Nimble Building Days 3 – Integration through collaborative work

A year and a half ago Chloé, Paul, Florian and me started the project “Team Nimble” on behalf of ICT4D.at and organised a big event called “Nimble Building Days” in a refugee home in Vienna in July 2016.

The world has turned and a lot happened over the last months. The necessity of integrating migrants into the Austrian society is obvious for many reasons. This need is very difficult to communicate to a lot of natives though. Right-wing populists influence the political scene heavily and even moderate politicians spread words of fear instead of reasonable thoughts. Despite of a big movement of solidarity back in 2015 the common motivation decreased after terrorist attacks and mostly negative media coverage. Sustainable engagement with the new citizens is more necessary than ever though. Every time I work with refugees I see how difficult it is to overcome cultural gaps. It takes time, it takes many small engagements, it takes many misunderstandings before every one feels comfortable and knows what to do. You learn to appreciate tiny improvements, nice little gestures. Like a Syrian cup of coffee after trying fruitlessly to explain the purpose of voluntary work with a few German words.

The spirit of “Team Nimble” is no magical wand that cures intercultural problems instantly. It is the feeling of not being alone in a complex and fast-changing society where no one wants to be left behind. It is the concept of using the work on common housing and living space as a catalyst for the development of social links and networks. From all my experiences up till now I can say that it is a veritable path for enabling integration. Collaborative work on projects for the benefit of the entire community might be a potent strategy for connecting cultures and for the sake of a more interwoven society.

In 2016 the Red Cross Vienna rented a former guest house and cafe in the Altmannsdorfer Straße in the 12th district of Vienna for the project IWORA (“Integrationswohnraum”). 7 families live there and it serves them as an intermediate step on their search for proper affordable housing in the city. One family inhabits a flat several months in average. Right now those families are mostly of Kurdish origin and fled from the war in Syria.

Our connection to the Red Cross Vienna has already been very strong before the start of this project. So we met in October 2016 to take a look and check out the situation. It turned out to be a place with a lot of potential for community living space. The cafe on the ground floor of the building seemed to be the perfect place for making a community room out of it. The big courtyard outside bears potential to make a comforting place with outdoor furniture, raised-bed gardening and a playground for the children. We decided to initially focus on the community room.

 

First step: Cleaning the room. Before the Red Cross took over the place it was a rather filthy and dark bar. We had to clean thick layers of dirt and flush half empty bottles down the drain before getting a notion of the room’s potentials. Funny anecdote: The seating furniture of the bar was covered in black fake leather which obviously did not help to brighten up the room. Scratching the surface revealed cream-colored real leather on every bench.

Second step: Planning and writing a concept. It was profound enough to get funded with 2500 euros from the C&A Foundation and the Red Cross. We met again before Christmas to buy materials and tools for the event. The general credo was to make the room bright and to create a family-friendly space and a practical learning environment.

The main event of the Nimble Buidling Days 3 took place on a weekend in the end of January. From our first event at Kurierhaus we learned that strict schedules don’t go along well with the creative chaos of Team Nimble. As a result we simply tried to give it a vague frame and wrote down a checklist with our daily goals, potential risks and unanswered questions.

What came out was nothing less than the creative chaos mentioned before. On day zero I made preparations with the Hausleiter and some curious residents. Although they were told what was about to happen some of them didn’t get it at this point.

On the next day several helpers joined the event and it slowly became a vivid working environment. We got familiar with some motivated residents. In total we were about ten people working together during Saturday and Sunday. The mood was relaxed andwe had a lot of fun. Anders filmed the whole process (watch his documentary below). Our loose schedule helped keeping an eye on the most important steps without beingtoo strict. There was enough room for spontaneous decisions. Time flew by of course and on Sunday in the evening we were exhausted. And happy.

It was not perfect of course. We didn’t manage to involve most of the residents in the process. It was hard to motivate them to leave their flats for some hours to join us. But we also had to simply accept that some families and mostly women had to deal with more profound problems.
We had to rethink some of our plans during the process. We had to buy additional material and tools. Some things we bought or planned turned out to be superfluous. Some steps took us much longer than expected. That’s why we had to add two additional days for finishing the renovation work.

In the end it paid off though. The community room is bright and comfortable now. It provides solid infrastructure to use it as a learning environment and for group meetings and workshops. A corner for children with blackboards and toys will hopefully motivate also women and children to spend more time in the community room from now on.

So the first part of the Nimble Building Days 3 has been a valuable and beautiful experience again. We connected with some of the residents. They connected with us. We have something in common now. A nice project we worked on together. Although our efforts are nothing more than just a tip of the iceberg called integration they are also nothing less. The best thing that can happen is that our project inspires other people to join or start a social movement. We will find out eventually.

PS: To demonstrate you how nimble and fun collaborative work can be, Anders made also a brilliant little timelapse film 🙂

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Nimble Building Days 3 – Integration through collaborative work
was published on 10.04.2017 by Georg Steinfelder. It files under Europe
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AfrikaCamp Graz November 2011

Just a small pointer to an interesting event in Graz, Austria on November 26:

AfrikaCamp Graz will bring together people interested in Africa and IT to talk about projects, ideas and generally to network. We’ll definitely be there and maybe present lessons learned from our Zanzicode project or our upcoming project in Ghana.

It’s the second AfrikaCamp in Austria, the first took place in Vienna in 2009 and we did some coverage here on our blog – AfrikaCamp Vienna Aftermath.

So, if you’re in Austria at that time, make sure to join the AfrikaCamp.

What: AfrikaCamp Graz 2011

When: 26. November 2011

Where: Graz, exact location will be announced at the AfrikaCamp page

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AfrikaCamp Graz November 2011
was published on 14.09.2011 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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LIFT @ Austria, day 2 – part 2

Notes from the first Lift @ Austria conference from 19. to 20. March 2010 in Vienna, Austria.

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Information on all the groups and speakers can be found at the Lift @ Austria conference program page. Abstracts of all talks can be read at the Lift @ Austria speakers page.

Pictures of the speaker are either shot by myself or taken from the website of the conference.

Notes from the first day and second day afternoon:

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After the workshop before noon on the second day the posters were exhibited and Kerstin Sailer presented the results of an analyze of the conference space which she carried out with the help of all participants during the conference.

Kerstin – Space syntax

Analysis of events that took place in different locations

  • statistically, geographically
  • configuration of spaces – how do they connect
  • creating an alternative design out of that

Categorization works very well on a collective level

At this event

  • While discussions took place mostly in formal settings (workshop area), learning and rethinking new ideas took place rather in informal settings (cafe, lounge)
  • Learning took place potentially everywhere, whereas new ideas were quite limited to certain spaces

Q & A:

Any optimization ideas how to get more new ideas?

  • How many new ideas can you get? maybe there are already a lot of new ideas

Did you do this in a permanent setting?

  • Yes, in my PhD – it’s really interesting looking at organizations at different points of time

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Following this, the results of an interesting feedback mechanism were presented. The feedback mechanism allowed participants to give away plasticine balls to people who they thought were interesting. You could give away different coloured balls according to the following categories: (more…)

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LIFT @ Austria, day 2 – part 2
was published on 21.03.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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LIFT @ Austria, day 1 – part 2

Notes from the first Lift @ Austria conference from 19. to 20. March 2010 in Vienna, Austria.

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After the framing talks (LIFT @ Austria, day 1 – part 1) and a delicious lunch, the participants of Lift @ Austria conference split in three groups to discuss certain aspects of “enabling” in depth. I joined the group on Enabling Structures meet Enabling Metamorphoses. The workshops were initiated by two short impulse talks. Information on all the groups and speakers can be found at the Lift @ Austria conference program page. Abstracts of all talks can be read at the Lift @ Austria speakers page.

Pictures of the speaker are either shot by myself or taken from the website of the conference.

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Sava Dalbokovgood.bee holding

Cross-pollinate! Financial and Support Platforms for Social Development

Good.bee holding:

  • Banking the unbanked
  • Microfinance (act), capacity building (teach & learn), community solution (orchestrate)
  • Economic sustainability
  • Changemaker initiative together with Ashoka
  • Enabling capacity: f(freedom + leverage)

Important attributes for projects which are supported in the social entrepreneurship sector:

  • Economically sustainable
  • Hard to measure social impact – one approach: is it scalable?
  • 20-50k support

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Jean-Henry MorinUniversity of Geneva, Dept. of Information Systems,
Switzerland

Social-Micro-Innovation : Leveraging the Crowds as co-Innovation Enabler

Wisdom of the tribesSeth Godin

  • self-organizing crowds gathering around a leader

(more…)

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LIFT @ Austria, day 1 – part 2
was published on by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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LIFT @ Austria, day 1 – part 1

Notes from the first Lift @ Austria conference from 19. to 20. March 2010 in Vienna, Austria.

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After a bus tour through various enabling and open spaces in Vienna at the day preceding the conference (detailed program at Lift @ Austria program page), the first day of the regular Lift @ Austria conference started with five framing talks to give impulses for thoughts and discussion about the topic “enable”.

The abstracts of all these talks can be read at the Lift @ Austria speakers page.

Pictures of the speaker are either shot by myself or taken from the website of the conference.

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Marcus F. PeschlUniversity of Vienna

Enabling – introduction

Trends to mechanise innovation and the desire to create new knowledge end up in a contradiction – as this just makes the implicit rules visible

Alternatives: enabling

  • facilitating framework
  • leave behind the “regime of control”
  • only moderation – give up the control

Important for such an approach

  • openness & the ability to reflect
  • listening and observing (weak signals & details)
  • wait & let come

Overall, a new humbleness and alternative attitudes and values with an application and mening for various contexts, domains and disciplines are required

The conference itself is an enabling space

  • location
  • design
  • frame (bus tour, talks)
  • concepts (workshops)
  • documentation

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Stefan WiltschnigCopenhagen Business School, Denmark

Enabling creative processes as framing between openness and rigidity

Concept of enabling in the context of creative processes / profound innovation

  • “insight” – seeing something and acting on it, new viewpoint
  • European / Greek vs. Chinese perspective of innovation: forcing vs. non-interventionist

(more…)

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LIFT @ Austria, day 1 – part 1
was published on by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Pioneers of Change

Just recently, via Thomas Strasser, I found out about Pioneers of Change – a coaching program for young Austrians with a vision to change the world, organized by Plenum.

It’s all about sustainability, ecology, positive change and such things. They have a great network with other organizations such as SocialBusinessDay, Weisssee – Sustainability meets Entrepreneurship, The Hub and many more. They offer a program with interesting lecturers, teaching the participants about project design and management, fund raising and public relations.

I applied with ICT4D.at as my project and was taken! I’m really looking forward now to the eight modules – first one already starting next week. I expect from the program to learn to manage ICT4D.at even better and get some projects in the ICT4D context going. Also I am certain that this will initiate a diverse networks of people with sustainable initiatives working for a better world – social entrepreneurs if you will.

Thomas was also taken – same as Georg Urschitz who together with Thomas built up the IT course at Don Bosco School Sunyani.

So – great opportunity, great company, looking forward to it and I’ll keep you updated on my advances.

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Pioneers of Change
was published on 25.02.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Announcement: Stammtisch #3

As we successfully survived two previous “Stammtisch” events plus the release party of our movie Hello Africa, we want to continue this series EVERY FIRST FRIDAY of a MONTH in Vienna, Austria and of course vie internet worldwide, open for everybody in the area of ICTs that wants to get to know us, wants to talk about own projects or just wants to have a nice evening with like-minded people.

One of our big aims when we created this platform was not only to provide information about ICT4D topics, but also to establish real life contact between interested and commited people.

It’s not institutional, it’s not even a barcamp so don’t be shy, we are happy to meet you. Bring your own cold drinks, since this is appreciated by the management of the venue.

What: ICT4D.at Stammtisch #3

Where: Museumsquartier Vienna, Meeting point right in the middle of HOF1 (Haupthof); We will hold up a banner, so you can’t miss us … Later on we may recline to one of the bars.

When: Friday, 7th August 2009, 19:00

See you there!

RSVP via: and/or

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Announcement: Stammtisch #3
was published on 02.08.2009 by Martin Konzett. It files under eastern and central europe
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Comparing Danish and Austrian development cooperation

This Thursday Martin and me attended the event “Dänische und österreichische Entwicklungszusammenarbeit im Vergleich” (Comparing Danish and Austrian development cooperation) at Diplomatische Akademie Vienna, organized by the Vienna Institute.

Two speakers of Denmark and Austria respectively talked about the history and current state of development cooperation in Denmark and Austria. Denmark is a front-runner in this respect, whereas Austria since years misses the target of spending 0,7 percent of it’s GDP. Of course the economic crisis isn’t helping efforts of Austrian development organizations as well.

There were some interesting points, but regrettably generally it wasn’t very interactive and discussion was limited to three questions at the end of the panel.

Food and drinks afterwards were good though and also the real conversations happened then.

We talked to both speakers from Austria РAnton Mair from the ministry of exterior and Gerald H̦dl from the University of Vienna.

What we found out from Mr. Mair was that the EZA department at the ministry has no dedicated money for ICT4D, but there are some possibilities for innovative projects.

Talking to Mr. H̦dl was very interesting and we will stay in touch considering ICT4D inputs to traditional development studies Рhe is responsible for the curriculum. A cooperation with development studies would be a really great thing as we all come mostly from the technology side and lack the theoretical backgound.

We talked to some more people about our work – and generally was really interesting to see all the people who are situated more in the traditional sector of development cooperation.

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Comparing Danish and Austrian development cooperation
was published on 15.05.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Interesting Austrian projects – OneWorld

OneWorld is an

open digital space for questions of international development, democracy and social justice

It offers news and information on dates and actions on various topics in the context of the above and is supported by a large number of Austrian organizations including ATTAC, Fairtrade Austria, Horizont3000 and SOS Kinderdorf.
OneWorld is organized like an online newspaper and provides a search-tool for events which are quite numerous and up to date obviously uploaded be their member organizations. Furthermore job offers of the member organisations are announced.

OneWorld is the first Austrian platform for news in development assistance and related dates and actions I stumbled upon, regrettably there exists no RSS feed and commenting on posts s not possible.
Still I am happy to find some site with a more modern approach to internet than just having a static homepage. Also their events calendar seems to work quite well, so if you’re interested – that’s the link to their site.

By the way – this is the 100th post on this blog! Hooray!!

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Interesting Austrian projects – OneWorld
was published on 09.10.2008 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Laafi-Fest 2008

Helge Fahrnberger is not just a well-known Austrian blogger, he is also involved in Laafi – an initiative dedicated to financing and supporting health-related projects in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world.

He is inviting to this year’s Laafi-Fest – an African summer party at the area of the University for Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.

It’s this Saturday (20 September, 16:00) so if you’re somewhere around, just drop by – the fotos of the last years look like it’s fun. And it’s for a good cause of course – the profit will be used for Laafi.

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Laafi-Fest 2008
was published on 18.09.2008 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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