A game of resource tag in Bucharest. You’re it!



Two years ago I was sitting in the passenger’s seat of my best friend’s car trying to entertain us both for an 8-hour ride to Cluj. We were on our way to this new music festival that had such a cool location and line-up that it convinced a couple of non-festival goers from Bucharest who had never been that far North-West to plan a weekend getaway around it. In between changing radio stations searching for oldies but goldies we could shamelessly karaoke to (hello, Rod Stewart), I told my friend of this witty American blog I’d just discovered and spent hours on, reading the comments. It was smart, open-minded, feminist. ‘Do you think anyone in Romania reads it? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a local version?’

An hour later we came up with a name and by the time we reached Cluj, it had a first edition sketched out on a yellow notebook with a drawing of a rabbit hugging a catatonic bearded guy. It would be an online publication with first-person accounts of young adults telling of their journeys towards maturity. It’d have plenty of women’s stories, since it was a thinly veiled excuse to surround ourselves with experiences that made us feel less alone in our own search for versions of adulthood that made sense to us.

I had no idea how we were going to make it happen, but at that moment it seemed like all the resources I would need I could find among my friends and their friends. The life stories, the photoshoots, the illustrations, the interviews, the translations, the programming. No money used except for event supplies and web hosting. The first edition happened through the work of 50+ people who each contributed in a way that made them feel part of something that reflected a part of them.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Working without money, or actually bringing money from home can be rough. The doubt that it will ever become sustainable is still there. In fact, the publication was going through a slump when I first heard about Edgeryders, a couple of months ago. When I understood that it was a community of people also working with limited resources on passion projects they believe make a difference, I felt relieved. Some people are pushing through. And I had a way to reach them. My biggest question now is how to build resilient teams that manage to withstand uncertainty and that’s what I’m coming to the #Futurespotters workshop to learn.

A trademark of our times, uncertainty is here to stay. We can live in constant anxiety about not knowing what we’ll be doing in 5 years’ time, or we can ride the wave of fast change and get our input into it. And we can ask for help.

It used to be a sign of weakness, but asking for help nowadays seems like common sense. The better you ask and explain what your challenges are, the better help you’ll get. In communities of bootstrapped projects, helping out is a form of investment - you don’t get to cash out, but you do get a gift card of skills, advice and know-how which you probably couldn’t have afforded if price tags were to be set.

Have you reached the limits of your circle of friends? Well, there’s a community of 2.600+ people from all over the world curious about what you’re doing and able to point to some direction - maybe even partner up. And there are 50 people from Bucharest already signed up.

Spot the Future is scanning for grassroots projects that hint to where Bucharest might be heading, should alternative initiatives find ways to thrive. From a city we passively inhabit through routine, going in and out of our apartment-boxes, to a place we each shape through myriad interactions, consumptions, creations.

We stroll through street festivals, buy tickets to independent plays and films, join peer-to-peer workshops, bike through town, buy second hand clothes, play childhood games with hundreds of other people, donate to foster homes that nurture, speak up against discrimination, discover hidden streets with free city tours, get the facts straight from those checking politicians’ declarations, walk with pride to support diversity, gather with neighbours to save green spaces, attend music festivals with local bands, sign petitions to reopen cinemas, read in public gardens, gaze at lights transforming buildings into pop art, subscribe to independent journalism that makes sense of our lives, work from public libraries and shared spaces, walk museums at midnight, protest for environmental causes, volunteer at summer camps for underprivileged kids, recycle creatively, run marathons, crowdfund comic books, incubate start-ups, occupy universities, blog thoughts, post parable-like anecdotes.

No longer an inert background to our private lives, Bucharest is slowly becoming the product of our summed-up interactions. You and your project /initiative/ idea are a part of this - pieces of this toggling puzzle without a definitive pattern, open-ended for the better.

They say good content ends with a call to action. Here’s mine:

Leave a comment with the most urgent need your initiative has + one thing you’re a natural at. If you’re not yet registered on Edgeryders, you can do so here.

We’re starting a game of resource tag where everybody shares a point of pain and a point of strength. Pass the tag along to those who might come out of isolated fights with windmills and benefit from a community formed around the idea that we’re each other’s resource.

If you want to develop that comment into an article about your project - how it started, the obstacles you’re facing and what you could use help with - it’s wanted, here.

See you at the #Futurespotters workshop, July 9-10.

You can register early through a comment below - official post coming up later this week.

Call for participation: #Futurespotters Bucharest Int’l Workshop, 9-10 July
Discoveries in the community so far

The perks of skill sharing for projects that are not your own

Wow, this looks exciting, thanks for getting the ball rolling Alex, it’s what we in Romanian pop culture call “leapșa”  - a game where you challenge someone to do something, and then they challenge others and so it grows in a network across groups.

My baby project is EdgeRyders itself, as a community for global collaboration. After 4 years one most pressing need is finding people to teach us how self-organising communities can grow healthy at scale - through stories, examples and guidance. A bit like mentors. The outcome for them would be developing their projects as part of Edgeryders, and accessing a global pool of knowledge. An explanation for this is in this comment and this post.

My natural skills are in online community management and supporting other people’s projects. In fact, starting this year I am actively looking for local projects in Romania where I could volunteer about 2-4 hours per week. I see it more as an investment and a way of getting out of my own box and learning how to do better what I do anyway. This is not volunteering per se, nor is it a transaction - it’s really about shouldering together ideas we care about anyway, without the need to always be the guy in the front owning a project. One man shows are so outdated, individualistic, we need to let go and stop reinventing the wheel. Just get behind stuff, this is what being in networks means for me - and I learned this primarily from @Alberto and @elf_Pavlik.


Great article - thanks!

You have some real writing (and thinking) skills I’d say!

My resources: Anything technical (that is non-digital) below orbit, especially material related. But if your idea is cool and I am weak on the subject - I don’t mind learning new things if it helps. General remark here: People why don’t you put anything into your user info? This is the first place I’d look for resource tagging!

My needs: Too many!

I have very many diverse ideas so prioritization depends on who is up to give a good hard shove. Because of recent developments and benign circumstances here is one thing I’d like to push (drones of/by/for the people). I don’t expect you to be an expert on this but perhaps you know someone, who knows someone, who would be a very good fit.

In the meantime, I am trying to work on improvements of the ER platform concept, 80-20 style. I’ve suggested tweaks here and there, but I put most of my thought into conceptual platforms + mock-ups that are designed from the ground up in the collaborative paradigm. I think this is not a one-size-fits-all exercise - we’ll need to cover a lot of ground. If you want to jam that with me (cause doing things alone only sucks) - holler and we’ll jam.


Regarding Bucharest, here an idea

Intermodal Skateboarding

Get in touch with Kevin Fang. He made this nice proposal for us! :slight_smile: And he is onto something there. I’ve commuted to work with skateboard + public transport for years. In just about any European metropolis (if you can skate) that will be the fastest, cheapest, and most flexible way to get from A to B. I used to have (good) bikes. I love bikes. But it beats them cold*. You don’t have to lock it (2x3 min saved), you just take it with you where you’re going - trains, planes, buses, bikes. It (almost) never breaks. I have skated daily in wind, rain, snow, sleet, ice, sanded and salted snow (the only one I’d really not recommend). Longboards are fine, but more comfortable and practicable is a relatively big regular one with large soft rolls (important!). They are comfy and quiet  + fast and efficient (and you’re  less likely to try stupid things that break your bones). Bucharest looks very skateable and like most large cities in the east is graced with a pretty good public transport system - which is key to this intermodal approach. Still, when I moved to the US East coast, I again turned to skating as primary transport - even though the surface generally sucks compared to Europe.

What I would often do in Europe is just get off a couple of stations earlier after work and sometimes skate the last 5-10 km or so. If you’ve done some daily skating that is no distance at all. I’d be going 12-17 km/h depending on the situation. This frees up a place in PT and let’s me interact with the city much, much more intensively**. It is much easier and more likely that I’ll stop and interact (groceries, help someone, etc.) than from a bike basis. Going relatively slow is no problem (at 3-5 km/h it gets tricky again on most surfaces). Plus, I got my hands free to do stuff, unlike on the bike (if you want to live long). Now the suggested next step:

@Noemi Hook up with these nice people (wait for the credits) if you haven’t done so already. They generally have a very can-do attitude, are very enthusiastic, very good “vibe creators”, and have street cred (authority among their peers, i.e. multipliers). In my experience they are also about as flaky and organized as a herd of cats on catnip. So that is the community manager bit. :slight_smile:

There are several directions you could push it from there. Either a low level mutual help arrangement (e.g. if you have an event, ideally marching-type) skaters are extremely effective in moving ahead and around the march, engaging bystanders and people walking around. Just give them a t-shirt + backpack (on the belly) full of flyers/info material. Because they are 2-3 times walking speed they can easily cover most of the people there with no sweat. They can also go a few minutes ahead and give out “invitations” to join the march.

You could also try to use them as local stakeholders in city planning/zoning initiatives if you can shake the vandalism stigma that skating often has. For that you probably should recruit more “center authority figures”. My best “5-minute guess” is Duta. You will probably need a relatively well developed plan to get her motivated though. Perhaps you can find someone better, or work with one of her students. One idea for motivation could be a tiny distributed citizen science project leading to a publication. In brief: Some of the skater people go from one location to another and you check the time and modalities, then you use other methods (kickboard, bike, taxi, etc.) to travel and see which one is a promising candidate for future plans. If it goes well you have a basis for applying for all sorts of money to develop this concept further in practice. E.g. a EU sponsored pilot that supplies the (locally sourced - stakeholders) kickboards, skateboards etc. and does some sort of intermodal-to-work program to see what efficiency gains can be achieved and if it is transferable to other beta or gamma or smaller cities. I expect having a bike-share program is too expensive, and not really necessary for most places. This could work better. If you come from the outskirts you ride your bike to the last PT stop (if there’s good surfacing you can directly use kick/skateboard) hop on and do the last mile via kick/skateboard again. Then you do urban-urban and see what the data tells you. Consider that a bike needs some place to stay (and theft may be an issue), and a skateboard needs almost none. This is a large advantage as planners want to create dense urban areas to deal with transport issues and ramp up innovation potential. Doing this with Duta also has the charm that, if this goes well - you can expect that she’ll have an open ear for other small project proposals that she can pitch to bachelor/master students. A wonderful way to get things done!

Lastly if you want more thought on this, I’m of course available for discussion. Especially if this leads to a publication (just put me somewhere between the co-authors).

*OT eyecandy: Always, always, always skate responsibly. :slight_smile:

**By the way there’s a couple of movements that may be of interest to be found under this label.

Workshop under construction (collaborative)

Efficiency map?

Whoa, this is very advanced thinking, I somehow had to read your comment twice to get it.

I would love a marching workshop coupled with backups and cheers from the skaters community, even though to be honest I know none. But this would require more thought about what the experiment would be about, before even going into a study/research mode. If I got it right, we would be building an efficiency map to transportation+leisure in the city. Curious what @RazvanZamfira thinks, and @baditaflorin. (Florin, I was about to write to someone from OSM Romania to invite them to Spot the Future, and I realised you’re already here. Would you be up for sharing your work on mapping?)


Step by step to “efficiency map”

I think you got my message. And efficiency map á la “if we put X type of transportation option here Y people will save Z amount of time” would be cool. But that is really hard to pull off if your name ain’t google (or local telecom monopoly). But basically that is pretty much the direction of thrust. Of course you can’t put all grannies on skateboards for example - so you probably won’t get absolute values for each location. But for starters I’d suggest checking which important connections a lot of people need to do very often (backbones) can be directly or indirectly improved by doing more intermodal transport. Skateboard is not necessarily the most important bit in the scheme. You’ll only know that in the end. But one more thing that a skateboard could do is the following: Sometimes people wonder if they should put bike racks on the PT (esp bus). If you have a skateboard you can usually “play bicycle” very easily. So you could test how the (subjective) improvement of transportation would be on a specific line before you have to refit all the buses. This is far from precise - but it also is much better than nothing. Duta could probably help with many of the details of what to pay attention to as well. But that is just a minor point.

The bigger point is the “map” - which really is a (complex) network though. But again - Duta will know this stuff pretty well already. One thing I did not think about is to hook this up the OSM - that is probably a very good idea! I wonder how long it’d take to get a few of the skater kids mapping stuff (I should learn it too). They could easily spot issues around town, as they get around a lot, have their hands free, and typically live right next door to the issues…


Efficiency map reply

Hi Noemi, i have moved now to Cluj, to work for Telenav, related to OpenStreetMap, but i could take a day off and come on friday in Bucharest to share about OpenStreetMap.

I also don`t know about skate community, but i know there is a growing community of people that ride the longboards, they where around 30-40 persons that have gone to the sea-side by longboards, from Bucharest, for the first of may, and they also have some events in Bucharest, where they bombing ( if i am telling the correct word )



Great idea, a session on OSM and especially practical projects that you are involved in or have started while in Bucharest would be a great illustration of how to use empowering technology. If you want to propose it as a session, here is where we launched the official call for the workshop which contains all the instructions for registering and shaping the agenda. Any ideas and involvement would be well received, and of course if you could pass it on to the skaters community, well… what more could we wish!

PS Cluj-Bucharest and the other way around is a familiar route for me too, I myself am from Cluj.


Idea in the making

Hi @trythis @baditaflorin,

I met the guys at the NOD Makerspace last night in Bucharest and told them about the idea of mapping itineraries in the city by measuring distances+time according to public transportation, biking and the third way!, skating. They would be interested and they could assess possibility to 3D print long boards if we were to move forward… But the most important thing we need to look for is someone who has an understanding of the mapping process and would be up for building an interface like the one in Matera. Check this? https://edgeryders.eu/en/unmonastery/hacking-public-transport-matera-and-beyond


Keep me posted

Cool to hear there is movement. [Nods to nod] I am not 100% sure how far 3D printing will get you with skateboards*, but that’s another story. Also additive manufacturing is often the word that will make you sound more professional to people with money. Especially now that it 3DP is headed for the valley in the hype-cycle. :wink:

I agree that OSM skills would be really good to have in place before you start rolling. Sadly that is not my forte (yet). If you need more input give a shout.

By the way are you guys (also @alberto ) aware of this person? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Georgescu-Roegen perhaps he can offer a useful perspective for when one has to deal with overly Schumperterian opinions? I am going on “smell” here, more than on expertise…

*I have a design concept flying around somewhere that replaces the metal axle components almost completely with composites bent in a slightly weird shape. Would make the board much lighter and require less bought parts (but also would be too fragile for some of the grindy tricks. The mold/layup jig would totally be a 3DP job.


Yes, but…

Georgescu-Roegen is quite famous in my corner of culture. But why do you think he might be an antidote to excess Schumpeterianism?


Not antidote but a slant

From Schumpi -> G-R/Daly -> very many relatively crazy places (using relatively prestigious names so people wearing a tie can keep a straight face). If that makes sense to you. So often you only can make/prepare progress in these very short high level meetings by a couple of lines of buzzwording, or namedropping (is my impression anyway).


Skating for travel, you say…

Love this!

And not just because a group of urbanist friends and myself are organising an improvised skate park for high-school kids in a former citadel town near the Southern Carpathians mountains in Romania over the weekend.

Pieter is hosting a practical workshop on how skating can be a creative and fun way to activate abandoned urban spaces and bring on multiple functionalities. On the same day, Andreea and Ioana, awesome promoters and developers of new media at the intersection of art, design and technology are hosting an introductory workshop on creative urban interventions. The workshops are part of a project called ‘City in the Window’ (Romanian only - will translate soon), a small grants scheme for young folks to develop creative urban interventions that bring colour and interaction in a former mono-industrial shrinking city. Yes, this is partly to brag about more cool things happening in Romania, but also to vouch for the opennesss of people to engage in transdiciplinary projects that activate public spaces.

I’ll share your awesome suggestions over the weekend and hopefully we’ll have them directly join in this conversation.

P.S. Your post just convinced me to give skateboarding a go. Couldn’t have a better excuse than this weekend’s beginners’ workshop.


Let me pile on please…

Skateboards for tricks & reliving disused infrstructure rocks! It is very useful for any kind of publicity I think. Here is what you can pile on:

If modulab haf a couple of tools you can totally MAKE skateboard decks from scratch there. I haven’t gotten around to do this with skateboards yet but it is not terribly difficult. You’ll quickly see what you need on youtube. Getting some of the stuff can be a bit of a pain/waiting time. I can fill you in on the details. But if you have it, it is very empowering for a place like modulab - you can make all sorts of cool stuff. Price tag is 300-500 € for enough to run a workshop I’d say.

Next important consideration: you (almost) never see girls on short boards (the ones you see in the skate parks). My hypothesis is that coordination for tricks is more difficult for women in general. BUT they are riding longboards like crazy, left and right. No one expects them to do tricks on longboards - so they don’t have a reason to feel somehow inadequate. Thus longboards/traveling skateboards would more than double the number of riders (sales) and be healthy for the scene on top. If you have a “make your own board” workshop - it would be easily possible to cater to each individual’s taste. You could even embed your favorite legwarmer in the deck if you want to (something I will totally do when I get around to it).

OT re modulab Gradina Viitorului (half joking):

Oi! - ze won on ze lower right is our dezign (haunebu)!

You can keep ze won abof - ze avrocar sucks. :wink:



this will find a way into tomorrow’s dinnertime conversation. Vil report bek. Osomness.


CODATU at Med Climate Conf

@noemi I’ll try to sneak into Med COP21 today. If there is someone who would like to use me as “remote controlled smiley face” tomorrow - let them get in touch with me.

I will probably manage to meet Julien today or tomorrow http://www.codatu.org/adherents/adherent/Julien_A/ . Here’s an overview of CODATU. Usually working with French public institutions is a bit of a challenge to say it politely, but Duta would again be a good connector candidate (she lived in Paris and can do tech translation). Also it smells very much like a top down thing (France helping developing countries with engineering companies and industrial players, um yeah, been there) - BUT it is NOT headquartered in Paris at least!

Perhaps there is a possibility to get something moving. They had a sort of job opening posted that mentions EBRD bank and Eastern Europe. Should I let EdgeRyders apply? :slight_smile:

@Alberto & co: If no one has a problem I’d like to try out putting ER in the organization field of my name tag…


I just remembered why I left…

Boyohboyohboy! Remind me to tell you guys a little story about failing (police) states (Hollande paid a visit) and whiny academia. Ratios of police/hostesses/people working for fat&lazy organizations/peope that get shit done = 1000:500:200:10.


Of course!

@trythis we would be honored if you wore the Edgeryders colors. Remember to get you stickers!


Skating projects in Athens

Hi, there are some interesting projects in Athens involving skating. One is this Art Gallery/Indoor Skatepark/Hangout in the central neighbourhood of Psyrri.

And another project is LATRAAC, an initiative to build a larger outdoor bowl in the neighbourhood of Keramikos:







@baditaflorin this is ther fb page:  https://www.facebook.com/RockAndRollBombers