Article

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Commoning In, Against, and Beyond the Mechanisms of Urban Accumulation

We are sitting in Prinzessinnengarten, a 6,000 m2 garden adjacent

a busy roundabout in the heart of Kreuzberg, Berlin,

during our regular Commons Evening School. Behind the fence, a

large construction site with three towering cranes looms overhead:

construction is underway on “The Shelf,” a hub for tech-companies

willing to pay astronomical rents. It is one of many in a cohort of

developments by Pandion, a prominent real estate shark—astute in

artwashing techniques—operating in the city. We meet here every

Monday evening to learn and unlearn together through the processes

taking place in the garden, collectively forming an agenda that

is both hands-on and theoretical. We explore the opportunities and

challenges of commoning and the ways in which we can contest the

mechanisms of the commodified and speculative city, specifically

the mechanisms of temporary use. We discuss, we listen, we go on

excursions to other places facing similar struggles, they come to visit

us and share their experiences, we water plants, we compost, we get

our hands dirty cultivating the land. On this particular Monday, a

feminist-activist group working together with refugee women—to

create workshops and support structures for sharing the knowledge

and skills necessary for navigating bureaucratic procedures—joins us

to discuss holding workshops and festivals in the garden, and we

enthusiastically discuss plans.

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