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.
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.
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
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: das-fest-der-nachbarn.de