Kanal Needs New Shoes!

Introduction

Radical Queer Wagenplatz Kanal is an ongoing (30+ year) project currently located in a tiny forest in the east side of Berlin, Germany that is in dire need of renovation. It is a majority QTBIPoC and migrant non-profit organization and collective space that provides:
- Shelter and protection for QTBIPoC people and migrants in need
- Long term housing for people who wish to join the project
- Bike and carpentry workshops
- Event space for concerts, performances, soli parties, etc
- Cinema for public screenings
- A garden for growing food and getting in touch with nature


A few years ago after a lengthy campaign, Kanal won the right to occupy this plot of land under a highly-limiting lease. In exchange, half of the land was reclaimed by the government and used as the site for the construction of a state refugee centre. In the process of moving things to fit into an area now half the size, a lot of the old infrastructure was dismantled or simply fell into disrepair. Us, the current members of Kanal, are all relatively new to the project, and though we have done our very best get things up and running using the materials at hand, there is much more work to be done to improve things. We have the skills and hands we need to make this possible, the only thing we lack are tools and materials to bring these plans to completion.

Over the years, Kanal’s carpentry and bike workshops have helped countless people develop skills and self-confidence they use in their day-to-day lives. Our event space has hosted numerous concerts and fundraisers that have directly helped both local and international community members, and improved the lives of so many people when they needed it most. To keep Kanal in our own vision—and in the bounds of our rental agreement—we need to make these necessary renovations to remain a community space with the capacity to adequately host cultural events and provide a place for empowerment. With your help, we can take things further, expand the scope of the work we do, and grow this space into something that can help our local community better than ever before.

Additional work and projects that Kanal needs your help to complete:

- Adequate insulation of 9 of our project’s living wagons to make winter bearable — 9.200 €
- Insulation of the compost toilet — 900€
- Replacement of the damaged septic tank in the bathroom wagon — 4.000€
- The installation of a grey water system that will not freeze — 3,000€
- The rehabilitation of the kitchen wagon — 1.600 €
- Building accessibility ramps for stage and kitchen — 1.440€
- The renovation of the event space to fix the stage and adjacent areas — 850€
- Completion and insulation of the cinema so it can be used in the colder months — 2.000 €
- The construction of an accessible sauna for the use and health of the local queer and trans community — 2,550€ 
- The expansion of the garden and construction of a greenhouse — 600€
- Heavy machinery rental (a digger, crane and breaker) — 3250€
- Rental of a trash skip for the construction period — 460€ 

In total, our approximate for materials, machinery rental, and specialised labor costs are: 29,850€
However, we are asking for the round number of 30,000€ as we expect to find hidden costs and fees along the way (such as transport and shipping costs) that we haven’t accounted for in our calculations.

We have a limited amount of time in order to make these improvements to the space, as the renewal of our lease depends on it. Because of this, we cannot rely entirely on the slow and beautiful process of recycling and self-organising everything we need to get things done this time around, which is why we’re reaching out now to everyone who can help us keep this dream alive! Any additional money we raise beyond our goal will go towards improving other public access areas of our project, such as our workshop wagons and event spaces.


Background

Radical Queer Wagenplatz Kanal is a place of gathering for intersectional queers and friends, and is part of a larger network of autonomous spaces, squats and wagenplatze in Berlín, Europe, and beyond. It is a place of refuge, where migrant people can receive support when needed from others with similar lived experiences, and find solidarity outside the systems of the state. Currently, we are a small group of people from different backgrounds who reside here, and a handful of non-resident members who regularly help keep the project up and running.

Wagenplatz Kanal is also a non-profit organization, sustained solely on donations, which are directly invested into projects and workshops for the empowerment of our community here in Berlin — especially the QTBIPoC and migrant community, of which the majority of its inhabitants are a part of. Our bicycle and carpentry workshops, our stage and bar, and our community garden, which in other times would be able to fulfill the public service role of the space, have not been in regular operation over the last year and a half due to COVID-19 restrictions and the safety concerns of our already vulnerable community. As a result, those of us living here have inherited a great deal of physical, mental and administrative work that is needed to uplift this space which was already in a great state of disrepair.

In these thirty years of existence, the vision of the project as well as its physical location and structure have undergone diverse and substantial changes out of resistance to the usual strategies of abuse, disenfranchisement, and demolition. The struggles imposed by the hetero-capital establishment on spaces like Kanal are the focal point of our resistance here, where the ideals of these violent systems are dissolved, and can evolve into new visions within conscious and autonomous community life. Outside of the habitat which we create together, and whose limits are the fences of this small lot of land, building a life and living it authentically can be practically impossible due to the sum of our circumstances as trans* people, queer people, Black, Indigenous and People of color, neurodiverse and disabled individuals, undocumented migrants, and especially as working class and poor. The barriers that have been set up for us are formidable, which is why spaces like this are invaluable to all of us.

Through the past decade and a half, there have been several disputes concerning this space. The history and conflicts from older days, which are still a part of Kanal, as well as the new conflicts that arose in recent times, which are often exacerbated by the rough living conditions of the space, have been invaluable for us to learn from them and reflect on to decide how we grow from here.

We believe that we are a part of a long-standing, ongoing and open-ended process on remodelling the space and working against inherited racist, classist, transphobic thinking that violates us all. It is certain that these are unhealthy habits, learned in the capitalist societies where most of us were socialized, and it is sad to see that they also so often creep into our spaces and harm people. We recognize this fact and the challenging patterns faced and reproduced in the long history of this project, and see the need to do more to facilitate changes and more sustainable approaches to community living and collective spaces. Inclusive spaces like ours should be homes to people, able to provide the infrastructure needs to allow a dignified quality of life for individuals to grow and thrive beyond survival.

Living dissentingly from the margins of poverty, in a space that is lacking in basic amenities and vulnerable, within the context of a scene rife with white, eurocentric exercise of political discourse, the romanticization of “precariousness” and adherence to the sort of academic neoliberalism found in rich European cities such as Berlin, has caused us a great deal of emotional and mental burnout, and physical wear. Our basic survival during this pandemic, along with the need to reorganize, reflect, learn and restructure both physically and socially have taken up most of our time, energy and resources. Now we need a push forward so that Kanal life can keep going, and so that these changes and actions can keep advancing and multiplying. Hence, this fundraiser.



The Plan

We propose a project to improve and rehabilitate the physical space of Kanal, in which the necessary work will be carried out over the span of five months to make this place an effective habitable refuge. Especially in winter during which the lack of access to running water and warm shelter due to freezing temperatures cut down our ability to meet even our most basic physical needs. We want the 11 wagons/homes to be ready for whoever needs them, which requires insulation and repairs to be carried out in most of them, while also rehabilitating the common spaces so that they are functional to the maximum of their capacities. Additionally, we are committed to creating new infrastructure to give better access and repurpose the space to meet the needs of our community.

Some of the common spaces to be rehabilitated require great machinery and work, such as the replacement of the now disabled septic tank of the bathroom wagon, the extension of our waterways so we can have water in the kitchen year round, and the re-arrangement of wagons in the space into a more accessible layout. Other projects include the installation of a gray water system that will not freeze over the winter period; the rehabilitation of a kitchen wagon, and the insulation of the toilet; the construction of an accessible sauna for the use and health of the local queer and trans community; the rehabilitation and restructuring of the bar and the stage to be able to organize events again, both for self-organized events and for continued use by our sister organizations and groups.

The majority of the labor will be carried out voluntarily by members of the community, together with the collaboration of other groups as workshops for those who are interested in learning how to build and use the machinery safely in an environment free of machismo. When possible, we will provide food for the volunteers during the course of these work days, though there are certain tasks that require specialised work, for which we will have to hire some help.

Beyond skill-sharing and and improving the project, we hope to create greater community care and awareness in the space by modifying its infrastructure so that it is more accessible and inclusive for all bodies. We will build accessibility ramps for our events areas, and finalize the cinema project to have a suitable space to learn and share from dissident perspectives year round, so we can host nightly film screenings, forums for discussion, workshops, and more.

Any and all collaboration is welcome! The funding goal to be raised is the sum of materials, labor, tools, and machinery needed to make the space an effective refuge where people can live with dignity and contribute to the larger community beyond Kanal. We will also be happy to receive any material donations possible to achieve our objectives.

 Here's the list:

 - MATERIALS
 + Insulation materials (matts, membrane, foam, and tape)
 + Wood (long beams, boards, interior and exterior panels, preferably untreated pine)
+ Clear heavy-duty tarps
+ Stage Frames
 + Paint and varnish for exteriors and interiors (wood and metal)
 + Water surge tanks and piping
 + Wiring
 + Screws
 + Cobblestones, various sizes of rock and gravel
 + Water tanks
 + Wood burning stoves in good condition

 - TOOLS
 + Track saw
 + Angle grinder
 + Miter/Chop saw
 + Jig saw
 + Electric welder
 + Brushes, rollers, etc.
 + Van

 - APPLIANCES
 + 2000L+ Sceptic tank in working condition
+ Washer / Dryer
 + Festoon lights for the outdoors
 + Poster-size Printer/Copier
 + Gas shower
 + Solar panels
 + Computer
 + Electric heater with thermostat
+ Sauna Oven

-SERVICES
+ Tractor repair (we need a willing mechanic to fix poor Ms. Marple, our assistant for moving the wagons!)
+ Crane hire for sceptic tank replacement
+ Breaker hire to dig Gray Water Pit
+ Transport for getting materials as needed

 This is the link to the website where you can learn more about us and life in Kanal, and how to contact us if you wish:

 
 And this is our bank account, for those who prefer to donate directly:

Wagenburg Kanal e.V
IBAN: DE15 4306 0967 1168 3089 00
BIC: GENODEM1GLS

Please write “Donation” in the reference box on the bank transfer.

Kanal needs new shoes for its entry into maturity. The ones it once wore have broken heels!

 We appreciate sharing our initiative with whoever you consider can collaborate.

  • Byron Breathnach 
    • €300 
    • 7 mos
  • Byron Breathnach 
    • €1,000 
    • 7 mos
  • Kléo G 
    • €100 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • €20 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • €200 
    • 10 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Radical Queer Wagenplatz Kanal e.V 
Organizer
Berlin
Kai Schirmer 
Beneficiary

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