Goethe Forum March 2011 Zagreb

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Notes from the Forum

When Goethe Institut Zagreb invited me to participate in the Forum and Creative Minds II in Zagreb, I accepted immediately, even though I was not sure what to expect. I was very much looking forward to the whole thing, as this was a great opportunity to present Nektarina Non Profit work and projects, and learn about other approaches and projects from all around Europe and Croatia. For the Pecha Kucha presentation I chose to present a 10:10 Teen Project, as an example of an open source project that Nektarina Non Profit did as a 24-country hub for 10:10 campaign. While working on 10:10 Teen Project we combined our local experiences and knowledge, our (Nektarina’s) primary goal / mission – to educate, connect and inspire, and we incorporated that in the existing 10:10 campaign, creating thus a unique project.

Goethe Institut Zagreb

First day of the Forum was meant to lay a common ground for the following discussions, exchanges and project preparations that were mainly done by two approaches:  

Free and associative exchange in small and mixed groups (coffee table discussion) Two impulses, approaching the subject from different angles – the transforming urban space and the role of society facing such a transformation process

After welcoming note from Ms Juliane Stegner, the Director of the Goethe Institut Zagreb, and introductions to the program made by Ms Tina Gadow (moderator, Shaping Diversity, Berlin) and Mr Nenad Roban (Coordinator of the Cultural Program of the Forum), I looked down at my notebook and read what I had scribbled thus far: → CULTURE → CHANGE → DEVELOPMENT → TRANSITION → DIVERSITY → EXCHANGE → PLATFORM TO PRESENT PROJECTS → MELTING POT → FOOD → ENERGY → MOBILITY Considering that the Forum was about climate change in urban areas, I thought that these words make a great introduction but also a great “induction”, and I was looking forward to seeing how are we going to put them into the context and use them to explain climate change, our different approaches with respect to climate change and the final impact on communities we are all a part of.

The first impulse (presentation) we were presented with was “Cities in Anticipation”. Ms Cornelia Redeker, Architect and Urban Planner from Munich, involved in CitiesOnRivers – Research and Development project spoke about the effect climate change has on cities and rivers that run through those cities.   

How is the border between the city and the river being redefined? What is the Urban River Front? What is the cycle connecting growing economic subsystem, usable energy and water, material recycling, waste energy and water?

Those were just some of the questions Ms Redeker addressed in her presentation. She also quoted Mr Reyner Benham, with a sentence I found to be an excellent trigger for further discussion: “The city as a well-tempered environment”

Ms Cornelia Redeker, Architect and Urban Planner


→ FLOOD CHANNEL AS A MOTOR FOR URBAN DEVELOPMENT → HARBOUR CONVERSIONS → FLOATING CITIES Following all these words and items that kept coming up during the presentation, one question was inevitably asked: Will we have to migrate because cities and the life in them will not be sustainable any more? How will we adapt and what are the grades of risk? As we were shown photographs from the Pakistan flood, we were asking ourselves how resilient are the cities we live in, and the quote on the screen had a strong impact: “safe to fail vs fail to save”

Some statements began to crystalize:   

We need trans-disciplinary design strategies We need co-ordination between local governments and (city) developers Cities may be considered as laboratories

Ms Tina Gadow moderating a discussion

So, what is a “good city” – that was a trigger question for our “coffee table discussion”.  

How can the adaptation to climate change compete with more pressing issues? (just think about Middle East, developing countries with struggling economies etc) What is the “Europe city” in 100 years?

What will be considered a “good city” in 2061?


The group work and group projects brought out some amazing questions, ideas and thoughts:          

Why aren’t glass buildings actually solar buildings? How realistic is a plug-in city or a movable city? In building and construction – why aren’t we using materials that are around us? Brick is a natural building material but it requires a lot of energy to create it. Hale is a good insulator, but in most countries it is not a legally acceptable building material. Do we need the ruralization of the city? Can we transform parks into vegetable gardens? (the Detroit story & the Cuba story) How can we get the good life back into the city? Cities should be made for people but it looks (or feels) like they are made for robots. The relationship between microstructure and infrastructure

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How viable are vertical farms (i.e. buildings with veggie gardens and orchards)? Why aren’t we using earth heating more? (80% cheaper than the usual heating) Can we reuse old buildings instead of demolishing them? Will we have the civilization that will support cities in 50 years?

   

How are we managing the resources? How are we defining ethics? How can we remedy water and soil? How viable is circular system of recyclable waste water?

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How do we spread knowledge? How do we share knowledge? Is solar energy economically viable? We need to define social sustainability Public spaces vs publicly owned spaces Golf as ecological and social problem Mobility of energy The ecological footprint What vs how

Some pretty powerful brainstorming, wouldn’t you agree? Considering that the forum participants were architects, artists, NGOs, politicians and students, it was particularly interesting to see how, when mixed with people from other groups, each came up with very specific questions / statements.

The second impulse (presentation) we heard was by Ms Hildegard Kurt, a cultural researcher, social sculpture practitioner and co-founder of “and.Institut for Art, Culture and Sustainability” Berlin. The questions / points from her presentation were:       

Climate crisis – is it the best thing that could have happened to us? What is happening to humus is also happening to humanity. We need to rebuild the necessary skills Cradle-to-cradle principle – remaking the way we make things A house is like a tree, a city is like a forest. Rethink creativity, rethink freedom. aestethics vs anesthesia → if you are not numb you can respond → the capacity to respond is responsibility

The first day was wrapped up by a common discussion on lessons learned, experiences and perspectives and sustainable approaches.

On the second day we were making Pecha Kucha presentations of specific projects.

What is Pecha Kucha, you might be wondering? Here is a quick overview: 01. What is PechaKucha 20x20 ? PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images. 02. Who invented the format ? The presentation format was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture. The first PechaKucha Night was held in Tokyo in their gallery, lounge, bar, club, creative kitchen SuperDeluxe in February 2003 Klein Dytham architecture still organize and support the global PechaKucha Night network and organise PechaKucha Night Tokyo.

03. Why invent this format ? Because architects talk too much! Give a microphone and some images to an architect - or most creative people for that matter - and they'll go on forever! Give powerpoint to anyone else and they have the same problem. 04. Who can present ? Anyone can present - this is the beauty of PechaKucha Nights. Astrid's daughter presented when she was 5 (about her artwork ;- ) and Mark's mother presented when she was 69 (about her elaborate wedding cake creations). 05. What can people present? The key to a great presentation is to present something you love. Most people use PechaKucha Night to present their latest creative projects or work. Some people share their passion and show their prized collections of Nana Mouskuri records, other share photos of their latest site visit to a construction site or their recent holiday snaps. We always recommend people go and see a PechaKucha Night before they apply to present to get a good feel of what it is all about. 06. What makes a good PechaKucha? Good PechaKucha presentation are the ones that uncover the unexpected, unexpected talent, unexpected ideas. Some PechaKuchas tell great stories about a project or a trip. Some are incredibly personal, some are incredibly funny, but all are very different making each PechaKucha Night like 'a box of chocolates'. 07. Is PechaKucha like TED? Many people have said - “oh so you're like a local TED!� A very nice complement but not quite right! TED is brilliant but very different to PechaKucha. TED is top down, PechaKucha is bottom up! 08. Was PechaKucha the first format like this? That's a good question. We have all heard of elevator pitches, a presentation so short you could pitch it to someone in an elevator, well 20 seconds x 20 is a bit longer than that, but the idea is the same short concise presentations. As far as we know PechaKucha was the first to put a limit

on the number or images, number of seconds - and the all important auto forward. No 'next slide' or 'go back one please' at PechaKucha. There have been several, rather sly - and not so sly imitators including Talk20 and Ignite - but PechaKucha was there first, seven years ago!

When I decided to present 10:10 Teen project @ Pecha Kucha day of the Forum, I had no idea what I was about to experience – I have heard about Pecha Kucha, we even had a Pecha Kucha night in Zagreb last year (and boy, was I sorry now I did not go to see that one!) but making a presentation on your own was a completely different experience. How can I coordinate 20 pictures with wordings that fit in, explain a specific project in such a short period of time and keep it coherent, understandable and interesting? Well, this is what I have done:

Can we expand a 10 universal tips on carbon reduction and transform them into a global project that targets a specific age group and at the same time takes into account all their local specifics (politics, economy, religion, education etc)?

How can we combine education, creative expression, carbon reduction and global approach and make the project appealing enough for teenagers to participate in?

How can we create a project that goes under a specific banner but is still an open source project?

How do we visualize the responses we will get from core target group? How do we define what can our target group expect? Those we all questions that needed answers.

We wanted them to learn about climate change and carbon reduction, because then they can understand it.

We wanted them to connect with their peers because to fight climate change we need team work.

We wanted them to feel good because when you feel good about doing something you do it well. You do it better.

We wanted them to inspire others, because by inspiring others we re-inspire ourselves.

We wanted them to do good, because doing good makes you feel good. We wanted them to do good and not ask anything in return.

We wanted them to join us and become a part of a global team, global movement, global idea, global village.

We wanted them to reduce carbon footprint, and to involve their communities in carbon reduction.

We wanted them to have fun, because you are supposed to have fun when you are a teenager ď Š

After several months of preparations and hard work, we launched the project three weeks ago.

We were amazed with the response we’ve received so far from many countries.

We were even more amazed by the brilliant ideas teenagers have – they are giving a carbon reduction process a whole new dimension.

They are sharing with us their visualization of the issue, and we have learned a lot by looking at climate change and carbon reduction issues through their eyes.

We love their creativity in reusing, in recycling, and in reducing. They share their simple stories that are more powerful than complicated conferences.

They inspire us, they inspire each other, they connect, they do good, they share their experiences and their ideas. They are the future we have been hoping for.

They are the ones who truly own this project. They are the ones who promote it and have fun with it. We are just observers of their creativity and ideas.

10:10 Teen Project was created by Nektarina Non Profit for the 10:10 campaign. 10:10 campaign is a global campaign coordinated from London, and it brings together people, organizations, schools and businesses in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 10% per year.

At the end of the forum, what else is there to say but THANK YOU GOETHE INSTITUT for this amazing experience!

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