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"Commons and the Housing Crisis in Berlin" is a short doc by The Radicals by Balolas Carvalho, Teresa Lorena Machado and Rita Couto.
Two years ago, The Radicals kick-started a short documentary that unpacks the crisis the city of Berlin has been undergoing for more than a decade now. That crisis has a recognisable face, and if you are reading this and live in another European capital, you’re probably affected by this same problem too. Commodification of life, privatisation of land and rent speculation are some of the characteristics that mark Berlin today, after years of progressive leftist culture where it was relatively easy to explore alternative forms of living and do public space takeovers that enquired into collectivity. The solidarity fabric that vividly echoed all over Berlin was shadowed as market pressures came to replace it, and the political wrongdoings after reunification led the city to be engulfed in the hands of a few real estate giants that today drive the prices of the housing market.
The juggernaut of capitalism has made it seem though that there’s no alternative, but as Berlin’s strong self-organising culture still lingers, we discover its dissenting facette by the voices of some inspiring and hopeful projects that reclaim the commons of the city and fight for affordable space, community and solidarity: an alternative living cooperative called the Spreefeld, an expropriation campaign rallying for housing socialisation called the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen, and a network of (oftentimes vulnerable) cultural projects called Space of Urgency. We also followed the story of Andrea Mineo who shared first-hand experience around the troubles of finding affordable space to live when intersecting systems of oppression affect you. While the story of Mineo appears to be one of difficulty, it also emblematically showcases the morale of this piece: what was initially a private apartment acquired in the fringes of a rigged system became a collective arts space that problematises political and social challenges while celebrating collectivity - the Mayer Pavillion.
"Property is theft and housing is a human right. Let us be done with both." - Bertolt Brecht
This short doc is a gift to Berlin so that we can continue to fertilise our resistance. It is an imprint of a city that is critical and ready to fight back the logics of a system that continuously ensures victories for the same groups in society. It aims to pay tribute to the rad, dissenting, and vitally important culture that make cities diverse, exciting, accessible and free spirited.