Witten

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Taking Soulful Self-Portraits with @bebeismyname

To discover more of Bebe’s photography and her secret location in the woods, follow @bebeismyname on Instagram.

“I started taking silly self-portraits when I was a teen, but now I’m doing it with a passion,” says Bebe Mozz (@bebeismyname), a nurse and self-taught photographer from Witten, Germany. “Only in photography can I fully express myself and just be myself.”

While creating poetic self-portraits has a relaxing and meditative effect on Bebe’s mind, the process itself is a full body workout. Two years ago her camera’s remote broke, but she got used to the fact that she has to run back and forth between shots to manually push the release button. “I set 10 pictures in one shot, so I still have time to put my wig and costume on. And when my camera starts to beep I then start to run and pose,” Bebe explains. “Usually I get two good pictures out of 10.”

Edward Witten Awarded Albert Einstein World Award of Science 2016

“Witten received this award for his visionary research across physics and mathematics, leading to a deeper fundamental understanding of all physical interactions and opening new fields of research that transcend disciplinary boundaries.” - Institute for Advanced Study

To learn more visit http://ow.ly/4g7U300XMKC

pushing me out to the
state of emergency
all these little things that happen
don’t make sense to me
you don’t have to speak, just hold on
i’m not going to let go, even when you feel cold
even when
i appear frigid and alone

all that no one sees, somehow
you see when i am trying to hide
you pull the words out of me when i cannot speak
and i want to test the limits, and walk out to the edge
i want to see beautiful things and
break glass

flooding my brain with
emergency
water blood ink music art words love love love
tell me when to stop crying


pulsing through me is sound
i feed dreams to birds on wires

—  z.a
Planning for Growth? Coping with Structural Change in Germany's Ruhr Region.

The Ruhr region (Ruhrgebiet)is found in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen), north-west Germany. The Ruhr region covers around 4,450km2, with a polycentric urban structure populated by over 5m people, making it Germany’s largest urban agglomeration. It is a highly urbanised area, and one that was once dominated by heavy industry. For almost a century, the economic base of the area was firmly centred upon the coal and steel industries. Hence the area is as much an ideological region as it is an administrative.Whilst the Ruhr area prospered in the wake of World War II and under the associated physical rebuilding works, it was really during the 1960s that the industries began to collapse. Global demand for coal had curtailed, economic recession in the late 60s brought further uncertainty, and the expansion of international competition meant the Ruhr and it’s traditional industries fell into severe decline. Between 1960 and 1998, employment in coal mining fell from 400,000 to around 60,000, whilst employment in the steel industry has undergone similar losses.

This left the Ruhr area with vast tracks of vacant or derelict land and buildings, and a workforce that had little other skills. Resultantly, the expansion of the tertiary sector that coincided with industrial decline across much of the rest of Germany somewhat escaped the Ruhr region. The severe unemployment manifested itself in social problems, housing difficulties, depopulation and exclusion, with the workforce also in acute need of retraining. The decline has also had environmental repercussions; with the closure of heavy industries leaving contaminated land that requires costly reclamation.

The Ruhr region has therefore required strong planning and regeneration initiatives in order to facilitate restructuring and push forward redevelopment. This article draws on experiences of a short study trip to the Ruhr, paying particular focus to the progress and experiences in the neighbouring cities of Dortmund and Witten.

Dortmund is the largest conurbation in the Ruhr. It is a city populated by over 600,000 people, and sits firmly within this industrial past. Witten is located to the south-west of Dortmund, and is substantially smaller at around 100,000 inhabitants. The cities have a number of similar trends in their redevelopment, whilst also some stark differences are apparent.

Along with the rest of the Ruhr region, both Dortmund and Witten have put a strong emphasis upon place marketing, attempting to position the area as a smart and viable location for new businesses. As Hall (1997) notes “Industry evokes negative, unfashionable images” . Common associated works include the enhancement of key public realm areas and the increase of accessibility through public transport initiatives. Both Dortmund and Witten place a strong emphasis upon both of these, turning the city centres into pedestrian friendly areas supported by strong integrated transport. The areas have generally moved from being simply production spaces, instead to that of consumption areas. Post-WWII both cities gained universities, which play an essential role in both changing the structure of the economic base and enhancing the skills of the workforce.

However, there are some stark contrasts between Dortmund and Witten that are explored in the following sections.

 

Dortmund

 

Dortmund has been developed under a range of different strategies. Fundamentally, development has been strategically aimed at creating a strong city centre core of services and consumption industries, surrounded by different employment sectors. A particularly prominent aspect of Dortmund’s city centre was the high level of green infrastructure. Bernd Kötter of Dortmund City Planning Department sees this as essential to the continued success of the city, detailing the concentric circles and corridors that make up the extensive green pathways.

Moving away from the city centre we can point to two major developments that are shaping Dortmund’s economic development.

 

TechnologieZenstrumDortmund (TZDO)

 

This is a centre for high-end technology-oriented businesses. In 1984, the technology park was built on 40 hectares of greenfield land adjacent to Dortmund University. The TZDO park is an agglomeration of technology industries, specialising in areas such as nano-technology, biomedicine, micro-systems, software, logistics and production technologies. Currently, around 280 companies are located here, creating over 8,200 jobs.

On the surface, it is questionable why this development was permitted on 40 hectares of greenfield land, especially when the decline of the traditional industries has left vast tracts of brownfield land. However, by locating the TZDO park on this plot, it creates a strong link between business and Dortmund University. Graduates can be encouraged into this sector much more efficiently, whilst businesses in turn support further education. This strengthens both the employment base and knowledge pool of the area. The linkage is also physically strengthened by a H-Bahn (monorail) running between the two.

The strength of the sector, and indeed the benefits of agglomeration and co-location with the university, has led to an insolvency rate of less than 5%.

 

“The TZDO has become an important initiator, pioneer and symbol of the structural change in the east of the Ruhrgebiet and is a place marketing brand for North-Rhine Westphalia.”

 

The TZDO is an example of the ‘angebotsplanung’ (supply planning) approach the City of Dortmund appear to have adopted, in order to attempt to enhance economic competitiveness. It is fair to say, this development has been a huge success, both in the highly qualified jobs created on site and in the reimaging and restructuring of the wider economy. Spurred by the advent of the TZDO more than 37,000 people are now employed across 1,400 firms in Dortmund’s technology sector. In logistics alone there are almost 22,000 people working in more than 640 firms. Furthermore, Dortmund is now the largest software location in North Rhine-Westphalia and contains the largest cluster of micro-system technology companies in Germany.

 

Phoenix

 

The second major development in the restructuring of Dortmund’s economy lies around 5 miles south-east of the city centre. The Phoenix project (below) is a 200 hectare development on remediated land that once was home to a major steel works. The large-scale project encompasses industry, housing and recreational uses. The project intends to create around 15,000 new jobs, again centred on the technology industries. 1,000 residential units will be accompanied by enormous investment in green infrastructure, including a 60 acre park and a 24 hectare man-made lake.



The Phoenix project is an enormously ambitious project, funded jointly by the state government and EU Structural Funds. It further represents this notion of supply planning (‘angebotsplanung’); intending to create the ideal conditions for new and existing business in key growth areas. It is a positive response to structural change, which further specialises and markets Dortmund as a prime location for the high-end technology sector, with the added benefit of reducing the amount of brownfield land around the city too. However, the City of Dortmund should be mindful of the frailties that may ensue over-specialisation, and further promote investment in other industries in addition. Yet it could be argued that investment in wider sectors will be a product of the reimaging Dortmund is experiencing.

One sector that the city of Dortmund does seem to be exploiting is it’s industrial heritage and culture. There are a number of museums in Dortmund, such as the ‘Dortmunder Union Brewery’ and the ‘Zollern Colliery’, which make use of buildings that may otherwise be vacant. Whilst the direct economic benefits of these developments may be small, they certainly add vitality to an area that has undergone serious economic restructuring.

 

Witten

 

Like the neighbouring Dortmund, Witten suffered the effects of massive industrial decline, most prominently in the steel industry. Upon being welcomed to Witten, it came as quite a shock to learn that the city is completely bankrupt. Witten appears a clean, bustling and compact city centre, mainly made up of modern buildings after its destruction in WWII. However, the city is in €360m of debt, worsening by €60m per year. The majority of public expenditure is on social welfare, largely as a relic of industrial decline. The loss of jobs contributes to child poverty, whilst there is still a decreased employment base. There have also been failures in efforts to retrain the workforce. This is probably not helped by the fact that the city’s university is small (around 1000 students) and a private institution.

This small city’s large fiscal deficit is coupled with a declining population, caused by natural decline resultant of an aging population, as opposed to out-migration. Markus Bradtke, Director of Planning, stated the city of Witten are accepting this decline and planning for it, rather than competing for inward-migration, primarily due to the fiscal situation. As Couch notes of the Ruhr region “the whole of the Land (region) is seeking inward investment, and hence the urban centres all compete with each other for economic growth” (Couch 2003). Set in this paradigm, it is obvious why Witten has accepted to plan for decline. The city struggles greatly to gain private investment, even that to match 10% of the value of state funding. The problems are further exacerbated by difficulties within the political system. As there is no clear majority, the politicians are unwilling to pass developments that are not fully backed by the public. Resultantly, flagship developments such as the ‘Kornmarkt’ proposal are unlikely to occur in the near future even if inward investment is realised. Such a development could add real value to the city centre, providing office space and a kick-start for further private investment. However, the current plan for the city centre could be described as a consolidation strategy, pushing all retail uses into the central district and carrying out public realm improvements along the pedestrian key corridors.


Whilst this in itself is not a bad strategy, the natural decline of population is likely to lead to out-migration should the other urban centres continue to grow. Especially given the local paradigms of public fiscal debt, high welfare reliance, community apathy to development, highly politicised development control and a lack of private sector investment.

The polycentric nature of the North-Rhine Westphalia Region means that urban centres are increasingly competitive with each other, yet Witten simply does not have the capacity to compete. The city’s fiscal deficit means the ‘angebotsplanung’ approach Dortmund has adopted is simply not possible in Witten, whilst private businesses are more attracted to the more successful, place marketed areas.

Witten would benefit from stronger regional planning, and increased funds, yet if the political unwillingness to take a chance on developments continues to exist then this could be in vein. Whilst Witten is probably in need of stronger regional planning, the German ‘Lander’ planning scale is in fact rather robust in terms of activity. Following the abolition of planning at the English regional scale, perhaps we could look towards a model whereby even a robust system struggles to deliver uniform economic development.

Indeed, Dortmund and Witten are on completely different trajectories; whilst the ‘angebotsplanung’ approach in Dortmund is confident in planning for growth, the economic and demographic trends in Witten are currently the opposite and will require much stronger intervention than is currently being offered.