Berlin's working poor, students, artists and squatters march along Mühlenstraße towards Ostbahnhof to protest massive redevelopment project called Mediaspree. Berlin,Germany 10/07/2010.
In the blistering +35C heat 5,000 to 10,000 Berliners danced their way the through Berlin's streets Saturday July 10 to protest a massive urban renewal project called Mediaspree. Rocking to bass-heavy club beats Berlin's working poor, students, artists and squatters made a statement that Berlin belongs to them and not real estate developers intent on developing a huge area in the former east Berlin districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg on either side of the Spree River.
"Poor is sexy, Rich is ugly" one woman marcher wrote all over her near naked body, a very public statement celebrating the sometimes bewildering variety of lifestyle choices that makes Berlin the must-see city of Europe for every backpacker.
Sexy but bankrupt Berlin badly needs the money the Mediaspree development could bring. First proposed in 2005 the massive development of new apartments and office blocks is designed to attract a tens of thousands of media-savy young professionals to work and play along the banks of the Spree river. The big attraction for developers is the very low real east prices in this part of the former east Berlin. But that's also why the area is occupied by low income families, students, immigrants and artists making it one the most interesting areas of a unique city.
With the development announcement in 2005, residents of one the oldest squats (abandoned buildings occupied by squatters) started a initiative called "Flood Mediaspree". Having no illusions they can stop construction completely, the aim is to preserve buildings from privatization, ensure that office buildings cannot be built within fifty meters of the river so that the public will continue to have access and community use along both sides of the river.
Calling on the creativity and diversity of the local people, the "Flood Mediaspree" movement promotes awareness of the need to balance private development and public space. The highlight of this awareness effort is the noisy, colourful "demo-parade" where for the past three years the residents of Friedrichshain and Kruezberg dance through the city in home-made costumes behind techno music-thumping floats in a celebration of creativity and enjoyment of community.
For almost a half century East Berlin's citizens were blocked from the river by the Berlin Wall. Twenty years after the fall of the wall, some Berliners want to ensure that a new barrier does not take its place.