Paper short abstract:
The urban gardening movement in Germany transforms the urban landscape by occupying unused space. The established assemblages offer various forms of engagement for city dwellers, fundamentally questioning the predominant way of living in cities in acting out alternatives and enabling participation.
Paper long abstract:
In recent years, new kinds of urban community gardening projects are multiplying in Germany's cities. Occupying unused space and transforming it into gardens, they not only change the urban landscape but create a social space that allows for a different social and experiential reality through enabling various forms of engagement for city dwellers. This paper builds on field research in open urban gardening projects and approaches them as form of resistance that fundamentally questions and challenges the dominant way of living in cities. Going 'beyond gardening', these assemblages address questions of food production and sustainability as well as social, ecological and economic issues. Establishing places for interaction, exchange and transmission of knowledge and skills, the experience and enactment of alternative forms of dwelling in the city becomes possible - with a focus on 'do it together' rather than 'do it yourself'. Who owns the cities, and how to live well in them? How to build community, how to harvest the commons? Collectively, these projects are looking for answers. Further, as 'open' places these creative bricolages allow for and encourage fleeting as longterm engagements, enhancing interagency and widening their audience. Going 'beyond the garden', they form networks that actively seek to influence policies. As such, the urban gardening movement can not only be seen as a form of resistance, but it also produces places to experiment with alternatives in the everyday and foster change on the level of the individual as well as political.
Occupying spaces: dwelling as resistance