Anyone who knows me knows I love the German word sozialer Brennpunkt, which you could translate as "problem neighborhood." Could. But, as usual, the literal translation is much better: "social burning point." No, it’s not something penicillin will cure, it’s a neighborhood with social problems: unemployment, alcoholism, unintegrated foreigners, right-wing gangs, or some combination of these factors.
The Ruetli School (G) is located in the social burning point of Neukölln (G), Berlin. Now, I once stayed in a friend’s apartment in this social burning point for 2 weeks, found it perfectly nice and wondered what all the fuss was about. But a social burning point it is, and the students at the Ruetli school were making news for all the wrong reasons. They were threatening their teachers, beating each other senseless, failing to learn proper German, and generally being little b*&tards. Their teachers wrote a letter of desperation (G) which got sent to the press and received wide attention.
Like any piece of bad news in Germany, this provoked a storm of press coverage and commentary: about 25% thoughtful, 45% hysterical finger-pointing, 28% predictions of imminent doom for Germany/the world, and 2% Other (unhinged tirades about headscarves, calls for the return of fascism/communism provocative theories about the composition of the Van Allen belt).
It also prompted an influx of well-meaning professionals, to help the students adjust to German society and improve their image. One of the projects is Ruetli-Wear, clothes designed by the troubled teens themselves. Not only are the students "re-branding" their school, they’re also learning about practical things such as keeping accounts, designing clothes, and covering printing costs.
All profits go to the project. Won’t you go buy some Ruetli-wear, and spread some soothing ointment on this social burning point?