About 30 people met in the forest at the edge of Berlin to spend 6 days together. We were from different countries and backgrounds of our dedication but what connected us was the interest in gardening and/or social work. Together we exchanged our experiences and ideas and tried (and sometimes errored) to come deeper in understanding of concepts of youth work, work with refugees, community (building), interculturality and urban gardening.
Our goal was to design the concept of urban gardening as a method for social integration of young people with fewer opportunities. Working on that, we met several experts, listened to talks, made a lot of brainstorming and discussed, played interactive games, visited some Berlin urban gardens and transitional home for refugees. We worked a lot but also had a lot of fun.
Talking about the power of community, we experienced it on ourselves every day as we shared together not only the space and our ideas but also leading of some activities, tasks and responsibilities. There were some strong moments when we built a huge natural mandala without talking or danced like crazy to our seminar anthem. When we were in the transitional home for refugees in Berlin Marienfelde, helping to prune some bushes, children living there started to observe us very curiously. After a while they asked for the garden scissors and started to copy us. In the end, after the work was finished, we were dancing all together to our song.
It was very inspiring and encouraging to see so many people being seriously interested in human rights, helping to refugees, ecology, sustainability, community and gardening and to get to know their home based projects where they are involved with all their energy, care and passion. Also very nice and practical to build an international network of likeminded colleagues and friends.