From September 20 through 27, take part in an experiment in inclusive democracy to elect the Parkrat (“park council”) of Görlitzer Park, the first of its kind in Germany, by dropping in and casting your vote at the wagon in front of Café Edelweiß.
Made up of 11 members working in close cooperation with the current park manager Cengiz Demirci, the future council will act as a conduit between the residents around and park users of Görli to Kreuzberg’s Bezirksamt, as well as have a hand in organizing park events. But what’s really cool is that any person over 14 can run for a seat or vote – regardless of nationality. A total of 53 candidates, a mix of mostly young Germans, two Gambians and a 15-year-old, are putting themselves up for office. Nikola Richter, the woman behind indie digital publisher mikrotext, mum, Görlikiez resident since 2005, is one inspiring example of a concerned citizen running for this unique experience in an inclusive grassroots election.
You can also get a taste of her platform below (in German)…
What’s your relationship to Görli?
I have been living directly next to the park or in its near vicinity for 13 years and I visit constantly with friends or my kids. It’s like my welcoming, and sometimes difficult, neighbour.
How did you get to know about these elections?
Via the posters in the Kiez.
Why made you decide to run?
I have been unhappy with the city planning in Berlin for a long time now. Now I want to find out what you can actually do as a citizen.
What do you like about this initiative?
That everybody above 14 years old who is concerned about Görli can run as a candidate – and also vote! What a great, inclusive way of doing urban politics !
Why should people care and vote?
Görli is the focal point of many issues – migration, drug policy, but also of grass root policies. It was the first park in Germany that was founded – in the 1980s – because of the activism of neighbours who fought for it for more than 10 years. We should also care for the green and wild spaces around us, because we need them.
Why should they vote for you?
Actually, there are a lot of great candidates on the list, it’s a lot of wonderful diversity and engagement, which we also need on the professional level of politics. I would be happy if many people had a look at the list of candidates and go vote. This could send a great signal of how policy-making should change. I will be looking at ways of how to develop or just protect Görli as a green oasis in a free Kreuzberg, welcoming everybody, and everybody respecting the others.
Your campaign slogan/electoral platform?
Görli for all, with respect for the other. So: no platform, it is a voluntary job. Besides being a mother and publisher, I cannot run a proper campaign or anything, I also think this would be a bit over the top!
What do you expect to achieve if voted in?
Keeping Görli an attractive place for the neighbourhood, and also a recreational space, not a party area for tourists.
What would a perfectly representative assembly look like to you?
As diverse as the list of candidates! With parents, dog owners, young people that grew up there, architects, grass root activists, representatives of NGOs…
Do you believe in direct democracy?
Well, let’s see!