One night I came home, and the first thing that stroke me, was the fact, that a handsome guy I never saw before, offered me help with opening the maindoor of my house. That was the point, where I realised, that after four years living in that house, I don’t have any clue with whom I am sharing my house. I started to think about what is neighbourhood, and why I don’t have contact with my neighbours. So I decided to make a project on How to get to know my neighbours. The task I gave to myself was to think about strategies on how to get to know them and starting to work on that. The first aim I gave to myself was, that until the end of the first week working on that, I wanted to get managed sitting in a foreign kitchen in my house and sharing a coffee with one of my neighbours.
Possible tasks to myself:
1. Make a list of all people living in my house.
2. Photograph the house
This picture represent my housecommunity. Some of the doorsigns look older than others, so it seems obvious that behind these names people are existing, that live longer there than others. Some of the signs look improvised. Probably these are the people, that moved in later and maybe they are the more easy people in the house. So what often strikes me unvoluntary- clichees are true- so with that: first impression is most important, you already judge and give meaning by the first signs.
I remember photographing the doorbells felt a bit voyeuristic, but I wasn`t aware about it that time, that my home means to me my very private sphere. So I skipped the doubts and continuing my plans, cause i realised on the other side, that I am always reading traces about people in my everydaylife.
these bottles of water I found on the stairs in my house only two days later when I met the friendly stranger living in my house caring waterbottles with him. So was that a sign or coincidence?
3. Think about possible themes/ things that I have in common with my neighbours.
What problems are we sharing, what pleasures? Actually about what could I talk with them? Find out themes of the house!
I made a list of my neighbours , and what I already new from them, for instance there is a chinese doctor living underneath my flat, once he had problems with water coming down the walls and he thought it was my fault- I could go there and ask how that problem solved. or I could consult him as a chinese doctor.
A theme is the infrastructure around the house- where can you get nice food, nice bars, places to sit down, talk about places that change..
there was reastauration going on that time in the house, so this was actually a good theme to connect cause we both are sharing the house as a theme.- so what 's the theme of a house?- its beauty? It costs, strange ugly places within the house, its inhabitants? the other neighbours turned out to be a very good theme to talk about, when i finally met people- why people always love to talk about people so much? What mostly stroke me was the fact that there are myths of stories about inhabitants of the house still circulating after years. When i moved in that house suddenly my boyfriend realised that he had been here years before- it turned out that his brother used to live here before the wall broke down. So he told me stories i heard again when was tlaking with neighbours now after more then 10 years- but it was told as a secret- so sorry i cant tell the story here.
4. How to get in touch?
Think about situations where you could meet your neighbours by accident. Produce coincidences!
Hang out at the postboxes, very often people coming along , so this is the chance to say hello and have a small talk about the mass of advertisement and the best indian food imbiss round the corner. In fact i meet the most people of the house at the postboxes.
i could also stay in the backyard cleaning my bike- but actually i did it once and i didnt meet anyone...
5. Ask people how they got to know their neighbours. Investigate on the internet!
I found an article about the idea of an moving- in party, and about the details to prepare this event. - actually i could this and in autumn i was very motivated in doing so. But actually I didnt take time until now in realising it, and since begin of february a was again almost all the time outside my house, it somehow felt ridiculous in hopping home for a neighbourparty, when i am almost never there.
But another idea is to join a internetcommunity for example mein.nachbar.net where people meet that are living near your place.I tried out this too, but when the first contacts arose, it was only guys around 50 years old and i didnt felt in the mood to answer them.
within the presentation of the project a guy told me that its great to have a balcony- so if you drop something on the balcony of your neighbour it might be funny and a reason to talk to him/her. -unfortunaly i dont have a balcony.
6. Ring on the doors, say hello and that you want to get to know them. Hand out a present for them in order to show you are not aggressive, depressive or mad.
That is obviously the best to do. In fact people where irritated when I stood there saying: "hello I wonder who you are." But after the first shock people like that s.o. comes up to them just for the reason that you meant them as a person. But mostly they get sceptical - what does she want from me? Does she want to sell something , is she aggressively religious or just depressed? These thoughts and that skeptical moment was and is still quiet hard for me to stand. I try to think of it as something normal and let it behind me, but whenever i start moving towards strange people i have to push myself very hard going over this point. Mostly its worth doing though. I guess the discomfort comes from the fact that you are judged from the very first moment- and who likes beeing judged?
Some of the people where I rang the doorbell i didnt tell that i am doing a project and some i did. now its easier for me to meet the people that i straightly told that i am doing a project in getting to know my neighbours.
7. Bake a cake and bring some cake to the neighbours.
that was my most successful strategy getting to know my neighbours.
8. How to dress- present yourself ringing on a neighbours door.
som people think the first 20 seconds are deciding the rest of a relation to other people.... after thinking a while about that i was a bit confused in my head about the question how do i want to appear to my neighbours.
10. Find the guy with the Volvic Bottles. If you find him, refer to that moment you met him, people like when you remember them, perhaps he did the same, so you will like to hear he remember you. It’ll please you.
11. Make a date at the Chinese-doctor working downstairs.
I couldnt help getting ill since i started the project while i was at home. But he to gets parcels from time to time, so we do have nice chatts on the door.
there is something interesting going on. the computershop almost never was open, and when i came home after a longer working period he was gone, now there seems to move in some young people
while bringing up cake to my neighbours i got to know nina and björn. he is studiing something with housing management. This knowledge seems to very usefull in a neighbourhood. They where the first that invited me immediately for a coffee in their kitchen. They have a cute cat and I offered to babysit it. Nina gave me sweets for christmaspresent. I felt very good.
15. Invite people to your place
well my housingstyle is quiet chaotic. whenever someone comes up on my door i feel ashamed to invite people to that messy place.
18. Ask for help from your neighbours ( e.g. for baking a cake). Bring back a piece of cake on a plate , he will bring back the plate, so you will meet garantied three times!
19. Bring the common space of the house to live!
Play something in the main floor, animate people to join in . have coffee and cake with you to share.
I didnt dare doing so until now, because i would do it in my own house. I have the feeling i should now people a bit better before doing something like that.
21. Make yourself visible! Make music and dance in the yard of the house where people can watch you from their windows. Now they noticed you and can finally ask what the hell you where doing in the yard.
I had this plan- whenever I bring down the garbage i would sing loudly a song, people must notice me after a while
Please continue the list!
5th of july, 2008
in the middle of platform 17/20 at Lichtenberger Station, Berlin, there`s an old waitingroom. Mondayclub17/20 is squatting this empty space. Until july Katja Fillmann is opening once or twice a month a salon. Every first monday of the month we are transforming this waitingroom into something else: a space filled with live for the travellers and neighbours of Lichtenberger Station inviting people to partizipate or just to observe.
mondayclub is a theatrical occupation of the social and geographic empty space in urban space, a free space where collective everydayriatuals( breakfast, dancing, wellnessroom...) meets artistic interventions, and bring the waitingroom into a different context.
A project of Katja Fillmann
1. Termin: Mo: 4. february , 06.00Uhr- 10.00Uhr: coffeedisco at platform 17/20
Between departure and arrival we are dancing with travellers into the monday morning. We are listening to the very special Mondaysongmenue and sharing a cup of coffee.
2. Termin: 3. March, 06.00Uhr- 10.00Uhr: Zen Oase Lichtenberg
Relaxation at the microwaveshrine with our guests and a little tired smile for the people running through rush hour. two geishas presenting a teeceremony and inviting you for a massage on platform 17/20..
3./4. Termin: 7. April: 6.00Uhr-10.00 Uhr und 16.00Uhr bis 18.00 Uhr: Книжная биржа обмена - Bookcrossing Lichtenberg
mondayclub is presenting a livingroom on platform 17/20. Sit down, and read a book...
We start to build up a gallery, so that people can find themselfes again and share the memories of the older "cometogehter" in the mondayclub. Teroom is growing . evdery new event is keeping elements from the older ones, so that you can see what happened before.- we are producing a history of our space.
we`ll treat you well, take a breakfast and drop in for a special diner cooked on platform 17/20
mondayclub is transforming into a beach, and you can make your first holidaypictures in this monday morning rushhours.
6.00 Uhr bis 10.00 Uhr warm up und konzert ab 19.00 uhr
before mondayclub is closing , we are inviting all the streetmusicians, hanging aroúnd in berlin underground for a festival.
Mondaclub 17/20 is presented within the project Bahnhof lichtenberg of theater an der Parkaue, berlin.
the railwaystation Berlin Lichtenberg was opened 1881 and longtime it was a very important traffic centre- " berlins door to the east", the secret mainstation of the DDR until the 80ties. Today Bahnhof Lichtenberg is one of the more unknown stations. mostly used for regional trains, a working place for bakers, traders as well as a place for homeless, an everyday place. With this panopticum the theatre is dealing. the theatre asked artists, theatre makers and photographers to make research on this place and realise projects placed within the station or dealing with the history of this place.