Transition Dialogue – Что дальше? / Wie geht’s weiter?

Transition Dialogue – Что дальше?

В прошлом году наш диалог о трансформации брал паузу, однако сейчас активно происходит его  следующий этап. Вопрос о дальнейшем развитии диалога мы обсуждаем прямо сейчас.

24 сентября в библиотеке Луизенбад в Берлине состоялся воркшоп под названием «Поколение Трансформации в Восточной Европе: Поколение неопределенности – Поколение недоверия». Данное мероприятие прошло в рамках проекта «Диалог о Трансформации» который является совместной инициативой ДРА и София Платформ (Болгария) при поддержке Федерального агентства гражданского образования Германии.
Эксперты в сфере политологии, молодежного образования и социологии из восьми восточноевропейских стран приняли участие в воркшопе для поиска нового подхода и методов гражданского образования поколения перестройки. Целью встречи явилась постановка дальнейших конкретных задач и вопросов для лучшего понимания актуальных политических позиций, гражданских знаний и возможностей людей, переживших переход к демократии в 90х годах в Восточной и Южной Европе, а также России и ГДР.
Были представлены социологические и политические исследования поколения транформации, ставшие основой для дальнейшего обсуждения формальных и неформальных подходов и других аспектов гражданского образования. Участниками была также подчеркнута необходимость такого обмена профессиональными знаниями для лучшего исследования и понимания процесса перехода к демократии с разных перспектив. Затронутые важные вопросы и темы будут впоследствии вынесены на широкую дискуссию на конференции в Софии (Болгария), которая пройдет 22-23 ноября 2018 в рамках проекта «Диалог о Трансформации».

Transition Dialogue – Wie geht’s weiter?

Unser Transition Dialogue war im letzten Jahr ein wenig still. Die nächste Periode unseres Dialogs beginnt jedoch. Was kommt als nächstes? Darum ging es in unserem aktuellen Treffen.

„The Generation of Transition in Eastern Europe: A Generation of Uncertainty – a Generation of Distrust?“ Zu dieser Frage veranstaltete der DRA gemeinsam mit seiner bulgarischen Partnerorganisation „Sofia Platform“ und durch Unterstützung der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung einen Workshop am 24. September in der Bibliothek am Luisenbad in Berlin. Die Veranstaltung wurde im Rahmen des gemeinsamen Projekts „Transition Dialogue“ durchgeführt.

Expert_innen der Politikwissenschaft, Jugendbildung und Soziologie aus acht osteuropäischen Ländern kamen dabei zusammen, um nach neuen Zugängen zur Erforschung der „Wendegeneration“ und davon ausgehend neuen Maßstäben für die politische Bildung zu suchen. Ziel des Austauschs war es Fragestellungen zu erarbeiten, die helfen die aktuellen Einstellungen, politischen Ansichten und zivilgesellschaftlichen Haltungen der Menschen zu verstehen, die die massiven Transformationserfahrungen der 1990er Jahre in Ost-, Süd- und Mitteleuropa miterlebt haben.
Während des Workshops wurden soziologische und politikwissenschaftliche Studien zur Wendegeneration aus verschiedenen Ländern vorgestellt, die die Grundlage für die weitere Diskussion bildeten. Die so erarbeiteten Kernthemen dienen der Vorbereitung für eine umfassendere Konferenz im Projekt „Transition Dialogue“, welche am 22.-23 November 2018 in Sofia (Bulgarien) stattfinden wird.

Transition Dialogue – What Next?

Our Transition Dialogue has been a bit silent for the last year, however the next period of our the Dialogue ist about to start. What’s next? That’s what we discuss right now.

“The Generation of Transition in Eastern Europe: A Generation of Uncertainty – a Generation of Distrust?” This question was the main focus of the workshop the DRA organized together with its Bulgarian partner organization “Sofia Platform” with the support of the Federal Agency of Civic Education of Germany on September 24th at the Luisenbad Library in Berlin. The workshop was held within the framework of the common project “Transition Dialogue”.

Experts in political science, youth education and sociology from eight Eastern European countries came together, to gain new insights into the “Generation of Transition” and discuss the possible implications on civic education deriving from them. The aim of the exchange was to develop a range of questions, which would help to understand the current attitudes, political views and civic demeanors of people, who lived through the massive transformation of the 1990ies in Eastern, Southern and Central Europe.

Throughout the workshop sociological and political science studies from different countries were presented and served as a basis for the discussion. The core issues thus worked out will be discussed in length in a more comprehensive conference taking place in Sofia (Bulgaria) on 22nd-23rd of November 2018.

Mapping Transition: E-Book out now

Two years of research, six countries, six different histories of transition, lots of shared stories and many lessons learned about democracy and how to bring about change. We are happy to present our Book:

“MAPPING TRANSITION IN EASTERN EUROPE” – out now online!

The book is the final publication of the first project period of “Transition Dialogue” from 2015 – 2017.  Project Coordinator: Christine Wetzel

About the Book “Mapping Tranistion in Eastern Europe”

“Mapping Transition in Eastern Europe: Expericence of Change after the End Communism”, edited by Louisa Slavkova, 96 pages, published by DRA e.V. 2017.

For a free printed copy please send an e-Mail to info@transition-dialogue.org

Table of Content

About the Transition Dialogue Network
Christine Wetzel

Comparing Transitions: Challenges and Lessons for Civic Education
Louisa Slavkova

Bulgaria: Nostalgia on the Rise
Iva Kopraleva

Croatia: How to keep Talent at Home
Rafaela Tripalo

Germany: A Tale of Two Generations
Dr. Judith Enders, Mandy Schulze, Christine Wetzel

Romania: A Missed Opportunity for Minorities
Irina Ilisei, PhD

Russia: Authoritarian Resurgence
Oksana Bocharova, Polina Filippova, Vlada Gekhtman

Ukraine: Transition Reset
Olena Pravylo

Acknowledgements

 

What Women got from Change: Interview with Mihaela Miroiu

Mihaela Miroiu (born in 1955), Professor at the National University of Political and Administrative Studies Bucharest, is one of the most important feminist scholars in the Eastern Europe. She initiated the first courses of Gender Studies in Romania, contributed to the feminism activism movement and published noumerous volumes on feminist ethics and philosophy. In the most famous book of her, “The road to autonomy. Feminist Political Theories”, she expounds the historical evolution of feminism and feminist political theories and most important, she explores the developments of gender policies in the context of communism and post-communism.

Irina Ilisei: What did the time of transition mean for the Romanian women?

Mihaela Miroiu: If we’re talking about a transition as a passage to something new, namely to a western type of society, a liberal-capitalist democracy, then we are talking about the 2000-2006 period. Thus, if since December 2000 we began the accession to the EU process, the whole 2000-2006 is a period of transition in itself. So we have a post-communist transition and a transition towards EU accession. That makes two transitions. Different things happened in these two transitions.

The post-communist transition meant the following things for women: First, the idea of gender equality, once promoted by communism, completely collapsed. Right after the fall of the communist regime the political representation of women declined to 3.5% at national level and 1.6% at local level. Therefore, politically speaking, women became completely unimportant and their interests weren’t represented.

What did the economic changes mean for women in contrast to men?

With the fall of the communist industry, specifically the state industry, the whole social network related to it collapsed too:  the nurseries and kindergartens which belonged to the industry. This meant, most of the nurseries and kindergartens closed. The state’s support in children’s upbringing fell through. On the other hand, in terms of job loss, the collapse of the so-called “heavy industries” like mining, smelting, machinery, oil refining affected mainly men. Mihaela Miroiu:

The industries in which women worked, the “light industries”, like food and textile industries, as well as commerce and tourism which were dominated by women, were privatized. Therefore, women’s adjustment to the market economy was faster than that of men. Practically speaking, in this first decade, those who created that massive GDP were women. The GDP that women produced was then redistributed as unemployment benefits, compensatory leaves etc. to the men from the heavy industries. The women contributed to the GDP and earned money, their money were taken and redistributed to those affected by deindustrialization. Thus, they did not lose jobs or status, but they lost money. This is where the financial imbalance between women and men began.

You mentioned the low representation of women in politics. How was that felt in practice?

Politically, women were alone, not represented. Along with the transition towards market, the trade unions disappeared and their interests were simply not taken into account. As a result, women had no protection from any trade union whatsoever. The feminist organizations emerged later and they did not appear in order to intervene in the socio-political life of women but rather in their education, their emancipation, the civil rights, this whole process that, intellectually speaking, mostly took place in the ‘70s. At an intellectual, civic and political level, there were some attempts at creating a form of support such as the “222” group for political equality in the Romanian Parliament. There were certain programs designed to help them, mostly made by the UN. Later the first feminist organizations emerged and women’s organizations began to develop, but this whole movement did not, in fact, impact their political status and interests.

As a result, what we discovered from research, was a patriarchy-concept rooted in the minds of the people deeper than we ever thought. This is because in communism, in terms of private relations, nobody tried to change it. And after the fall of the communist regime the church remained as the most influential institution strongly supporting the re-legitimization of the traditional patriarchate. So this is what the women got: all they won was a lighter transition towards market economy.

Did the average women feel frustrated realizing that along with the transition they have lost the kind of equality that they were somehow having during the communism?

I think the main frustration – based on the researches I have conducted especially in deindustrialized areas – was that their men did not work anymore or that their men entered a huge work crisis and even an identity crisis, that what later  lead to excessive mortality. Usually, when women loose work places, they don’t manifest extreme identity crises because their identity doesn’t revolve exclusively around professional identity in an “I either have that job or I’m nothing” sort of way. This was not a win for women but a loss for men compared to women.

The second source of frustratuion, according to my research, was the rather conflictual and merciless way of making politics – as women felt it.  This alienated them from the world of politics from a moral point of view.

They considered that as long as politics can’t take a more cooperative and ethical form, they have nothing to do there. In a way, from all I have seen, women would be more ready for a stage of consolidated democracy than men through their male representatives. Sure, another frustrating issue is the already mentioned absence of support in children’s upbringing. What was there, was mostly private and pretty expensive.

What are the differences that you notice between the different generations of women –   those socialized in the communist era and the younger ones who were socialized in the transitional period?

Now I will be talking specifically about a study which included 101 women from both urban and rural areas of the Hunedoara county, part of three main generations: one generation which we have called the “communist generation”, the one which lived most of its live under the communist regime, that’s my mother’s generation; the “transitional generation”, which is my generation; and, finally, the “generation of democracy” [those who lived only few years of childhood under the communism].

The Communist Generation: Greatfulness for Urban Development and Education

We worked with research concerning all three generations and we noticed the differences between them. The communist generation was somehow pleased with communism and the main satisfaction was the fact that they had access to education, housing provided by the state and services. Generally, because 80% of Romania’s population lived in the rural areas, they had little access to education [bevore]. They were very happy with the possibility of getting an education. They consider this to be the single most important benefit they got during the communist era.

In Romania, women weren’t economically dependent on men as the have always worked shoulder to shoulder to men: both in the non-monetary peasant economy and later when they all got a job in the communist economy. It took equally peasant women and peasant men equally and built an industry with all of them. So in this sense, the main reasons for their gratitude were education and the urban lifestyle.

The Transition Generation: The Change Maker who see nothing good in Communism

For the generation of their daughters, education and the urban lifestyle were natural things. Now the gratitude towards the regime is gone completely, because this broad access was already granted. This is where the frustration emerged from, as the majority of them lived their youth in the ‘80s, with the general state of shortage, the economic crisis,  the consequences of Decree 660 (which forbade abortions), the complete absence of contraceptive methods and general a deep frustration with the state –  given the fact that the majority of the population was now pretty well educated. This is the generation which found nothing good in the past.

On the other hand, it was the generation which had to make the first great transition. Most of these women had to become some kind of ‘Jill of all trades’, to be both the men and women. A woman must be able to support a family mostly on her own, since her husband is now unemployed and she has to work double, even triple shift to be able to make ends meet. On top of all that, one must change and learn new skills in order to keep up with the world in which they lived. In my opinion, it was a generation with a high endurance and a great capacity to adapt. For good or for bad, everything that has substantially changed in Romania [in the transition time until the EU-access] has done so because of the people in this generation.

The Democracy Generation: Nostalgia and Desinterest in the Rights Achieved

And then there’s the next generation – having nothing to do with communism or being 2, 3 or 4 years old when the regime fell –  who thinks that life was pretty good back then because the state gave you a job and a house. There are all kinds of mythologies. If you ask me, I’d say: “If the state, after you graduate from univeristy would send you to the Pocreaca village [middle of nowhere] where there wasn’t even a train, would put that address on your ID and you were kept in that village like a prisoner with no house, no train and no possibility of leaving, was it better that they gave you a work place?” It’s all these illusions regarding what communism actually was.

But this is not what concerns me the most. What concerns me is the answer to the question: “If your husband would have earned enough so as you wouldn’t have to work too, would you have stayed home?” The answer of those in the communist generation and the transitional generation was a firm “no”. They couldn’t even imagine not being independent. On the other hand, many of those in the young generation answered “yes”. What struck me was a feeling of a backwards step in terms of emancipation.

How is it possible for the generation of their grandmothers and mothers to be so strongly independent while their (grand)daughters would willingly accept a state of dependence because it’s “trendy” or because it is a cultural model which they got from the fiction of some glossy magazine. I never quite understood this.

Of course, it is a very interesting generation from other points of view, but a generation which seemed less interested in politics, less involved in civic matters and with a tendency towards abandonment and dependency. This situation had both surprised and saddened me. I was used to the women in my generation, women who were strong, independent, autonomous, which involve others in the process of emancipation, which can’t even imagine not being independent. Back then, mothers and grandmothers were like that and most of them would choose that path. When you belong to certain groups where the need for liberation, for being yourself and being autonomous is strong, depending on a man wouldn’t cross your mind, but when you’re not part of such groups and you’re only connected to such channels which promote the Barbie model, or even luxury prostitution, the woman who managed to get her hands on a wealthy man appears to be the epitome of success.

Do you believe that the transition process in Romania is over?

Yes, I think it’s over and it came to an end in 2016 like it wouldn’t have considered it to be over in 2015. When you see what happened in 2016 in the old consolidated democracies and what foolish election choices were made by the people supposed to have a strong democratic political culture, like in the United States of America or in the oldest European democracy, namely the Great Britain, you start wondering where does Romania stand. And I want to say that as long as in 2016 Romanians did not elect extremist politicians. In terms of democracy, Romania looked a lot better in 2016 than many consolidated democracies.

Regarding the GDP, of course, we have a big historical discrepancy which cannot be overcome in a very short period of time, but which is not as big as it was 5 years ago or 10 years ago. I think we can safely say that Romania has a historical delay and has a hard time catching up but it now finds itself in the best situation possible in all its history.

So if we compare Romania now to its history and the Romanian democracy to other democracies right now, I am not pessimistic about it. On the contrary!

There’s another important thing about democracy:  Romania had the most tyrannical communist regime in the Eastern Europe apart from Albania. It seems that our memory on authoritarianism is still vivid enough to allow us to have the antidote and to be very precautious when it comes to such matters.

What about the backwards steps on democracy that are made nowadays in Romania? Say, the attempts of restricting abortions, these being one of the main gain after the communist fall?

During the communism abortions were forbidden and contraception was restricted, this lead to over 10.000 women who died trying to have ‘illegal’ abortions.

First of all, from my point of view, any kind of criminalization or other ways of taking away freedom of choice are paths to immorality. Because in the moment, in which the decision of having a child or not, no longer belongs to me but to the state (because they decided to do so), I won’t treat this as a moral dilemma but a default answer which was forcibly imposed upon me, mostly by people who will never even get pregnant because they are men. Secondly, I think that if somebody decides that a child is to be born, then they must also raise it. If this person x, this woman x made this decision, then she must take responsibility for it. If the state made this decision, the state must raise it, if the church made this decision, the church must raise it, if the husband forced her to have this child then the husband must raise it.

To sum up, it’s not an everyday decision. It’s not “Maricica killed her baby”, but “Maricica simply couldn’t take the responsibility of being a mother, with all the obligations deriving from that”. I think that in whatever society we find ourselves in, be it one that overcame such a trauma, like Romania did, or one that didn’t, the problem is the same: who takes responsibility? We know that most of those who have abortions come from social backgrounds that imply little or no access to sex education and contraceptive methods. You’re taking advantage of someone’s ignorance or state of poverty to force them to have a baby but what happens to it afterwards?

How do you explain the fact that there are these backwards steps? Is twenty years after this historical trauma forgotten?

Firstly, I think most people don’t know anything about this historical trauma. Younger generations don’t really do about it. For somebody who was born after the communist era, slavery, feudalism, and communism are the same. These are things that they learn about but which have nothing to do with their lives nowadays. Nothing! Maybe their parents have some memories of it. The probability of a parent, especially a mother or a grandmother, talk to their children about this trauma is pretty low because those who have lived it, and I don’t know how many from my generation got away from the absence of this trauma, purposefully forget in order to get away from their own emotional burden or they try to avoid burdening their children and grandchildren with their stories.

In school, nobody teaches them anything about daily life under the communist regime and what the consequences were. So how would they know? This trauma will be gone with my generation.

There’s another important factor: the fact that it becomes a general trend in the world, the spreading of this conservative populism. We can’t say it is yet extremist but it is a populist-right which hates everything that is feminism, civil rights, equal politics and everything involved. What do we expect? What can we expect in the future? It’s a worldwide trend!

Considering that the situation of women’s rights in Romania was heavily influenced by the policies of other countries, do you think that the international trend of populism could have a similar impact on the situation of women in Romania?

Yes, absolutely. But I also believe that great powers have come to accept a way of thinking which produced leaders like Trump and which revolts against the issue or equality and rights as also includes xenophobic and islamophobic elements. The pro-Trump movement is an anti-feminist, against civil freedom and equal treatment, anti-foreigners, anti-muslim, anti-jewish, anti-everything movement. This is thes “menu” of this movement.

If this movement becomes stronger by day in both Western and Eastern Europe – in this particular case, what happened in Poland – this means that we should be very worried about this. This also means that it is likely that we, the others, haven’t yet found the right ways to make ourselves understood. Thus, hostility against people like us is high because people don’t understand us.

But I think here one must proceed with a bit more wisdom when it comes to respecting the choice of others. If I choose to wear a veil to signify the fact that I am a woman and I should cover myself before God and I choose to be a religious woman and a housewife etc., you, a feminist, should respect my choice. Don’t despise and disrespect me! In the same way, if I want to be independent, creative, autonomous or a globetrotter, respect my choice. Don’t create coalitions which are against me. I think none of us has come to really respect the choice of others. This has been achieved nowhere. We’re treating those, who are not like us, like they’re retarded. As long as we don’t make peace and we can’t say “this is what you’ve chosen, I respect your choice”, how can I ask for the same thing from you? Contempt towards those who have not reached your stage of development, that is having rights seems to attract the hostility of others and this hostility, if in an unfavorable context, can become so aggressive as to cancel all the rights that were won.

Do you see the political transformations towards democracy as inevitable?

No, this was never continuous. There are times in history when the good parts of people are supported in order to prevail and to make people more cooperative and trusting and this is when we have democracy. And we have times when mistrust, suspiciousness and envy prevail and become institutionalized and this when we have far-right regimes or fundamentalist regimes. As humans, we are the same people as we were 4000 years ago or 2000 years ago or 1000 years ago. Social arrangements, social institutions support if one part of us or the other to prevail. These totalitarian regimes bring the worst of us to the surface: hate, envy, hard feelings, revenge, the will to strangle the others because they are not like you. Democratic regimes surface cooperation and tolerance.

Did gender policies have any impact on the everyday life of women?

I think they did but in a silent manner. Right now, we have a little bit over 20% women in the new Romanian Parliament compared to 11% in the previous. It’s quite a lot. I can relate this to the high pressure put, even inside the Parliament itself, for gender representation ratios even if the gender ratios weren’t legislated. There was a pressure higher than ever before, and during an electoral year and this made a difference. Parties had enough political wisdom not to keep monopolizing available parliamentary seats with men. Moreover, there are now ethical, professional, and legal instruments with which women can defend themselves if they are being discriminated and the possibility of legitimate protest when gender inequality becomes serious.

Was the voice of feminism heard in the mainstream after ‘89?

Well how would we have all these policies, how would equality of chances be a constitutional principle, how would there be laws for this, how would there be laws to protect you against domestic violence and sexual harassment if this voice wouldn’t have been heard?

It’s not like they were gift from someone, of course it was heard! It is clear than within the European Union we are dealing with many countries for which feminism is state policy and that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s the case of Romania as well. The problem is that we don’t really rush to apply the laws we have or we only do under high pressure and a kind of pressure that must be internal.

And the power pressurizing for gender equality is perceived as rather external?

It’s not external at all. If by “external” we understand the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council only for the time when Romania was not a member state and all this was part of the community acquis. After this, the pressure for this issue

The interview was edited and shortened. You can read the full transcript here: Interview on Transition with Mihaela Miroiu_Plural Bucharest.

Interview taken by Irina Ilisei in December 2016

Translation: Vlad Costea & Irina Ilisei

Contested Memories – or Where does Nostalgia Lead us?

The transition dialogues are about experiences and memories about the very recent  history. For Ukraine, the communist past is a taboo issue, only fragments appear on the surface, but trigger conflicts in families and entire regions. Clashing beliefs about the past are not new and and have become an obstacle to mutual understanding within society – as you can read from the voices below. We were diving into the see of thoughts of the Ukrainians about Soviet times.

Voices below are taken from are discussion on the eve of 2017 in the Kiev “Museum of Dreams” – a museum that is exploring how the dream meets reality in human life. Could there be a better place to talk about the time of change since the end of communism?

How to Remember Communism?

Tatyana (born 1957): Communism was only good because we were young

“It scares me speaking with people who are 20-30 years old, and they tell me how cool it was in the Soviet time, how lucky it was, not such a cannibalistic time. I studied in Leningrad, and went through Moscow [in the time after the end of communism]. And I remember I saw happy people on Gorky Street. […] And when I hear of this young nostalgia, I ask again: “Wait, you are 30 years, how do you know what it was like back then?” I had a conversation yesterday. And one woman told me, “I understand everything, I understand, but in that time I was young!” – “Of course, that’s great, but the youth does not return. Do you want to get back to those circumstances instead?”. So go back to youth, yes! But it would be good if there was also a thing like the internet back then (all laugh). Because now I can go to any museum, walk around any city online.”

Victoria (1981): Things would have changed anyway – with or without the Soviet Union

“But imagine if it was the Soviet Union, but with what we have now. Perhaps the Union would rethink itself as a country. We are simply different, as a whole […]. Perhaps the Union would now have the same challenges, the Union would also change.”

Victoria (1970): You were not at the elections in the Soviet Union.

Elena (1982): I remember – caviar, music. Everybody went to eat there.

Tetyana (1957): Suddenly election results depended on the people’s choice

After 1985 my  first impression – a congress of deputies. I was in Kherson and was walking along the Ushakov’s street. There were no mobile phones, but  small receivers, that shouted out to the whole Ushakov’s about the  candidates. People listened. They wanted change. Then they were all waiting. We then first realized that something now depends on us. We realized that the election would not be approved by a district committee member. It was great what happened that time. People listened and turned around.

We all love to believe in illusions

What would happen if people in 1914 would have been prepared for what would be in 1917? If people would have anticipated this terrible transformation [the tough time of revolution, shortage of food and civil war]? They probably also would have thought that this would be over eventually and all would be all well in the end. I also once had this illusion . Now I know that there is no stability – history never ends. Ludmyla spoke about absence of ideology. But there is a humanist ideology, we all believe in people. We all want a good world, warm and well for everybody. It’s also an ideology, but it is good.

Clashing values, clashing generations

During the discussion, a conflict evolved between two women – Victoria, born in 1970, and Ludmyla, born in 1981 – about the question, if there was a freedom of choice even in the Soviet Union. Was there really no choice in life (says the one born in 1970) or was it just convenient to deny the fact that there is more than one possible way to go (says the one born 1981).

Victoria (1970): “There are things that unite us with the European Union, but there are also our personal changes: changing of values, transition from paternalism to justice.”

Victoria (1980): “You talk about changes of values. What kind of values did Soviet people have?”

Victoria (1970): “First, this is Paternalism. The question of choice for them did not exist.”

Victoria (1980): “This is not a value.”

Tatiana (1957): “The value of the military communism and stability.”

Victoria (1970): “I mean the paradigm of paternalism. Nothing depended on you, they [Soviet power] could give something to you or not. You lived in set frames and they said that you should be comfortable within. This imposed value, which raised more than one generation. Now these people do not have these frames anymore and it’s not comfortable for them. For us however, the main sense is in that change. The more people accept free values, not the values of the Soviet Union, the faster our country will develop.

Ludmyla (1981): We did not just move out of a closed, capsular existence. We actually have changed the ideology [the whole framework of values, the political ideology]. I have no personal experience of living in the ideological space of the Soviet Union. I have not had time to put forward some unwelcome ideas that could be suppressed.  I was too young, just 9 years old. Now we can choose freely. Our mission is to carry this memory.  People are now developing a collective  consciousness [on the past] and this can be dangerous because it can be manipulated.. We must remind people how it really was. The only task I see for the transition generation is this explanation.

What also makes me angry is when people say, that the Soviet people had to act like they did because they grew up with these values. That people had no choice. That is not true! It was just convenient. And even now, people choose what is more convenient – no influence on policy, not affecting anything. This is perceived also normal.  This is a dangerous narrative: to tell people that they have no choice.

Victoria (1970) You have such a position, because you have not lived in that time. Today you said that at the age of  nine you did not have to make a choice. You just did not see that the scope of available information was so  very narrow, as you may not have been aware of the choices that you could theoretically have made.

The time of the 90s that you have experienced is a very different time. When you lived in Soviet Ukraine, you did not even know what was going on in other countries. There was no choice.

Ludmyla (1981) I think, that you just liked to live like that. Sit and wait that someone decides for you. It was comfortable for you.

Victoria (1970) You had no expectations, because you just lived in this system. You just didn’t know any other varieties of existence.

Tatyana (1957): Luda [Ludmyla], if you did not like the government and the system, you simply went to a psychiatrist.

(Ludmyla laughs) Yes, Luda, this is serious, you lived and you had to be happy, because how can a normal person do not like the Soviets? You were considered crazy if you did not like it.

Dividing Memories – on a Generation

For Ukraine, the issue of knowledge communist past is a taboo topic. While only fragments of the issue appear on the surface, it divides families and entire regions in conflict. Dealing with beliefs about the past has become an obstacle to mutual understanding within society. We therefore propose to dive into the thoughts of the Ukrainians about Soviet times.

This post collects thoughts, memories and statements taken from a discussion that took place on the eve of 2017 in the “Museum of Dreams” in Kiev that is exploring how dreams meet reality in human life.

The quotes explore the memory of communism as well as the time that succeeded communism and lasts until today: The time of transition. But what exactly is transition?

transit – an attempt of a #defintion

Transit – this is where you don’t stay long. A transit passage is something temporary, moving from one point to another. But the transition we speak about, is not temporary – it is the life that we live. Generally speaking, life is a constant transit, it moves from one state to another. But in some periods we move faster. [from many voices]

Tatiana (1982)

“I think transit should be considered through acceleration. Stability can’t be detected, we find it only in the memories. When we remember – we fix a certain time. Get a different decade of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s – very different Soviet times. We summarize these periods. This generalization suggests one thing – it’s time for respite. The analyze possible when you are not in action. When you’re in a revolutionary time – you do not analyze, you are acting. Transitiveness is the revolution and the education. Transition is not attributed to any generation. There were people who could spend five months on the novel by Tolstoy, do they believed that their time was changing? Do they felt so these changes?”

Talking about our #generation

Artem (1976): a broken generation

“We are a broken generation. I was 15 years old when it happened. In Germany it is about unification. But here we called this times – the collapse of the Union. […] My generation – it’s the guys who became the criminals of the 90s. We are the separate generation – a transit and broken one.

This is a generation whose socialization time, 14-16 years, coinciding with the collapse of values. In adolescence, there was a complete breakdown. We grew up on the values, believed in honest, fair, good. And suddenly we found ourselves in a vacuum. In this Nietzschean «nothing».

We are the generation who can self-sacrifice themselvs for those children who are growing up now. They grew up in other picture: independence, freedom, liberalism, access to information and so on. I felt very homeless. Of course, I tried to flip this feature to advantage: the ability of quickly re-education, a willingness to change. All of these events: Maydan and the war – for me it was very natural. I quickly found myself like a fish in the water. Therefore, I perceive us as a broken generation. At the front are lots of guys of my age and my generation […]. They try to protect the future and they think their lives were broken anyway. This generation is the core bone of the war with Russia now.”

Lyudmyla (1981): need to move

“We are really romantic generation. But if we see something stable, we for sure need to change it (smiling). Well, at least we move the furniture.”

Sergiy (1972): nothing special

“Wandering through our lives, we change the world. Generation change itself brings something new. Over the past 50 thousand years this happens. It is not right to say that this is some special generation of transition. The time change occurs every forty years, as global change of everything. Technical progress give the fast opportunity to share the information, your idea spreads by second. To check the information on social networks simply is not possible. And future generations will have to learn how to control and filter the information.”

Alexandra (1987): We can make a difference

“It reminds me of metamorphosis of a butterfly. […] I think that every generation is a cluster of individuals of a certain age and that creates the understanding of a “generation”. Living this metamorphosis is not a goal, no purpose or process. I feel that the metamorphosis happens faster: We have more faith that we can make a difference and a willingness to do something. Transit isn’t an understandable word, but it speaks about the process. This is a motion vector. That I’m going in this direction.”

Alexander (1987): At a t urning point

“I do not remember the Soviet Union. I want to change the world, I want to act. I constantly desire to do something, run forward. That turning point for country, I do not remember. Now we also are at such a turning point, maybe it would be analysed later. Now I just want to do.”

Transformation als Lebensschule

Ostdeutsche Frauen-Biographien als Reibungspunkte der Generationen

„In meinen Gesprächen habe ich immer wieder gemerkt: Da ist etwas, was es bei den Frauen im Westen Deutschlands noch nicht und im Osten Deutschlands noch immer gibt: das tief verinnerlichte Wissen, dass Arbeit Selbständigkeit verleiht, dass Kinder zum Leben dazugehören, dass es keine Schande ist, seine Kinder in Tageseinrichtungen betreuen zu lassen oder nach der Schule in den Hort zu schicken. Kurz: dass zur sozialen Frage immer auch die Frauenfrage gehört“ 

Dr. Judith C. Enders, Mandy Schulze

Die Frauen der „Dritten Generation Ostdeutschlands“, geboren zwischen 1975 und 1985, haben eine doppelte Sozialisation erlebt. Zum einen eine DDR-geprägte durch Eltern und Großeltern, welche den größten Teil ihres Lebens in der ehemaligen DDR verbracht haben. Zum anderen mussten sie sich abrupt in einem neuem Schul-, Ausbildungs-, Beschäftigungs-, ja Gesellschaftssystem zurechtzufinden.

Im medialen Diskurs taucht die dritte Generation kaum auf und wenn, dann sind es oft Beispiele gescheiterter Biografien. Dabei haben sie während des Transformationsprozesses einzigartige Kompetenzen erworben haben, die in vielen Bereichen der Arbeits- und Lebenswelt eine Bereicherung sein können.

Für diesen Artikel haben wir ausführliche Interviews mit 9 Frauen dieser Generation geführt. Die meisten von ihnen hatten für ein Studium ihre Heimat verlassen und waren entweder erwerbstätig oder auf der Suche nach einer passenden Tätigkeit.

Selbstverständlich Selbstständig

Die beruflichen Erwartungen waren das erste Thema, welche die jungen Frauen zwischen 25 und 35 Jahren ansprachen. Neben dem Thema Beruf und soziale Sicherheit, wurde das Verhältnis von Beruf und Mutterschaft bzw. Partnerschaft angesprochen. Sich beruflich zu verwirklichen und damit persönliche und finanzielle Selbständigkeit zu erlangen, beschreiben die befragten Frauen als Voraussetzung für eine gleichberechtigte Partnerschaft:

„Ich glaube in der Beziehung ist sehr, sehr wichtig, dass auch die Frau oder ich eben halt sehr selbstständig ist und da ihren eigenen, eigene Erlebnisse und Erfolgserlebnisse auch hat.“

Darüber hinaus ist dies aber auch Vorrausetzung für die Familiengründung. Wichtig ist bei allem ein ausgeglichenes Verhältnis zwischen diese Sphären: Der finanzielle Erfolg steht nicht im Mittelpunkt bei der Frage nach einem gelungenen Leben. „Ich denke auch, was wichtig ist, dass das Leben eine gewisse Balance hat. Dass man ausgelastet ist mit den Sachen, die man alltäglich tut, und damit halt am Ende eine Zufriedenheit erlangt und glücklich schlafen kann. (…) Ja, da braucht man halt auch nicht so viel Geld. Da ist das eher zweitrangig.“

Die Entscheidung, für die Familienarbeit als Hausfrau und Mutter seine beruflichen Interessen in Frage zu stellen, tauchte in keinem unserer Gespräche auf. Als typisch weiblich – und damit kaum anders als in anderen Regionen Deutschlands – ist hingegen die Bereitschaft zu bezeichnen, das Streben nach Karriere nicht in den Mittelpunkt persönlicher Verwirklichung zu stellen: „Als Führungskraft bin ich jetzt ausgebildet, habe einige Trainings gehabt, habe auch schon viel gecoacht und Leute gehabt, die ich dann inhaltlich und so beraten habe jetzt, aber das ist okay. Also, ja, ich muss diese Rolle nicht haben“. Ebenso als typisch ist es, zugunsten von Familie und Kindern auf Teile der Karriere zu verzichten. Kindererziehung wird als Aufgabe für Frauen aber nicht hinterfragt.

Das Erbe der „Schlüsselkinder“

Die befragten Frauen kamen oft an einen Punkt, an dem sie über ihre Eltern und deren Einfluss auf ihr Leben sprachen. Dabei standen deren Erfahrungen mit der Transformation im Vordergrund. Um dieses Erbe wird scheinbar noch gerungen. Die Sprachlosigkeit zwischen den Generationen wird bewusst problematisiert: „Meine Eltern sind geschieden, also zu meinem Vater hab ich jetzt nicht weiter groß Kontakt. Er ist halt aber das, was so ein typischer Wendeverlierer ist, was man sich darunter vorstellt. Weil es halt eben auch das für unsere Beziehung so schwer gemacht hat und weil mich dann auch immer …

“Also das Problem ist, dass man mit den Eltern nicht darüber reden kann.“

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der Elterngeneration spielt für die jungen Frauen aus dem Osten mit Kindern eine ebenso so große Rolle wie für alle anderen jungen Eltern: „Wenn du Kinder hast, dann spielst du deine eigene Kindheit ungewollt auch immer wieder durch.“ Die doppelte Sozialisation der Befragten in Ost und West spielt in der Auseinandersetzung mit der eigenen Kindheit jedoch eine besondere Rolle und wird zur innerfamiliären und gesellschaftspolitischen Herausforderung:

„So eine simple Frage wie: Sag mal, Mutti, wann hast denn du uns eigentlich immer abgeholt nach der Kita? (…) Und die ist total ausgetickt an dem Tag: Wir haben alle gearbeitet, wir konnten gar nicht anders!”

“Natürlich, wir haben euch um halb sieben hinbringen müssen, weil wir mussten um sieben Uhr auf Arbeit sein! Wir haben Vollzeit gearbeitet, und wir konnten nicht so schöne Sachen machen wie ihr jetzt, und so. Und dann in den 90ern auch: Ja, ihr wart nun mal Schlüsselkinder, und jetzt sagen sie immer Schlüsselkinder dazu, aber es war ganz normal, dass ihr den Schlüssel hattet und nach Hause gehen konntet, wann ihr wolltet. Man hat auch Vertrauen gehabt zu seinen Kindern, und jetzt wird man so [angesehen], als ob man sich nicht gekümmert hat so … .“

Wir müssen reden: über den Wert der Alltagserfahrung

Hier steht das kritisch gesehene Bild der Mutterschaft in der DDR, für das sich die jungen Großmütter glauben rechtfertigen zu müssen, einem echten Interesse der jungen Frauen, die ihren eigenen Platz in der Gesellschaft als Mütter suchen, entgegen. Eine junge Frau spricht allerdings klar aus, was es gesellschaftlich für eine konstruktive Auseinandersetzung und schöpferische Aufarbeitung der Transformationserfahrungen der Eltern braucht.

„Was ich finde, was absolut in diesem medialen Diskurs vernachlässigt wird, das sind so diese persönlichen Biografien, auch abgesehen von Knastgeschichten, mal hart gesagt, oder Fluchtversuchen, oder wie auch immer. Also ich finde so, diesen Mikrokosmos auch einer normalen Durchschnittsfamilie damals in der DDR, auch eben unserer Generation, das wird vollkommen vergessen irgendwie.

(…) Das ist unsere Kindheit, das kann man nicht ändern. Und es ist ja auch gut, wie es jetzt so gelaufen ist, dass die Wende kam, dass wir die Chance hatten, noch mal ganz neu anzufangen, ein anderes Leben zu führen, als unsere Eltern das konnten.

Aber der Diskurs fehlt, die Diskussion in der Öffentlichkeit, aber auch untereinander, dass man sich quasi bekennt dazu auch: Hey, wir teilen da was, wir haben irgendwie ein gemeinsames Fundament, warum reden wir nicht mal drüber?

Also sogenannte westdeutsche Freunde, die dann sagen: Ja, es war ein Stück Geschichte, aber hey, ist doch vorbei. Aber es ist ja noch da, es ist ja trotzdem präsent. Also meine Familiengeschichte prägt das bis heute. Viele Streitereien, viele Zerwürfnisse beruhen immer noch darauf, auf Vorwürfen auf ungeklärten Ereignissen, wie auch immer. Und ja, es wäre schade, das nicht irgendwie auch mal zum Anlass zu nehmen, darüber zu reden“. Oder mit den Worten Martina Rellins, die als westdeutsche Journalistin und Autorin ostdeutsche Frauen nach der Wende befragte:

„Auch in meinen Gesprächen für dieses Buch habe ich immer wieder gemerkt: Da ist etwas, was es bei den Frauen im Westen Deutschlands noch nicht und im Osten Deutschlands noch immer gibt: das tief verinnerlichte Wissen, dass Arbeit Selbständigkeit verleiht, dass Kinder zum Leben dazugehören, dass es keine Schande ist, seine Kinder in Tageseinrichtungen betreuen zu lassen oder nach der Schule in den Hort zu schicken. Kurz: dass zur sozialen Frage immer auch die Frauenfrage gehört“ (Rellin 2004: 11f).

Darum bleibt es wichtig, sich mit den Frauen der ehemaligen DDR und mit ihren alltäglichen Geschichten auseinanderzusetzen, im Gespräch zu bleiben. Gerade für die Frauen der Transformationsgeneration ist dies eine Chance, die eigenen Identität zu schärfen und sowohl die Stärken (Stichwort: weibliche Unabhängigkeit) als auch die Schwächen (Stichwort: Doppelbelastung) der Lebensentwürfe der DDR-Frauen kennenzulernen. Es gilt, medialen Zuschreibungen etwas „Reales“ entgegenzusetzen.

Remembering the 90’s in Russia: Values and Attitudes of the Transition Generation

Results of an interview study conducted by the Sakharov Center Moscow as part of the international project „Transition Dialogue: Mapping a Generation“.

by Oksana Bocharova and Vlada Gekhtman

“We are, in a sense, some of the most fortunate. We saw the heyday of that time. Now we are witnessing the decline of an epoch. But we lived when in was in its full blossom. We had the strength to fight, to conquer a spot, to make a successful, acceptable living”

About the Research

The 90s in Russia were condemned and praised. It feels that the arguments about this time are always an argument not about the 90s – rather than an argument about different sets of values. Sometimes, the transition memories appear very raw, the transit itself is not discussed much in families and among friends.
For this research we talked with people who represent different backgrounds who experienced radical changes or emerged in the course of transition period: business people, entrepreneurs and self-employed (11 interviewees); further representatives from science and education (8) and those with a  media/creative occupation (9). Their common feature is that they have successfully adapted to the new reality, have managed to fit into it. Thus, the participants represent a metropolitan middle class – that is, the values and attitudes that dominated the 90s, and that, in fact, owe their existence to the transition period.

Read the full study here (pdf): Attitudes of the Transition Generation in Russia_Sakharov 2016

Background & Motivation

The 90s is the time we have already lived without Sakharov – he died on Dec, 14th 1989. But Sakharov’s hopes and fears, about a new world that is to come, still stay with us as challenges and questions unanswered. In our work as an institution, we try to acknowledge the 90s as a multidimensional epoch in the history of our country rather than a black and white narrative that diminishes its significance. This research, however, small still allows the reader to have a glimpse into this strange and exciting world of change.

Germany: Chances of identification for communities

Vacancies – eyesores or/and (new) chances of identification for communities:  How to support initiatives of people and their voluntary work to successfully breath new life into unoccupied buildings

Mandy Schulze, Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of Education, Germany

Abstract. Since 1990 the rural regions of East Germany experienced a great social and political transformation, followed by a process of deindustrialisation and a very high mobility of young people. This process left many empty public spaces and industrial buildings, vacencies, buildings which lost there social meanings and functions. A project in Saxony showed the potentials of people and initiatives engaged for this kind of apparently useless buildings and supported them with consulting and organized education settings. Attending to the project a qualitative research was done to learn about this voluntary work and to answer the question: What are the motives of the egaged people? Which kind of support they need? What are the factors of success? What kind of support for community learning can be given? Casestudies were analysed in order to know more about the motivation of voluntary works around vacencies. The article gives a glance into the variety of initiatives in order to answer the question: How to support the (re)creation of function and identifiaction of vacencies as a part of cummunity education?

Keywords: adult education, rural development, community learning, transformation

 1. Introduction

Community Education is described as an longterm and fundamental requirement to empower a sustainable soil for a Lifelong Learning culture (Chrisholm et al. 2009: 32ff). Emphaszied is especially the informal learning of the civil society at a regional level. The targets for a culture of Lifelong Learning culture should be reached by personal development, social, cultural and general education contents headlined with voluntary work in new learning environements with a high component of selflearning. Because of the longterm view of this strategy and the qualitative aspects the focus is on the practice and organisation of existing projects and initiatives (see Lassnigg 2013: 5ff). The following article is built up by such an evaluation.

In the last 25 years, the Upper Lusatia, a region on frontiers between Czec Republic and Poland, was facing a profound structural change. This process of economical and political transformation left many vacancies due to closed down plants and a declining population. The spectrum ranges from industrial buildings and historical half-timbered houses (Umgebindehäuser) to objects, which served the community as places of social life in a village or a town, such like guesthouses, pubs and theaters. Many of those were lingering over a sad fate for years or just became ruins. But spaces can always be read as texts. And so those empty buildings are connected with the collective experiences of the people. The perception of those spaces as eyesores changed slightly and some of those buildings received more attentation. It is to aknowledge that especially people from the community groups began to engage in activities around the vacancies. The extend of the dedicated people ranges from inhabitants to returnees and newcomers. The decisive factor is always if the local environment of the community administration and other players are supportive or repressive. In the last years in the region of Upper Lusatia many and very heterogeneous groups and initiatives around vacancies were formed. It is obvious that they are not very institutionalised concepts. The engines of the revival are idealism in a positive sense, local ties and commitment, civil voluntary work and personal learning.

The project “Zukunftsprojektor” had the issue to find, show and support voluntary initiatives by offering educational support. The focus was on groups and their voluntary work for the preservation of the vacancies and the collective use in the region of Upper Lusatia. The project was financed from the program “Neulandgewinner” by the “Robert-Bosch-Stiftung” and guided by the “Zukunftsbündnis Upper Lusatia.”. The academic evaluation was accompanying the whole project for two years and focussing on the following questions:

  • – What are the motives and challenges of this kind of initiatives around vacancies?
  • – And which role takes the buildings and their potential use for the voluntary work?
  • – What kind of function takes the initiatives in terms of community learning?
  • – What are best practices of supporting this kind of building-voluntary work in rural regions?

2. Methodological background

As a qualitative approach the study had not the issues to test theoretically hypotheses within an empirical context. Because of the exploring character of the program and the project itself an inductive methodology was preferred. Attending the approach of the American pragmatism (see Joas 1996) and especially in the context of very innovative and creative contexts of development. The practice as doing is the first step. The second step is than the theoretical reflection on the base of empirical experiences.

This pragmatic understanding of innovative development doesn´t claim that there are already theories of how to do the right things right and how to support engaged groups around vacancies in the perfect way so that community learning is happening and everybody can participate. In this theoretical approach the focus is not on a normative controlling if community learning is happening while some people want to change the ruin within the centre of their community. But the focus is open to question which kind of goals were reached in the empirical practice and to formulate them together. In this thinking the goal of the voluntary work developed in a retrospective perspective not in a prospective (see Weick 1985: 33f; 278f; 340f). Everybody involved in the project is looking from a special perspective to the common process and is so adding this perspective to a development which is generating a theory (Schäffter 2008), here a theory of how to support voluntary work for vacancies in order to support this as a sort of community learning. The two steps empirical method is reflecting this inductive approach.

The Research objects were: First to describe the history of the initiatives for the unoccupied buildings and their needs. Second to gather success factors for the support and to argue with the impact of this groups for the revitalization of community life. The results were organized into: Motives and history of commitment, challenges, support needs and success factors of commitment. The resaerch results are providing the opportunity to bring attention to issues of community learning to support local development in the regions of Eastern Germany. Learning is seen as a social proccess and associated with personal and social issues. In this perspective adult education as Lifelong Learning is to reflect historical and social transformation as a ‘searching process’ to find innovative and individual solutions in a transformation society. “People are learning because they want to contribute to the common goal, sharing the responsibility for achieving change or perhaps just keeping something going“ (Gilchrist 2013: 02-2).

This contribution provids the perspective of how vacancies in rural communities can give an opportunity of new identification with people and their practical engagement. And different examples for the way to breath new life into unoccupied buildings.

3. Casestudies – A glance into the practice of the voluntary work for vacancies

3.1 Der Kretscham – The public house

Kretscham is an old word for a public tavern in the middle of the village. Very often with a ballroom inside to dance and to celebrate. An association of 15 members keeps one of these old buildings in a village of 5.500 inhabitants up. Their issue since more than 12 years is, to open this building for the public as the cultural centre of the community. The starting point of the voluntary work of the young people was very practical. While looking for a space for shared house, which is not easy to find in a village, the youngsters found the former public house and started to rent the old hotel level up the former ballroom. From the beginning the young residents were confronted with the meaning of the building for the community of the village: “When we came the first time to the works on the house, we realized, that very day, it was unbelievable, plenty of people stoped in front of the house and asked us to be allowed to come in and to take a look inside. That was the moment when we realized what an importance this house has in the heads of the generation of my mother and grandmother.”

Many personal memories and a very high public interest is besoming the reason for the first public event. Planed as a small barbacue party with a DJ, this party becomes a hit with over 800 guests. The reason for this resonanz is the local identification with this house: “Very old couples, more than seventy years old, came up the stairs and where sitting on the gallery, holding hands and just looking into the ballroom. Onetousand people were telling onetausand stories, apparently in this house half of the village must have been married, fathered or something like this.”

Other events like public parties and exhibitions followed the first event as well as continuing constractions on the almost dilapidated building. The association was founded and the voluntary worked professionalized. In the first years the construction of toilets and fire protection the most important projects. Now the organization of the parties and events is professional and the house three times a year open for the public. The biggest cahllenges for the initiative are financial sorrows and the difficulty of the private ownership of the house. With a private owner communal financial support is not possible. Support is required both in providing legal advice as well as to network with other vacancies initiatives. After all, the key question in such a long-term voluntary work is, how can the people, who cover the costs of the association, open the facility three times a year and organize and carry out voluntary events in the future?

3.2 The water tower

The association LEBENs(T)RÄUME e.V. (registered association) was founded in 2012. It consists of approx. 35 active members with a mixed-age structure. Its goal is to make the shrinking region more livable with offers for nature experience and environmental education. At first the project Stadthonig (honey from town) started off. An old industrial wasteland was converted into a bee pasture and so honey is produced and sold locally for several years now. The association connects its approach of environmental education with the preservation and analysis of the historic industrial heritage of the region. The association has drawn wide acclaim among the locals in a short time through the work with the bees and the production of honey. Due to the high publicity of the assocation in the small town, the dedicated members were offered another vacant property for sponsoring and thus for “revival”. The historic water tower is part of the former company premises LAUTEX where more than 40,000 people were employed until the early / mid-90s. The tower borders the former fire station equipment store of the company’s fire department, which the association manages as a user. The water tower is “one of the few buildings that has been preserved from the whole complex” of the company LAUTEX. All other buildings were demolished as part of urban development. Since the acquisition of the building the issue of sustainable use is top priority. Due to the historical significance of the building, the memory work plays an important role:

There are many elderly people who love to see how it has developed, what has become of it, how it will continue to be used and are very grateful that it has been preserved as one of the few buildings and that their memories can live here. Every two weeks we have a narrative café for seniors, where many of these former employees can really reminisce, and so old stories come back to light and that is nice to see. And it’s also important for us that we get information that we can look back on and reappraise to keep the history alive. This approach goes hand in hand with the question of what the historic building is supposed to become. There is a need for sustainable search for ideas with the local community. In addition to the collective development of ideas the question arises how the implementation and the development of the association’s work is going to be managed and this is drafted as a demand for advice. Although the association’s work is on a voluntary basis, future profitability and the creation of a permanent position is aspired.

3.3 Wächterhaus and Fleischbänke

The Fleischbänke (stalls for meat sales) were first mentioned in 1361 as a location in Zittau for slaughter and sale of meat and were built in 1759 at its present location. It was used until the 19th century followed by vacancy. And the Wächterhaus Zittau is a historic inner-city building from the 16th century with an eventful history, among other things as Jewish prayer room and department store and has been empty since 1990. A ‚Wächterhaus’ is an utilization concept for vacant properties. Initiatives were founded for both buildings in 2011 with the help of the Stadtforum (a city board) to establish a revival by temporary use. Partly the same people work for both initiatives, the Wächterhaus and the Fleischbänke, and take that voluntary work forward. The use and but not the purchase of the buildings is in the foreground, in order to protect them from demolishing: “We are only interested in, that the building, so that we can use it temporarily, so to speak, in order to draw attention to the building and if someone comes who buys it, then we make way or use it as long as it’s possible and attention is useful.

Attention and public interest is achieved by using the facilities by artists, the granting of access for everyone and the implementation of various public events: “There is a license agreement, which lasts about, in our case, ten years, and the time, we can spend it in here without making major structural changes, we can use the building for our purpose” Especially the historical reference and the provision of access to the building is a crucial factor for the revival. The entire local community is invited to visit the building and to get acquainted with the temporary use and the space it provides for everyone. This openness is also one reason for his personal engagement in the voluntary work: “The events themselves were a good step forward, so also for the town, because they, could all come, there wasn’t anything unpleasant in here, but all came in, looked at it, oh, beautiful old building, and I have been here once as a child and I remember it as a big department store. So many older people who showed interest in it and don’t say uhä what you are doing now, but through the connection with art it has been open and has been accepted and is still accepted. And that’s something I found very inspiring, to participate in things, to integrate myself.

The starting point for the selection of the buildings for temporary use is their present inner-town location and the interest of direct interaction with the history: “The Fleischbänke is an independent initiative whose, primary purpose was to find a few people who said: ‘Man I walk here often, passing this meat market, I think it’s such a pity that this is lying bare’.” The stories and the identification of the people is made a subject of discussion in the events and made accessible through an open door: “The fact that this is now just within the town, which is, still something supporting, that they searched for something in the inner-town, even next to such a road, which is highly traditional.”The community from the very beginning supports both initiatives. The Urban Development Company is interested in the voluntary work and therefore establishes communication to owners. The organization level of the Meat Market might be relatively low, but for the implementation of large-scale events such as a Christmas markets all local citizens and stores etc. worked closely together. Existing networks with urban actors and direct approaches played a major role in order to get attention and support. The takeover by an investor is scheduled for the voluntary work and cooperation is aspired and has already been successfully implemented for the Fleischbänke initiative. The work is rewarded with public attention and personal feedback of the community at the events. The work is voluntary but the commitment is remunerated with a greater say in urban development.

Whereby the committed people are aware of the problem of property relations and available municipal capital, “because on the one hand you can of course tear down buildings and build something new, but on the other hand, there are a lot of buildings that are just empty because there is some sort of problem there. The initiatives address this gap of urban incapacity and advertise their town and a broad attention: “That is a possibility, with such a Wächterhaus, as well as with a project like Fleischbänke, to campaign for an object, where you think that is worth it to take it further into the interests of the urban public, and sometimes that is enough, that is of course marketing, i.e., to market buildings and real estate property, perhaps encourage people to purchase a property, you just have to put in a lot of energy, or perhaps distribute the energy to several people, simply to present various projects und yes, make people curious .

The challenge in addition to the architectural barriers is that the requirements for temporary use have to correspond with the existing building stock and the inner-town location. In addition to the structural requirements the greatest need for support may well lie in the ensurance of a continuous project work. A project which lasts longer than the first start-up and the first success and which presents the initiatives permanently, even if the buildings are different. The respondent clarified a direct need for consultation, to not overexert themselves especially in larger user groups and thus put the whole project at risk. It is important to address both individual motives of those involved, as well as to convey the social aspect of the common activity: The success is supported by a vision beyond individual and social objectives. The secret recipe is in addition to the search of like-minded people, the reinterpretation of vacant properties into opportunities for a new use. The regional networking plays a central role as a counterweight to structural weakness.

3.4 The Volkshaus (formerly used meeting house for trade unions)

The Volkshaus was built in 1928 as a union house with bonds at the Bauhaus style and Expressionism and funded by the unions. The house was used as a multifunctional cultural and educational center. The house, which is owned by the town Weißwasser, is vacant since 2005. For two years now an initiative establishes to take care of the preservation of the house. A two-member team of the project “Zukunftsprojektors” accompanied the foundation of the association and the project development closely. The active group consists of about 15 people who attend the regular meetings. The objective of the voluntary work is to conserve the inner-town historical monument: “It is important that the monument remains. And that’s why I have decided to take part.” The Volkshaus is a particularly striking example for a former cultural center in the town center. On the one hand, it is still very present in the minds of the people on the other hand this cultural center hasn’t been replaced yet by any other similar locality. In addition to the preservation of that listed and historical building, the Volkshaus needs to be revived as a center for cultural and eventful activities. In this town doesn’t exist any entertainment facility like this meeting house. However, before the use of the building can be contemplated specifically, essential steps should be taken care of. Based on the initiative of the City Council, who initiated a petition to save the Volkshaus and discussed the handling with vacant inner-town monuments in meetings, an initiative group emerged due to a call in the newspaper. Rejection of funding opportunities triggered the foundation of the association. There is a great need for support in terms of the cooperation with the local administration. It is primarily not about the issue of funding commitments, but about the support of the voluntary works by permits. This is where the volunteer structure of the initiative meets bureaucratic structures. The strength of the support team lay not at least in the trans-regional importance, and was of benefit to the initiative due to project attention in general. In particular, the persistence of the participants is one of the success factors for the new initiative. But the cooperation with the town as the owner remains a requirement for further voluntary work:

 4.  Motives, challenges and potential

Accompanying the four initiatives and groups who support the work on vacant properties in rural areas, the following overall results can be outlined: The trigger for this type of voluntary work is diverse. Nevertheless, we can resume four points:

1.     The vacant properties are mostly historical buildings, allowing the population to combine a part of their own history and the history of the community. In these buildings people lived, loved, worked, and danced. Often the buildings are still remains of already demolished complexes.

2.     The vacant objects are perceived by the people as “eyesores” and thus are contrary to the personal connection. This contradiction often leads to initiation of voluntary work.

3.     The vacant objects offer the voluntary work a directly experiencable space. This concrete and immediately available space is one of the main triggers for common action.

4.     It is seen as an opportunity to jointly make a difference, either as a group, an association, or cooperation with the local administration.

Just as diverse are the challenges and difficult to generalize because of the different ages and level of maturity of the six accompanying initiatives. Three different stages of maturity can be determined for all of the initiatives.

During the initial phase the first step is, in addition to group building, to gain support from the community. The reflection of the history of the building is an invaluable contribution. Another challenge is the support from public administration and authorities. Once again the support from the community and a possible impact of the project, for example as part of town marketing, makes a contribution. An important factor especially to gain new commited members is public relations work. The team of the “Zukunftprojektor” achieved great things and made the importance for the local community be seen especially trough the attention in trans-regional networks.

During the professionalisation phase the work load in terms of project development and administration rises. In this phase it’s important to strengthen the idea of voluntary work and the experience to jointly work for a goal and uphold it. At this point it is necessary to hold on and withstand setbacks. Not all plans work out immediately and the first optimistic mood vanishes. At this stage it becomes apparent how important the approval of the people is to achieve long-term success. Therefore, it was particularly important to be present with the building for example at local festivals, days of the open monument or with a cultural highlight at Christmas. The community could be convinced, ideas of usage could be gathered and a great support was given. The building moved back in the minds of the community.

During the implementation phase many objectives had been achieved or adjusted to what is possible. In this case it is important to set new goals or convert the voluntary work in economic endeavours. During this stage the municipal coorperation is essential. Wether it is a long-term conversion in a cultural center or a handover to an new user, at this stage it is important to transfer or to handover the voluntary work. This process is like a generation change. The need for support of the voluntary work can be clearly defined from the described challenges.

The three success factors of the accompanied voluntary work are:

Voluntary work as door opener:

  1. Object-related: The object must be open and free for use and open for the general public. Voluntary work and learning within is literally a first door opener for the public.

Open door policy:

  1. In terms of voluntary work and community learning: The actions must be transparent for the public and the involvement must be solicited continually. This open door policy is crucial to gain new members and support from the municipal administration. Public campaigns have a favourable impact on this matter.

An sympathetic ear for members:

  1. Organization-related: It is extremly vital to gain companions for voluntary work and get them enthusiastic about common ideas. Regardless of the organisation level, working and getting along well together is essential for the voluntary work. The metapher of a sympatethic ear would be the thing to do.

5. Levels of supporting community learning within vacencies

Some of the requirements can be satisfied by short distances and consultation. Also the involvement in community activities such as local festivals or an interview with the official journal provide public recognition and awareness and promote discussion about vacant properties in the community. The more vacant building with their history and possibilites are visitied and not torn away the more people will take part in the discussion about future use. This calls for possibilites of public discussion about what will become of an old industrial plant, a district culture house or chimney.

The project “ZukunfsProjektor” provided assistance in form of networking, exchange between different regional and trans-regional projects and decision-makers as well as group-related presentation und mediation. On the whole, the issue of vacancy and the existing voluntary work in the region Upper Lusatia has been appreciated already in a long overdue manner and made visible beyond the individual communities. The awareness and appreciation of such voluntary work is still lacking in many areas. In the same time the reflection of the volountary work the learning on a personal and social level and in the community also was part of the suport work. The volunteers got more aware of their engagement in the community and there big issues in partiziaption. These levels of learning are listed in the follwing colum left side down below. The very general description of a program format is precisely shown in the right column towards the qualitative concept of the specific design from the project community space of learning (Lernort Gemeinde, see Schäffter 2009).

The example of the monitored objects within the famework of the project “Zukunfts-Projektor” in Upper Lusatia confirms the thesis that the self-organized groups and initiatives around vacancies become model examples, how to handle vacancy in rural areas, which challenges it brings and what value a supporting network has.

Buildings are not only material and substance; they are more like medium and reason for self-organised and self-empowered action. The processes that take place in this context, are teaching spaces in previous empty spaces. What do they teach us? They teach us that we experience in changing times the change of community voluntary work as well: In future times people will get involved in a non-binding, action-oriented manner. We will experience a mixture which joints common public interest and creation of value, meaning structures will be rebuilt and developed further. And community learning happens within this new structures. Following this line of argument, a process is taking place which the regions in transition like Upper Lusatia. A long time it’s been known as transformation regions. Considering transformation, then there are two pathes ahead: the path of imitation or the path of evolution. In Saxony the first path was taken over long distances. The interesting thing is now: With the newly outlined forms of community learning– here observed as an example for vacant properties – the second path applies here: the evolutionary. Because commited people find, due to “contraints” but driven by common goals, their own ways and recreate and “invent” themselves and solutions. For societies this is precisely the germ cell of social innovation – an invaluable asset for rural areas. The “vacancy” is the potential of rural areas. It creates a freedom for possibilities. This means that the empty space as free space becomes teaching space becomes pioneer space.

6. References

Chisholm, Lynne/Lassnigg, Lorenz/Lehner, Martin/Lenz, Werner/Tippelt, Rudolf (2009): Wissen – Chancen – Kompetenzen. Strategie zur Umsetzung des lebensbegleitenden Lernens in Österreich. Retrieved from http://erwachsenenbildung.at/downloads/service/LLL-Strategie_ExpertInnenbericht.pdf

Gilchrist, Alison (2013): Community development as a learning process. Insights from the UK. In: Magazin erwachsenenbildung.at, No. 19, Retrieved from http://erwachsenenbildung.at/magazin/13-19/meb13-19.pdf

Joas, Hans (1996): Die Kreativität des Handelns. Frankfurt/Main.

Lassnigg, Loranz (2013): Community Education als Aktionslinie der nationalen Strategie zum lebensbegleitenden Lernen (LLL:2020). In: Magazin Erwachsenenbildung.at, No. 19, Retrieved from http://erwachsenenbildung.at/magazin/13-19/meb13-19.pdf

Schäffter, Ortfried (2009): Lernort Gemeinde – Ein Format Were entwickelnder Erwachsenenbildung. In: Mörchen, Annette/Tolksdorf, Markus (edt.): Lernort Gemeinde. Ein neues Format der Erwachsenenbildung. Bielefeld, pp. 21-40.

Schulze, Mandy/Enders, Judith (2014): Innovative Forms of Adult Education – Bringing people together for rural development in East Germany. In: Guimaraes, P./Cavaco, C./Marrocos, L./Paulos, C./Bruno, A./Rodrigues, S./Marques, M. (edt.): Local Change, Social Actions and Adult Learning: Challenges and Responses, Proceedings. pp. 122-131.

Weick, Karl, E. (1985): Der Prozess des Organisierens. Frankfurt/Main.

Deutschlandforschertagung 2016 – Children of Transition

“The good, the bad and the Eastern Europeans – refugees and the communist past.”

Under this headline, Iva Kopraleva and Rafaela Tripalo from Transition Dialogue Network presented research results from Bulgaria and Croatia at the conference “Deutschlandforschertagung 2016 – Children of Transition, Children of War” in November in Vienna. Together with Louisa Slavkova, they have exeamined the link between transition experience and today’s attitutes towards migrants.

The results are resented in the research paper.

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On the same conference, Olena Pravylo presented findings from inter-Generation Talks and Interviews with the “Children of Change” from Ukraine, Russia and Germany.

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