Take Part // Bring Change

How to make your city to your city?

Take Part // bring change was an international youth exchange project exploring ways of civic engagement and participation by reclaiming urban spaces to citizens in post-industrial societies. Which forms and projects are existing in capitals like Berlin and Kyiev? And which ones in cities like Frankfurt Oder and Chervonograd, both with an industrial past and struggling in a post industrial presence?
The idea behind this project was to engage young people in urban practices and democracy in Europe.
The group, merging eager German and Ukranian young citizens, started in Germany, first in Berlin and later in Frankfurt. Afterwards they travelled to the Ukraine, to Kyiv and Chervonograd. Participating in decision-making processes in the respective cities enabled them to experience the possibility of change even through small-scale efforts. For documentation and as a result of critical reflection and artistic analysis different videos were produced by working groups.

Berlin: After getting to know each other and planning the first steps and working groups the first day started with the topic “Rethinking Urban Commons”. Through the global economic crises it became necessary to search for new urban initiatives and strategies. Some alternatives and new approaches were presented to us by the Center for Arts and Urbanistics as well as the Funkhaus.
The next day focused on the topic of sustainability, namely “Green Urbanism”. Visits to local initiatives that work in the field of urban sustainable development and social entrepreneurship took place, such as Cucula, a refugee company for craft and design or the organization Stadt macht Satt.
The last day in Berlin dealt with the topic of “Urban Governance”, to take a closer look at the governance's flexibility to respond to global economic and political changes. In this context the groups got an insight in initiatives that deal with the topic of civil participation, such as CRISP or the Kulturlabor Trial & Error.

Frankfurt Oder: The travel took place on the next day and centred topicwise around city initiatives and commemoration practices in public space. In this context there was a visit to the Stolpersteine, and to Utopia e.V., working with refugees. On the next day we got an expert talk in Viadrina European University by Mikhail Minakov, guest professor at this university, who talked with us about political and social transformations in Eastern Europe after 1991, deindustrialization, civic activism and its influences on politics and policie.

Kyiv: The first day's focus was on the topic “Stuck in-between: Post-socialist cities today”. It described the transformation process that Kyiv underwent during the last 25 years and generally elaborated on the challenges of the de-communization rethorics. This experience that goes across time is something really special and becomes much more aware in such a context than in Germany. The next day focused on “Urban Movements in the Times of Crisis”, by visiting organizations such as Frolovska Volunteer Center or CSM / Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art enabled the group to draw inter-cultural lines between the German and Ukranian organizations and to emphasize the importance of civic influence.

Chervonograd: Ukraine has the problem of a very centralized society in only very urban regions. By visiting Slavutich and Festival 86 as well as Urban Curators and Kremenchuk projects and Mariupol Players we had the chance to see whether there is a chance to decentralized culture in Ukraine and propel the urban activism in small cities.

After a long time of shooting and editing, the presentations were prepared and the results of the program were summed up and confronted with each other. Two exciting weeks of intercultural contact, exchange and learning came to an end and left all participants with an inspired and stimulated mind behind.

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