The above video by a Berliner complains about Berlin’s influx of hipsters, addressing them directly in its conclusion:
“Please stop to face your neighbourhood… it matters if you try to live in Neukölln or whether you just live your imported party here. Just because the fucked up free market economy expects us, for example, to satisfy your wishes because you have the money and the power (at least afterwards) even though you refuse to believe in this fact now because you prefer to feel poor.. but that’s not the truth and you know that.” The video’s observations echo this critique of hipster culture.
The Guardian takes a different view, blaming Berlin’s skyrocketing living costs and rapid gentrification not on hipsters or artists, but on a world financial crisis that caused those with capital to invest in property rather than in the stock market. It’s all in the title: “Berlin’s housing bubble and the backlash against hipster tourists:
Skyrocketing housing costs in Berlin can’t be blamed on an influx of ‘foreigners’, but are in fact fuelled by the global financial crisis.”
I think both analyses contain some truth. They’re concurrent and not unrelated problems. On the hipster side it points to some problems with the whole creative class/creative city argument, but haranguing hipsters into better behaviour is no solution. The solution would be structural, a rights-based approach to housing policy. The Guardian writer concludes,”these are no natural forces. They can be kept in check with the right policies, like a cap on rents or laws against property speculation. Decent, affordable housing is a basic right, for locals as well as for international students, artists and layabouts.”
It is good to actually see housing actually being considered a human right in the press; the rights-based approach is mentioned far too seldom in the media let alone among policy-makers who have mostly been sucked into believing that private enterprise can fix the housing unaffordability problem. It can’t, and it won’t.
On the gentrification side, look at this critique of what’s happening to neighbourhoods in San Francisco and New York (High Line). Or hey, anything happening in Vancouver, a world capital of property-as-investment rather than property-as-shelter.
Tags: Berlin, creative class, creative economy, gentrification, global financial crisis, High Line, hipsters, housing as human right, housing as investment instead of shelter, Neukölln, New York, New York City, property speculation, San Francisco, unaffordability, Vancouver