Our three-month residency in Berlin–made possible through a fellowship of the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, Startup Germany, and Medienboard–unofficially got started last Thursday night at about 10:30pm CEST when we hauled our giant duffel bag out of an airport taxi, scampered across Imannuelkirchestraße to buy a couple of beers, and cracked them open to celebrate our arrival in our new home-away-from-home. Our mission: establish Radish Berlin; network and idea-share with the city’s ecosystem of tech, design, and media talent; and kick off our first projects with local clients.
After a deep, jet-lag induced slumber, we headed over to the Bürgeramt to establish our official residency, or Anmeldung, in Berlin. Without an Anmeldung, you can’t open a bank account. Without a bank account, you can’t do business. The Bürgeramt for our neighborhood (Prenzlauer Berg) is located in a weedy campus of red brick buildings that looks more like an out-of-commission hospital than a place to conduct official business. It’s a take-a-number, take-a-seat, and wait scenario in the tradition of the DMV. After about 45 minutes, our number was called. Unlike most Berlin residents, our intake agent didn’t speak English, so we muddled through with my rusty German. Walking out of the Bürgeramt with Anmeldung in hand was no small triumph. When we told our German friends, they were mildly astonished, telling us that even after three years of living in Berlin, they still hadn’t managed to update their residency status, which Germans have to do every time they move to a new city.
(Adam and Alana with Charles Mallison, also in Berlin through the fellowship.)
Next stop was the bank. Apparently, opening a bank account as a foreigner in Germany calls for lots of conversation. Fortunately, our friendly English-speaking banking associate served us coffee and sat us down in comfortable chairs. Then, among numerous other questions, he asked us if we’d ever met Bradley Cooper. He wasn’t too disappointed that we hadn’t, but let us know that if we did, to please say hello from him. When I told him that I once saw Spike Lee on the street, he immediately stopped working on our account application and googled Spike Lee. An associate was brought in to help decode our unusual situation and to ask questions about other famous New Yorkers. After about 90 minutes, we had a joint bank account. In a couple of weeks we have an appointment to set up a business account. Hopefully we will have met more famous people by then.
Public transportation in Berlin, while highly efficient, is not cheap–about $3 a ride. To economize, we bought a couple of cheap used bicycles at the flea market near Kreuzberg. Berlin is a flat city with tons of great bike paths and a great biking culture, so now we fit right in.
On Monday morning, we took our squeaky bikes for the 15-minute trip from our apartment to betahaus Berlin (pictured above), which is our new office-away-from-office. There, we met with Shirin and Marcia from Startup Germany and Sabine from Medienboard, who helped get us settled in and talked to us about ways they’ll be able to support our project. Betahaus is a comprehensive co-working space with terrific amenities, including conference rooms and a phenomenal café. We’ve been focusing on outreach to build our Berlin network during the morning, and shifting to meetings and correspondence with our Brooklyn team and clients in the afternoon and evening. The days are long, but it’s exciting to experience a fresh, international collaborative environment. Plus, when happy hour rolls around, you can get a great German beer for $3 at just about any bar in the city. Every little bit helps!
We’ll be keeping you posted on the progress of Radish Berlin in the days and weeks ahead. If you happen to know of any social-impact or cultural organizations doing great work in Berlin, or of any creative digital storytellers you think we should connect with, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Danke schön!
This is part of an ongoing series following Radish Lab during their 3-month fellowship in Berlin, granted by the MINY Media Center, Startup Germany, and Medienboard. Illustration based on vectors from vecteezy.com. Read more about the adventures of Radish Berlin: Sprechen Sie RadishRadish Berlin: Office HoursRadish Berlin: Was Gibt’s Zum Essen