Berlin: Poor but sexy?
‘Why are we meeting here?’, ‘I never come here’, ‘There’s nothing here.’ All the sketch artists including me reacted in a similar way when we arrived at An der Apostelkirche 1 in Berlin, the venue for the first national network meeting. This apparently forgotten area of West-Berlin used to be an interesting mix of hookers and galleries living up to the ‘hip and happening’ image outsiders associate with Berlin. But the galleries left, moved to hipper parts, leaving the prostitutes to walk the uninspiring and pedestrian unfriendly streets. Where better and more to the point than right here to discuss the potential of social innovation to address social urban issues.
Birmingham, one of the SKETCH cities that I was really exited to visit; Birmingham, the second city of the UK with an industrial background placed in the middle of the country. The British inaugural SEISMIC meeting took place in the REP theatre in the city centre while right next door the Tories were hosting their annual conference. Having a meeting about social innovation on European level right beside an anti Europe fort was weird and strengthening at the same time. The participants present were very actively involved during the day and you could feel the energy flowing trough the REP theatre. Being in a big industrial city I was blown away by the participants wish to delete any kind of city and create the return of smaller societies.
Under the smoke of Antwerp a car packed with Dutch girls overcame loads of traffic jams but got to know each other pretty well. After a long journey five Dutch SKETCH artists and myself piled ourselves out of the car to enter in the magical world of the Vebeke Foundation in Stekene, near Antwerp, (http://www.verbekefoundation.com). The rawness and beauty of this private arts site of Geert and Carla Verbeke Lens brings together culture, nature and ecology. The place inspired the SKETCH artists and the participants of the first SKETCH party for SEISMIC, organized by Yves from VITO, to show the best of them. After a joint dinner with the artists and the participants we started to both interview the sketch party people and helping out Yves to create visual handles for the Belgium inaugural meeting that took place later that months. During the evening the participants created a base for this inaugural meeting both content wise as visual.
When I arrived in Vienna it instantly struck me that Vienna is planned in a spacious way and that there are lots of green areas. Arriving by plane on a bright day I also saw the green that surrounds this city full of history. The city centre breathes history and even I, as a born and raised European metropolitan citizen, was impressed by all the splendour you see walking through Vienna. When I put the outcomes of the inaugural meeting together I was really surprised noticing that precisely these issues were addressed to create a better Vienna. Clearly Vienna’s inhabitants don’t see the beauty gazing at them.