Journal Entry IV

Did you post witnesses? he said. To report to you on the continuing existence of those places once you’d quit them? That’s crazy. Is it? Where is yesterday? -Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

Memory is something, as Julie pointed out in feedback this week, that shows up in most of my reflections and longer journal entries.  This one isn't going to be any different. I'm sitting in the Jetpack Ecolodge in Grunwald, just outside of Berlin.  It is Monday morning.  I have just said goodbye to Zosia as she headed out to get her taxi to the airport and, though Sophie will be here another day, I feel pretty alone in a way that is both sad and exciting, and she too will leave tomorrow and then I really will be the last one in Berlin.
It makes a strange sense:  I was the first one of the group in the city, followed by Sophie half a day later, so I should be the last one out.  To truly complete the palindrome I should have stayed in Lichtenstein again but I wanted to see trees and animals b…

Final Write-Up

My final write-up can be found at the link below in order to maintain formatting and tables.

Reading Reflection 7/5

It's always interesting to me how many assumptions we have that we don't openly think about or recognize. The assumption or stereotype of migrant as a 'failed citizen' is one that I think many of us subconsciously have, even if we do not believe that they have failed because of their own choices. In many cases, we view them as being from a failed state, and this judgment, too, is one that should be openly addressed and critiqued. The chapter mentions that 'the most 'dispossessed refugees have created some of the most interesting non-state social organizations'. I am recording this partially as a reminder to look for some of these later. Often when people think of immigrant organizations it is criminal organizations that come to mind. A few years ago I read an interesting piece about the idea that organized crime is an almost necessary step for any immigrant community in a “1st world” country. I wish I …

Community Asset Map Part II

My first interview was with two women who worked/lived in a small apartment building for seniors which we were told also has community center functions, though these seem to be primarily for seniors. The community center is in a small plaza which includes a grocery store, a bar, and a few small stores. Many of the stores have apartment buildings above them, and throughout the hour we were there a few people were coming and going from their homes.
The first woman we approached in front of the community center did not speak very much English, but we were able to get across that we wanted to talk with her, and so she called a friend who came down from her apartment. This friend spoke much more English and that and our German we were able to get some basic information from her.
It was implied, though not explicitly stated, that she had lived in Berlin for 30 years, after living for a few years in Boston. From what she said about the community, she views it as mostly older, with famil…

Journal Entry II

I still feel that I between the flooding and the Hamburg trip, I haven't had time to fully process everything we saw at Sachenhausen.  The last 4 days have been unrelenting each in their own different ways.  That being said, there are many impressions I got while there that I'm sure will form more fully even as I write this.  For that reason, I'm mostly I'm going to talk about the Sachenhausen part of the week.
The first, strongest thing that I felt there was the sense of hallowedness that I had on some level expected.  I have dozens of photos from other places we've been.  I have three from that place.  I know others have felt the same, and the few pictures I did take almost felt wrong when I was taking them, and I found that I had to explain to myself that it will be important to show people what it was like when I get home, and that's why it was okay to take a small amount of photos.  It's an entirely different kind of documentation, even though we were…

Reading Reflection For 6/26

I think one of the most interesting things from both the readings and my experience so far in the city would have to be the memorial culture, and the different ways the city's difficult history has been managed and displayed (or not displayed) throughout time.  Berlin has devoted huge amounts of time, money, and effort to memorials on a scale that I personal have not experienced before, and I find myself thinking about the secondary effects this has on the city.

For example, how have memorials affected gentrification in the neighborhoods they reside in?  Certainly some are tourist attractions which 'artificially' raise the value of the property around them as interest in them grows.  In this way, businesses stand to profit off the city's history, and a neighborhood which might have otherwise been affordable to some is no longer so.  Of course, tourism is a tricky business to nail down the effects from.  Does the business gained from tourism around, say, the Mitte distr…

Five Senses Survey II And Journal Entry I

Because there is quite a bit of overlap the topic of the 5-senses survey and my initial feelings and thoughts about Berlin, I've combined these two entries and extended the target word count.
Because I have not yet spent much time in the southern part of the city where my community partner is based, this survey deals mostly with the first area I stayed after arriving, and one which I still think of as being the most interesting in many ways. I am defining the area as being between Landsburger Alle station, the DDR prison museum, and the REWE store. These three landmarks form a sort of cone to the east of the city in an area dominated by old soviet housing and small storefronts. This seems to overlap quite a bit with the north-western quarter of the Lichtenberg neighborhood, and so I will sometimes refer to it as Lichtenberg though I feel like that neighborhood is much larger than the area I've defined. I'm choosing this area over Kreuzberg even though I have now spend…