Intro by Demi Alter
A few months ago, I was sitting in pajamas in my Berlin apartment when a friend in Los Angeles messaged me, letting me know about a writer’s workshop happening at the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek, one of Berlin’s largest public libraries, in just an hour’s time. It was to be taught by Jibz Cameron, better known as her alter ego “Dynasty Handbag.” I saw Cameron perform once when I was living in California and absolutely loved her work. I had also been feeling quite uninspired lately, so this timely event felt like Schicksal. I quickly thanked my friend for the heads up, grabbed a notebook and jumped on the bus, making it to the library just in the nick of time.
The true Schicksal was found in something Cameron said when talking about her transition from New York City to Los Angeles some years before. She shared how she had felt a bit lost when she first arrived in L.A., without the hard-won network of friends and artists she had come to rely on back home. She tried to “find her people,” the ones she could collaborate with, a circle that would understand and uplift each other — and she struggled.
What changed everything was the moment she decided to create the space she had been looking for, for herself, and invite others in. The result: Weirdo Night, a monthly cabaret of sorts, featuring Cameron’s unique artistic expressions in the mix with other strange and sublime performers; if you’re in L.A. I highly recommend it. My little expat-artist ears perked up as she described everything I had been dealing with since moving to Berlin two years prior.
Though Cameron isn’t trying to make it in Berlin, her story is one of the most common ones I’ve heard. Thousands of talented, ambitious people come to the German capital from all over the world, hoping to realize dream projects and find meaningful connections. There are plenty of wonderful tools that can help in this pursuit. From meetups to Facebook groups, and, yes, even good ‘ole Craigslist, there seems no shortage of eager expats hustling to find each other.
The more I thought about Cameron’s story, the more I began to see parallels in the organizations I’ve encountered in Berlin: A creative, determined person moves to the city, looks for a space that will fulfill her needs and, finding none that fit quite right, she decides to create that space for herself!
Our own founder, Rotem Carmely lived this experience before creating Clustered. Though she found many opportunities for networking, none of them provided a fun and comfortable path to meeting like minded people. She saw a need for a buffer, a matchmaker, to help make the networking process for fellow expat women more efficient and pain-free.
The result of all this is a plethora of innovative institutions with ambitious goals, and even more ambitious leaders, paving the way for even more newly-minted Berliners to find each other.
We are delighted to introduce a few of these organizations to you in our next interview series, “Lost and Found” which will showcase several amazing Berlin-based organizations run by expat women, with goals exactly like Cluster’s: bringing people together to learn and grow. These founders have each created the circle they were looking for when they first touched down in Berlin, and thus made the path a bit easier for every person that followed. We hope their stories inspire you to find your own tribe, or maybe even create the space you’re looking for!
1st interview: Margherita Sgorbissa