Unter Druck-Kultur von der Strasse e.V. (Under Pressure-Culture from the Streets) exists since 1992 and began as a theater project by Jan Markowsky who was at the time homeless. It is now a Berlin based association for the homeless and other socially excluded and marginalised people. Unter Druck has a non-hierarchical structure and the running of day to day activities are decided at weekly Monday meetings by a mixture of clients, volunteers and staff.
The basic idea is “helping people to help themselves” and, extra to the daily routines of providing existential support, Unter Druck has created safe and creative spaces to encourage and stimulate participatory culture, whereby, people can nurture their ideas and initiatives, including various socio-cultural working groups, creative workshops, exhibitions, theater , discussions, music and performance. The association maintains two locations in Berlin: The Unter Druck Cafe – a meeting place for the homeless at Oudenarder Straße 26 in the Wedding area, as well as the Czentrifuga atelier complex (formerly known as Fleischerei) at Markgrafendamm 24 in Friedrichshain.
As well as offering free food and drinks 6 days a week, the Unter Druck Cafe offers social counseling, computers, laundry and a shower. During the winter months there is a weekly night cafe with sleeping places and hot drinks. Regular daily visitors are roughly 70% male and 30% women. Unter Druck is LGBTQ+ inclusive and every Friday is Womens Cafe.
There is one full time paid social worker and three people employed part time, respectively for book keeping project work and public relations, otherwise there are circa 20 volunteers running the cafe in Wedding. Unter Druck receives some financial support from local government but due to financial cuts, becomes more dependent on public donations and funds raised by self initiated activities e.g. an annual Christmas art auction or presentations at public events and festivals.
Czentrifuga is a "Rohkultur" (Rawculture) collective of artisans and was created by Unter Druck-Kultur von der Strasse e.V. in Mitte, 2003, under the name "Fleischerei", in an effort to expand the range of creative activities for homeless and marginalised people. It offers workshops and activities in screen-printing, music, graphic and 2D / Clay animation. Also, the in-house performance group Gogo Trash offer workshops for creating costumes,deco and performance using recycled plastic trash and other found materials. After moving from the old butchers shop in the Mitte area, the name changed to Czentrifuga. Today theres a core voluntary staff of circa 15 international, artisans, autodidacts, academics, artists, organisers and technicians, with a large local network which extends internationally as a result of many Regional, National European and Global print music and performance exhibitions and actions. Trainers and facilitators work with adults of all ages in non formal educational contexts and "Jekami" (jeder kann mitmachen = everybody can join in) is the motto. People are encouraged to activate and implement their own creative ideas and participate in a collective spirit "Each one Teach One" . Today , Czentrifuga is based at Ostkreuz station in Friedrichshain, Berlin, since 7 years. Art prints or T-shirt commissions, artprint-sales and public events help cover running costs and helps subsidise various ongoing DIY activities and workshops.
Unter Druck-Kultur von der Strasse e.V. has participated in 4 x European sponsored Grundtvig Lifelong Learning projects, two of which were self- initiated and coordinated and which involved a total of 13 EU partner countries. Since 2017, the association coordinates an Erasmus Plus project "Step Across the Border" . Unter Druck - Kultur von der Strasse e.V. is also a member of the German Welfare Association Paritätischen Wohlfahrts Verband.