Community Now? Concepts of Community in Israel and Germany

Social and political involvement is expressed in many different ways in everyday life. Both in Israel and Germany, this means that the new opportunities afforded by self-organization are increasingly coming to the fore for numerous bottom-up projects, initiatives, and disciplines. “Community Now?” picks up on this global trend and raises the question of the scope for creative action: can design function as a political stakeholder, particularly when the focus is on bringing about a greater degree of participation? What roles do local networks and creative collaboration formats play here? And what chances for intercultural exchange in particular emerge at the same time?

In an interdisciplinary process, students, committed citizens, experts, and local communities from Israel and Germany develop concepts for establishing exchange and developing networks at a neighborhood level in so-called living labs. They try out tools located at the interface between analogue and digital forms of involvement and link together both civil society and academia as well as Germany and Israel. It’s all about the big questions in this small, yet concrete environment: what needs do people have on the ground and how would they like to communicate them and to whom? Community building thus becomes an innovative form of international representation – and not least a platform for ongoing bilateral networks that extend beyond the project phase itself. For what is being created here at both a local and digital level is supposed to have a lasting, tangible effect – on commitment, understanding and political participation.

“Community Now?” is a neighborhood project by the German Society for Design Theory and Research in Berlin in collaboration with the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem. In the period between May 1, 2013 and February 29, 2016, young academics from Germany and Israel work in bilateral tandems together with local partner organizations to develop new approaches for cooperation at a community level. The first phase of the project (2013-2015) was brought to a close with an international conference which included keynote speeches, workshops, neighborhood walks, interventions, an exhibition, and a “Community Now” publication. The results of this continuing collaboration are to be presented in different contexts in Berlin and Jerusalem.