First district assembly in Leipzig-Connewitz: A successful experiment

District assembly ConnewitzOn Sunday, May 12th, the linXXnet invited to a district meeting to the meeting house next to the asylum accommodation in Arno-Nitzsche-Str. 37 a.

The event saw itself as a continuation of the discussion on graffiti & expensive new buildings that took place in December 2018 at UT Connewitz (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGIe2jnCIRo). In this context, graffiti in public space as art, a form of protest and a nuisance was discussed controversially. Graffiti activists, homeowners and numerous residents of the district took part in the debate.

The district meeting took up various topics addressed in the framework. The focus was on renting/living, regulatory policy and the situation of those working in culture and gastronomy.

The basic approach of the format of the district meeting was and is to bring the residents of the district into conversation with their different perspectives, wishes and criticisms and to jointly initiate ideas and solutions from below.

Sure: Connewitz is a special district. An eventful history and numerous political and cultural projects shape image and perception. At the same time, there is massive media and regulatory stigmatization. The neighborhood’s residents are more heterogeneous than both public portrayal and the self-image of political activists suggest.

Many older people, young families, precarious but also well-earning people with different perspectives on social challenges live here too. What unites them is that they have found their place of life here, which they value, where they live and which they want to shape.
The social and urban development policy challenges do not stop at Connewitz. Rising rents, the loss of green spaces and open spaces, precarious employment, poverty in old age and the brutalization of togetherness can also be found here.
At the beginning of the district meeting on May 12, in which around 60 people took part, there were short impulses from actors from Connewitz and beyond:

The rental consultation hour South took a look at cases from their consulting work and pleaded for a stronger organization of tenants*, a representative of the house and wagon council and the SOWO cooperative presented models that are based on the takeover of houses in collective, non-profit administration.

In the associated workshop, the tenant struggles at Thierbacher Strasse 6 and Kochstrasse 124 were discussed, among other things, but the lack of affordable housing was also addressed. The requirements developed are listed here:

housing and renting

 

A representative of the Powerless Association and the scientist Stephanie Schmidt introduced the regulatory strategies. This was about the massive police presence in the district, which is currently also expressed by foot patrols by the riot police, for more than 5 years by its "own", quite controversial police post and for 20 years by permanent police video surveillance. The criminalizing handling of the district by law enforcement agencies has negative effects on the socially disadvantaged and migrants, who are more easily targeted, but also on the left-wing lifestyle. Social problems, such as evictions, are treated as security problems and "put away" rather than solved.

Demands from the panel:

regulatory policy

 

Representatives from the PIVO and the UT gave their perspectives on the topic of culture and gastronomy. Both commercially organized shops and those based on voluntary work work in the Kiez. Topics here were both transparency about the costs behind the beer price (rent, remuneration) and the hard bread of cultural work, which has to work with and without funding. On the other hand, there is the question of access to social life and culture, even for those who don't have any money. The panel also discussed fundamental conflicts: Who defines the “laws” of the neighborhood and enforces them. Why is there so little communication and often "cracked down" straight away? Are there no spaces for this? And why aren't more perspectives represented at the gathering? The results can be found here:

beer and culture

 

The bottom line is that the experiment with a first district assembly worked. In the panels, problems became transparent and possible solutions were outlined. There was optimism among many participants that such a format of meeting, networking and discussion can definitely be an important basis for living and shaping together in the district.

Ergo: We will try again and cordially invite you to participate.