TACHELES – The whole world is watching!
Mark Naison: The whole world is watching!
Dear Mayor of Berlin!
As a scholar in Urban Studies and as an admirer of the tradition of political activism and urban revitalization in your great city of Berlin, I am urging you to use all the powers at your disposal to prevent the sale of Tacheles to developers and the destruction of this great community arts center that attracts more than 400,000 visitors a year. At a time when the world financial crisis is creating in cities around the world what Berlin faced after reunification- a landscape of thousands of abandoned factories, stores, apartment building and shopping centers – the last thing we need now is the destruction of perhaps the world’s best known example of the transformation of abandoned property into a creative arts center.
Not only should Tacheles be preserved and protected, but to paraphrase Che Guevara, we need “one, two, three many Tacheles” all around the world, in New York, in Miami, in Madrid, in Rome, in Detroit and in Johannesburg!! Tacheles is the front lines of a global anti-gentrification struggle. If you, in your position as Berlin’s most important leader, can lead a community movement to preserve this powerful people’s institution, complete with marches, rallies, and legal and legislative action, then people around the world will follow your example and begin occupying the abandoned properties in their cities!
In so doing, not only will you prreserve a precious economic resource for the city of Berlin – which attracts hundreds of thousands’ of tourists and creates hundreds of jobs – you will give people all over the world – including my home city of New York – the courage to transform abandoned properties and turn them into community arts center, youth recreation space, and housing for the homeless, simultaneously meeting community needs and revitalizing local economies.
Make no mistake about it, “the whole world is watching” when it comes to the fate of Tacheles. What the people of Berlin did after reunification, with the support of progressive elected leaders such as yourself, is what activists around the world need to do to repair the damage done by a financial system out of control that left immense wreckage in its wake.
Please, Honorable Mayor, use your office as a “bully pulpit” to lead the people of your city to resist the banks and developers turning one of Berlin’s most important community institutions into a hotel or shopping center. If you lead, people will follow, not only in Berlin, but around the world.
Mark D Naison
Professor of AFrican American Studies and History
Founder, Bronx African American History Project
New York, USA