This is a “manifesto in progress” for a possible process to collectively develop a Hangar X. It outlines intentions, motivations, and views of the participants of the Hangar X Workshop #1 and #2 in fall 2020. The manifesto is a draft that is written by people with different perspectives. We put it on decidim to open the discussion to a broader public and continue the co-writing process.
The following text is based on an online session of “silent conversation” with twelve different questions on the 8th of November 2020. Each of the sixteen participants attending the silent conversation had three minutes to write down thoughts, follow up questions or answers to one question after another. In a next step each participant wrote a text that sums up all the answers to one question. After the workshop the team of Hangar X finished this and uploaded the text. Now you can add your answers, make proposals for changes and leave comments. If you want to contribute with a translation to any language: Thank You! Please write us an email to hangar[at]torhausberlin.de also if you have any questions regarding Hangar X.
Manifesto in progress
Why do we need this manifesto?
The city is a complex web of power structures from which some benefit structurally and others are discriminated against. To be aware of those structures and understand how each actor and role (including ourselves, our friends, our family) is embedded in them is important, to become able to share power and become empowered.
More and new anti-capitalistic spaces are needed that make an effort to be really inclusive for everyone, that always stay places "in the making" and become platforms for exchange and skill sharing. It needs new creative and less academic invitations of urban involvement, inclusive accesses to free spaces where self-organization can be learned and definitely more diverse and aware structures on every level to ensure that the city we are co-creating is for everyone. Society needs to unlearn and undo the colonial, imperial, and capitalist structures that form the metrics of success, love, and connection in this city and beyond. Hangar X is aiming to be a space that is not up for commodification but gives multiple platforms for exchange and interaction between many.
Hangar X is not a platform for people who advocate racism, anti-semitism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transophobia or any form of bullying, violence and discrimination against other people. This manifesto is to be developed further and translated into more languages.
When did you feel connected / safe / actively involved in a public space?
Practices of reclaiming or protesting the city lead to a stronger connection to space. In the moment we as individuals get to take on responsibility and are part of a decision making process, we feel involved and connected with a space and each other. Control by the authorities takes away connection and involvement and some people feel that the public space is not (safe) for them at all. If we share the responsibility in a self-reflective community and are able to take care of a space and the dynamics, the space also takes care of us. Also practices of physical activities such as dance, movement and performance, can foster connection with each other but also with the place itself.
We need structures that allow discussions and exchange about political issues because they can initiate activism and help to reclaim space and promote common values. Everyone should have the possibility and the legitimacy to feel connected, safe and actively involved in public space. Therefore it needs structures that help to make the use of spaces more equal and inclusive.
Does spatial discourse exclude people because of their lack of training / expert knowledge?
Spatial discourses are shaping our lives all the time, we have to create awareness for this topic and invite the public to become active in shaping the spaces around them. For that we have to make spatial discourses accessible to everyone that uses and could potentially use the space in the city. Already the wording: "spatial discourse/practices" is only accessible for those who studied in that field. The language often used happens to be intimidating and give the impression that only people from an academic context or/and with a specific expertise can give a meaningful contribution.
Lets share spatial knowledge: Try out performative ways to explain space for different perspectives – for kids, for people with different abilities, different (non-)academic backgrounds, for marginalized groups. With music, arts and more – but not only in words. Also if we talk about Hangar X we should have a structure to address space design and processes in a transparent way and have a diverse program. It could somehow be an open school in easy language.
What do you want to unlearn?
Learning to unlearn is a process of questioning personal behavioural responses (stress, fear, helplessness, shame, insecurity) and at the same time understanding it as a broader and structural problem (norms, standards, expectations, history and gender dichotomy). It takes time to even recognize them but is an important practice of awareness and further empowerment for a more social change.
We want to unlearn and undo the colonial, sexist, and capitalistic structures that form our metrics of success, love, and connection. We want to unlearn the ways these structures influence our relationship with history and the existing city planning. This means to unlearn hierarchies, the obedience of political systems and historical narratives defined from a partial and distorted perspective, which is a form of colonization of knowledge.
We want to unlearn how mainstream institutions taught us many parts of history and relearn it with an understanding from all sides. To unlearn discriminative behaviours one needs to unlearn accepting one's privileges and rather learn to question them at all times.
To unlearn the significance of thinking “binary” (that there is only right/wrong, black/white, this or that) means to understand how it was ingrained in the fabric of the person's cultural upbringing. It usually suppresses a lot of passion, emotions, doubts of self-worth, and limits a personal creativity of looking at life.
Unlearning the fear of the unknown would mean to take the unexpected into account, to dare to step beyond and not accept the status quo. Once we release these incorporated structures, it will open new venues for expression, growth, passion, and creativity.
Do some spaces or situations need to be exclusive?
Groups that are marginalized and excluded from mainstream views on society need a safe(r) space where collective identity can be felt and empowerment can happen by accepting that the colonizers/oppressors should not be there. These (exclusive) safe(r) spaces can support people to open up e.g. queers, BI*POC, women*, trans, different-abled people, children, survivors and people with mental health issues or trauma.
To make a space “safe” or “safer” it sometimes needs to be exclusive to certain groups or to a certain number of people to keep a level of intimacy. Exclusivity can cultivate the space into a deeper sensitivity to understand the vulnerability of people and communities. We need Spaces where people know they can be free from judgement or around people who have had similar experiences. They are important for self confidence.
What practices (collectively or individually) give you the feeling of relief and healing?
Organizing oneself in a community can foster the feeling of togetherness and connectedness. Together we feel less lonely and less helpless facing the challenges of the past, present and future. To practice the feeling of togetherness we need to be inclusive, respectful and open for learning and new perspectives. These values are the foundation to foster a community in which everyone can feel safe to share and learn.
Togetherness needs active listening, awareness, debriefing and feedback which are addressed by next steps to make processes relieving and inspiring. It needs an inviting and inclusive space, defined by a constantly growing and ever changing community. The conditions for the community and healing practices is a care providing spatial planning - such as spaces for sharing food, cooking, and dining, body practices, relaxing and more. Actions such as dancing or singing together, cooking together, therapy and deep talking or taking care of each others' children can support the process of collective and individual healing.
Did you experience places that existed outside a capitalistic way of thinking?
When thinking about places outside a capitalistic way of thinking, they become almost utopian places where imagination, collaboration, empowerment, queer-feminism, collective ownership and liberation from strict rules and consumerism become reality. Some of these fascinating and already existing projects can lead us to gaining new hope for humanity, serve us as a playground for everyone, acknowledge that art and creativity work well also outside of the institutional frame, allow new ways to gain resources, etc. It can be freeing, playful, inspiring and bring us to shift our expectations and views.
The danger is that these places can also become too exclusive and anyone new is allowed. This lack of informal and formal invitations is probably due to our expectation that anti-capitalistic are “naturally” inclusive and emancipatory, which it is not the case. Still, we hope to keep this awareness of this danger to avoid exclusions and work towards equity and inclusion.
Do you feel free to move in Berlin / in the place you live in?
Talking about “freedom” always needs the consideration of a huge amount of complex philosophical and political layers in our contemporariness. In a superficial way we can move freely through the city but there are always visible and invisible regulations and barriers. We can use the train “freely” if we have a student ticket, enough money for a bike or legs that carry us through the streets and up the stairs. If one doesn't have these privileges the freedom of movement is limited. Also the current Covid-19 crisis is having an impact on mobility throughout the city.
Generally, compared to other cities, Berlin feels to many people like a relatively safe city. But we have to keep in mind that the resources for support and security in Germany are not designed for everyone and it is very often the public space where attacks happen. Appearance of the police is not making everyone feel safe and racist structures and behaviours lead to a collective feeling of nervosity when police is present.
Also when looking at the city from the perspective of women and queers, some spaces are more or less safe. Some strategies involve avoiding dark areas and places with few people and are restricting the freedom of movement. We have to find good answers to the question on how a queer-feminist, anti-racist and decolonial city needs to look like.
How can our awareness of our privileges be helpful to others?
The moment people realize their privileges and accept that they are not naturally given, allows new practices to evolve: sharing, caring, unlearning, understanding and creating new imaginaries. All not individually but collectively. It is the way that we can transmit power to the others and the things in which we examine our internalized "shit". Because we already start to move in a way we've never done before. Therefore, we can say there are different stages of being aware of our privileges, it is a process and one should not aim to get to the last stage since it is a never ending story.
That's being said, there are also different scales. In the context of Hangar X, let's focus on the city scale. If one starts with the idea that nothing is "secured", "permanent" or "given" then they could see the privileges are not "natural", and naming the others "unnatural" is a social construction. Migrant, refugee, black, trans, queer, any differently-abled and more are actually above us and will make the best choices for themselves and the society if they have power to do so. Awareness and usage of privileges can help to hack the system and crack the rules that put everyone in their role of a capitalistic and colonial society. In the city, the power of being aware about privileges allows exchange, empowerment and changing the discourse. In that sense, hacking the city system can lead us to inclusive, open, participatory and common processes. A respectful handling of one’s own privileges should not exclude being thankful for what we have but lead even more to sharing, mutual support and care.
How can a city create well-being for everyone?
Cities are incredibly efficient at using and deploying resources, with proper management even small or “poor” cities can provide a high quality of life for their citizens with relatively little effort. Therefore the city should make housing, transportation, healthcare, and primary education cheap or free to reduce inequalities and provide the same access to everyone.
One city is not one city – it’s a multiple space with many different singular experiences: No space is going to fit everyone, but there has to be places for everyone (including safer spaces). So it is necessary to work in a micropolitical sphere, beyond the idea of identity and tags that define and represent the needs of a multiplicity of beings, human and non-human.
To create well-being for everyone it should also be considered to ask everyone. For example by hosting discussions and dialogs and different kinds of workshops. The outcomes could be analyzed with the help of interdisciplinary mediators in order to realize the ideas and support the self-organization of citizens. If the city puts more trust and public funding in self-organization, the non-commercial public realm could foster encounters and assemblies. Well-being will not be created by policing. A basic income and lower working hours could support the idea of active citizenship and the right to stay (in the city center) should not be linked to a person's financial situation. All in all it needs sensitive, diverse and accessible structures and processes for community resilience to thrive.
What spaces and structures does collective self-organization need?
Collective self-organisation needs shared spaces and structural frameworks. These spaces will foster encounters and allow us to share knowledge and resources with one another. Sharing responsibilities for a space will increase the sense of community and a strong community will succeed in pushing forward demands. We need spaces of togetherness, but also for individual recharge. We need Spaces for experimentation. And we need Space that is set on collaboratively decided rules.
The physical space of collective self organisation needs to be fixed in a way that we can count on it to always be there. Still it would need to be some kind of space that is flexible and allows for a variety of uses and processes. The space needs to be physically accessible for everyone. Physically shared spaces could take the form of a common kitchen, assembly area or library.
The potential of a common space starts when it is performed. The conditions for a healing space lie in its commonality in shared resources as materials, a transparent and participatory planning process and collectively set values, based on equity and equality.
From where and whom do you exclude yourself?
To “exclude oneself” we have to understand that here are two levels: the personal level and the structural level which are interwoven. We have to acknowledge that if someone is privileged you have the choice of excluding yourself - if you are the discriminated part you can not choose, you rather have to deal with situations where you are excluded from.
If we talk about exclusion we also need to be clear about who or what we have to exclude from our process: People who are violent or discriminative against others, structures that give power to people who are not affected by their own decisions, hierarchical and male dominant structures, environments based on competition and aggression, places where people feel left alone, places that reproduce capitalistic and colonial structures, places, people and structures that don't respect the vulnerability of the individual. When we look at the disparities, violence and power structures in this city we must, as a consequence, open spaces and situations for empowerment, self-organization and power sharing. We need to create a space in which we can protect the values of our community.
What kind of practices have you developed to include yourself and others?
This is a collection of practices that enhance collaboration, inclusivity and self-empowerment. They can be added and adapted:
- collective decision making processes.
- co-design and collaborative creativity.
- artistic practices which enhance a participatory learning process.
- expanding social skills by empowering oneself and connecting to others.
- creating intentionally collective and inclusive groups.
- a careful practice of listening. selfcare, being loving and patient with one selfs.
- art projects and performances (choir singing, collaborative drawing..)
- encouraging confidence in others.
- not gaslighting others, taking a step back.
- kind gestures and offering help to each other.
The Questions that this text blocks are based on were:
1. When did you feel connected / safe /actively involved in a public space?
2. Does spatial discourse exclude people because of their lack of training / expert knowledge?
3. What do you want to unlearn?
4. Do some spaces or situations need to be exclusive?
5. What practices (collectively or individually) give you the feeling of relief and healing?
6. How did you experience places that existed outside a capitalistic way of thinking?
7. Do you feel free to move in Berlin / in the place you live in?
8. How can our awareness of our privileges be helpful to others?
9. How can a city create well-being for everyone?
10. What spaces and structures does collective self-organization need?
11. From where and whom do you exclude yourself?
12. What kind of practices have you developed to include yourself and others?