We grew up saying "that's Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Central Europe," because that was the political situation at that time, but now that the wall is down and more than 20 years have passed, we have a new generation of people with knowledge about the East and the West in a geographical way, instead of political terms. 

While the wall existed, there were three different cultures in Germany: West Germany, East Germany and West Berlin. The culture in the western part of the country had nothing to do with the Capital. The West countryside was very conservative and industrial, but the city was quite liberal, as it was a pretty young culture. This allowed people to be more creative, not only in terms of painting, but in their ways of thinking, having more collective than individual thoughts. We always tried to push the boundaries of what was possible.

I recall that during the reunification, we lived about two years of complete limbo. My family and I went to the East Side and there was this policeman who asked my dad for his passport, he said “I have no passport but I have my credit card, so you can be sure I’m coming from the West and I think I should be able to go back.” It took at least fifteen years to get things as we know them now.

I think part of the motivation for my project is related to what the wall represented. After it came down, Berlin had a large influx of new inhabitants and new people who moved to the city. At that moment, we didn't even know our neighbors and we discovered completely new structures that didn't exist while the wall was there, because before that, both East and West had very defined structures, and inside these we lived as if we were in a village, very isolated. After the fall of the wall, people moved to Berlin, which was super exciting because it was really happening, although city residents themselves didn't believe it.

Seeing so many new people and so many opportunities made me think “where can these people meet and talk about interesting projects?” and then, "we could create a community center in Berlin," a place where people can come together, network, exchange things… maybe I'm also being selfish, but I wanted to create a place where I could meet interesting people, because that was my feeling about Berlin.

I had my first career setback while working for a telecom company. I thought, “Ok, I don't want to do this, I'll travel a bit and then come back”. I studied Sustainable Resource Management and realized all the problems we had in the world, but if you want to really solve these problems, you have to bring together businesses from different sectors with people working on solutions. To achieve this, we need a physical space that allows people to interact, so I decided to invest my time and energy in creating this place to make the city better.

I believe we've accomplished that. I come every day and I see people sharing coffee and then I talk to someone who is running his or her project... It's always very exciting, and I realize they're also excited for having a place where they can come together.

We have many different projects here: A very exciting urban development project to build a bicycle highway through the city, an application that helps people with eating disorders, also political participation projects. We all end up involved in each of these fields in one way or another, and that's great because you feel you have the power to change things. It’s necessary to take advantage of this possibility, I can’t think "the world is the way it is and we’re all gonna die," because then nobody does anything. I rather say "Ok, who’s working on changing things and how can I bring these people together to actually achieve those changes and really make a difference?"

There are so many challenges out there that we can feel overwhelmed, but rather than seeing what you can't do, it's better to focus on “what can I do?” And that's the goal of my project at Impact Hub. To help others realize that they can't change everything, but they can use their potential, their skills and expertise within their own field of work, and really make a difference.

Andrés Piña
Berlin, Alemania
There are so many challenges out there that we can feel overwhelmed, but rather than seeing what you can't do, it's better to focus on “what can I do?”
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