Digital Innovation for Engagement & Neighborhood

We celebrated committed European neighborhoods

With the Digital Innovation for Engagement & Neighborhood action field, we looked at what was happening right on our doorstep. We made visible how diverse Berliners are involved in their neighborhoods, connected committed people and wanted to inspire new engagement. Our particular focus was on how to combine and enrich unneighborly engagement with new digital opportunities.

© Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit e.V.

Good neighborliness can be worth gold – and not only since a pandemic. The short snack in the stairwell, flower pouring or sometimes taking care of the children, are all classics that make our everyday life easier and make life more sociable. But many people are even more committed to their neighborhoods. They do valuable social and cultural work in neighborhood initiatives or neighborhood houses. This strengthens the community and brings people together.  This creates exchanges between different life environments and across lifestyles. This is how the resources of individuals connect for the collective cause.    

The focus is on the common good

Neighborhood engagement includes a colorful bouquet of activities. Whether supporting the homeless, providing school tutoring for children of disadvantaged families or political work in the district, the focus is on the common good and the good cause. With concrete goals in mind, with a clear purpose and a sense of commitment, people help to make their everyday life and their neighborhood more livable for all.  

Professional neighborhood work by associations or innovative social enterprises supports people in their local commitment. It has an activating effect and invites you to participate in a responsible way. By strengthening tolerance and democratic action, as well as involving all sections of the population, neighborhood work provides important impetus to counter undemocratic, intolerant and xenophobic positions.  Neighborhood work and developments in the district are also related to municipal, national, social and international developments.  

Video: Places of encounters

Reconnecting the digital sphere with real life on site

With our field of action, we made neighborhood work visible and appreciated it. But more than that: We were taking a look into the future by asking how neighborhood engagement is changing in the digital age. What opportunities arise from new digital communication possibilities? How can needs and offers be brought together more precisely? Can digital tools streamline and thus simplify organizational and coordination processes? In a nutshell, it's all about the interplay between analog and digital. There is hardly any better example of how the digital sphere, which is often perceived as anonymous and non-committal, can be reconnected to real life on the ground - and in the process offers many opportunities and possibilities.   

Especially during the corona pandemic, digital networking played an important role. With this field of action, we looked at innovative approaches that influence, developed and connected neighborhood engagement.  In order to learn from each other, this field of action also focused on other European neighborhoods. With joint actions, a European exchange and the (re-)activation of international cooperation of neighborhood initiatives was promoted. 

Europe, democracy and digitization

We showed what solutions already exist and what it takes to make them connectable.  Thus, this field of action combined all our cross-cutting themes: Europe, democracy and digitization. But that's not all: we created links, questioned and researched how this particular type of collaboration opens up new knowledge for other forms of engagement. For this field of action, too, we were looking forward to joint implementation with a partner organization. For the field of action Digital Innovation for Engagement & Neighborhood, our main partner was the Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit e.V. - Landesverband Berlin. Other partners from Hungary, Israel, Austria, England, France, Sweden and Finland were involved in the field of action. 

Start of the action field was on 1. Mai 2021.

Under the theme "virtual, local democracy and engagement", the European partners came together for the digital launch event and discussed  

  • how democracy education can happen digitally in neighborhoods,  
  • what are the consequences of the Corona pandemic on this field of engagement and  
  • What digital communication looks like in neighborhoods across Europe. 

On the occasion of the Festival of Neighbours on 28 May, the digital event "Close to each other - potentials of neighbourly help as part of social infrastructure close to the city district" took place. In addition, many activities and events took place. More information can be found here:

© VskA e.V.

Magazine: European Festival of Neighbors of Berlin's neighborhood centers and neighborhood houses and Europe-wide

It was not certain that it could take place. The pandemic situation set and still sets the pace. That made a lot of things difficult. It still does. Then came the relief: The European Festival of Neighbors of Berlin's neighborhood centers and neighborhood houses could take place in May. It was one of the highlights of the campaign year. That's why we're picking it up again here. Neighborhood culture is one of the many things that make Berlin and its people special. The Association for Social-Cultural Work (Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit e.V.) put the festival into words for us briefly and succinctly.

To the magazine article
© Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit e.V.
Nachbarschafts-Etage, Fabrik Osloer Strasse.


VskA // Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit e.V. – Landesverband Berlin

Building on our self-understanding that neighborhood work is activating, that all activities in neighborhood houses are voluntary and invite them to participate resituently, we promote civic and voluntary engagement in the district. By strengthening tolerance and democratic action, as well as involving all sections of the population, neighbourhood work provides important impetus to counter undemocratic, intolerant and xenophobic positions. It is non-denominational and politically independent and takes place in almost all European countries.


Ms. Gökçen Demirağlı


partner website