#59: Kita spots for refugees, cheap BVG tix, Kulturbrauerei is saved
Plus some thoughts on living abroad
Hello 20 Percent!
Several weeks ago my stepmother called to give me an update on how my aging father is … aging (he’s 82). “He doesn’t always know where he is,” she said. “But I let him drive anyway because I don’t like driving.” Which gave my Amsterdam-based brother and I pause, and we thought maybe we should get a first-hand look at how he’s aging.
We planned a few weeks in advance because nothing seemed urgent (thanks to grocery delivery they don’t drive much) but it highlights a conundrum much of the 20 Percent may some day face: Dealing with family now separated by our decision to move somewhere else. The trip has turned into a logistical nightmare for our professional selves (I’m writing this in the early morning darkness of Denver, Colorado) but a bit of a relief for both us and our parents.
They’re doing OK, they just needed some help with a few minor things as well as reassurance that we’ve got their backs if need be. And, since you and I are just chatting here, can I ask you something? Is it normal that, despite having graduated to adulthood, your parents still have the ability to make you contemplate serious crimes just by uttering a single word or issuing an odd sigh? Just like when you were 12?
Also, my father is now no longer driving. Enough about me. The news is below (and have a good weekend)!
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, March 25
Received booster: 59.2% (59.1% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 8,106 (6,968 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,346 (+22 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1087.4 (997.1 Tuesday)
🔴 7-day hospitalisation incidence (also per 100,000): 19.2 (20.7 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 8.8% (9.9% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Ukrainian refugees: Kita spots and a special shelter
Berlin will create up to 4,000 new daycare spots for Ukrainian refugees by the end of the 2022/2023 school year, Morgenpost reported, citing the city-state’s education minister. The kitas will be part of an existing program for special language kindergartens that teach kids in both their mother tongue as well as German to help with integration. The city has also linked with a protestant organization to create a 100-bed shelter for pregnant refugees (or those who recently gave birth) in a Zehlendorf hotel. The site currently has 14 residents, according to Tagesspiegel.
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Cheap public transport tickets for three months
Federal politicians Thursday promised to help offset exploding energy costs by giving anyone with a full-time job (and who’s filed a tax return) a one-time €300 bonus, by granting parents a €100 bonus per child and by temporarily lowering taxes on gasoline and diesel. The self-employed will get a reprieve on mandatory quarterly income tax contributions and everyone will be able to buy a monthly public transport pass for just €9/month for three months. Although the timing of both the bonus payments and the discount transport passes remains unclear, local public transport association VBB hinted it would ensure annual passholders also benefit from the reduced fares. And BVG will most certainly make a cute joke about it. Soon.
Speaking of the BVG
The Berlin public transport authority will begin piping classical and lounge music into four U-Bahn stations (Unter den Linden (U5), Strausberger Platz (U5), Südstern (U7) and Moritzplatz (U8)) ostensibly to see if the tunes improve commuter moods. The music will be turned down during arrivals and departures to not interfere with announcements. Commuters can then give their opinions in surveys over the next six months. BVG announced - and called off - similar plans in 2008, according to Morgenpost. The authority at the time said it hoped to force drug users and dealers out of the stations by playing similar music, a popular practice around the world. You can hear the music the BVG is playing here.
The most-feared German word: Schienenersatzverkehr
The Ringbahn will be closed between Wedding and Greifswalder Straße from 9.45pm Friday to 2am Monday for construction work. Bus replacement service (Schienenersatzverkehr) will shuttle riders uncomfortably und inconveniently between the two stops.
Keeping the Kultur in Kulturbrauerei
The Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg now has special protection as a cultural location after a rumored sale sparked fears of a gradual conversion into offices. Pankow politicians this week passed special zoning that “prohibits the displacement of (cultural) facilities by commercial businesses that have no cultural focus”. New construction is also not allowed. The Kulturbrauerei near Eberswalder Straße U-Bahn station is a former brewery that hasn’t fermented anything since the ‘60s and is now home to a cinema, several smaller theaters, a museum and large event areas as well as two clubs (Soda and Frannz). Owner TLG Immobilien was in talks to sell the site for €150 million last year, according to Tagesspiegel, but the sale was never announced — TLG denied any talks.
The oft-maligned and rapidly gentrifying Moabit neighborhood is the only one of modern Berlin’s original 23 boroughs surrounded entirely by water (the city-state’s official boroughs were reduced to 12 by a 2001 reform to save administrative costs). It’s home to the city’s most famous prison (JVA Moabit) as well as the main train station and the quaint 19th century Arminius market building.
Classical music doesn’t exactly “force” out drug addicts. It shifts who feels welcome and at home, nudging demographic mix and probably preferred activities in multiple ways. Hopefully if someone really needs shelter, music wouldn’t put them entirely off. Unless it emboldens entitled people to be abusive of others, which is possible. A petite east European friend and I talking professionally in the restaurant car of the ICE Brussels to Berlin got lambasted in German for being “too loud”. On a previous trip on the same route the same woman had coffee dumped on the book she was reading when she left it in a compartment for a few minutes.