How do YOU give something back to Berlin?

This year, GSBTB celebrates its 5-year anniversary. To highlight the amazing projects that have sprung up and organically grown over the last 5 years, as well as the hard work put in by the people behind them, we asked some of our community members how they give back to Berlin.

How do you give something back to Berlin? / Wie gibst du Berlin etwas zurück?

“Berlin has a rich musical history and many people come to the city to pursue their musical endeavours. After volunteering in various refugee shelters in 2017, I realised that I could do more and give back to the community by offering less-privileged newcomers an equal chance to make music, which in turn – through their diverse cultures and backgrounds – is enriching Berlin’s music scene. It is through Open Music Lab that we are able to realise the dreams of these very worthy youngsters and make them part of Berlin’s diverse music scene.” 

– Gaby, volunteer and organiser at the GSBTB Open Music Lab

“At the moment I’m giving massages and body therapy to people in the Refugio community. It’s a kind of therapy, to familiarize people with their bodies and work around loneliness – especially for people who can’t pay for something like this and want a moment to relax, rediscover their bodies or have space for themselves, I find it is really important. A lot of trauma and post traumatic stress is manifesting itself in the body.”

– Hanna, volunteer at the GSBTB Open Art Shelter

“Mein Beitrag für Berlin ist es, Menschen dabei zu unterstütze sich hier in Berlin zu entwickeln und sie zu motivieren. Dabei profitiere ich von meinen Erfahrungen, die ich in den Monaten hier in Berlin gesammelt habe. Mit allen Vor- und Nachteilen und den Schwierigkeiten die man so hat mit der Sprache oder der Kultur. Berlin hat mir Freunde, Freude, Liebe, Sicherheit, eine schöne Kultur und Gerechtigkeit gegeben.

Mein Beitrag für Berlin ist mein Respekt, meine Liebe und das Beherrschen der deutschen Sprache.

Als Student studiere ich Soziale Arbeit um heute und in der Zukunft mehr Entscheidungen für den Aufbau einer lebendigen Zivilgesellschaft zu treffen. Was Berlin von mir zudem bekommen wird, ist mein positiver Einfluss in verschiedenen Aspekten des Lebens.”

– Kenan, Praktikant bei Give Something Back To Berlin

“Berlin is a super diverse city in which more and more people are arriving. Unfortunately, we often don’t have the chance to interact or to get to know each other. Being in a new city and trying to organise a new life can be overwhelming and we don’t have many chances to slow down.

To overcome this, we try to create calm and safe spaces where everyone is welcome to join and enjoy themselves – for example, a nice afternoon painting, doing handcrafts or learning languages. We also organise yoga and dancing sessions for women in our community. We believe that these activities, while creating a comfortable way of being together, also foster intercultural dialogue and strong bonds within the multicultural community of Berlin – leaving behind all the different reasons that brought us to Berlin in the first place.”

– Tosia and Bea, interns at the GSBTB Open Art Shelter

“I’m a musician and give guitar lessons at GSBTB, because I like to share my knowledge of music with people from different nationalities. I’m a communications engineer, but I like to get the chance to get out of my work and be in the music world so I can meet new people. I feel so happy when I teach something and I see that the students understand it, act on it in different ways and give it their own flavour. I’m still rather new at GSBTB, but I’m so excited to keep going.”

– Amjad, volunteer at the GSBTB – Open Music School

“Da ich seit über 2 Jahren in Berlin lebe, weiß ich, wie schwer es ist, sich in einer so großen und vielfältigen Stadt zu recht zu finden. Ich glaube, dass man sich durch das Erlernen neuer Fähigkeiten und das freiwillige Engagement entwickelt, und helfe daher denjenigen, die ihren Beitrag zu Berlin leisten möchten, in GSBTB-Projekten das Richtige für sie zu finden, sich den Möglichkeiten unserer Partner anzuschließen oder eigene Initiativen auf die Beine zu stellen.

Als Neu-Berlinerin fühle ich meine Verantwortung, die Stadt zu einem nachhaltigeren und besseren Ort zu machen, und denke, dass alle Menschen gleichberechtigte Chancen und den Zugang zu gleichen Möglichkeiten haben können sollten.”

– Palina, Praktikantin bei Give Something Back To Berlin

“Berlin can and should be a perfect place for newcomers – it’s full of creative people, it’s multicultural and multi-ethnic; it’s a place of different histories meeting and different ideas combining. But it can be really hard – there are misunderstandings, prejudices, institutional challenges, and long hard winters. It can be hard for anyone to find stability. That’s one reason why I need to give something back – I also need a sense of community and sense of home. By providing a space for emerging music makers to meet and learn and collaborate, I also get to be part of that space myself. So I run the Open Music Lab, a free space for anyone who wants to learn how to make their own music and sounds. And I don’t have to do it alone – I work with the astonishingly talented Rachel Margetts, a brilliant producer and musician, and the organising talents of Gaby d’Annunzio, who knows more about EDM than anyone and has a real gift for bringing people together. By providing this space, I hope we are doing something good for the music community as a whole, as well as welcoming new Berliners to this strange and brilliant city.”

– Ben, one of the founders of the GSBTB Open Music Lab

LUCY: “Whilst we live in an extraordinary and very challenging time politically, we are also witnessing astoundingly fierce and inspiring grassroots political activism and solidarity. These global trends are something we see constantly in Berlin society. It is evident that this type of solidarity and intersectional activism requires not only politics, but also community, culture, skill and time-sharing, volunteering as well as a sense of belonging and fun in order to be sustainable.These are the key reasons I think I want to do my bit, now more than ever, to support the GSBTB community in finding their ways to give something back.”

ANNAMARIA: “Working with GSBTB for more than five years now I’ve seen many projects, activist groups and movements come and go. Some can be strong and mobilize really well for a short moment in time, only to disappear. Punctual activism can be great and can effect change, but profound change also takes time. It happens when no one is looking, often when the media interest has gone. For me, the longterm impact of GSBTB’s type of work is the main motivation for sticking to this mission. Co-creating a movement, community and structure that is resilient and therefore able to outlive political challenges, negative narratives and hysterical media trends. A space for beauty and positivity to grow from challenges, and not just frustration and pain.”

–  Executive Director Lucy and Founder Annamaria