Dieser Text entstand als Abstract für die Cartocon 2014.

Berliner Gartenkarte

a collective mapping initiative

“This is science. It just doesn’t look like it.”

Bernd Hilberer, Cartograph at Free University Berlin, September 28th 2013, at Allmende-Kontor community garden.

Berlin is known for its historically unique free spaces (Freiräume). Due to the morphogenesis of urban space after the Fall of the Wall, the city was scattered with temporary uses and squats. Despite people are constantly demanding their Rights to the City until nowadays, this development is in decline.

As an attempt to continue public participation in shaping (in the sense of gestalten) urban life worlds (Lebenswelten), activists are eager to create, maintain and publicise urban gardening initiatives. The Berliner Gartenkarte is a collective mapping initiative, formed by local students and researchers in collaboration with the urban agriculture community, that intends to visualize the gardens’ spatial distribution.

When the students programming and designing the map were asking within the activist network for spatial garden data, they ran into open doors: As the round table “Urban Gardening in Berlin” already articulated its need for such a map, together with the ZALF (Leibnitz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung / Leibnitz-Center for agricultural landscape research) and the Allmende-Kontor, they took the volunteered geographic information aggregated in the soon-to-be-released community hub stadtacker.net as a data source to their self-defined geoinformatics project. After negotiations about data licencing and collaborational details, the data got condensed into a webmap prototype, still to be found in its original form at gartenkarte.de.

The print design took the data even further: After a five month episode of collecting, refining and visualizing the dataset, a DIN A0 Creative Commons map has been sent to the printer. Subsequently, at a round table meeting during spring, twenty tarps and a hundred posters were distributed within the community. In addition is the original printing document always available at gartenkarte.de/gartenplane.

This recapitulation conveys the collective bottom-up production of a community-driven map that displays urban agriculture and – gardens in Berlin. Additionally it will position the authors’ work within the field of critical cartography and inherently reflect on action research principles plus the map’s meaning to the movement itself.

Outlining current development vectors and speculating about the meaning of webmapping generally, within the nexus of open source, self-organization and data visualization, broadens the scope. And because the mapping process has yet to finish, an euphoric conclusion about the field of collective cartographic representations is at the end of the argument.