Profile: Katja Hellkötter | CITYMAKERS Curator & Constellations Facilitator

Location Berlin, Shanghai

Katja is a program designer and facilitator in the China-Europe learning and cooperation sector. She has more than 20 years of experience, both in institutions and as an independent entrepreneur. Her career has been driven by her natural curiosity and a passion for nature and culture. Her first contact with China was in the West of the country in 1994. As a student of Chinese Studies, she reached Chengdu by train from Lengerich (Westphalia) via Berlin, Moscow, Ulaanbaatar and Beijing. Two other early experiences that shaped her understanding of China were an internship for a renewable energy project in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, that involved forays into distant rural areas, and time spent in Beijing in the early nineties, when she became fascinated by China’s contemporary art scene.

Always able to see the bigger picture, Katja’s strength lies in linking people, potential and perspectives. She loves to facilitate, curate, catalyze and create meaningful spaces for people to communicate, and has initiated numerous projects – be it for the City of Hamburg in Shanghai, as environmental manager for the German Chamber Shanghai or as a founder of the agency CONSTELLATIONS.

Beyond CITYMAKERS as its flagship “learning cities” program, CONSTELLATIONS has had various other mandates relating to city topics in the last 10 years, including the URBAN CAMPUS Chengdu (KAS – Konrad Adenauer Foundation) and the Cities of Tomorrow project (BMBF/DLR).

Katja is also the creator of “SHANGHAI FLANEUR – A Walking Think Tank.” While Shanghai was her home for 16 years, she now enjoys walks in her Berlin Kiez, Weissensee. In this neighborhood she also co-hosts C*SPACE, a workshop and co-working location in a former furniture factory, one of the junctions for the China-Berlin creative community.

Katja’s disciplinary background is in Chinese and Management Studies, and she received training in learning program design and facilitation from the Presencing Institute @MIT and the Berlin Generative Facilitation Institute.

What does CITYMAKERS China-Europe mean to you?

Katja Hellkötter: “The fascinating challenge of building a network around such a complex issue and broad purpose.

The gift of being able to work towards the (non-commercial) values of global understanding, solidarity and friendship PER SE.

The beautiful constellation of people that has come together through the project. I am fascinated by and so appreciative of all the peers who recently answered my call to join a virtual circle of presentations.”

What does city making mean to you?

“To me, city making means building relationships more than houses. More precisely, I believe that if we relate deeply to nature, openly to culture, authentically to other people, and honestly to ourselves, then we can we foster the natural development of sustainable living spaces.”