Gothenburg needs a Center for Open Culture. It needs to start curating peoples engagement and support the local initiatives popping up everywhere, but dying out because they are not finding any fuel, or people either work themselves to near death or are forced to move where there are paid jobs and affordable apartments.

If Gothenburg really wants be seen internationally the policy makers need to boss up big time, take risks and most of all, trust the citizens. Gothenburg needs more open spaces, accessible for all citizens, all hours. Not just to experience culture, but to also create it. Those can not be run by any institution, by any science park, chamber of commerce, any traditional company, it has to be run by the citizens. First and foremost the funding for it has to be participatory and absolutely not be wasted on bureaucrazy and some kind of administrator at the city or region that has never been an entrepreneur or ever made any art themselves. Transdisciplinary, diverse and crossgenerational are key design principles for this space.

IMG_7925 IMG_7903 collaboratory_lab

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I have worked with labs all over the world for many years. Collaboratory is one such prototype, for a couple of years it proved what worked well and what did not work at all. In short, it taught me to not trust institutions, big state funded structures, not demand administration with rigid old, fashioned non-profit organisation rules, not be located outside of the city center, that big institutions take without giving back, that traditional organisations have not understood open innovation. But to be flexible, easy to find, to trust people, of all ages, of all backgrounds. It showed that to be accessible for ‘weaker’ groups in society, it has to be funded by tax money or sponsors, so that anyone can be welcome and not have to pay high user fees, not have to prove themselves with academic diplomas, and be trusted that they can do things by themselves. If someone works hard to fix something, if someone shows skills in a specific area, if someone really tries, let them do it, let them make decisions. What is the worst thing that can happen? something might be stolen, something might break, so what?
The prototype created new job opportunities, a safe space for kids with various cognitive skill sets, a healthy environment for people on sick leave, people stuck in the unemployment office systems that made them sick, a good environment to find community for immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees/lone coming kids, lonely people, retired people, good environment for students, smaller and bigger companies to find inspiration and collaborators. This was all on a rather small scale, to scale up, more companies have to back up concepts like this, but without taking control, scaring away people, stealing ideas and killing it. Almost every day emails come from parents, kids, students, entrepreneurs, artists, makers who are looking for a place to make things, to learn about art and technology, to be empowered to learn what the outdated school systems do not provide, to learn in their unique ways, to use methods that fit their cognitive skill sets, in their pace, to find community, a social life, inspiration, health, to have a space to work together with others, to grow sustainable networks. There is something missing in Gothenburg, and it is not the right people, they are here, but the established institutions are not supporting them, the institutions are not hiring them, either the institutions are not trusting the people, or they want to control cool concepts under their own brand.

Another prototype is Future city lab, the Collaboratory community curated a few labs with a couple of thousands of participants, to let people say and build what they want the city to be like. Any person or organisation is welcome to present their ideas. Suggestions so far, are almost all connected to spaces for social gatherings and culture. Like science museum for technology, floating structures like gardens and restaurants, game boats, a space house, make and play boats for kids, new media art galleries, makerspaces etc.

A newer art, game and sports project is Älvornas strand, where the game and experience design studio Playcentric Industries & Institute collaborates with the youth and parkour organisation Stampede, to work against segregation and for shared narratives, creative training and art experiences. Join us at the Science festival in Gothenburg April 13-17 2016 at Bältespännarparken to learn more and contribute with your stories and ideas.

I believe many organisations and people should get a space where they can collaborate and work for a common vision, free from any aspects that have to do with political parties, religion or any ism. A space where ones background, gender, life preferences, color/shape/style/modification of body and clothes does not matter, a space that anyone can book for activities that match the non-ism and open for all manifesto. Including spaces and workshops for high tech art and design, for research, and for messy making and playful experimentation. A platform in the center that all other awesome initiatives around the city can plug into when they need it, for free. Of course this will cost, but long term, this would generate much higher revenue than any money currently being invested in fluff and admin.