GSBTB’S WORK METHOD
Since it was founded in 2013, GSBTB has developed broad opportunities for engagement, adapted especially to our target migrant groups. Our three innovative methods are:
GSBTB as a connector for existing social projects as well as individuals
GSBTB as a creator and manager of its own projects
GSBTB as a catalyst and networking partner for independent initiatives
On the first level, GSBTB functions as a connector. This can look very different depending on the type of connection, and is both a moderated and organic process. Over our platform we connect:
- skills with opportunities – through matching new Berliners with suitable local social projects they want to get involved in.
- individuals with other individuals – relationships that can develop into friendships or resources in people’s journeys establishing themselves in the city.
- new arrivals with interesting networks – these can lead to better understanding of how Germany works, offer job opportunities, or generally assist in personal growth.
- projects with other projects, companies with different migrant communities and volunteering opportunities.
We don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel; rather, we work with projects and structures that are already exist and are in place. That way we are able to tap into established networks, knowledge, resources and make them “open themselves”, making them more inclusive and hence, a win-win for everyone. For GSBTB, integration and inclusion is a two-way exchange.
Since 2013, we have been working as a creator, developing our own GSBTB projects, events and collaborations. We create new projects if we identify an unfilled gap in our community’s skills, knowledge and needs – and if they cannot grow to their full potential through our regular collaborations with already established organizations.
These projects are always developed from a bottom-up approach, leading to them growing organically and staying flexible with the wishes, needs and changing situation of the different groups we target, as well as dynamically adapting to the wider society. That means that they can grow, shrink or change shape during different phases. A good example is our original “Refugee Cooking Group” that started a solidarity cooking project with the refugee rights movement in Oranienplatz 2013. In the beginning, they didn’t even have a kitchen – it was then developed into a wider social cooking project, connecting the refugees with the local neighborhood that later turned into “Open Kitchen”, a semi-professional catering service showcasing newcomer talents, connecting them with more established job networks. Similar developments can be seen in our Open Music School, which first started off with casual jamming between refugee communities and locals, culminating in the formation of two bands and later developing into a weekly music school with over five music tutoring opportunities per week.
Our current running projects like the Open Music School, Open Art Shelter, Open Kitchen and many more are all listed under the Projects page on our website. Their titles all begin with “Open” since we believe in mixing worlds – we have no special project only targeted towards one special group (for instance, refugees). True to this, we often work together with different partners from the corporate, private and nonprofit sectors. GSBTB’s work operates at the intersection between education, support systems, and political mobilisation. Education is an end in itself for us, but is also used as a tool for mobilisation and participation.
Our extensive grassroots work, with its hundreds of participants, volunteers, partners and co-creators all gel together to fill perhaps the most important role of our work – the catalyst role. All this creates a bold, diverse and beautiful community that in itself acts as a catalyst for all sorts of new connections and work. This more “invisible” and non moderated part of GSBTB’s work is one of the most important things. Here is where lot of the innovation happens – new projects and collaborations are routinely sparked by a casual conversation or over a home-cooked meal.
MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Besides our intensive grassroots work, GSBTB’s success is largely due to our innovative ways of using social media. We have found extensive ways to reach new immigrants and mobilise them for social purposes, thus turning online “Slacktivism” into real, offline social engagements. This is extremely important, as our target group mainly consists of refugees who use social media a lot, but may find it difficult to navigate around social life in Berlin and foster lasting relationships. Our Facebook page currently has more than 10,000 followers, which is a high number for a social project. Some of our Facebook posts reach up to 100,000 readers. Our online magazine serves to get our community up to speed – through storytelling, as well as reporting on local and national socio-political and economic issues, we inform the non-German speaking community about important issues which they might not be exposed to. Our magazine has several components. These include: interviews and opinion pieces with our volunteers and project managers, prominent academics, politicians or activists; other organisations which we collaborate with; and those directly affected by the socio-political climate of Germany and what it entails for a migrant. These interviews and stories function as a crucial outlet for them to provide a counter-narrative to anti-migrant discourse, give an idea of what the real-time situation is and most importantly, to give importance to their opinions and make their voices heard. The articles are written and sourced from the community itself.