suburbs and city center has always been fragile and when the crisis started to affect the city center, this threat started trembling. Vacancy is described as a missing piece in the everyday experience of the city – it is nothing that appears as obvious as the lack of inhabitation by simply passing by the street. It is not only the build asset, it is how we move through the city and how the vacancy affects our presence and the functionality of areas. The students‘ group talked about the past by examining the present mor-

phology of the city, adhering that it “(...) looks like a small city moved out from the city center of Athens. There are different types of buildings, different functions of buildings, but they are all on board of the same narration: The relation between the center and the suburbs, it is the condition of the center in the years of crisis and it reveals the condition of the city center just before the crisis.“ - NTUA Student Group. (nb)

Unfinished building at the outskirts of Athens

A commons‘ openness - talk with Christina Thomopoulos of the Embros Theatre

A theatre from and for everyone, leaving space for the individual interest in a time of recess. Whilst public provision is increasingly being shut down, an initiative is fighting blood and sweat for culture. Sounds a bit marvelous, kind of heroic, doesn’t it? Looking for answers to urban planners’ nemesis, we met with two of Embros’ strongly involved, inviting also commoning professor Stavros Stavrides to join the clue. Christina, would you give us a first impression - an overview of how all this started? The theatre was reactivated in november 2011, after being closed for several years. The reactivation in 2011 started from a local group, collaborating with several other groups. They had a program happening, ten days of workshops and things - works in progress, actions, performances - but also involving the residents. Then there’d be a period when it was more closed and after two or three months maybe, there would be another program focussing on a completely different thing. One of the aspects was to bring together lots of different people working across disciplines, artists, ar-

chitects, theater performants… Then we wanted to emphasize process orientated work and also we were trying to open up a dialogue with an audience that wanted to participate. So it basically started as a space for non-commerce working. But then, the state tried to closed it. ..and everything was reorganizing. A lot of support was gathered, others left - I think, only two people from the original collective stayed - and the discussions started on what to do next. Not everyone agreed what should happen, but in the end the open assembly started, this weekly assembly every sunday, 7 to 10, which is open and which means that

An assembly in Embros theatre‘s showroom (no commercial use)

Communication notice from Christina Thomopoulos

anyone can just come and participate and propose stuff, also regarding the day-to-day things. And that‘s been the way it‘s been running since then. So since then you’re working in a completely open group. How do dynamics work in such a group? I think it‘s important to say that it‘s really heterogenous, everything happening here. Like, one day to the next could look completely different; different atmosphere, different people, different ideas. Which is good in the sense, that that means that there‘s a dialogue happening, but I think there‘s a trap: The dialogue isn‘t happening between the groups - it‘s within the groups. So, just because people are using a space that‘s diverse doesn‘t mean they‘re actually questioning their own ideas about things. But if there isn‘t a space to reflect - and to self-critique also, it‘s easy to fall into more normalized ways of using creative pracitices. I re-

member a discussion where people were saying that performing arts festivals shouldn’t only be theatre, performance, dance, music - but that categories are blurred and also, for example, architecture is a form of performance. But other people just couldn‘t understand it. And I think that sometimes there is the risk, if there isn‘t a space to cross-reference or exchange between genres or between ways of working, that there can be a tendency to make private space within a commons space or within an occupation. For example when someone makes a proposal for a performance on one evening and within that period of time, it‘s only that space and that space doesn‘t question it‘s own boundaries. There‘s an approach of tolerance, but none of acceptance and I think that‘s a problem. Because it’s acceptance to co-exist, but not wanting to. And I think that‘s actually really sick. Because there‘s nothing invigorating about that, there‘s nothing shifting.

Nobody’s emotionally there, they‘re not intellectually there, they‘re not critically there, they‘re just physically there. So you have differences in opinions and thoughts, but what is it that you have in common as an orientation for a diverse developing culture or environment? I think this is one of the points that Embros has not been so honest about. Whenever the conversation comes to that, somehow it stops or something urgent suddenly comes up and we have to deal with something else. I think that there have been many efforts to try and create this common base in many different ways and I think, maybe it has to do with people‘s different agendas and not being open about them. Because there is also a history in these kinds of spaces, that, when it‘s super-open or tries to be super-open, that it also means that there‘s no filter. And I think some people misinterpret a filter as a hierarchy, but I don‘t think it‘s a hierarchy. A filter is just something you implement, because you have values and you have an idea you want to develop and you‘re not saying that it‘s better or worse than something else. But it makes you actually give space to have a critical relationship to what you’re doing and not just be comsumptionist and eat whatever you’re given. Would you say you’d need something like a manifesto? I think, for such a heterogenous group, the orientation would be needed. How does decision-making look like in such an assembly - how do you maintain the daily business? These processes can tend to fall into their own self-fulfilling prophecies. Doing the same thing you‘re always

doing, having the same disagreements over and over again. And you’re like: After so many times, aren‘t you bored? Can‘t we find something else - a way to move past it? For some people, this can be good - doing something instead of doing nothing. But I think people who are maybe more accustomed to these things can feel frustrated about it. I guess, one way to face this would be to really self-reflect - and then collectively reflect about it and not have any illusions that this was the best thing ever - but also not sitting at your own pity party and saying everything is horrible. How do you deal with the economy that is kind of invisible behind this project space? This has been a very tricky point, because the desire to act without

The discussion

Impression from the theatre‘s lobby

money doesn‘t mean that you are acting without money and because you‘re saying you‘re a non-commercial space doesn‘t mean that you‘re not using resources. It‘s just usually the case that each person is basically funding their own stuff. And in case there is some collective money, that is the money that we‘ll pay for toilet paper or soap, for example. I think at some point there was a shift in terms of monetarism, when some big festivals started making lots of money and became very focussed on numbers, lots of people coming and consuming. I think that some kinds of activities just have a more consumption-kind of character embedded in them. At least when there has to be a bigger budget to actually make something happen, they‘re trying to cover costs. But, for me the question would be, that, if you want to have a really big budget, why not just do it commercially? Thatt‘s very allianating, because I think it‘s also not something that everyone has agreed on; collectively. Something that is a collective vision or a collective desire that we’d like to raise money for - the vision just ends up being making lots of money. And then noone knows really how much it is and where it‘s going and who‘s using it and why and why there even used to be so much money involved

if you‘re talking about a DIY-kind of approach. For me it seems like something‘s involved that you don‘t really want to be focussing on. Thank you Christina. Before we turn to Stavros Stavrides, one last question, off-topic: Now that most of us are in Athens for the first time, we seemed to be somehow searching for something that is being projected upon our minds by the media a lot, but we find it completely invisibile, which raises even more curiosity. It‘s like watching a trailer: It‘s never gonna be the same in the film. So why don‘t you just stop watching the trailer and just watch the film? I‘ve encountered many people who come visit Greece and say: ‘Oh, I thought there was gonna be more protests or more burning stuff!’ And I‘m trying to be humorous about it, but I always feel quite sad and kind of empty when people say things like that. Not because they‘re not nice people - but because I feel that we’re still there. (jr)

The legacy of Exarchia and Navarinou Park

It was a sunny wednesday afternoon when we had a meeting with Anna Giulia della Puppa, an Italian Anthropologist living and writing her dissertation about the Exarchia neighbourhood. This, and our aims of exploring urban commons in Athens are reasons to have an interview with her at Navarino. A park, originally an abandoned area that used to be a parking lot, which aroused when residents started to tear the bottom in 2008. Broken cement and a lot of commitment were the reasons that volunteers started to plant this place the following year. The strong social movement is not even measurable with regards to the thousands of people passing by every single day. But the whole district, organized by assemblies, shows a strong community involvement. Anna, retrospectively to the first days of the Park, how can we imagine the decision making processes? Was Navarinou a political project from the beginning on? The project started as a spontaneous process of gathering at a place. In addition to that Exarchia is one of the oldest neighbourhood assemblies in Athens. That is how the story of the Navarinou Park began. Due to the feeling of liberation and free space, the people felt free to plant trees and aswell, they have done something political. It was something political in the way of a process, like creating a place to negotiate posi-

tions, ideas and visions. What does this park mean to the people in Exarchia? What was the establishment of the park about? Nearly everywhere in Athens, but especially in Exarchia, there was an ongoing discussion about “identities”, who we are, and what we want to do with our space. So the creation of the park was a reclaim of city space. In terms of Henri Lefebvre it is explained with “droit à la ville”: Working on a space that is supposed to be build in a vertical relationship, to destroy it and followed by rebuilding in a

The self-organized Navarinou park in Exarchia (I).

The self-organized Navarinou park in Exarchia (II).

horizontal manner. Reclaiming of the spaces occur through assemblies and negotiation. It is the main word of the uprising in 2008. A Negotiation of identities, negotiation of activities and ideas. The self-organizational approach like in the navarinou park is very unusual. Are there special conditions in Exarchia which enabled this? There is no specific identity in this neighborhood. Very normal people are living here in this area. Of course a lot of politically left sided people, anarchists, are acting. But the identity in this area is always linked with the legacy. It is the ability and the willingness to create links with other people. Exarchia is a network. You can not only be named as a resident because of living in this district. Rather, it matters how far you take care of this place. This is the dynamic of exarchia. It is a social relation. Exarchia is a place for me where especially we, as foreigners, of-

ten encounter usually stigmatized people. Homeless people, drug users or refugees to name it. You can recognize that the citizens have a specific way of dealing with them, which is different to middle europe. What defines this approach? They are accepted. Staying in Exarchia makes you sure, that you are not living in fear of being confronted with the police or group of fascists. I think it is a safe place for being different in any way. Acceptance is the most likely word which we are dealing with. To explain it with an example: Tolerance is to think in the way of ‘I don’t care if you stay at this place, you can do it if you like to. I don’t mind‘, ‚of course you can sit here at the square.‘ But to discern, accepting someone is to get him involved in the dynamics where you are in. It is a matter of relation. Tolerance is not a kind of relation, but rather acceptance is to agree with someone. And to relate the topic of acceptance to Exarchia: of course fascists are not tolerated in this neighborhood, not only not

accepted. The main reason why they are not accepted is the social and political identity of the place. It is based on the people respecting each other and deciding who contributes to this legacy. As long there is an ideology which suppresses another kind of cultural vision of life, it is not welcome. If we look around this location here, the plants are flourishing although the warm and dry climate. Are there enough people who take care of the park? The participation in the building, the political and the social process of this place became less in the last years. The reasons are linked with the Syntagma Square Movement. For instance, a lot of people decided not to gather at a central place to show political action after the movements in 2008, but to rather bring experiences into their own neighborhood. Another reason for less participation is that after months of struggling and camping at Syntagma Square, nothing was gained from the movement. So, many people decided to be supportive but not active anymore. It became a huge problem for the park itself. As an open and active space lots of people passing by everyday are needed. Especially those who take a look at the plants and care of the dynamics. We missed this for a long period of time. But when I entered this place three years ago, even the assembly was not gathering anymore. Fortunately, there are lots of people with ideas that would change the situation. The people of the Polytechnical School for instance. With their attempt of sharing knowledge they let this square awaken. Three weeks ago (note of editors: counting from the day of the interview) we celebrated the birthday of the park with a big party and the place was alive, filled with people.

How do you predict the future of Exarchia? Do you think Exarchia could maintain this vivid and networked neighborhood? Exarchia would still exist if this kind of practice is going on. There are a lot of usual projects about this district. So a metro line is planned, which should pass the neighborhood with a station exactly under the square. But also the project ‘Rethinking Athens‘ collected ideas for pedestrianization of the Panakestineou Street. You see, even Exarchia is involved in gentrification processes. The main enemy of Exarchia nowadays are political identities. And this is the main difference between Exarchia, Navarino Park and the movement in 2008. There was a strong political identity. Identitiy not identities. They are highly important. I mean if you forget what social practice means for the neighborhood it would be extremly devasting. Such an ideologization would kill Exarchia. It is not an occupation, it is a neighborhood, and that is why it needs to live through social activities. If the things keep going as they go, the more important thing for Exarchia is to keep an energetic social activity, an active social role in the management of the place. The only chance for Exarchia to live is to keep on working on the practice. (js|ph|smo)

What is the characteristic of Exarchia and how do the people live there? A group discussion.

One part of Exarchia: Political and social graffiti.

The district Exarchia Exarchia is an outstanding self-organized, political area in the city of Athens. For a lot of people it is known as a left sided or anarchistic area. The historical neighborhood had been an external area in the periphery of the city. Due to the city‘s expanding in the 19th century it had been embedded in the centre. Exarchia is situated between two hills protecting the small streets characterizing the neighborhood, thus it became a spot for urban clashes. Since the 19th century it has been an area where a lot of students, intellectual and artist gather. Many student revolts have taken place, because of the NTUA which is also located around here. During the time of fascists some partisan groups were active in the area. Today the social links between the inhabitants, like the fox social centre, the political action and conflicts with the police are very characteristic for the neighborhood.

The self-organized Navarinou park in Exarchia (III).

Rhetorics of the crisis - reflective discussion with Anna Giulia della Puppa, Antonis Vradis and Yannis Kallianos

What do you think about Athens? Especially when you think about it as a place that has been characterized as a city in crisis for about five years – what does the city in crisis look like? How do you perceive the crisis? What are the first things that come to your mind? The answers can be categorized in both visual and atmospheric impressions. Some people stated that the ruins and empty houses are a very expressive sign of the ongoing crisis. But also that the image of the crisis the media projects onto Athens is a very negative one, and one can not really feel that media produced crisis by being in the city. There are a lot of people in the streets, but that‘s not a sign for a crisis but more or less a cause of the warm climate. There were a lot of graffitis based on the idea of confronting the capitalism or capitalistic thoughts in general. The more time you spent in the city, the more you will find different typesof indicators of the crisis. The geneal appearence of the city mixed with the contradiction of ho-

meless people sleeping on the street while having two or three empty building floors above them is a very confusing situation. It‘s like a first world society living in a third world city. On the other hand the mood of the people, given the circumstances, is still pretty good. Maybe because people have been to a much lower point in their life, and now the situation is bad, but not as bad as it has been some weeks ago. Which part do you think is representative of the crisis? When you compare the actual state of the city with what you thought the crisis in Athens would look like. It‘s hard to judge about something you have never seen any different before. For people who live in Athens, the change of the city during the crisis is very clear and they know which areas are effected the most by the crisis. If you are visiting Athens for the first time, you might end up with an opinion that is very subjective. Kerameikas for example, is a good place to get a look at the whole amplitude of

Discussing about what defines the city of crisis. Apparantly, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Discussion with Antonis Vradis, Yannis Kallianos and Anna Giulia della Puppa about different perceiptions of crisis.

the crisis. You are able to see very poor people, very rich people, and the inbetweeners who try to make the best out of their situation in this society. What the crisis in Athens actually looks like is not that easy to describe, so it‘s good to give a short background story on what happaned in the past, and maybe compare Athens with others cities in crisis. Detroit is a city that has been in a crisis for a whole decade now. And even for the most ignorant people it is easy to read the crisis. You drive through the city and there are pavements, traffic lights, but you don‘t really have any houses. Most of them are evicted, burned down or demolished. There is like one house very few blocks. It is like a ghost city. But it takes a long time to get to that point. The major problem is the perceiption of the crisis for people not being affected by it. Regarding the media, journalists stated that

they can‘t see the crisis because the cafés are still full, the people are still drinking beer and everything seems to be working fine. But of course, the people are not going to stop living. Even in war times people are still drinking beer and having coffee. Life goes on. In spite of it all, the city has changed indeed. The nightlife is still vibrant, but not even close to what it was before the crisis. Regarding the development of a city during a crisis, it takes a lot of time to actually see the crisis. A human relationship is a good comparism for that. You may have trouble for a very long time, and you may also feel that something is wrong, but the problem itself does not become visible until the very last moment. Even if the financial situation in greece is completely unsolvable like it basically was in 2010, the fassades are not going to come down over night. The crisis is a less physical one. It is not an earthquake. We are not trying to rebuild something that was destroyed. We are trying to understand something that is more long-term.

And it is important to understand that. It is not just the materiality and the physical appearance, but also the rhetorics of the crisis. There are long distances and short distances of change. Maybe it is more about a horizontal idea of who we are, about a social identity. Because if you believe the newspapers, tomorrow will alwys be apocalypse day for greece. Allthough it never happened. So you have to ask yourself, what kind of interactions did you have in Athens, and how did it change your perception of the crisis? There are several things the media implemented in our minds, and mostly prejudices towards the attitude of the people living in greece. ‚Athens is boycotting all the good things Germany is doing‘ and ‚it is behaving like a little child‘ are just a view shoutouts you might read or hear from the media. Those alarming words might indicate the apocalypse day allready mentioned, but it never feels like anything really bad is going to happen. On the other hand, there was a time when the media was full of images and videos about fighting people and the violence of the police, but it feels like the the topic of violent protest is something developtment of the crisis left behind. The focus of the media shifted towards economic problems, since the time of violent protests is over. Between 2008 and 2012 there was a rise of violent protests, but the situation got mitigated after the new election. People started to reflect what the crisis actually means to themselves, and regarding the rhetorics it is more about emergency terms, finance and deadlines. To be honest, we expected to see people protesting in the streets. It was kind of surprising that there was not one person protesting

during our time here. The privatization of Piräus seemed to be a big thing and a potential conflict for protesters. But there was no one protesting, and I asked myself: Why do the people not react to something like that? The answer is pretty simple: it‘s a fact that from 2008 to 2010, when the first big demonstrations happened, the greek society and the athenians went to a record amount of protests. If you enjoyed protesting for a good cause, it was like a paradise. There was like one big strike every month and people were really struggling because there was a hope that you can actually change things by demonstrating. But after two, three or almost four years of demonstration on the streets, the was an enormous repression and the people got tired. It was really disappointing for the people because they really tried to change something. They tried to occupy the main square and the parliament for over a month. They tried physically and symbolicly, but that didn‘t seem to affect the politicians. In 2012 there was a double election which is a good example of the rhetorics. Because they tried to delegitimize and to criminalize the city center, which happened through rhetorics about homeless people, imigrants and about the decay of the center in general. The physical aspect of that resulted in homeless people and imigrants getting arrested by the police. It was a specific political decision, advertised as a change of the city center in both symbolical and physical ways. And this resulted in the ‚rethink athens plan‘?

Changing the material world through rhetorics? Graffiti at Embros Theater, Athens.

Exactly. And the amazing thing about ‘Rethink Athens‘ is, that even in its title, it shows exactly the kind of connection we have been trying to convey on how important it is how you think about the city and especially how you talk about it if you have the power. I was living in London for quite a while, and our district was next to Hoxton, in north-east London. And that was allready a heavily gentrificated area. We, and slightly poorer people lived in a district called Haggerston, next to Hoxton. One day the estate agency started referring to our area to ‚East-Hoxton‘. And after a while people actually started calling it East-Hoxton, and the housing prices went up. And this is just a small example how the way you act and talk about an area, influences the way people think about it, and how this could be abused.

Let‘s talk about the duration of crisis. It has been like seven years now. How long do you feel and do the rhetorics stay believable. And when is the point when it becomes the new status quo, instead of the ongoing crisis. Because the rhetorics haven‘t changed so far? Maybe this is the sense of crisis that changes the rhetorics. I was with a group and they were talking about ‚civil war as a political paradigm‘. And I catches exactly the point of what we are talking about now from a material and a rhetorical standpoint. Of course it‘s a philosophers point of view, but I think it‘s very very true in some points. Because the main point is to change material reality through rhetorics. So it‘s the use of the rhetorical crisis to change indeed the material condition, of course not in way that it‘s better for the every day life or the common people, but on a different kind of level, a different kind of space in the city. The kind of idea of the city doesn‘t need any police or control. Because when you discipline a city within the emergency rhetorics, with active rhetorics on the crisis elements, the work is done. Is it possible that the rhetorics can change the view on crisis through the media or should the media manipulate, to show the truth? The media is the media, it is not the good or the bad it is a kind of rhetoric making. The media can contribute to discover where the truth is. If you go even nowadays to the islands in the years of crisis, it will affect you more and more that the crisis even not exists. The use of the summer as an industry is extremely different in the perception of crisis. If a German journalist would travel in August to Mykonos, he would not see crisis, the bars are full and the Greeks earn their money. So the truth does not

exist, just reality and the reality has many interpretations. How is it possible to deconstruct the image of crisis through visualizations and who is responsible for the image we’ve got? Even the word media, it’s a mediation between the reality and the receiver. So the weather they should lie or not is, they lie already, they always lie, but that’s their role like.The relationship between the discourse the rhetoric and the real and actually lived experience in the city and even in a way the political modulation. What is happening now, is a new chapter and a extremely dangerous one.It is growing a new nationalism, a new unity. We talk about the media and that’s narrative. Besides the economic, the focus is more on the people, but how are they affected by the crisis? It seems to be like a kind of problematization of a process of crisis and how it has affected the people. We see who is affected from the crisis, but we don’t hear anything about the cause and this is a issue as well. That’s exactly what is missing, the causes missing and the logical sequence. The Greece situation is like it was with Haiti, you reading how bad the situation is, and you feel a bit guilty, but as well you’re glad not to be there. But you’re not thinking about that your guilty lifestyle is moving some others in this direction. Could it be that the growth and shrinking phases of capitalism, gets an naturalization, and the people see this as a normal development with no need to change the system at least develop it?

It is about stopping to think about financial crisis as if it’s an earthquake. The financial crisis has a cause, and a clear one, people don’t want to talk about it but it’s there. We got to learn from that cause and try not to repeat it like a soundtrack. So it’s a question of understanding, what brought us here, is what create this rupture, to make sure it doesn’t happened again at whatever scale, you will not change the history of humankind over night, but it’s a try to push in another kind of direction. So we have to stop thinking how it will be, it will go back, but actually create something new, and this is the big challenge.

What are, in your perspective reasons for crisis and is a solution reachable with the current system of society and government? The question of scale, reproducing or saving the status quo and then the old parties come back to power would be a disaster. Do not make any institutions, any companies too big to fall. What is happening, is actually trying to save the state, which stays in the current system or parameters. But if its more local or smaller it can work way more direct, even in economic. It’s poverty in imagination. And the basic problem of power is inside the subject. (dg|ad)

As a recapitulating discussion of the field trip to Athens, the group met Antonis Vradis, Yannis Kallianos and Anna Giulia della Puppa to discuss about economic crisis affecting the city, our perceiption of it and the role of the media. The main aspects of rhetorics shaping the perceiption of the crisis, media reception and the documentation of our thoughts during the week in Athens were thematized as well. (nb)

Naked Athens One of the most famous works of Guy Debord (an activist and artist from Amsterdam) is „The Naked City“. He arranged a historical cityplan of Paris in a new way, according to his personeal experiences and emotions. The result shows different areas of the city, characterized by the atmosphere and connected through arrows with different thickness. „The Naked City“ breaks with standardized maps, wich neglect different views and experiences. The map „Naked Athens“, made by me, is an attempt to use the understanding of „The Naked City“ and adapt it to my personal experiences of a trip to Athens. You can see the city centre of Athens, where we spend a lot of time during our trip. Some areas, like the place of our hos-

tel, Exarchia and Omonia Square are very close to each other an connected through a big arrow. Other parts like pedestrian streets are conneted smaller and thin arrows. The work is used to recapitulate the field trip, with the focus one had during the trip. It highlights places of interest and frequency. (js)

The Naked City by Guy Debord

Naked Athens

To own a world heritage Akropolis hill in Athens

Athens is vital. Although it might be quite run down at the moment, there is some spirit in the air. There is life in the streets, initiatives and small businesses are spreading. We heard it being described as a „wild west situation“, one could call it a maybe naive, but thoroughly powerful start-up romanticism - there seem to be high hopes growing out of the recess that encourage the citizens to write new protocols - and that, you can feel throughout the city. But like in every tourist spot, as well in Athens you meet areas that are taken out of the spatial context. You are crossing a border when entering a bigger street or square and you are in Disneyland. You find yourself standing in a place, where the local majority becomes a powerless minority under the economical pressure of public interest. Without a permission or even the opportunity to permit, a space is taken over by a certain means and every former use is endange-

red to be vanished. It is replacement through consumption. The image of commercial tourism taking places out of their inhabitants‘ hands is omnipresent. It raises the question how legal in terms of public interest it can be, having a whole area become monofunctionalized and thereby more or less privatized through maybe only one spot. The paradox about this is, that - aside the seemingly unfair replacement of the, so to say, formerly advantaged inhabitants - the place actually opened up. It became accessible to way more people. But the feeling that is induced is that it was taken away. Is there a greater good through progress like the possibility of world-wide travel and interests like control over the neighborhood are overaged? Whose votes shall count in these questions? Inhabitants for sure do have a bigger interest in a place than tourists who visit once in a lifetime.

So what is the purpose of world heritage? It is easy to place a public interest on top of a personal interest on a local or national level. Putting a global political interest on top of a national interest, on the other hand, nowadays appears like fighting windmills. But as soon as it is an economical interest, it is the easiest thing. That leaves a bad taste even on a seemingly democratically legimate approach. Declaring a world heritage formulates the need for a piece of nature or culture to be contained, so cultural history and diversity worldwide can be secured. It informs the world about these goods and thus makes them accessible. It also brings economical advantages to an area, while it dest-

roys its grown cultural context. In case of the Akropolis, it is a completely gated, regulated area. A quite natural, public space, where no food nor sunscreen is allowed, only to walk and watch. What would happen, if it was acquirable? What do Athenians house owners do, whose neighborhood has become a plastic souvenir shopping mall? What is common interest then? (jr)

Tourist masses on the stairs to Akropolis

Elliniko - a vacant, and a lost space? One of the airport‘s vacant terminals. The caption sign has already known better days.

Named after the southern suburb of Athens, the former commercial airport is located in seven kilometers linear distance from the city center. Formerly, as it has been closed in 2001 and replaced by the Athens International Airport due to noise restrictions after a 63-year operation. Even today the terrain - 14 years after the official closure - is left unused. Fences demarcate it from the public. A makeshift solution? But physical limits never keep urbanists from practicing. That is why we got a closer look on the the spatial situation of Ellinikos - for the purpose of empirical stocktaking. The image which we got after exceeding the fence is the mummification of a interchange. A place in hibernation. Weeds grow out of control between concrete slabs. The grass of the green areas is dried up and the cornerstones are rusting.

The signs reminiscent of times when the two hangars have been converted to sports stadiums specially for the Olympic Games. But barbed wire is blocking our access, entering the halls is not desirable. Are we undesirable? Some participants passed the entrance hall by bike, the square is bordered by barrier tape. Apparently the place is not as lifeless as we accepted. The uniformed security personnel asked us in broken English for remaining outside. And we, we missed to ask which benefit this building has in this day and age. During our little tour the problem of this area became clear to us. There is lot of potential for these places. Potential, but which remains unused. Why is there barely interest for the conversion of this space? Comparisons are made with the Tempelhof Airport again.

Images of green spaces occupied by pioneers - urban gardening, and the played taxiway emerge. But in comparison the Mediterranean runway in Athens is barren, loveless. Interest about this place by residents do not excist. What are the reasons? (smo)


Collage of palm trees and areal image

Ruins of our time or maintaining a system running One of several empty sites in Kolonos, Athens

In times of economic crisis, as faced by Greece, the state is not able to maintain all infrastructural functions of our everyday life. The question is, what do we take for guaranteed to be a public good? And which reconfigurations are made by the inhabitants to keep the system running? Topics of property, ownership in means of the possibility of access and rethinking/reconfiguration of ownership structures are very present topics. Not only in Athens but especially the reuse and activation of abandoned areas became relevant. The upcomming practices of commoning can rather be seen as an arising out of need than lifestyle, causing an increase of neighborly help and forcing social solidarity. A walk through Kolonos, a former worker district near the city center of Athens, reveals what it takes to main-

tain a system running. The middleclass apartment buildings have been part of an envisioned prosperous city development, in which much space is needed to be filled with investorled improvement. Therefor you can now find many inbetween spaces as walking through Kolonos - empty sides, demolished for further development, which never came into being. The characteristic six storey buildings form peaceful arrangements. The south-sided hide from the sun. The street lighting forms the rudimentary connection across the street, reminding each building to maintain position - to maintain the system running. The signs trying to maintain the fragile system are visible. Admonishing fire walls expose the placeholders of ephemeral visions of the city.

In the meantime a very own vision established itself into the setting, conquering the urban space.The remaining appear established, ready to fill in the gaps former visions have left. „In practices of collective improvisation and collective inventiveness common spaces are created in which people not only express their anger and needs but also develop forms of life in common. True, those forms are fragile, precarious, often ephemeral and sometimes contradictory in terms of ideological premises or values. But this collective and factual production of common spaces reinvents dissident politics, gives new form to practices which overspill the boundaries of dominant social roles.� - Statement of Stavros Stavridis| Communities of Crisis, Squares in Movement

Can we consider these places the ruins of our time? Ruins can be defined as the remains of a building, city, etc., that has been destroyed or that is in disrepair or a state of decay. Some ruins can be considered plain devasted buildings out of function. But what makes the difference in achieving an iconic status? What is it, what we perceive as ruins, crisis, emergency? There is something wrong as we simply judge a situation casually glancing at it and being satisfied by stereotypes coming true, led by bias. One can also see these empty sites representing the conditions that form and shape our society. Therefor these modern ruins are the turning point of predetermined planning into practices of reconfiguration of ownership, accessability and utility. (nb)

Apartment Buildings Kolonos, Athens

Athens - a city of questions Map of Athens. In there I illustrated and located my impressions of the most visited areas

One week in Athens was full of impressions and new experiences. The following page is about my collected questions of one week Athens. Where is the crisis? Empty spaces on the groundfloor. Is this crisis? I see infrastructure that used to be temporary but gets permant over the time. Is this crisis? Where do we see the crisis? Or is it good that there are invisible spaces left? How can you survive in the city of crisis? How do people get along? Is it normal? What is normal? Are there two scales: one is the crisis and the other one is the normal life of the people? What is the urban environment we are living in? Is Athens rich in space? What happens to the empty sites in the area? Are there spaces with noncommercial use? What are the ruins show us? What are invisible ruins? How do we reframe this word nowadays? Can crisis be positive in Where are the commons?

But where are the commons? Where are the sharing things? Are they invisible? Why are the people not gathering and occupying the free spaces, evolving new ideas on the place? Is commoning a lifestyle thing or is it created from a need to production? What is the common of a group? Is it a common action? Or is it a common declaration? What is Embros? Is it a project? Is it a platform? Is it a community? Is it an institution? Who is included in commons? What does commoning look like in the end? How are the commons related to public space? Who makes decisions? If two people play chess, is this a common? How should communities organize themself inwards and outwards? How can commoning operate in a capitalistic system? What means their consistant realization? Is a gated community also a Common?

Athens - personal stories Pireus Tower This skyscraper used to welcome the guests from the sea. Nowadays it is empty. A dark passage runs through the tower. It is cold, windy and smells bad. At the end of the tunnel appears the enlighted sign of „Europabank“. The sign reflects in a puddle of the ground of the passage. Maybe irony of fate? Encounter with a forgein man We are in a ordinary street of Pireus. A man ask me if we were tourists and wether we got lost. One block ahead the atmosphere is much more pleasant. Helpfulness? Shame? Unawareness? Urban Landscape We are crossing huge streets, walking on little sidewalks. Cars blocking our way, plants recapture their place and I try to absorb all the impressions. The different heights of the buildings build an irregular line. The typology of the buildings is nearly the same nevertheless every house looks different. It seems essential building a different house than the neighbor. Are there no restrictions for the building of houses? Sometimes the mess of the buildings looks like a new landscape. Playing chess We are in a lovely area walking through a small park - especially old people relaxing, having talks and sitting around. Two of them set out above a carton a chessboard. I have never seen two people playing chess in public space. Welcome to Greece The big advertisment is eye-catching. Beyond the sign people sit on a huge bench. They seem to be migrants.

Kids are feeding the pigeons. The traffic flows and is noisy. This scene makes me think about the refugees and the way they are treated in Europe. Metaxourgheio or the crisis as a good one A lot of immigrants live in this area. A few years ago it was a dangerous area due to drug dealing and prostitution. Over the last years lots of bars, creative offices and workspaces arose. An investor bought 5% of Metaxourgios buildings and vacant lots. He wanted more and more. The crisis stopped his glorious plans. Suburbia It is our last day in Athens and we are going to the beach. An old public bus takes us there. We are passing the typical suburb area. Looking closely, I see all the empty houses and the signs for sale. A huge amount of them are not finished. They are everywhere. I see a Porsche store with a huge empty area in front of the building. That used to be for the pretentious cars. Now there is garbage and emptyness. (ph)

People playing chess in a public park


Impulse for commons Latraac at Keramaikos Athens, shows how an initiator and the public can interact by utilizing the internet.

Where the crisis takes place is irrelevant, whether it is in Spain, Italy, Ireland or like now in Greece. The current scenario shows clearly that the existing social and economic paradigm is not sustainable in this form. Through severe economic crisis in Greece, the State is not able to serve all public services, leading to an increase of civilian activity. The crisis thus forms the dynamic moment that drives the population of passivness to activeness. Activity in the sense, that prevalent themes have to be rethought. Such as the understanding of property, from sole ownership to common goods, from possession to sharing, from individualism to collectivism. Those changes, deliver a impetus for the practice of commoning. The experience of the pure profit idea not leading to the prosperity for all, has been made in Greece and rejection is seen and can be felt in Athens. It is the diverse neighborly activities, jointly organized places and public

spaces,which promotes the lost imaginary of social capital, initiated by the people. Of course the economic problems will not solely be solved through commoning. But nevertheless, it provides steps to a hybrid system of both. The example of Latraac, shows that even selfishness (as a characteristic of our current system), is in some way necessary for the development of a common property. The person pursues an personal interest with high motivation. As a side effect and not as the primary goal, this interest may have positive effects on its neighborhood. It shows that egoism does not preclude a collaborative work, as he has utilized numerous aids, whether crowdfunding or the benefits of different networks the project profits from. By flattening a lack of know- how by gaining help and knowledge from outside.

Commoning is more than just sharing time, labor and goods. Moreover, it is clear that there are different triggers for such a shift in consciousness, on the one hand the economic crisis we are experiencing in Athens at the time. But also, perhaps not with the same urgency, the Internet that makes it possible for a society in absolute prosperity to share the abundance, which also creates social capital. (ad)

The project of Latraac which may generate a common good through single work.

Consuming images and memories The city of Athens and th Acropolis view from the Acropolis Museum

The landscape of Athens looks like a big grey and dense moltitude of buildings eating every space of the city. Walking down the streets the Acropolis desappears, hidden by 9/10 floors hight block of flats.From Omonia you can finally see the Acropolis. It‘s well lighted and pretty, with the blue sky behind it. It‘s printend on a big billboard hanging on the side wall of a massive building with no opening and it says „welcome to Greece!“. The real Acropolis is just behind the billboard, maybe you can catch a glimpse of it, the real folly that everyone want to have in „a selfie“ on the smarthphone. Big game of consumption of images. Up on the hill, after crossing gates and controls everyone can shoot the best profile, fisheye or not doesn‘t matter, the selfie stick is a must. This phantomatic place, right in the mediterranean and famous all over the world for being the birthplace of democracy, looks like a place of culture as a consumer good. The consume of images at the Akropolis repropose the question of mummification of historial buildings and acheologial

sites in manies cities. It seems that sometimes the urgency to protect the memory of these places provoque an effort to stop the time. It‘s not really regarding the phisical maintenance of the constructions but it is more referred to the practices that take place in this sites. If historical heritage is „monument and document“ at the same time, as we usually learn from architects, what‘s the place for practices in this lesson? What‘s the current meaning of these places?We meet in Athens some realities that attempt to understand the production of culture as an area of commoning. But culture is produced by practices and now gated monuments are prbably out of the game. Would it be possible to switch from consuming images to production of culture through practices? Would it be possible to preserve memory without ending up with the „mummification“ of the places? (fc)

Having talks in a self-managed park

Picture of a morning situation at Omonia Square, Athens

Magnam quis ad quiam ipidusantin plaborit enimagnatur, verovit, que quatem sintur alibus asinimu samus.

Former abandoned area in Kerameikos, which was redesigned by residents themselves

Addition on a fire break walls

Magnam quis ad quiam ipidusantin plaborit enimagnatur, sitting Eased verovit,inque the wooden quatem sintur alibus asinimu construction of samus. Latraac skatepark

Vacant kiosk at industrial area

Overbuilt canal - a former historical river was canalised during infrastructural construction works for Olympic Summer Games in 2004

Exploring the area of the former airport Elliniko

Commoning in Kassel

Huttenplatz The theme of community gardening has already been explained in many ways. Mainly prioritizing the ecological aspect, which focusses on changing the awareness towards a more sustainable relationship with nature. Although the ecological factor is also important here, the issue of accessibility is one that should be examined more closely. The “Huttenplatz” is a public green space, on which the inhabitants cultivate a public and yet private garden. The area remains free and open to everyone in the city. A community of twelve persons is currently farming the court on a fixed date in common. In this case the work is neither subsistent nor follows an economic purpose. It is simply the collective work in the neighborhood and the interest in it, to beautify or improve it. This motivation, which unites the group, is also required to gain access to it. This exclusion or integration criterion is fundamental; because it is not ex-

cluded or integrated by experiences in gardening or other know how. It is basically about the people themselves and about the social capital, which is created through the project. Thus it appears that the accessibility of the place is open and that access to the group is attached only to the motivation of the respective persons. But the question of scale is an important factor as well. Because of the limited space, the place can be cultivated with a maximum of 25 people. So the limiting border for people with the same sense of motivation is the scale of the place. The influence of the sharing / civic economy or the Commons is very noticeable in this example, because it is about the usage of space and not about sole ownership, and in a larger scale about the production of a common good. The place is still a public open space, wherein residents maintain their neighborly community. Here the so called social capital is created by each other in a lively exchange of knowledge, work and work equipment. (ad)

Overview of the public space „Huttenplatz“ in Cassel. The public space is cultivated by the people of the area in a self-organized form.

As a part of our workshop, we visited the place and got an introduction, how and why the group has been founded formed and what their workflow looks like.

The project is unique in not taking place in a private area, but in a public green space. There, however the difficulty of the implementation of such a project can be seen. An area which is privately owned, has a clear defined / legal owner. People can be excluded or included because of that private status. In case of a public space accessable by all, a much more democratic approach has to be considered to ensure the persistence of the project. Overall, the project of “Huttenplatz” proves an succeeded initiative with positive effects on the appearance and life in the neighborhood, showing common activity in Cassel. (ad)

Forstfeldgarten Forstfeld is a district of Cassel, where a group of people, organized in a social club, jointly cultivates a garden. But the place is not an open space, the owner is the “Wohnungsbaugesellschaft (GWG)”, so it is basically in private ownership. The owner has agreed to open the place and give access for the inhabitants for using it as a garden. The district of the city, where the garden is localized, got some special aspects. The housing type is shaped by the industrial housing for workers. (ad)

A walk Kassel


What did we keep in mind from our field trip to Athens? What is of particular importance when we talk about the term ‚‘Commons‘‘? The three-day workshop with Laura Lovatel and Federika Menin (*professions?) was dedicated to profound discussions about Commons and practices of commoning build upon our experiences in Athens. In search for the Commons in Cassel, we met two different projects allocated to a collective and common based structure. Subjects like decision making processes, accessibility and group dynamics were central to our questions. Within the project group similarities of the points of interest and conflicts became apparent. To take ourselves into action, the group conceptualized a walk with different stages in the city of Cassel. The aim was to detach from the abstract level of theoretical discussions to arrive at a point of tes-

ting out and physical experience of our small scale common actions. The walk was conceptualized to reflect thoughts and ideas about the topic and assign them to Cassel, gaining a more practical view on Commons through little writings, interventions and actions. Altogether the workshop can be seen as an attempt of commoning – decisions were debated and made collectively as a group, we cooked together and ate together. (ph | nb)

One of the examples in Kassel: The Forstfeldgarten.

Mapping the walk. The stops and intervention during the walk through Kassel. They will be described on the following pages.

Chorals vs. over-regulation

Walking through Athens, one may estimate an omnipresent openness of the public space - a certain vibrancy in the streets and squares that expresses itself through the tiniest configurations, apparently motivating their users to occupy it. Back in Cassel, there is a different atmosphere. Even mostly not consciously perceived, the intensity of law subtly controlling every action in public space is incontrovertible. While changing law as well as disregarding it would stress its boundaries more obviously, the method that was chosen to translate the Athenian experience to Cassel was language. Chorally proclaiming poetic sentiments about its impression on the visitor into the space would give a feeling of reclaiming the power over it - acquiring it, if only for a moment. Three places in Cassel, shaped by restrictive rules, were picked to be the stages of the walk of common interaction in Cassel:

1. Königsplatz, Cassel’s central square, mostly commercialized and therefor secured through restrictive law 2. Martinsplatz, a churches square close to the centre, but mostly abandoned through restriction. 3. An abandoned lot in the aspiring northern part of the city, at the same time private and seemingly unrestricted. The first stage is the circular city square “Königsplatz” in Cassel, a place that faced some sharpened regulations within the last months. To conserve its commercial use as a pedestrian zone, the cycling areas were cut down to absurdism, making it difficult to relate to the regulations and define the areas on this particular square where it is or is not allowed to cycle.

Through collective chanting we created awareness of our ‘public rulescape‘.

One person was reading out the lines on the left while three other were cycling around her in a circle, symbolizing the over-regulation of normally nonabsurd human behavior. Invisible boundaries, built by norms and conventions of society constitute the focus at our second stage, the Martinsplatz in front of the Martinskirche in Cassel. On the one hand there is the space of the church, most of us encounter with great respect, on the other hand the square in front of the church is dominated by bars, gambling halls and betting shops. And in between this scenery some advisory signs accomplish this complex square. Therefore the second stage aimed at the rules created out of the social layer overlaying the physical space that is not knowingly exceeded, but somehow makes its users follow, like-

wise the religious behavior guidelines. The lacking sense of ownership and therefor an unrestricted appearance leading to several informal uses defines the final stage. The vacant lot hosting temporary uses provides the feeling of a no-man‘s-land, although being a private property. There are hints of former uses, some advertising signs remained, but the origin dedication is not clear. We tried to interrelate the space to the encompassing vacancy in Athens as a really present part of the everyday experience of the city. Related to Athens, some vacant places develop their own dynamic, others just fall into oblivion. The surreal poem is supposed to transport the feeling of being excluded from the actual purpose of the place as well as understanding it. (nb|jr|dg|ad)

left: KĂśnigsplatz, Cassel The first stage during our walk through the city, claiming obscure enactment of public space. below left: Martinsplatz below right: abandoned lot in Cassel The lot lies right next to the campus extension, which brings housing pressure to the area. It is unclear who owns the lot, why it is empty or who uses it - for example frequently leaving trucks there for several days, blocking the entrance.

Shifting Friedrichsplatz

A passing road is the only interuption of the Friedrichplatz’ symmetry in the city center of Cassel. The place is used by d(ocumenta) every 5 years and some other temporary events. Most of the time it is very popular and used by residents and guests of the city during summer. Especially the view from the city center to the Karls-Aue and the surrounding mountains is very pleasant. According to the squares’ layout, the benches on Friedrichsplatz are arranged in a symmetrical structure. / The benches on the Friedrichsplatz are arranged in a symmetrical structure according to the squares’ layout. These red benches, are provided by the municipal government and are connected through iron girders to three in a row. The resulting sedate and unfelexible seats are well used by the people in Kassel. Currently the users on the Friedrichsplatz are consumers of the furniture that is provided by administration. However, you can not shift them for temporary needs of the space or divide them into single elements. So they

stand together as one with no means of communication, without the possibility of change. After these preliminary considerations, the idea to intervene on Friedrichsplatz through reorganizing the benches, by our workshop group, into new formations grew. They could be interpreted as signs of breaking the normality, as an attack on the Kassler everydayness. The redesign can also lead to more communication through the process as well as the resulting new arrangement. The „design decision“ has not been decided in advance. It was made as ae 1:1 testing experiment. The constant repetition and physical exhaustion brought an intense experience to the square. The role of mere consumers has been extended to the role as producers. However, the group must face the question of how they can make their decisions jointly, which are acceptable and reasonable for everyone,

Group dynamics during the desision making prozess.

The red benchen in front of the Fredericianum.

because it needs the majority of the group to move the benches.. Mutual consideration and the involvement of all panelists was required. The group had have different opinions on the question whether the banks have to be put back into the starting position again. In the background was the question who legitimates the groups action and whether their appropriation of public space is more important than indirect legitimizations by elections and parliamentary administration. (js)

Public Power Napping

The location „Am Stern“ is more of a transport hub than a square. The end of the pedestrian zone of Kassel ends upon a frequented large-sized intersection.. Four tram stations, make the place appear like a transit area. It is framed from retail and food offerings mainly from the Arab world. It can be described as hectic, noisy and heterogeneous. The location marks the transition between the center of Kassel and the district of Nord Holland. This area is characterized by a high amount of students and people with an immigrant background. Exactly at this exciting place we want to spend our lunch break. Everyone has fetched something to eat and afterwards we feel the emerging lunch tiredness. There our idea attaches. Each person should look for a cozy place for a little nap. Therefore, everyone had to bring a plastic bag and newspapers for that intervention. 20 minutes time, a serious attempt to settle down and to fall asleep are the conditions.

Sleeping is normally limited to private rooms. If you see people sleeping in public places, these places are often deemed to be accepted by the society like airports or trains. Otherwise, people sleeping in public places are usually associated with homelessness and consequently connoted in a negative manner.This circumstance is also reflected in the restrictive regulatory measures. For example, benches are constructed in a way that it is not possible for people to lay on comfortably. An important aim of this action was that people experience the feeling of leaving a familiar environment and to make them analyze their perceptions and needs. Where can I lay down? Is it generally allowed to lay down here? A comfortable surface protected from views and harsh weather conditions could matter in your decision making. Where do I feel safe? Where is it quiet enough, that I come to rest? (ph)

An Interpreation of public interaction and personal needs.

Commoning is a about trusting each other

Feeling the city during the blindfold walking.

Rigid hierarchies are exchanged for organisation build on confidence. You have to believe that the other users adhere to the rules jointly established. Blindfold walking was about loosing control and giving it to another person. You feel helpless, without orientation. Automatically there exists gratitude for the person that guides you in this situation of uncertainty. Commoning is hard: you have to endure the loss of controll, you have to suffer through the fear. You have to feel: Another person, another view on the world. Maybe completetly different than my point of view. That’s what you get when you are blindfolded and someone is describing the environment. And then, when you’re not blind anymore you’ll understand. Sometimes, you have to manipulate yourself to build Solidarity. (lw)

Posting Questions

Walking through the city, looking at the relation between people and space.What is my individual relation to the city and public spaces? Do I feel comfortable, welcome? How do we act in public space, regarding questions, like from a performance taking place before, ”who owns this place?“. Questions about what are you allowed to do or not. What do you allow others to do or not? Where as the public space is considered to belong to the public and so to everyone, in the end no one really feels like it. Moving through the City more or less gives the impression of walking on someone else’s ground. To get a connection between the place and the people, the intervention was to placard self-designed posters at any ground throughout the areas we experienced with the performances during the whole day. Intuitively we chose walls of buildings, shaping public space, an advertisement column and panels, streetlights over benches and even garbage bins. The intention was to not only ask ourselves the questions but to give other pedestri-

ans/people a reason to think about, a reason to question their own role and make aware of their identity and behaviour in a space.

For this aim we developed questions like: “Is a border something physical or psychological?” “What do you share?” “Do you love your possession/belongings?” “Can you possess a person?” “Do you feel responsible for something you don’t own?” “Is your Ego keeping you away from being happy?” “Is your Individuality your possession?” “What do you know about your neighbour?” “What do you know about the people?” “How much does your body know?” (jl)

Posting Questions in public Space.

responsible society learning from asylum

Regarding the current refugee situation, Augsburger Georg Heber had his own idea of a home for people seeking asylum: “What if artists and people seeking asylum moved in together - and tourists from all over the world with them? If we brought the refugees right into the cultural center of the city and turn asylum politics upside down this way?“1 Leaving the attendants not only the space, but a part in the whole cause of the organisation, integrating them in the maintenance of the hotel. Allowing them to furnish and refurnish their rooms, work, live and hang out together. Welcoming them into an open culture, „a meeting place with international flair, following the archetype of the old Grandhotels.”1 The participants understand themselves as a non-hierarchic collective, a social sculpture, deciding in endless assemblies. But the journalist senses a non-violent dictatorship through the founder. Is it a dictatorship, if a collective decides to voluntarily follow

the ideas of one? Aside the idealistic leader, even such a romantic project can‘t sustain without funding - which in this case was provided by a churchly organisation who paid about 350.000 € for the renovation. Several volunteers had to be transferred into paid ratios so they could get along. And there is the official part, the administration through the state of Bavaria. That‘s the part where the dream becomes legal reality, with standardised furniture, food restrictions and separation of ‘customers’. But regardless of all this, all voices cheer the hotel‘s multicultural and welcoming atmosphere. Every good the hotel does for the inhabitants, even though many are sent back to their origin countries like everywhere else, it has one bigger purpose and that is open protest on a level where change is at range.

Hotel Cosmopolis‘ Lobby (non-licensed photo)

Cosmopolis‘ actors, rules, efffects and other entities

Initiatives like the Grandhotel raise attention for a societal reality with new, post-capitalist values, created by citizens themselves. It activates powers which are mostly left unused and turns them into something with a social value for society. It invites people who are always left out and creates an infrastructure that is led by prosumers. It’s aiming to self-sustain and, in many ways, works as a commons with big advantages for the participants to a comparable public facility. And as a multifunctional cultural facility, it has the power to effect an enormous count of people. It doesn‘t change laws - at least not right away. There are still places where refugees are confronted with protest and refusal right after being threatened to their lives, there are

still places where they get no legal information in a language they understand. And still most of the asylum requests are denied. But it raises the chances for a few and it might give a kind of curing joyous feeling. 1 So how can this model of valuing be transferred to other people that are declared not worthy enough by the society - to homeless, jobless or socially disconnected people? Like a home for people seeking asylum, maybe also other facilities can make of these people‘s powers and value those. Could homeless people live in a place alike? Could jobless people be trained in projects without sufficient budgets like the German BIWAQ-initiative in Weißwasser, where 200 jobless people became locally cherished constructing public space? Commoning - or such initiatives in general - are no stand-alone phenomenon, they are part of a large field of new ways that deal with a new feeling of responsibility in a post-capitalist rethinking process. And they are as well an outcome of this process. So which factors change the way of thinking? There are examples of a new responsibility like the Grandhotel, there are catastrophes like 600 drowning refugees, there is subtle information on the news every day, but there are also inclusive schools, for example, where citizens face responsibility from young on. In the end, everything raising attention and leading to questioning things supports the establishing of society-supportive and humanitarian initiatives. (jr)

To become a bit personal, to me, sarcasm is an important way of making people think. Being able to thematize important things without raising the finger, but still placing thoughts in people‘s heads, appears to me as a most powerful tool to make a society question its gridlocked values. Making a process as complex and socially charged as requesting asylum understandable requires making it sympathizable. Containing it in a polemic, but still really serious way requires an enhanced medium. The choice fell on a board game. It‘s important to include all the important facts, prejudices and clichees without creating new ones nor risking to not criticize them. And this regards not only the people and their process, but also the criticized system. Still it‘s a thin line, using polemics, between strenghtening prejudice, being flat or irrelevant and animating someone to think. Finding the point where a work is finished, in this case seems even harder than normally. Because, in the end, when the moral aspects are satisfied, it still has to be a good game mechanism and customers still have to want to play it.

public rulescape

Some rules appear beyond the visible, creating an invisible framework in which our actions are solidified. The fundamentals are rooted in our society. I assume that we (in the sense of our society) can agree on guidelines in which a limited amount of people is able to live side by side, by following the simple rule of respect. But this idea has gaps. It is an idealized imagination, taking equal living conditions and accessibility for guaranteed. While our economy creates conventions and unequal conditions. Consequently the principle of simply following one rule does not fulfill its function. To keep our society working there is an extensive practice of enacting. And it is important to implement the enactment in our everyday understanding, it is a fragile framework, but if it is done properly, society will internalize the rules of capitalism as well as any other. Thus, public space can be seen as provided and controlled by a specific group of individuals and enclosed in economic entities.

What impact do rules have on public spaces exemplary in Cassel? Having this outset question in mind, the approach of collecting and depicting rules, affecting an ordinary place the way through the city has been made. The small square Florentiner Platz links the main shopping street with the area around the main station and is characterized through the neighboring “Treppenstraße”, one of the first pedestrian zones in Germany. Thus, commerce can be seen as an defining element in this area since the 1960’s, although the stair lasted building composition displays difficulties related to accessibility. The disassembling of the place and the collection of rules and restrictions affecting the setting appear as an extensive practice of enacting, whose benefits might not occur immediately. The collection of restrictions within this comparatively small area reveals a quite dense “Public Rulescape”.

Through locating different types of law, signs and regulations within the specific setting of Florentiner Platz in Cassel, I tried to picture the authority heavy character of public space as a status quo of the 20 th century.The rules affecting public space appear diverse, making it difficult to reveal the whole amount of enactments concerning a specific place.

Questioning the status quo of public space as authority ruled and commercialized ‚open space‘ we need to think about how public spaces can be available and provided as real public goods - out of consumption and wether we can apply thoughts of common goods on our urban practice. In this case the distinction between private / public - common reveals that a solely common system would lead to a exclusive character regarding the scale of public space (pictured in ‚struggle sphere‘). How can we achieve public space that belongs to everyone and no one? According to the purport of claiming a legal right of every individual to stay in the urban space within socially defined limits, public space can be seen as the element within the build environment displaying the basic understanding of a society. But in fact, public space often inherits rather a private character only accessable through consumption, than a public one. The highly commercialized provision of public space creates exclusive and monotonous space. Contradictory, ‚public‘ was defined as something managed by its residents in its original meaning. Assuming there has been a common purpose, such as visiting markets for example, located in public space. Furthermore public spaces inherited and still does, a social function. Although this function might be impaired by market barriers nowadays. As divided up aside, there are much more factors than citizens and public space simply falling appart. But in fact there is a shift from public and citizen based spaces to spaces, inheriting a way more private character through commercializing and topdown regulations, leaving the citizen uncoupled from their urban environment. This status is self-imposed: Citizens bestowed legitimacy of their

common goods to their municipality, in return of public goods such as security or infrastructure. Legitimizing municipalities to enable the private sector to appropriate former common goods, leading to the contribution of them as private goods which generates wealth out of enclosure of former common goods. This machinary also affects public space, which can therefor be defined as substractable, rivalrous good. The status quo as enclosed, powerful regulated spaces is not unchallenged. Mona Harb for example claims how to „(...) inform civil society initiatives and planning advocates to rethink open and public spaces in cities, and relevant planning regulations and policies, in ways that make them more amenable to radical as well as transient spatial politics?“ - Mona Harb1 Is there a common public to achieve? The approach of commoning space tries to present thoughs on how our perceiption is constituted nowadays and what aspects are supposed to change this perceiption of public space to a more open one.

Mapping of aspects affecting the publicness of our public spaces and that maybe responsible for the lack of belonging and participation in creating places.

Mapping the Interrelation of public / common / private goods.

Thinking of commoning as a practice of making the cities spaces accessable, can be questioned related to public space. Adapting the practice of commoning on public spaces, revealed various struggles, the most striking one is the relation to privatization within the context of appropriating or enclosing an object for a specific, limited amount of people. Acoording to that, commoning would lead to collective privatization, and as a result create a rivalrous character - something that is not evitable in a limited world. This brings up questions of groups feeling responsible for a certain area, defining inside and outside, additio-

nally the parallels of commoning with private property rights makes it difficult to advise a solely common management of public space. Questions of access and rivalrous use remain. But, although this alleged clash between the on the one hand non-excludable and on the other hand rivalrous character, which common goods inherit - there is a difference that can be made concerning the management of accessability, and therefor publicness and openness.

Commoning as a practice for a reunion of citizens and public space.


Reconfiguration of the consumer / space relation through aspects of commoning.

Offered Space. Freed from consumption our perceiption of public space differs from that we are used to experience in our everyday life. It also reveils, that some spaces are not designed to use them out of consumption, lacking furniture for public seating for example. Playing with the urban space of Florentiner Platz in Cassel made it difficult to find the remaining pieces of public space in a highly commercialized and regualted area.

The characteristic of being constastable is a main aspect concerning commoning space. Thus, citizens are able to intervene, and cause friction within this created “flow space” called public space. According to Hénaff and Strong “(...) public space is always a contestation over the legitimacy of what can be brought and what can be excluded from the life one chooses and is required to have in common with others.” - Hénaff, Strong2 As a practice of contest it appeared difficult utilizing and opening a highly commercialized space without consumption. Most of the comfortzones of the area are enclosed in commerce leaving the leftovers of accessable public space unappealing. Trying to use the space without consumption challenges our perceiption of what is possible in public space. But through accepting and establishing citizens as co-producing consumers, not only negotiation on

public space will be achieved, but multifarious negotiations, avoiding power accumulations will be aimed. Commoning therefore is rather a practice of publicness than of providing a certain characteristic of space. It depends on our personal decisions of how we use the offered, and opened public spaces. To appropriate them for the purpose of the citizens and make public space accessable for the society inhabiting the area. This publicness constitutes itself in a space which is always in the making, negotiable and accessable and thus can be characterized as offered space.(nb)


Trust and Responsibility It was the fourth day in Athens. We were sitting in a self-organized park in Exarchia. A woman, called Anna, told us about the beginning of the park and the special neighborhood around this area. The word “ownership“ dropped in our environment. She used it to explain a collaborative process where the dynamic of a place and the taking care of this dynamic is the most important. This leading to a more collaborative ownership, where people defend their environment in case of danger. Everybody feels responsible for everything, because the possession and the responsibility is not assigned to specific roles or persons. For me, a frequently asked question concerning commons is the one of responsibility. Who is responsible and for what? Responsibility is often equated with ownership. A person who owns something is often respon-

sible for that and the other way round. Anna’s tale about taking care of the dynamics of a place as a starting point for the existence, the preservation and vitality of a place is a strong thesis. The exact distribution of responsibilities, tasks or a clear ownership structure is not the most important in Commons. If everything belongs to everyone, everyone feels responsible and take care of all of it. The relationship of human beings to each other keeps the system running. That is defining at least the structure in Exarchia. If one person is the only owner, he would be concerned with the amount of responsibility. The result could be a collective irresponsibility.

Main questions that I have in mind thinking about ownership and commons

Excerpt of my notes from ‚Florentiner Platz‘. Ownership could be seen as a property, a demonstration of power, a loan, a care...

Excerpt of my notes from ‚Florentiner Platz‘ II. Ownership could be seen as a relation of trust, a status symbol, a possession, a rulemaker, exclusion...

Sketch of ‚Florentiner Platz‘ in Kassel where I made my empirical study

How does ownership and commons fit together? When do people feel responsible for a place? What does ownership mean for the people? Do you have to own things to feel responsible for them? I have tried to approach these questions. What can ownership, beside Anna‘s definition, mean? Methodically I made an abstract level to my thoughts. Ownership is more than just possession or property. It could be a feeling. It could be something tangible or intangible. Beside symbolic ownership or real ownership are countless other buzzwords defining ownership. Trust, accountability, feeling of belonging, identification, demand, worry... And for a second method I have actually made a little empirical study in a public place in Kassel. I have tried to adapt and illustrate the concepts ownership of one place in the city of Kassel. Why ‚Florentiner Platz‘? It is a tension-filled place. It is more like a transit place, than a place of resident. Pedestrians and cyclists are constantly

crossing the square. In the middle is a fenced-off meadow. What strikes the eye that can be related to ownership? What am I thinking of ownership in public space? Are my expectations consistent with the real conditions? What are actually the local conditions? Is there an evidence of structures that point to the park in Exarchia? In my observations, notes have emerged, which are connected with the issue of ownership. The sketches combine the abstract with the spatial level.(ph)


Thinking about decisions, people tend to have some issues actually making them. But people have to make decisions all the time. Sometimes it is just about finding a place to have dinner, and sometimes it is about deciding whether to save some money for your childs college tuition instead of getting an expensive car. Decisions have to be made, whether we like it or not. And most of the decisions made in the world, are made without us even knowing. Walking around in the city you might actually feel the consequence of a decision, while you never thought about the fact that there even was a decision to make. If you dig deeper in the construct of the decision-making process, it is a lot easier to look at a specific place, or a specific situation with a physical presence. For example: we visted the Navarinou Park in Exarcha, a disctrict in Athens. It was a self-organized self-built park which was formed by the help of

hundreds of people from very different backgrounds and professions. One big aspect of this park was the equality of everyone participating in the building process. It was a common good for the people, and everyone did what they could do best. Silke Helfrich, an independant activist of the commons, once said: ‚common goods exist only if we produce them – and they will remain only if we take care of them‘.² And taking care of produced common goods requires some sort of organisation. And this organisation requires some sort of hierarchic structure, leading to several people making the decisions. Regarding the park, the dynamic of the process slowly vanished after the project was done, leaving behind a park that has not been taking care of for a while.Being equal in the process of commoning sounds good in theory, but the concept lacks a long term perspective which would be achieved by a better organization and therefore a clear decision-making structure.

In times of change, several society models seem to be more appealing to the people than others. But you got to ask yourself if this is a temporary momentum, or if the ideas behind those new ways of living are going to last. It is a time to make ‚tough decisions‘. - a photo compostion commenting on the constant confrontation of commoning and capitalism












































A schematic showing the assessment of the legitimation of certain actors of the Wesertor district.

Legitimation in decision-making During the semester, we did get in contact with the topic of the relationship between the commons – in a material, spiritiual and social nature – and other forms of organisation, such as the classic democratic society or the neoliberalism. Certain key issues were worked out, and one of those key issues was related to decision-making. It was about the people who make decisions, the way how decisions are made and not at least, the consequences resulting therefrom. The graph above shows the assessment of the legitimation of certain actors which are of greater relevance

for the Josephsplatz in the Wesertor district. Both the municipal decision-makers as well as the respective user, which have resulted from the analysis of the place, were listed. It is a helix showing the importance of each participant, going from the most powerful actors in the middle, to the less powerful actors towards the end.

An important part while adressing the topic of the commons and the possible changes of the society of the twenty first century, is the coverage of the status quo. What are the principles we imagine our life to be determined by? What is keeping the dynamics intact, and what is putting them down? How are properties distributed, and is there a necessity for legally assigned properties? Does a crisis change the behavior of the people and does it create a new kind of social system which is based on other values? Who is making the decisions, most importantly, why? The topic of the decision-making was one out of five key issues which arised from of the analysis of the commons and the trip to Athens.





Following this, it was necessary to transfer the idea of the commons onto a place or a situation in Kassel. Therefore you had to start by analysing the actual status quo of the place, in order to find out of ‚Commoning Kassel‘ is a realistic thesis. Below you can see the status quo based on the participants actually using it and the ones being responsible for the place. It is located west of a four-laned main traffic street, but surrounded by several trees and bushes. It is still kind of noisy, so it is definitely not a place for relaxation. Though it is near the tram station and only ten minutes away from the university. But most users are living nearby, or living nowhere at all.









































Sociogram of the Wesertor district actors, illustrating their relationships and dependences. MAGISTRATE






















The idea of this project is to reduce food waste within the city of Kassel. Mass production and mass consumption, they are result of a capitalist society. So this survey deals with finding co-existing ways to circumvent this waste system in a playful way.

Within the project I mention ideas, which can be implement easily and without any technical or constructive foreknowledge.


upper picture_ foodsharing boxes / bottem picture_ technical sketch of the paper foodsharing boxes

A foodsharing box is quite easy to build! Made with Chipboard from the property market it measures 30 centimeters with and 80 centimeters high. Space-saving, it can be placed in unused corners at poperty’s ground or at the entrance area of super markets. Through acrylic glass and reddish illuminants it get its aesthetics low-priced without being tacky and even presents the food to be shared in a bracing way. The construction plan is open source and can be edited and added by everyone.

Simplifying the process The idea of the box came, when we asked ourselves what actually prevents us from the idea of routinely food sharing. A lack of storage faci-

lities for food and suitable premises are most decisive. Often, even right fools are missing, or the costs for the construction and installation of the shelves as purchasing the refrigators are not easy to handle. That is why basic requirements before start food sharing, such as distributing of sharing and finding suitable places makes the act itself to an organizing task. This food sharing boxes come in a pre-cut folding sheet made of recycled material. So, a simple assembling and a handy design make food sharing easier. The material costs stay low and that is why everyone is able to have an easy access to the subject. Overall, the idea deals less with commercialization to an end rather it focuses the overcoming of barriers to access. For examples, the boxes can be stacked in the entrance of public buildings or in hallways. (smo)

upper picture_ technical sketch, „how to build a foodsharing box“ / bottom picture_ letter boxes as a medium for communication

This map shows locations within the city of Cassel, which structures try to avoid food wasting. In an imaginary experiment, we tried to consume without over-consuming, and avoiding waste.

my daily access regulation or the bible of the 21st century

The tragedy of the commons Mein Vorschlag: In the current discourse, commons or commoning is understood as an alternative to economy based and social life. This frequently comes along with the hope for an emancipatory practice that also gives marginal groups (the poor, the unemployed, foreigners etc.) the opportunity to participate. However, the idea of commoning possesses an inherent contradiction. A phenomenon called „tragedy of the commons“ is based on the idea that the use of freely available, yet scarce goods or resources might eventually lead to an overuse of these goods that causes inefficiency and is threatening to its consumers. The political scientist and Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom is trying to solve this problem by saying there is need for an institution that is self-governed by the users of a certain resource. This requires a clearly defined group of users. In addition to regulating the use of a resource, they also have to ensure that the rules are complied with and violations are san-

ctioned to a reasonable extent. From the detailed knowledge the users have of the used resource they can develop situation-specific rules and can develop local arenas to resolve conflicts. Conversely, Ostrom‘s proposal shows that in terms of commons there is a connection between responsibility for a resource and accessibility to it. Various projects in Athens show the range of possibilities on how to deal with the issue of accessibility: In the self-organized Embros theater there only exists one key. The activists need to discuss who will be the first to come and who is the last to lock up. The under construction skate park Latraac is organized mainly by one person and is closed in the evening. The contrast is the Navarinou Park, wich is accessible at any time, day or night. These diffrent projects focus on access in a physical manner. However, many other factors have an influence on the accessibility of spaces, buildings, groups or even plain commons.

The printet therms of condition: a5, 2 cm thick.

The terms for acess to a daily used digital service.

Apart from the language, the knowledge, the education and membership of a group, formal laws and regulations (such as house rules, etc.), the atmosphere and rhetoric may also complicate or simplify the access to a space. Throughout the semester, the insight prevailed that spaces or projects do not have to be open all the time, but they have to be „as open as possible“. My daily routine and the invisible restrictions I asked myself, what are the rules I agree with in my everyday life. Rules that are not imposed by the state, but to which I actively agree. I have checked my daily routines and I have found many norms, rules and practices. I was especially surprised by the large number of terms of conditions that I am asked to agree to in my everyday life. Terms of condition (TC) are pre-formulated contract terms which are agreed upon in the course of a contract between a provider and a user. In these contracts the extent and condi-

tion of the use of goods and services are described. The contract requires the consent of the contracting parties. The large time frame that is needed for negotiation processes is discussed repeatedly in the context of commons. The time it would take to read terms of condition is unnoticed. Because in reality no one reads the terms. Additionally, the terms do not give the possibility to be adapted to the individual situation. A negotiation like one that could be found through discussion and negotiation in commons is not provided. The exclusion from the respective service hence starts if you only agree to 99% of the terms of condition. A change in the terms of conditions remains unilaterally reserved to the seller. I realized that my daily routine is significantly influenced by terms of conditions. But these are not found that much in the analogue interaction with other people, but above all with my digital activities. No Facebook, no Windows, Google or cashless payments without a lot of terms of condi

tions. As an example of a regular day of my life, I have chosen a usual day at the university (the 6th of July ) and have added one day of the weekend (the 5th of July). To get an overview I downloaded all Terms that concerned me on these two days. I printed them out and bound all of them together. The result is a 2cm thick A5 book, wich has been commented on by a viewer as the “The Bible of the 21st century�. The terms of condition show very different properties. Some terms of conditions are easy to find (Google, Payback) others are to be found only after intense investigation (tumblr). Some are in English and therefore difficult to understand. The vast majority, however, is in German. Mostly I have to pay in order to comply with the contracts (mobile phone contract, Adobe) or I accept the terms and conditions by the act of entering (German Railways). To say yes/agree to all terms of condition is my key to gain access to a large extent of ever yday digital applications.(js)

owning 9 m² of public space

Questioning some possibilities for acting in public - some spaces in the cities have the specific feature of being unconventional stages for street artists, musicians, mimes and not only them. That is not because of any particular structure, most of the times there is not any „physical“ stage, but these spaces are stages in itself thanks to the presence of people in the street. There is a quotation from Peter Brook that clearly describes how any act of theater can start: „I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across an empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.“ (source?) If we think about any demonstration, protest or sit-in, it is not also a way of acting in public? Who would install any demonstration or protest in a place where nobody can see it? That is the same with street artist, either if they have any clear political message or not. When you decide to perform something in the street you are not addressing to the small elite of people that usually

sit in the audience of official theaters. None has to pay a ticket in advance but just an offer in the end if you liked it. Acting in public is somehow a political action, probably just because it is an action in the city. Probably it is even more political if we consider public spaces as „activator“ of common practices and a place to experiment different actions and rules. It is not something new to try to use the technique of acting in order to activate process in the city. One example is the social experiment led by A. Mockus in Bogotà. The ex-mayor used mimes instead of policeman in the streets to improve both traffic and citizens‘ behavior. Around 400 mimes were making fun of traffic violators. They were shoving pedestrians who did not follow crossing rules, a pedestrian running across the road would be tracked by a mime who mocked his every move. The result of this experiment was amazing. With neither words nor weapons the mimes were doubly unarmed but really effective.

Tableu vivant - owning a Supertrap

Persons dancing and taking the sun in Königsplatz, Cassel

Acting in Cassel - in Cassel there is an area of the city that is turning sometimes into an „unconventional stage“ where not only musicians and street artist reinvent the use of public space. The pedestrian part of the city, along Königstraße from the Rathaus down to Königplatz is mostly the area of trade. It is the area where we go to buy and consume and where almost nothing happens when shops are closed. But sometimes you can see someone having a picnic in the square, someone dancing or enjoying the sun right in front of the tram stop, someone just sitting in a corner asking for a few coins. Consumption and use of public space scratch each other and produce questions. Public spaces are spaces out of trade? Public spaces can be understood as a common good? Which is the margin of tolerance for practices in public spaces? The fascinations related to acting in public, the question of commoning and practices in public, were the input to look for a possible action in this area. Commoning and ownership in public

space - one of the first events that made me think about commoning was the water war in Bolivia, where the community of Cochabamba was able to reverse the governement decision to outsource water management to a French private company in 2002. The matter of water activated several movements, including some in Europe and lead to a commoning approach towards it. In Italy a forum was created to propose and coordinate the referendum that took place in 2011. During the field trip to Athens we met some persons involved in the challenge against privatization and for a common management of water in the cities. The movement 136 based on Salonicco is actually trying to develop a strategy in alignment with this approach: as a first step they propose to divide the estimated value of the water company by the number of the users in order to buy it. The result is the symbolic number of 136 euros. This idea led me to think of a community in which everyone owns a small piece of a common good and everyone has the right to access the same quantity of it. I personnally think that this concept sounds fascinating and contradictory at the same time: It brings up the conflict between commons and ownership, and it reposes the question if „equality“ can be ensured through mathematical calculations. If we consider public spaces as a common good but also as an „activator“ of common practices we probably could find the same conflicts. I think, for example, of some rules in city planning that ensure a minimum amount of public space for every inhabitant, expressed in square metres, in order to provide a minimum quantity of services. In Italy the law that set this quantities is the DM 1444 (Decreto Ministeriale 2 aprile 1968, n. 1444 - G.U. n° 97 del 16/04/1968) mostly known as „Law on urbanistic standard“. This law defines a mini-

mum of 18 mq of spaces addressed to collective activities for every inhabitant and distribute it in the following way: - 4,50 mq for education - 2,00 mq for facilities of common interest - 9,00 mq for equipped public spaces - 2,50 mq for parkings The image of the grid that uniformes everything and pretends to ensure equality and freedom is for me the image of a false promise in which everyone ends up entraped in his own squared space. The choice to realize a video regarding „9 mq of public space“ comes from the wish to carry this question into a visual action. The intent is not to suggest a „proper way to do“ but to stress some point that came up from the questions on commoning and public space. A performance seemed a proper medium to

do it because of its aptitude to produce ambiguous situations, between real and fictive, between protest and storytelling.(fc)

Street performances in Königstraße , Cassel

String of images from the final video


chapter 1 searching for commons chapter 1.2 personal impressions ruins of our time or maintaining a system running 1 Stavrides, Stavros: Communities of Crisis, Squares in Movement. In: Professional Dreamers, working paper no. 6, Page 1. available at: wp-content/uploads/Stavrides-Communities-of-crisis-fld.pdf

chapter 1.4 common interaction who owns the place? poems 1-3 by Nora Buhl poem 4 © by Victor Pechorin, available at: poem/11927289-Poem--82-by-Chronic-Pivoter

chapter 2 learning from athens spatial (in) justice Fiedler, Johannes; Humann, Melanie; Kölke, Manuela (2012): Radical Standard. Zur städtebaulichen Umsetzung von Spatial Justice. Soja, Edward W (2010): Seeking spatial justice. Minneapolis.

Critical Planning (2007): Spatial Justice. In: UCLA Journal of Planning, Volume 14 Summer 2007. civic economy Demos Helsinki: Towards City 2.0 – Towards a Social Silicon Valley. available at: http://mlab.taik. fi/~apaterso/projects/eee/texts/demos-fi_GHV_towards-city.pdf


Tieß Petersen (2002): Von der Arbeits- zur Tätigkeitsgesellschaft. In: UTOPIE kreativ, nr. 141/142 (July/ August 2002), pp. 641-646; available at: fileadmin/rls_uploads/pdfs/Utopie_ kreativ/141-2/141_142_petersen.pdf 2

Kruse, Wolfgang (2012): Industrialisierung und moderne Gesellschaft. In: Dossier - Das Deutsche Kaiserreich. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. available at:


Quilligan, James B. (2012): Why Distinguish Common Goods from Public Goods? In: The Wealth of the Commons - A World beyond Market and State. The Commons Strategy Group.


Rowe, Jonathan (2006): How Commerce Consumed the Commons. In: Yes!Magazine. available at:


society, self-reliant Helfrich, Silke; Heinrich Böll Stiftung (pub.)(2012): Commons. Für eine neue Politik jenseits von Markt und Staat. Heinrich Böll Stiftung.



cf. Garret Hardin (1998): Extension

to The Tragedy of the Commons. The American Association for the Advancement of Science. available at: articles/art_extension_tragedy_commons.html

chapter 3 learning from athens II / commoning cassel responsible society - learning from asylum 1 direct quote resp. cf. Julius Schophoff (2014): Asyl de luxe. In: ZEIT online. available at: [hit 2012-08-18] public rulescape Harb, Mona (2013): Public Spaces and Spatial Practices: Claims from Beirut. In: Jadaliyya, online magazine. available at: http://www.jadaliyya. com/pages/index/14710/public-spaces-and-spatial-practices_claimsfrom-be


HĂŠnaff, Marcel; Strong, Tracy B. (2001): Public Space and Democracy. University Minnesota Press.


table of figures

chapter 1 searching for commons

p2 graphic by Jörg Schrader to own a world heritage p1 photo by Jörg Schrader p2 photo by Jon Rohrbach

chapter 1.1 learning from experts

elliniko a vacant, and a lost space? p1 photo by Nancy Smolka p2 photo by Nancy Smolka p2 photo by Nancy Smolka, map from google maps

the city development of athens p1+2 photo by Nancy Smolka p3 photo by Alexander Derksen talk about a commons openness p1 © photo by Georgios Makkas, gmakkas/6388663377/in/ album-72157628110066233/ p2 sketch by Christina Thomopoulos p3 photo by Arthur Detterer p4 photo by Jörg Schrader the legacy of exarchia and navarinou park p1 photo by Nancy Smolka p2 photo by Nancy Smolka p3 photo by Jana Hofmann p4 photo by Jörg Schrader p5 photo by Nancy Smolka rhetorics of the crisis p1 photo by Nora Buhl p2 photo by Anna Füssl p4 photo by Nora Buhl

chapter 1.2 personal impressions naked athens p1 graphic „The Naked City“ by Guy Debord, available at: city-145633C7BFD09FE2E6F.png

ruins of our time or maintaining a system running p1 photo by Nora Buhl p2 photo by Jörg Schrader athens - a city of questions p1 sketch by Patrizia Haggenmüller athens - personal stories p1 photo by Jörg Schrader impulse for commons p1 photo by Alexander Derksen p2 photo by Alexander Derksen p2 photo by Alexander Derksen consuming images and memories p1 photo by Floriana Cane

chapter 1.3 visual impressions p1 photo by Nancy Smolka p2 photo by Jörg Schrader p3 - p10 photo by Nancy Smolka

chapter 1.4 common interaction commoning in cassel p1 photo by Jörg Schrader p2 photo by Anna Füssl p3 photo by Nancy Smolka

p4-5 photo by Nancy Smolka chorals against over-regulation p1 photo by Jörg Schrader p2 above: photo & writing by Nora Buhl p2 below: photo from wikipedia/commons/3/34/ Kirche_St._Martin_Kassel_ Hessentag_2013.jpg, writing by Nora Buhl p3 photo by Jon Rohrbach, writing by Nora Buhl chorals against over-regulation p1 photo by Nancy Smolka p2 photo by Nancy Smolka public power napping p1 photo by Floriana Cane commoning is about trusting each other p1 photo by Nancy Smolka Posting Questions p1 photo by Nancy Smolka

chapter 2 searching for more commons spatial (in) justice p1 photo by Jörg Schrader p3 above: graphic by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, OEuvre Complète Volume 1, 1910–1929, Les Editions d’Architecture Artemis, Zürich, 1964 p3 below: photo by Jörg Schrader p4 sketch by Patrizia Haggenmüller p4 photo by Alexander Derksen p5 photos by Jörg Schrader p6 sketch by Patrizia Haggenmüller p7 photo by Jörg Schrader p8 photo by Jörg Schrader p9 sketch by Patrizia Haggenmüller p10 photo by Jörg Schrader

civic economy p1 sketch by Anna Füssl p2 visualization by Alexander Derksen p3 sketches by Alexander Derksen p4 sketch by Nora Buhl p5 visualization by Nora Buhl p6 photo by Nora Buhl society, self-reliant pp0-1 graphics by Jon Rohrbach p2 above: arrangement by Jon Rohrbach, shot by Jörg Schrader p2 small picture: painting by Caspar David Friedrich pp3-4 graphics by Jon Rohrbach play - create - rethink p1 content + graphics from (CC BY) license, changed by Dennis Gleitze and Arthur Detterer p2 content + graphics from p2 content from changed by Dennis Gleitze p3 content + graphics by Dennis Gleitze p4 content + graphics by Dennis Gleitze where is urban practice? p1 photo by Nancy Smolka pp2+3 visualisation by Nancy Smolka

chapter 3 learning from athens II / commoning cassel responsible society - learning from asylum p1 photo by Christian Menkel, pp2-5 graphics by Jon Rohrbach public rulescape pp1-5 sketches by Nora Buhl p6 photo by Patrizia Haggenmüller ownership pp1-6 sketches by Patrizia Haggenmüller decision making p1 photo by Jörg Schrader pp2-5 graphics by Dennis Gleitze infrastructures against foodwaste pp1-5 graphics by Nancy Smolka my daily access regulation or the bible of the 21st century pp1-3 photos by Jörg Schrader owning 9m² of public space pp1-3 photos by Floriana Cane p3 graphic by Floriana Cane pp4-5 photos by Floriana Cane

Reader Space of Commons  

Studienprojekt im Sommersemester 2015

Reader Space of Commons  

Studienprojekt im Sommersemester 2015