13 November 2006

Grass-Root-Gardens Pt.1


Blurbanism ∕ Public Space

At some point in the summer of 2005 I realised that a subtle transformation was taking place in the streets of my neighborhood. As it so often is with these things, as soon as you notice something in one place, you see it everywhere else too. I’ve called this grass roots phenomena “Kiezgarten“, which means something along the lines of “neighborhood garden”.

A Kiezgarten

The quaint little example pictured above is typical of nearly all Kiezgärten, in that a tree usually stands in the center. Of course, the tree has been there for a lot longer than the floral addition or the cutesy picket fence, and that’s precicely the point. Normally, when not modified by the good citizens of this city, the tree is surrounded by a sorry little patch of dirt in which unspeakable amounts of dog shit has been allowed to collect.

Berlin has a serious dog turd problem. Everyone looks forward to the first beautiful days of spring where the snow and ice melt to reveal a turgid slick of last autumn’s thawing canine defication. These little pavement-side tree beds have inevitably become fetid poo-pens for the city’s estimated 150,000 dogs who eject a spectacular 900 kilos of Scheiße per day. The answer has come from the community, and not the city, and that is the wonderful thing about the Kiezgärten: it’s a true grass-roots solution to a true grass-roots problem. And the city is a whole lot prettier for it.

SLAB’s suggestion to all Berliners: buy a packet of seeds tomorrow, and scatter as you please.

Better than dog shit

Further reading
– Deutsche Welle article about doggy-do here [English]
– All things Kiez in Berlin here [German]