Flensburg: New Social Center in Germany

Since the beginning of this year an initiative is using the space of the Kurze Straße 4 in Flensburg for an autonomous social and kulture center. The K4 is open for everybody who wants to drop in and chill out, make workshops or help with the building of this freshly squatted house projekt.

since the legal status is not cleared yet, the k4 needs a lot of solidarity to convince the authorities that a space like this is needed.

Concept of the K4:

A space for us, for all Central core of our project will be a housing project in which people from different social backgrounds can live together collectively and work to make their dreams reality. This living space is supposed to be open to everyone, including those who don’t live in the project, and offer a meeting point for young and old alike. We hope that such a meeting point can help to overcome the seperation of people into different social groups, may it be according to income, gender or nationality and make a contribution to mutual understanding. Furthermore the inclusion of the many social and cultural projects we are planning into the same space that is used privately to live there, will guarantuee the personal link of those living in the building to the social goals of the project and thus helps to ensure that the continuous work of the project does not stop even in difficult times. For us who live there, the engagement for the social and cultural goals of the project becomes a personal engagement and the border between private and public initiative is erased consciously.

Living room is for everyone Facing the masses of empty buildings and apartements it seems entirely absurd that there are people who have to survive without any or with only minimal space to live in. Especially in the Kurze Straße 4, close to the �Tafel�, which distributes food to people in need, it seems highly understandable when people just take the empty and unused buildings after years of unsteady life in depressingly small surroundings. Apartements are there to live in them, even if there are those who see buildings merely as object for speculations whose value is not to be used as living space or to be used productively – in which way ever. This view on buildings as purely monetary value has been discredited once and for all during the global financial crisis. The speculation with buildings should not come before their use. Especially if more people would profit from it, than just those who live there.

Flensburg changes The renovation of the city core, practised in large dimensions in the form of different projects from “Südermarkt-Passage” to “PACT”, is changing the face of the city not only on the surface. More than just a luxurious shopping-zone is created, because entire districts are streamlined exclusively for the purpose of profit. Business and tourism dominate those areas and everything which doesn’t submit to these goals will have to leave. The gentrification-process in Flensburg mustn’t be ignored, as social values are falling victim to rising rents and land-prices as well as a more repressive climate in the consumption-zone. Not few of those, which are not part of the higher income groups the city aims for, will have to disappear from the inner city, accepted to come back only as consumers, reduces to their wallets by the city planners. When the higher-ups of the city administration create such outrageous conditions, they at least have to make sure that social room is created in return. The city core must not entirely become a tourism and shopping quarter, because Flensburg consists of more than just tourists and consumers. The Kurze Straße 4 is qualified for this aim as well due to its location.

A huge number of opportunities Even now the used rooms are offering many different opportunities, of which some are already being realized on a smaller scale. The Kurze Straße 4 already is a meeting-point where different people can come together, may it be to talk, celebrate or even to just spend a few calm minutes. Furthermore there are already groups, which would like to use the rooms for the purpose of sports. The proximity to the “Tafel” also opens up perspectives, which wouldn’t be available in this form at a different place. The Kurze Straße 4 for example could offer the many people, who have to wait for their food in the open, a room to heat up or to drink a cup of coffee in a comfortable athmosphere. The use of the rooms for collective cooking seems very promising in this situation as well. The contact between people from different backgrounds is supposed to create a mutual learning and teaching process as well. On a regular scale we want to offer the opportunity to learn from each other in different workshops or the talk controversly and thus broaden ones horizon. The topics of those workshop will be as broad as the interests of the users of the building. Cooking, arts, politics, sewing or crafting, the possibilities are almost unlimited. Important to us is, that the using of the building is not limited to those living in it. We would like to offer other, existing or yet to be created groups, a room which they otherwise couldn’t afford for their purposes. Aside from that we have a huge number of ideas, may it be a public kitchen financed by donations, the creation of a small library and info-point, a store where everything is for free, a public internet access or the transformation of the buildings backyard into an open garden for everyone. Behind these ideas can not be any concrete realization by now, because of the insecure status of the project right now, which thusfar blocked the expensive and work-intensive creation.

This house, that house, no entire house? We repair, renovate and redecorate. We know that the spontaneous use of the Kurze Straße 4 is very provocative. But we believe this kind of behaviour to be justified in face of the usefulness of such a project for everyone, who is ready to accept it. As already said, the apartements of the Kurze Straße 4 are especially useful for this purpose, as their location in proximity of the “Tafel” as well as the inner city creates perfect conditions. The apartements furthermore stood empty for several years and obviously weren’t cared for from the owner during this time. Sure, the condition of the apartements wasn’t hopeless, but there were several damages which will require time and work to be fixed – time and work the current users are willing to invest, if this project would be tolerated. Of course, a more of rooms would mean a more of opportunities. We have no doubt that we would be able to fill the entire building of the Kurze Straße 4 (excluding the one currently rented apartement) with uncommercial and public projects. Especially the empty restaurant on the lowest level of the building would be perfectly suited for collective cooking financed by donations (VoKü). But even if we could use only a part of the building, the surroundings of the Kurze Straße 4 would gain a lot from it socially and culturally. But even though we have gotten emotionally attached to the Kurze Straße 4 during the days we have already used it, we aren�t fixated on it. We however wish for the city, to take our aims seriously and, if a usage of the Kurze Straße 4 is out of question, helps us to find a new, suitable place. Important to us is, not to be dependant on money from the city. Autonomy also means to us, that we, as much as possible, rely on our own ways to pay for the activities in the building. The border for this is the building. We simply can not rent or buy the necessary space. But we can, once they are available for us, repair, renovate and re-decorate them with full effort and all our powers and abilities. For Flensburg this means only to give up one building, but it gains a lot of non-monetary profit from social and cultural initiaves.

Cooperation, not competition We don’t want to remove or even compete with the many existing cultural projects, like the Kühlhaus, the Volxbad, the Hafermarkt or others. To the contrary we hope for their support and cooperation in the cultural field. Their existance however can’t be an argument against the need for this project, as aimed for by us, because their aims and usergroup are different from ours. We want to be more than just a youth-house and offer a room for self-realization to people from any social background.