Unter Druck - Kultur von der Strasse e.V. / Czentrifuga

translated: Under Pressure - Culture From the Streets

is an independent socio cultural association that works to help homeless and other vulnerable people that first began as a street theater project in Berlin in 1991. Today it manages two seperate locations.

Czentrifuga (link) is the collective name for a  diverse  mix of Rohkultur artisans and creative educators  involved in  grassroots cultural production based  at Ostkreuz in Berlin . The space offers  "Jekami!" workshops  Jeder Kann Mitmachen! = Everyone Can Join In!  for silkscreenprint, music, upcycling deco and costume, 2D and Clay animation. The group is involved in  diverse creative socio cultural  projects at home and abroad and participation in  diverse international performances and expositions.

Unter Druck Cafe (link)  is an open space for homeless and socially marginalised people in the Wedding area  open 6 days a week  offering  advice and help on a range of practical survival issues with a mixture of professionall and volunteer staff including  a large volunteer cafe crew of around 17 people. Offers include free food and drinks, computer/internet access, washing machine and shower. Culture  is integral to the association and there are weekly workshops in music, graphic, theater and tai ji.

In winter, as apart of a coordinated effort amongst Berlin homeless people support organisations, the location is open every Thursday night with 13 sleeping places and 20 sitting places. Fridays, are reserved for the Womens Cafe, followed by theater rehearsal, as well as activities which result from ideas and initiatives created by the visitors themselves, including graphic workshops every Thursday and a "Grundeinkommen fuer Alle" (Basic Income for all) think tank every Wednesday. There are currently two music workshops per week; Tuesdays are rehearsals for a "Vagabond Musical" and Wednesdays for "Jekami" (Jeder kann mitmachen) music improvisation. Other activities include exhibitions, discussions, day trips, film evenings, games and museum visits. Unter Druck receives some support  by the state of Berlin, Deutsche Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband and Aktion Mensch, , as well as by its own fundraisng  events, public donations and the work of approximately volunteers.  Approximately 40 guests  visit the cafe daily.

Czentrifuga was created by the Unter Druck association in 2001 in the Berlin Mitte area, as a result of start up financing by the Berlin Tagesspiegel newspaper in order to expand the portfolio towards graphic arts as a measure of adult education and provide new studio spaces for creative adult learning for the homeless and socially marginalised. Now based in the Friedrichshain area since 2010, Czentrifuga has achieved its own parallel identity and is internationally known as a place for social and cultural exchange. The staff are mostly voluntary and represent a mix from all ages, genders and backgrounds. This “D.I.Y.” collective and the individual artists therein, have been involved in many exhibitions and presentations throughout Europe, the Balkans as well as Moscow and New York. These actions and events play an important role in publicising the work of the parent association, presenting important socio cultural issues to a larger audience.

Some of the Czentrifuga atelier running costs are covered by a t shirt printing service which subsidises public workshops. Under the projects Czentrifuga and Unter Druck, the association has been involved in 4 x Grundtvig Life Long Learning Partnerships with Czentrifuga acting twice as coordinating partner. “Rohkultur” is the Czentrifuga motto and screen printing stands as a middlepoint for various surrounding activities and workshops,including audio/video production, performance, 2D or Clay animation and public info events. The philosophy is based on open source and "D.I.Y." ideas like skill sharing and learning by doing, in horizontally organised ,informal environments. Formats remain flexible and  intuitive to all creative inputs, and participants are encouraged to help each other, pool ideas and share skill sets in a creative, collective environment, developing projects together and having a say in the process, which can over come potential mistrust or hostility and instead trigger unexpected and radical results. The time taken for workshop activities, allows for an important, informal exchange between participants; the necessary collective steps to create an end product promotes group interaction and establishes a rhythm and focus.

Silkscreen printing is often used effectively as a simple tool that encourages group participation and exchange. Participants begin with the graphic process, by creating a picture or a slogan to articulate their feelings, which can be achieved by using any number of possible techniques (cut-up , sketch, paint, scratch, photo, computer etc) The subsequent stages of transforming these ideas onto a screen create a surprising analogue effect. The collective production of artefacts, such as posters , fanzines, books, t shirts , fabric designs, stickers etc. encourages a sense of self and a sense of group identity .These workshops embolden participants to try it for themselves (D.I.Y.) as this process can be carried out anywhere, with very basic equipment and clients can make the transition to being themselves teachers.

John Moulden (51) is from the UK, and based in Germany since 1995, originally on board the culture initiative, Motor Ship Stubnitz, then based in Rostock ,where he lived and worked for 6 years . Here he learnt various skill sets including event management and project development as well as basic seaman skills and qualifications. In 1996, he helped the project to achieve its sea travel classification and coordinated event programming in Scandinavia, Holland and the UK, often in the context of European Culture Capital invitations. Since 2003 he has been working for the Unter Druck association and is employed there since 2 years working in public relation, funding aquisition as well as organising and running creative workshops. John has coordinated two out of four Czentrifuga/ Unter Druck related Grundtvig partnerships, co-creating a network which spans 17 different EU countries.

Tanja Ehmann (42) Doctorate in Educational Science from the University of Potsdam in 2009 has also been teaching there at the Department of Applied Sciences since 2014 as well as at the Catholic University of Berlin for Social Work. Tanja has also worked as editorial assistant at Saarländischer Rundfunk in the field of press and public relations and production assistant at Harun Farocki filmproduction. Tanja has several published papers, including “Recognition and Promotion of Metacognitive and Motivational Skills.”(2011) - a learning diary for students with migration backgrounds. Since 2016 she offers voluntary social counseling and creative workshop support at the Unter Druck Cafe, participating in regular theatrical improvisation events at Ballhaus Ost, and music recording at the Czentrifuga ateliers, she also runs a monthly radio broadcast “Lisa & Lyon” at reboot.fm.

Beat Gipp (47) is from Bern,Switzerland, where he qualified as social worker at “BFF”, making his studium with disabled housing and sheltered living projects. Since 2010 he has a job at Unter Druck, advising clients with existential issues and organising creative workshops. At Czentrifuga, he is a screenprint master, voluntarily teaching and advising Unter Druck clients and informal apprentices. Between 2010-13, he participated with Czentrifuga in 3 Grundtvig Learning Partnerships.

Margita Weiler (65) has worked extensively as a project director, involving festival planning and organisation, congresses, lectures, arts & culture management, education and training projekt-coordination for Grundtvig, coaching Erasmus work placement art projects for BMFSFJ , BPB, Participant European Online Academy Nice, Bonn ,Coach to Coach, Brüssel and Salto. Academic achievements include: CCM International Institute culture management in Linz; HfM Hochschule Musik Hanns Eisler; Berlin University of La Laguna (SP); Peace Education, Montessori techniques; Social Paedagogics Diploma.

Minnie Griffith (22) our youngest team member from Marseille, currently working in Berlin as an EVS student under the tutorage of Margita Weiler and Joihn Moulden

Stine Brinklov (42) costume deco and stage set  designer working under the collective name of Gogo Trash at Czentrifuga ateliers. Stine has been making voluntary creative workshops  for over 10 years at Czentrifuga  (formerly "Fleischerei") in the city and in the region.

Ute Wintherhaler (47) is a performance artist  and is also working closely together with Stine Brinklov. "Yt" has medical healing skills and works part time with special needs children in Berlin.

Jakob Kirchheimer (37) researcher at the Georg Eckert Institut Leibniz Institute for international textbook research is a specialist on education and conflict transformation, previously working for the international human rights organization Impunity Watch and has managed projects on participatory research and capacity building activities on historical memory and Transitional Justice in post-conflict societies.