2nd WG: "Little Homeland Berlin"
On 15 October 2019 the second Berlin-WG took place in Schöneberg. Together with Joab Nist (Notes of Berlin) and a colourfully mixed group of Berliners, it was analysed and discussed whether there is a "Berlin identity" or whether one is not more attached to their neighborhoods.
Who were the WG residents on 15 October?
- Patrick, entrepreneur from Spandau
- Goekcen, Food Tour Guide/Entrepreneur from Charlottenburg
- Meike, employee and influencer aus Kaulsdorf
- Vanja, Head of Communications from Prenzlauer Berg
- Ingrid, Florist/Pensioner from Westend
- Sophie, civil servant from Friedrichshain
- Johanna, student from Mitte
What was discussed at the WG table?
When are you a Berliner?
The second Berlin-WG has got to the bottom of the question of whether there is a Berlin identity. First and foremost, the question came up: When did you become a Berliner? Can the term "Berliner" be established on the basis of a time span? Are two or 30 years sufficient? Or is it rather a feeling that is decisive? For Patrick (who has lived in Berlin for more than 30 years), you're Berlin if you think of the capital as your home. Goekcen (moved in two years ago) has a similar opinion - he feels comfortable here, so he's a Berliner. The personal favourite baker or flower shop you always go to and know each other at is decisive for Vanja. For Ingrid (born in Berlin) the real Berlin feeling starts with the fact that the typical Berlin language creeps into her own language.
What does the community say?
We also surveyed our community via social media and received numerous responses. In addition to trying to answer the question with a time, the following clues were listed: "When you no longer ask if you're a Berliner", "When you're no longer interested in the sights" and "You're a Berliner at heart. You just feel it."
What role does the neighbourhood play in Berlin's identity?
In addition to the city affiliation, the neighbourhood solidarity also plays a decisive role in the search for the Berlin identity. All WG participants agreed that one's own neighbourhood is a place of retreat where one feels comfortable. For Goekcen, every Kiez has offers for family people and party goers. Everything that is needed can be found in the surrounding area. For exactly such reasons everyone chooses his neighborhood, Patrick added.
Joab also remains faithful to his neighbourhood and says about himself that he is "neighbourhood lazy" and sees no reason to ever live anywhere else. Sophie has lived in Friedrichshain for 9 years because she appreciates the versatility and variety.
Is there a common Berlin identity?
Can we even speak of a Berlin identity and feel like Berliners, or are we more "Neuköllner", "Friedrichshainer" or "Charlottenburger"?
For Patrick, such a superordinate identity is not necessary at all. The individual is exactly what makes Berlin what it is. Johanna also thinks that in Berlin everyone can be what they want, so that the question of a superordinate identity does not arise at all. For Ingrid, the external and internal view must be distinguished: From the outside she's always Berlin, from the inside she identifies with her neighbourhood.
To conclude in Meike's words: "Berlin has everything but mountains!