In May 2022, our CMMM team met face-to-face for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, after two failed attempts in 2021. At the margins of this gathering in Belgrade, on 22, 23 and 24 May, K LAB recorded conversations of about one hour with members of the city teams: Julian Zwicker from Berlin, Irene Escorihuela Blasco and Eduard Sala Barceló from Barcelona, and our hosts Iva Čukić and Jovana Timotijević from Belgrade. The aim was to create three podcasts of about 20 minutes each as a medium to hear the voices of the people behind the CMMM project and to provide an overview of key issues related to their work, discourses, obstacles, how they became and continue to be involved in housing justice movements, and the role of collaboration, solidarity, and humor in spite of things going wrong.
While editing the recordings, we decided it would be better to have the option of hearing the thoughts on particular issues together rather than separated into a city-specific podcast format, especially considering that the three conversations touched on similar topics in varying orders. Therefore, we shifted our strategy to that of cutting the recordings into short, themed clips as this allows for both options: listening to the thoughts of one team on the ten domains we discussed (columns) or listening to the thoughts about the individual topics across the three cities (rows). Each sound clip is captioned with a couple of sentences that highlight two to three of the key ideas, which you view by clicking on "show clip highlights." Several of the issues mentioned in these clips are expounded in the collaboratively produced maps, illustrations of processes (posters), and analyses. You can listen to these clips on the project’s website cmmm.eu, the directs links are embedded in the icons in this section.
Irene Escorihuela Blasco
Eduard Sala Barceló
The non-political positioning of the architecture faculty drove us to explore other perspectives on how to think about space and city-making. Hanging out with some friends and talking about how the city can be developed made the concept of the “Right to the City” somehow understandable.
Seeing the importance of social infrastructures in other European cities inspired us to start the Ministry of Space Collective in Belgrade to initially show that property can be activated for the needs of the community. We later expanded to address the multilayered topics related to city development.
It all started when our building was being sold and we, the tenants, wanted to challenge the sale. We didn’t succeed.
Probably a signature aspect of Berlin is the abundance and openness of its political activist scene involved in issues regarding space, among other things.
[Irene] For me, it started when I did an internship at Observatori DESC a decade ago. Housing was one of the most important issues in the city and La PAH was at its very beginning. I was studying law and thought the law should be a tool for social movements to change the world.
[Edu] I got involved in the housing movement when I was doing my PhD on the mortgage crisis and evictions in Barcelona and the strategies of La PAH to empower the people affected. I stayed.
Under the umbrella of “urban commons,” and to counter the state- and market-driven development discourses, the Ministry of Space is currently working on promoting public participation in decisions over urban development, as well as in developing models for affordable housing and public property management.
The controversy and scale of the Belgrade Waterfront project helped us to politicize urban development and put it on the agendas of a wider public.
We are focused on developing a knowledge pool on community organization and urban democracy in relation to real estate and land in order to empower people.
Since 2010, the extreme pressure of the profit-oriented market has created a situation of fear and suffering. At the same time, it activated a lot of energy and resistance. Our work at AKS concentrates on mediating between people who want to change the housing situation and the city district administration.
Our main demand is: “no evictions without relocation.” The problem, however, is not only the law but also the resources since there is no alternative public housing in Barcelona.
The rent control law helps a lot as we have proven in Catalunya in the last months. In addition, more stable leases would make renting a lot different for people.
How we do things is very important to us. Our main work principles are interdisciplinarity and insisting on and appreciating collective work. This goes hand-in-hand with network and initiative building, blurring the sectoral borders between civil society organizations, academia, and other actors by working in the in-between spaces.
Berlin has a culture of gatherings and big events to connect and intersect initiatives and struggles. In the initiatives I am involved in, we support people and spread knowledge through individual visits and consultations.
The housing activist scene is strong in using Berlin’s streetscapes to display visual icons, posters, and wordplays: e.g., “Allesandersplatz” instead of “Alexanderplatz.”
We started at a moment when the main discourse was one of evicted people being guilty of their own situation because they lived beyond their possibilities. The movement changed the discourse to: “you are not guilty; it is a collective and systemic problem.” This was the first step in empowering people.
La PAH, the oldest housing movement in Barcelona, has a lot of turnover of people, not necessarily of young people, who tend to join their own neighborhood’s anti-eviction movement.
We are addressing difficult topics in a very hostile political environment. We use humor as a key tool to show how and why things matter, to mobilize people, but also to keep our own energy levels up. In addition, collectiveness and mutual care keep us healthy and sane during processes that extend over several years.
The yellow rubber duck, that every family has, has become the symbol of resistance. We didn’t expect this.
La PAH continuously reinvents its nonviolent actions and performances in terms of how to stage the protest to explain the situation to the world: from stickers, to dancing, to setting a beach in a bank branch to damage its image.
The changing property structure requires that we reinvent our actions to make investment funds such as Blackstone more visible in the city, even when their headquarters are elsewhere. The role of media is essential.
One obstacle is the risk of apathy. This country has been in crisis for 30 years and things don’t change that fast. To keep the fire going is energy-, time- and emotionally consuming and requires “Tom Sawyer” tactics!
Global processes can also be an obstacle as they influence and limit the scopes of national-level actions. The fact that Serbia is on the European periphery in many ways shapes the way its economy and politics work, and therefore also the conditions in which we work.
The German system of subsidiarity causes decisions at the municipal or district level to be blocked by laws and decision-making at higher levels. This has caused, for instance, the decapacitation of the preemptive buying right, as well as the upward spiraling of land and property valuations in big cities.
After the mortgage crisis (2008), 40% of households in Barcelona are renters. Many cannot afford their rents anymore and turn to squatting out of necessity.
The financialization of housing has changed the ownership structure from individuals and banks to international investment funds, largely due to EU-imposed reforms. This has made our struggle more difficult, and we need new strategies and legal mechanisms.
Education (in architecture for instance) is often detached from reality and pressing issues of the real world. Instead of using existing data of civil society and tackling real issues, students are invited to design on Mars, where real life and real problems do not exist as a narrative. It hurts to see that.
Internships of two weeks might fulfill the curricular assignment but do not contribute to shifting understandings and are more exhausting for us than helpful.
Interdisciplinarity is not at all encouraged at many universities, even though there are easy mechanisms to break boundaries and improve education.
Mapping can be superficial and overwhelming, but it can also be very inclusive and bring people together in a process as one can only connect with others by sharing emotions and working together. Such cross-sectoral joint spaces and processes are largely missing in Berlin.
The Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen post-referendum top-down process is falling short of the expectations of the participating civic actors, who thought they would have an influence.
In faculties of architecture, the male architect is still seen as the sole mastermind of spatial design, while urban planning (where we think all the fun is) is considered a woman’s (less-paid) job. Students do not get in touch with real people or real situations like evictions and stay in a kind of parallel reality.
Universities are a mirror of the dominant logic in society. The market logic that exists as the main generator of directions in housing policies also gives directions in universities, how students see the purpose of their education, how research works, and how alternative practices in universities are resisted.
There is a general gap between the ways civil society works versus how politics and science work.
We need to slow down the aggressive mechanisms of politics, and maybe also science.
Problems in society need their time and space to be unpacked, and we need scientists and politicians to react to this very emotional environment with less hastiness.
The fact that we own the data gives us negotiation power when collaborating with academia or media. We constantly claim more engagement, empathy, and respect for the movements and the persons behind the data.
Partnerships with academia that are based on what the movement needs are very helpful. The process is relevant, and we demand respect for our time and systems of (self)organization.
Instead of being open, institutions have a tendency to dismiss the civil society sector and activists, even though they produce so much grounded knowledge and could contribute to a different understanding of the city.
One concrete mechanism is something we had in the socialist period called “mesna zajednica,” which is the lowest level of territorial administration in the city, where the community is actively involved and can influence decision-making from the bottom up.
Because of the practice of coalition contracts, political parties often break their promises to partners in civil society organizations in order to be part of the government.
Cross-sectoral partnerships require compromise and this raises conflicts, especially in a very experienced radical left environment that is coming from the squatting scene and has a strong protest culture. We have not managed to make the political scenes accountable, nor tackled the challenge of continuity. We still need to establish our own financial resources to be independent of (public) funding.
During elections, political parties are the most vulnerable, and we make use of this moment to negotiate our demands.
The housing movements in Barcelona have high social power, and this is being employed to push for better laws: for example, the two most important laws, “anti-eviction law” and “rent control law,” were passed just before elections.
International solidarity and networking are very important, but it is important to know that we work in different contexts. It is not about replicating, but rather listening to what the other person needs.
Our “Safe Harbor” program is an atypical means of solidarity. We invite different activists to come to Belgrade and escape from their everyday life in a friendly environment and without expectations.
It helps to see other people in other places empowering similar struggles and to understand where there are differences and where there are intersections.
It is important to not give up and to continue repeating things over and over again until they change.
Information is key, and thus communication and explanations. Our map, for instance, aims to give people hope by visualizing solidarity and connection.
Connecting to international experiences helps us improve perspectives and understand the historic dimensions of today’s realities.
Some examples we saw show what could be possible here in Belgrade, while others showed how important it is that we share our experiences from Barcelona to co-learn.
[Iva] I am very hopeful. I get motivation and energy from this collective and alliances. I always try to take the positive aspects and learn from even bad experiences. In the last twelve years, we achieved beyond our expectations. We created a political alternative that we can vote and stand for, and this came from a group of people who were hanging out in the park.
[Jovana] I am a bit more cynical because of some disappointments, but there is no space for quitting. We all keep a reserve of naive optimism to push when it gets very hard.
Hope is a motor for me to imagine how things could be and how they could change.
Even if it feels like people are still suffering from the same problems as three years ago, at the same time I recognize a will and development of people to influence decision-making and change the situation.
In spite of several setbacks caused by constitutional court rulings and federal decisions, fighting at the local level is useful. The housing situation in Barcelona is much better than eight years ago.
Seeing people who were without any hope now working in the movement, being motivated, and fighting for changing laws is a victory, and so is the passing of the eviction and rental laws.
When we started this CMMM project, activist groups in Belgrade were questioning the lack of transparency around the housing strategy for their city and five of the prominent collectives involved in the right to housing were ironing out the last details for assembling the Housing Equality Movement. Soon thereafter, as a result of corruption and an intense level of collusion in most media outlets with the ruling party, most opposition parties decided to boycott the 2020 parliamentarian elections. Meanwhile in Berlin, mobilizers launched the campaign and referendum to expropriate Deutsche Wohnen and other large companies, building on the resonance from the annual Mietenwahnsinn (rent madness) demonstration. Shortly afterward, the Initiativenforum Stadtpolitik Berlin (IniForum, Initiatives’ Forum on Urban Policy) was created and the rent cap law went into effect, although it was short-lived. Large-scale real-estate companies were buying the city en masse, but mass resistance was crystalizing into widespread public awareness and, particularly in the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the right of preemption (Vorkaufsrecht) was proving to be a helpful legal instrument to “buy back the city.” Around the same time, Barcelona en Comú won 4.5% less votes in the 2019 elections compared to the previous one, and the city was starting a new term under a minority government. The following fall, the first Catalan Congress of the Housing Movement was held, gathering hundreds of people from 70 housing groups, neighborhood unions, and tenants’ unions to discuss how to move forward in defense of housing rights. This was the situation when we started four years ago, in late 2019.
Soon after we picked up the pace in our CMMM project, the COVID-19 Pandemic started spreading rapidly, revealing widespread housing vulnerability. While most European countries declared moratoriums on evictions, there were no mechanisms in place to relieve accumulated debts or tame the rise of prices in real-estate markets. As revealed in the timelines (Section 5) of the three cities, the past years have seen increasing challenges and some setbacks for the housing justice and municipalist movements. At the onset of our work, we agreed that one key tool in the struggles against vulture real-estate companies is access to cadaster data on their transactions. We discussed how our work and envisioned maps could help make this demand a reality. However, data protection laws and regulations do not differentiate between natural persons (owning one or two units) and profit-oriented large-scale companies (owning hundreds or thousands of units) and proved too complex to break through—which was also highlighted by the Who Owns Berlin project. Notwithstanding, this issue of data accessibility remains a central hurdle that municipalist movements need to make a priority in order to allow for targeted and effective actions that can change the paradigms and playing fields. The “Buy Back Berlin!” map and the “Stop Evictions!” map of Barcelona that our team produced corroborate this need, and we intend to revisit this endeavor in future endeavors.
Another issue we discussed and considered for investigation was that of mapping the housing-related legislation and policies of the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Investment Bank, as these bodies of the European Union (EU) play an important political role in terms of influencing national policies. This is true not only for Germany and Spain, but also for Serbia, which is a candidate state to join the EU. Although housing is considered a national competence, within the framework of the Urban Agenda for the EU, the Housing Partnership was established and the Pact of Amsterdam states that its “objectives are to have affordable housing of good quality,” whereby the “focus will be on public affordable housing, state aid rules and general housing policy.” In the same vein, we considered studying the role played by international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the timelines of the three cities demonstrated that these were major players in the economic restructuring of Europe, the push toward decoupling housing from its function as a basic commodity and a right, and transforming housing into a tradable market asset for generating exorbitant profits. This mapping of relevant bodies, structures, and policy hierarchies is essential for addressing governmental discourses. However, as we started examining these dimensions, it quickly became clear that this topic required significantly more resources than those available within our CMMM project and, similar to the issue of accessing cadaster data, we intend to revisit this endeavor in the future.
To create helpful resources for the municipalist movements and particularly for those interested in critical mapping practices, in the early stages of the project, we compiled and examined existing critical maps and mapping projects by engaged mobilizers, initiatives, networks, and collectives that were (and most of them still are) pushing to reshuffle power relations in their geographies. We highlight some of these inspiring works that we found particularly relevant to our work and to the struggles around the right to housing in Section 6: Maps and Visualizations. Furthermore, a selection of other publications, handbooks, collections, and helpful project websites were arranged into a subpage on this website titled “Links” (in the Other Resources subpage), which also includes select publications by the three CMMM city teams. As our project advanced, we learned about further inspiring projects other than those mentioned, yet the need to draw the project to a close made it impossible to expand the selection any more.
As our team agreed that it is important to problematize the language we use and to differentiate between the connotations, subjectivities, and political positions that shape the variations in discourses, in the first year of the project, we embarked on creating a “Glossary” to map and reflect the various understandings of the terms critical mapping, municipalist movements, housing, and tentacled terms. This dynamic glossary, featured on this website, brings together definitions from (i) our city teams and their networks (filter: CMMM Wall); (ii) activists or public media and blogs (filter: Activist / Media); (iii) published scholarly sources (filter: Scholarly); and (iv) institutions relevant to our work (either because they echo a stance that resonates with our own, or because they advocate an oppositional one, filter: Institutional). Although we had initially foreseen this glossary as an activity that would continue to evolve and be reflected upon over the course of the project, the changes in the scopes of other outcomes and the time investment and effort required by those issues forced us to abandon this initial plan. While we think it was a worthy exercise to map the webs of issues connecting the three terms (domains), we recognize that it would have been more useful had it been revisited a second time toward the end of the project.
Looking back, we recognize that our ambitions surpassed the time and budgetary limitations of our CMMM project. However, we also appreciate that abandoning some targets made way for other, equally important, unforeseen ones that emerged in the course of the project in response to the needs and changing dynamics of the housing struggles in the three cities. For example, to articulate the particular political demands, we had initially planned for each city team to produce a simple static map illustrating and communicating alternative perspectives, which we aborted to instead develop three customized interactive maps (Section 15) with the help of the Visual Intelligence team. These were more demanding in terms of time and resources, but they also promised broader usage and a longer lifespan in serving the local housing scenes. Other unforeseen additions include an expansion of the Status Quo section into four sections (initially thought of as only a ten-page brief), the production of advocacy posters for the three political demands, and more personal insight into the motives, paths, and opinions of some of the team members in the audio clips (Section 4, above).
It is important to note that CMMM was a side project carried out in part-time alongside other work commitments, including those towards the collectives in which we are involved, and while responding to unfolding political events such as the elections that were held in Berlin (2021 and 2023) and in Belgrade (2022). Looking back, things have changed since we met each other for the first time in early 2020, as the following paragraphs illustrate.
During the 2022 general elections in Serbia and the local elections in Belgrade, the municipalist platform Don’t Let Belgrade Drown (NDM BGD) won seats in both the National Assembly and the Belgrade City Assembly, with 13 representatives in each (within the coalition “Moramo”). This change has given rise to opportunities with a significant impact on the work of the movement in general, as well as that of the Ministry of Space (MoS) collective. It has improved our access to institutional data and procedures that are normally closed to the public. It has also resulted in an increase in media and public appearances, where the housing movement now finds a larger stage than before to convey messages regarding urban development and to voice demands for alternative housing policies and measures. At a different level, the Ukraine war has exacerbated existing problems in the housing sector with a significant number of refugees arriving in Serbia, particularly in the first six months after its outbreak. In the second half of 2022, rents rose by 50%, and in some cases even by 100%, and this in an already unaffordable and unregulated rental sector. Meanwhile, the state and city governments remain silent on the affair.
These developments underscored the significance of the goals and objectives that we at MoS had defined for our activities within the CMMM project, for which we had been working in parallel on two tracks: 1) raising awareness and mobilizing the wider public around housing unaffordability and 2) advancing arguments and advocating concrete proposals in the city assembly and national parliament. The first track was the guiding principle behind the interactive map “How (un)affordable is housing in Belgrade?,” as well as several public events that we organized, including the podium discussion “Global housing struggles: experiences from Berlin, Barcelona and Belgrade.” In the second track, during workshops organized within and beyond the CMMM project, we discussed concrete proposals for the city and national parliament with the members of the Housing Equality Movement (HEM). Prompted by the deteriorating conditions in the rental sector and with support from MoS, NDM BGD announced a proposal for a law on rent control in November 2022. This was the first legislative proposal to address the inaccessibility of housing in Serbia in a decade, if not longer. In this light, and to support advocacy efforts, we produced the Law Proposal: Rent Control poster as our last activity within this project.
While experimenting with critical mapping and developing the “How (Un)affordable Is Housing in Belgrade?” map, our collective worked in parallel on another project that touches on the realm of housing in a broader sense and aims to inform and mobilize people around spatial interventions in their neighborhoods. Named “Where is the Plan?,” this website provides information on proposed urban plans and development projects that are underway within the administrative territory of Belgrade. We believe that both maps will significantly help MoS in its endeavors to communicate, politicize, and mobilize around the issues of housing and urban development. In fact, looking back on the past three years, we can say with certainty that the efforts of the broader spectrum of activists and political movements have made housing an issue of public interest and that there is a solid foundation of knowledge and materials to promote policies based on housing as a right and to contribute to wider political transformation in Serbia.
The 2021 elections at all levels (federal, state, and district/local) brought about little change to the political structure in Germany. Although the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is no longer the ruling party, the Angela Merkel politics of the center-right was granted another term, and Berlin remained under the Red-Red-Green coalition. On the same election day, the Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen referendum was held, which was preceded by several months of campaigning and collecting signatures. Close to 60% voted in favor of the proposal that large housing companies should be expropriated and their stock communalized, demonstrating that the housing emergency is a predominant concern of Berliners. Shortly thereafter, in November 2021, a court ruling on a case in which the right of preemption (RPE) was applied repealed the instrument that the housing justice movement had been increasingly invoking to protect tenants against vulture capital (and which was our focus in this project). Instead of prioritizing the matter and showing that they take the messages of the DW&Co. referendum seriously, the new Berlin government created an expert committee to study and propose measures for how to tackle the situation in the housing sector. Unfortunately, the committee has been working very slowly, its sessions are not public, and so far its protocols have been published after substantial delay.
The continuation of the modus operandi of the SPD under the new Governing Mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey (e.g., paying lip service to civic movements while refraining from taking any real steps to change the status quo, among other issues) resulted in a resounding defeat for the party in 2023. Due to the large number of irregularities, in fall 2022, the Constitutional Court of the State of Berlin declared the elections of 26 September 2021 invalid and ordered a repetition on 12 February 2023. The widespread dissatisfaction with the SPD brought about the termination of its 22 years of ruling the city-state, returning the CDU (conservatives) to the helm while removing the Greens and the Left from office. Many housing activists see this new reality as a bad omen for their aspirations and demands. Meanwhile, the Ukraine war has led to soaring energy prices and inflation rates, significantly increasing already high housing burdens.
While these developments give little cause for optimism, we try to remind ourselves of what we have achieved and focus on the next steps forward. In November 2021, Häuser Bewegen GIMA Berlin-Brandenburg eG was founded. This cooperative real-estate agency brings together housing cooperatives, associations, and the Tenement Housing Syndicate (Mietshäusersyndikat), which believe in the principles of Gemeinwohl, to support them in buying houses for the benefit of tenants. In fall 2021, Baustelle Gemeinwohl was launched, a platform intended to better coordinate the various activities of the many groups, projects, and organizations that are vested in increasing the participatory space for making decisions on the gestalt of our city and changing public policies to better meet the needs of people. In December 2022, the Berlin Senate published an interim report by the expert committee on the DW&Co. referendum indicating a positive evaluation of the initiatives’ proposal for communalization. The release of its final report is scheduled for June 2023. Among other goals, we are pushing to amend the right of preemption (RPE) and reintroduce it as an effective and powerful instrument for defending the rights of tenants. We look forward to seeing the RPE poster that we produced to promote this objective around Berlin. While we are aware that the Buy Back Berlin! map will require periodic maintenance and campaigning in the upcoming months and years to make it operational, we are optimistic about its connective and informative power (to support people and structures dealing with housing struggles) and about the fact that the size of the housing justice movement in Berlin has reached a level that cannot be easily ignored.
As noted above, the CMMM activities in Barcelona commenced as Ada Colau was assuming her second term as governing mayor in 2019, albeit this time with a minority government (the mandate of which is about to end as we write these lines). During this term, the government pushed to implement its Right to Housing Plan 2016–2025 and introduced several regulatory measures, including those related to property harassment, touristic uses, and increasing social rental housing stock. At the same time, the groundbreaking Catalan Rent Control Law (Llei 11/2020) that was promoted by the Catalan Tenants Union was passed and then retracted by court ruling. On 27 April 2023, after years of deliberation, the Housing Rights Act of 2023 (de la Ley por el Derecho de la Vivienda de 2023) was finally passed. While observers note that the final text omits several important points that were raised during its drafting, this national law defines stricter caps on increasing values of rental contracts and on evictions and pushes to require regional governments to allocate more land for non-profit housing. After many years of tragic consequences in the aftermath of the 2008 mortgage crisis, the pressure created by the many housing groups and organizations seems to be paying off. Nevertheless, the struggle is far from over.
When we joined the CMMM project, we saw it as an opportunity to expand our work at ODESC in relation to collecting data and strategies on evictions, one of our central topics. Our main objective was to identify and indirectly scandalize “who” the evictors are and to strengthen our longstanding track record of advocacy campaigns on social and economic rights of tenants. As accessing these data from the cadaster proved impossible, we based our "Stop Evictions!" maps on databases from PAH and other collectives (shared on the Desnonaments BCN Telegram broadcast channel), including information on who is evicting the tenants, when and where the evictions take place (showing frequencies and geographic intensities), and what the results of the process were. Thus, an important shift in the course of the project was recognizing the value of data gathered by social movements and deciding to build the maps with that data instead of continuing to struggle to gain access to records from public institutions. We are of course aware that the cases reported on our maps do not represent the total number of evictions in the city by far, and this is why we seek to expose the lack of official public data on the matter and continue pushing to change this reality. Notwithstanding, thanks to this map, we managed to utilize the existing private communication channel among anti-eviction activists (used to gather people to block an eviction) to create a system that transforms personal notifications into a consolidated database visible to everyone. Another layer of information that we wanted to gather and illustrate on the map was the “profiles” of affected people: Who are they? Are women more likely to suffer evictions? Are children losing their homes? However, we were unable to acquire this data from the Barcelona City Council or from other sources. Therefore, we will pursue this endeavor in future projects.
While considerable work still lies ahead for us in terms of expanding the base of social movements that use and supply data for the two static and interactive maps, the initial feedback has been optimistic. Furthermore, several journalists have shown interest and confirmed that the visual illustration of eviction cases will help demonstrate the depth of the problem. At the same time, we will continue investigating the people behind the vulture funds and how citizens, social movements, and public institutions can stop them from violating human rights, such as the right to housing.
Working within this team of engaged municipalist mobilizers from cities with similar experiences but different contexts and backgrounds helped raise questions, spark debates, and learn about lesser known facets of our three cities. It was a space in which we zoomed out and in at the same time. We compared thoughts, approaches, desires, and results from work with different points of focus while pursuing a shared goal: housing justice and de-commodification. We regularly took time for honest reflection, to question ourselves, and to rethink and change our strategies and agendas. It was touching, challenging, motivating, but also exhausting and overwhelming at some points. As we tackled arising emergencies and their sometimes serious consequences for our cities and for us as individuals, this exchange allowed us to keep sight of other perspectives, and to be human.
The CMMM journey as a accompaniment-research-project in addition to our stressed routines was not ideal, and we see room for improvement. Nevertheless, the various formats of mapping that we employed have enabled us to analyze information that was available but not yet methodologically collected and evaluated. This collective space allowed us to systematize knowledge about housing in our own local contexts and to articulate aspects of housing unaffordability in media accessible to the wider public. By recognizing differences and not pushing for unified deliverables at all costs, it was possible for our three city teams to deal with various elements and short-term goals, to remain focused on the needs of the local movements in which we are embedded, and to produce knowledge and tools that are directly applicable to and useful for our collectives and partners involved in housing struggles.
It is with great joy and sadness that we write these last few words. We regret not having a larger number of face-to-face encounters and in-space co-learning with each other (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). We did not know one another before CMMM, but together we not only saw through this project successfully from beginning to end but also saw two master theses get completed, a doctoral dissertation defended, and welcomed four babies to the world. Looking back, we are grateful not only for what we succeeded in producing collectively but equally and maybe even more so for the personal and professional exchanges that we had in our monthly meetings via video calls, for the new insights and lessons learned from one another, for the patience with constantly changing targets and schedules, and for the humor and solidarity with one another.
A mural stating: “Many small people who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the world” (German: Viele kleine Leute die in vielen kleinen orten viele kleine Dinge tun, können das Gesicht der Welt verändern). At the East-Side Gallery which is located on remainders of the wall that separated east and west Berlin. Picture by Natasha Aruri, 2012.
 EC Housing Partnership. The Housing Partnership Action Plan. Brussels: Urban Agenda for the European Union, 2018. Accessed May 5, 2023.
 Angela Merkel, CDU, served as Chancellor of Germany for four consecutive terms between 2005 and 2021. While the CDU is a conservative party, her center and in some instances progressive politics had her often described as “chairing the wrong party.” With the long history of joint ruling by the CDU and SPD (current Chancellor Olaf Scholz was her Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Finance), many observers regard the coalition of SPD, Greens, and FDP that succeeded her as a continuation of her political discourse.
 Red-Red-Green: Social Democratic Party (SPD), The Left, The Greens.
 While developing the Commoning Berlin map we had several discussions with Christoph Trautvetter who led the development of the “Who Owns Berlin?” (Wem gehört Berlin?) map and supporting research which is focused on the structure of real estate ownership and indirectly scandalizes the consequences of contemporary real estate policies. Those exchanges helped form the community organizing aspect in the Commoning Berlin map, and in thinking about ways to connect those two thematically interlinked maps.
 The text of the law has not been published yet (4 May 2023) and therefore we are limited to information published in media e.g. Catalan News. “Spain passes new housing law capping rent increases: all you need to know.” Catalan News. April 27, 2023.