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“Theme Trees” (Themenbäume) are part of the arsenal to counter Lichtenberg’s far-right reputation by demonstrating its ordinariness.

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SPACES OF POSITVE ENCOUNTERS

Whereas infrastructures like fences are mainly intended to prevent undesired behaviours, there is another type of artefacts that try to facilitate or to display the presence of certain desired social practices. Facilities that allow harmless distraction for youths (who might otherwise translate their boredom to some mischief) belong to this group. A typical example is the skater park near the railway station Lichtenberg. “Theme Trees” display the presence of truly ordinary organisations – such as a chess club – as an attempt to counter the area’s reputation as source of constant bad news. Other artefacts are meant to enable law-abiding people to mingle in a convenient environment. A number of multi-cultural and Sociocultural Centres belong to this category as well as, very prominently, Inter-cultural Gardens that ought to facilitate friendly encounters between people from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Unsurprisingly, such facilities are targets of physical attacks (e.g. with graffiti and arson) and political scrutiny by far-right politicians who recently paid an official visit to one of the Inter-cultural Gardens in order to inspect whether public money has been properly invested for such a “suspicious” mix of beneficiaries.