Hello, I’m Jelena. I’m 22. We’re pretty close to the entrance of Hasenheide, one of Berlin’s many parks. I come here often to read, do work for university, and enjoy my time off after work. A park story? Yes, I have one. It’s quite funny…I had just finished studying here and was getting ready to head home.
I packed all of my things in a paper bag. Some bottled drinks. An iPad. It wasn’t a great idea. Never is really. Anyway, as you can imagine, the paper bag ripped down the middle, and all the bottles shattered on the sidewalk in front of me. I stood there in shock and unenthralled. Some of the park’s drug dealers were close by. It’s common to see them standing around sometimes. Anyway, not wanting any dogs to step on the shards, I quickly gave my iPad to one of the dealers to hold and asked two or three others to help me clean up the glass. It was a hilarious scenario.
I think we were all taken back by this interaction. It made a lasting, but positive impression on me. It was funny and somehow remarkable. I mean, people don’t often trust the dealers in the park, and us working together was a beautiful sign of trust. Not only did I give a dealer my iPad to hold, but they also helped me clean up the mess. With the sun shining, my iPad saved, and the sidewalk clean, we even managed to have a nice chat together. Looking back, it’s interesting to see how I just blindly trusted them to hold my iPad. It sounds a bit prejudice, but it's Berlin. You just never know who you can trust. And even if they had run away with my iPad, it’s an old one anyway. I really had nothing to lose. All in all, it’s just another story that makes me smile and think about how lucky I am to have ended up in this city.
My name is Maxim. I'm 31 and born in Berlin. I've lived here my whole life. I’ve lived in other parts of the city, but for almost two years, I've been living next to Hasenheide, a popular park in Berlin. Parks are places where people escape the stress found on the streets and can relax a bit more. There’s a different atmosphere here.
The park is a place where community meets to do leisure activities, like sports. For example, just three weeks ago, I was exercising on the small outdoor court in the park when I saw a small boy kicking around a football by himself. He said his mother was out jogging. Since football is more fun when there’s a goalie, I asked him if he'd like to shoot goals past me.
He said he'd like that, and it was good exercise for me. I wanted to do something more than just jogging and pull ups that day. So I took my place in front of the goal, and we kicked around the ball for half an hour. I used to play football, too, when I was younger. Playing football outside was all I did actually. It was cool playing with him. I obviously don’t remember his name, as it was such a short exchange, but these are the kinds of random interactions you have in the park.
Community comes together and shares a moment. You just enjoy it while it lasts. Sometimes it’s an interaction involving sports. It could be another activity, or just sitting around, listening to someone play music. Parks are great for connecting people.
Interactions like the one I had with this boy remind me of my childhood. I used to love playing football with the older boys. It was a moment in which they stopped treating us like assholes and invited us to play along. It was a beautiful thing. And if I can give that memory to a boy twenty years later, that's something that makes me happy.
Hello, my name is Hamid Sane, and we’re in Hasenheide. I come here whenever I need some peace and quiet. Nature is just something I need to clear my head. Cities are notorious for having lots of parks. For me, it’s a way to escape the city and be in a natural surrounding that reminds me of being back home. We had tons of nature back then, whenever we needed it. Today, the park is like this piece of home for me.
A couple of people always come to the park to take care of the flowers and plants. They brought many seeds, flowers, and small plants into the park. They water and even fertilize them in this flower bed they built themselves. Over time, the park authorities came and destroyed all the work they did. They tore out plants and just threw them away. The people didn’t give up though. They came back and just started over again.
It was an on-going fight, but the authorities wouldn’t back down. They kept telling the gardeners to stop and thought it was best that they did so. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the gardeners planting in the park. It makes the park more beautiful. You can still see a corner of the park today where they do their gardening. It’s fifty meters long and one meter wide. It’s practically a vegetable patch, and the people’s plants continue to multiply and spread to other corners of the park.
It wasn’t easy at first, and they aren’t the first ones to have a problem with the authorities. I’ve seen the same thing happening in other parts of Berlin, like along the canals and rivers. The people just want to plant. To solve the conflict, maybe somebody could establish a few associations that could act as a bridge between the people who want to plant and the authorities. In addition, the association could give seeds or small plants to anyone who wants to plant something. This way, we make the parks more beautiful, parts of the city more green, and the canals more lively.