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There Is a Lot to Do, So Let’s Get Started!


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Change is needed, and it starts from within: SPK staff members have set up working groups in which they develop their own ideas on how to promote ecological sustainability at the SPK.

The SPK is undergoing what is probably the greatest transformation in its history. This reform process, launched in response to recommendations made by the German Council of Science and Humanities, is in full swing, and plans for the future are being discussed at all levels of the organization, from top-level committees to the employee-driven working groups that have formed over the last two years. In 2018, a large internal survey revealed that staff at the SPK would like to see positive change in areas such as professional development, health promotion, corporate culture, and workplace participation. Since then, several umbrella groups – coordinated bodies with representatives from each of the Foundation’s member organizations – have been established to work on these issues and make improvements within the SPK. The workplace participation umbrella group has five working groups dedicated to environmental sustainability at the SPK.

Menschen sitzen auf einem Platz

Performance on the Piazzetta of the Kulturforum for the exhibition "Food Revolution 5.0" 2018 at the Kunstgewerbemuseum. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstgewerbemuseum

“A lot of people were very excited to be able to make a contribution toward sustainability,” says Heike Böhme, who has been active in the Sustainable Food and Drink working group since April 2021. “That’s what motivates us, too: we want to make real progress and do what we can to make the SPK more sustainable.” Böhme, who is employed in the marketing, protocol and special events department of the Central Administration, works with staff from other parts of the SPK in the group, including Claudia Banz, curator at the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts, part of the SMB).

The working groups are developing a variety of projects to promote sustainability within the Foundation. “We’re starting with the low-hanging fruit,” explains Böhme. “Each group has been allocated a budget of 2,000 euros that is used to institute small changes.”

Böhme joined the group not just as a way of shaping her own workplace at the Foundation, but also because she is personally concerned about sustainability. “I definitely have a personal interest in the issue. I believe that sustainability – both at home and at work – is crucial to our future survival, so I would also like to see our WGs working closely with the Foundation’s sustainability officers in order to bring about change at an institutional level as well.” In the long term, for example, criteria for sustainable procurement could be developed in the central procurement department.

Curator Claudia Banz also has a personal relation to sustainability. At the Kunstgewerbemuseum, she has developed several exhibitions that address aspects of social and environmental sustainability, from fashion (Connecting Afro Futures) to nutrition (Food Revolution).

“There is, of course, a difference between carrying out sustainability projects in the areas of exhibitions and outreach on the one hand, and aiming for systemic change on the other, which I think the SPK desperately needs,” Banz says. The groups, she continues, are currently working on small, specific projects that can provide an impetus for further change. But they have another important knock-on effect: “All of us live in our own little bubbles from day to day, and the working groups offer a great opportunity for networking – across institutions, buildings, hierarchies, and disciplines. That’s a very good effect.”

Porträt einer Frau
Claudia Banz, curator at Kunstgewerbemuseum © CHIARA WETTMANN

Banz and Böhme both point out that many of their colleagues are ready to become more active and that a lot of potential and commitment can be unleashed within the Foundation if a positive signal is given at the right time. Exactly where that signal would come from – whether from the Sustainable Food and Drink group or one of the other groups – is still up in the air, because the groups have only just begun their work this year and many projects are still in their early stages. The other groups working under the umbrella of ecological sustainability are: Greening Up the SPK’s Buildings and Courtyards , Resource-Efficient Working, Recycling and Re-Use, and Green Mobility.

The groups are always open to new participants from among SPK staff and look forward to hearing their ideas – during working hours, it should be added. We will have to wait to see what changes – large and small – will emerge from these groups, but it promises to be an exciting year.