Neukölln

Tonight, this art gallery is opening at the bottom of my apartment building. That follows the “art pharmacy” (wtf?) four doors down which opened in April, the new coffee-shop on the corner, and God knows how many other places opening in the area since I moved here.

I’ve never before lived in a quarter that’s being gentrified under my feet – does it always happen this quickly?

Also, the sheer quantity is terrifying. Here’s the programme for the art festival going on here this weekend, almost all within 10 minutes’ walk of me. I can barely read through it all, let alone turn up.

And yet – in some ways, this is still the ‘problem district’ the media insists on calling it (a moniker predictably adopted by some residents; I’ve even seen a ‘Problemkiez’ magazine floating round). Unemployment is still massive. The educational situation is also pretty rough, although the famously rough school behind my apartment has been somewhat knocked into shape by means of becoming a political football. The three big communities – the old ‘Germans’, the Turks, and the trendhopping newcomers – barely talk to each other. All this gets blamed, somewhat unfairly, on Turkish ‘failure to integrate’ – but if anything the footloose creative types are the ones who most rigorously stick to their demographic.

If Turkey win the football tonight, I’ll be nervously interested to see how a Germany-Turkey semi-final plays out around here. During their matches so far, it’s been possible to keep score just by listening to the fireworks – not to mention the televisions on every bar and all along the streets. And it’s only going to become more intense…

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