My little neighborhood, Schöneberg, is combined with the adjacent area called Tempelhof to form one of the dozen or so administrative units of Berlin. Tempelhof is home to the Tempelhof Airport, launching point of the Cold War’s Berlin Airlift. But Tempelhof was abandoned as an active airport last year and now sits all alone in its empty enormity. Tempelhof is the next stop on our S-Bahn ride, and you can see the airfield out the window, stretching off into the distance. The question is, what should Berlin do with this gigantic open space right in the middle of the city.
The newspaper to which we subscribe, Die Tageszeitung, or taz to we Berliners, has a brilliant idea which they have been exploring for days now on their pages. Taz reads to me like a college paper. It’s full of passion and opinion and left-leanings. Everything they write about is Incredibly Exciting. I get a big kick out of it, once Aaron explains the 75 percent of words to me that I didn’t know. So, taz noticed that Tempelhof Airport comprises 3.9 million square meters and there are approximately 3.9 million residents of Berlin. Taz’s big idea is to assign everybody in Berlin their own personal square meter to do what they like with. You could go plant a tree in yours, or put up your hammock, or build a small ham radio hut. If you want to do something that takes more than a square meter, like play Fuβball, you’d need to get together with enough other residents who want the same thing and make that happen. Taz points out the many advantages of this approach. It forces community involvement so bureaucrats won’t be able to do something silly and useless. (The community could do that on its own.) It will forge connections among Berliners because we’ll have to talk to each other to decide what to do with our public space.
For several days I thought this was really going to happen, but then I learned the subjunctive tense (see below), and now I understand that this is just taz’s suggestion. Sadly, I’m not about to be issued my own personal square meter of Tempelhof.