Discoveries in the community so far

This wiki is editable, feel free to join in and help add the things you learned so far. It’s a work in progress, so expect additions :) Will be adding links to the quotes so we have the sources right. If you like a quite, do share it with your friends. Hashtags: #futurespotters #Bucharest

Last updated: July 6th 

Below is a selection of most unique voices from the online community, whose protagonists shared their individual stories and aspirations. We believe they reflect a need to work together more closely and overcome as a community obstacles to receiving support for projects or barriers in the Romanian mentality which encourage individualism versus communitarianism. Building upon these insights means coming back to the citizens with a proposal to follow up on the Spot the Future pilot project, scaling it and engaging many more such citizens in concrete opportunities to work together: community project incubation, international residencies, open calls for mobility experiences and knowledge exchange programs at European level.

A. On the need to come together in a community

Bucharest needs to organise its enthusiastic people better, because a lot of the time the energy dissipates only because you don’t have someone to support you with a kind word, with an idea; not everyone has a large group of friends ready to do anything for a project just because it’s interesting and possibly, with no financial rewards. And this is how another unicorn dies. (Petru)

There is no established forum where young people with initiative could meet up to discuss their ideas and support each other (Roxana_Calarasu); Individuals coming together to co-create could have an important say in relation to future societal developments (Atzu)

“…more than ever, in Bucharest it is necessary that people with interesting projects to be themselves part of a community. There are a lot of people with great initiatives who work passionately on their ideas, but being dispersed it’s hard for their projects to grow and gain relevance” (Ana Ungurianu)

My resume is kind of outdated because I don`t change jobs, all involvement in various projects was triggered by talking to those who wanted it done and showing some skills instead of letting them read a piece of paper. That is why [] there was a real need for [Spot the Future] in Romania. I know there are more people of the sorts you are looking for but have not been brought together under the same entity in order to have a specific voice, to follow certain objectives to bring about genuine change. (IulianSirbu)

I think that we can create a larger impact only if we’re together. So this is what I’m concerned with - how do we gather to build. In small networks at first. Those, together, grow larger, and slowly we reach everyone. If we’re talking about communities, the hardest thing at first was to create awareness. People must first have a reason to listen to something new, to participate, and afterwards, to stay (Icey)

A few years ago me and my NGO, Poiana lui Iocan embarked in a somewhat similar project, of trying to understand what is the core of our grassroots initiatives in Romania, what are the strategies, how to they communicate and interact with one another and most importantly how do they actually allow people to participate and engage outside their group. At the time though, I think there were other dots to connect, for our NGO, for the innovators that didn’t see themselves as a community that could strive through collaboration and for me who just finished architecture and wanted to get more into understanding cities through interdisciplinary interactions. I think now is a better time to start this. (RazvanZamfira)

I find that Bucharest is hosting a very active hipster movement with very progressive political views, and is also a place where several innovative projects are coming to life. However, despite the motivation and excellent execution of these innovators, for such initiatives to succeed, Bucharest still lacks a solid support ecosystem that can accelerate change and make it more collaborative. The large majority of the population ignores the existence of these initiatives, because we need more networkers, nurturers, investigators, communicators and resisters that can help social change gain momentum. (@MANU_BABELE)

I have a lot of creative people around me and I’m trying to bring them closer to our organisation and what we are trying to do because NGO people tend to be like a sect sometimes. They don’t go outside their circles, they chase their own tails. I’m trying to get them to chase other people’s tails. (@yozness)

You can handle projects, events, communication, partnerships, accounting documents, contracts and financing at the same time. You can learn about them all by taking one at the time and asking for help where you can’t manage. Just don’t start with ‘it can’t be done.’ (@Iarina_Stefanescu)

Through this event and the people who participated, speakers and audience, we can say there’s a true will of joining forces and creating an ecosystem, so let’s start this intellectual, innovative revolution together! - @Raluca_Marinescu at Babele.

B. Obstacles we need to overcome to making change happen

1. A lot of people care about change in society but they are disconnected, they need community as a space for honest interaction.

On need for true openness: we need a space where we can join in easily: currently even in the NGO areas or established groups it is hard to find the access point, you can’t just walk into a context and ask questions or get involved (conversation with Ana Ungurianu). Online collaborative communities need a lot of help growing and becoming independent; people need time to develop intrinsic motivation (Atzu)

It is challenging to be able to pay the bills and at the same time to show interest into creating a good habitat for future generations. The most important challenge I seem to face at the moment is a lack of call to action. A lot of thinking about oneself and not the one within the group. We live in a socially disrupted context, with social media filled with selfies, fueling each ego. (Iulian)

We need to join our forces and have more visible actions in order to attract the attention of local communities and also for mobilizing others, and for that to happen we must show them we are able to make a change regardless of what material resources we have, but only by working together, sharing knowledge and resources, and also having a entrepreneurial approach for monetizing the ideas. (@Elena_Oglinda)

2. Aiming to produce change needs to be genuine, and needs to start from a small connected group, then grow into a larger one.

One of the best methods so far is to actually do things with a small number of people that progressively grows. We all want to help, to contribute, but it’s important to have first results. Yes, it takes patience and ambition. As in anything. But it can be made (Icey). What is worth and not worth investing time into? Even the word ‘investing’ has a relative in ROI - the return of investment. Let us not develop projects for already or future corporate individuals to find a ‘extra-curricular free time’ activity, but something that has a reason to believe, that actively involves and helps others (Iulian Sirbu)

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 (Alex )

Making fiscal education sexy is no easy task when everybody hates the IRS and the Ministry of Finance. Getting citizens involved takes time, and that’s hard for me to accept, I’m so impatient that I end up pushing for progress and change. (Cosmin Pojoranu)

3. Working for change should not be all non-profit and taken as a given, because it re-inforces the status quo.

It is challenging to pay your bills AND look after making other people better (Gabi, Iulian). Marginalized groups must be supported into witnessing what are the current possibilities and how creativity and hard work can help bring projects to life. Time and energy should not all be non-profit (Iulian Sirbu).

Romanians have a difficulty in understanding and appreciating the value you bring to a garbage, turning it into something useful. They can’t picture the whole process: cleaning it up, setting it up, painting it, preparing the auxiliary materials, manufacturing etc. All by hand. All this requires time and effort. Which costs. (Irina Breniuc)

‘I can’t do X because I have no money,’ is the wrong way to frame things. You should first have an idea, test it out with a few people, and then if it’s good enough, money will flow. I think of an NGO as a start-up; fail early, learn, keep going (Cosmin Pojoranu).

4. If you operate in a specific field e.g. institutionalized, innovation needs to be argued for in iterations. You don’t know what works and need time and manpower to test it!

[urban development] It is this mix that makes urban development in itself start to make sense not the way it is now, closed up in its own institutional box. I think it is this where we have a lot more work to do and it’s not because we don’t know who to ask for help but rather because we are a very small team and talking about urban development in itself is a hard to tackle subject and we are constantly thinking of new ways in which to make it more understandable and friendly. A good example of a mix of local initiatives and our activities was this event we held at Cinema Favorit in Drumul Taberei. (Razvan Zamfirei)

[emerging fields like recycling for a new economy] How do you deal with upcycling? Haven’t found an answer yet. However, patience must be used as a weapon. Why? Because it’s a new domain and any new domain, there are tons of unanswered questions. (Irina Breniuc)

5. Projects and causes don’t have to compete for support nor make it about charity.

If you intend to get external financing for an upcycling business, you’ll have to persuade CSR officers or other social investors that what you plan to do is worth investing in. Because what they’ll be asking themselves is: what kind of NGO are you if you don’t specifically aim at helping people in need? Definitely, environmental concers will never be as catchy and newsworthy as taking care of children with cancer. However, it mustn’t be. There’s enough for both. We just have to find a way to share resources. (@Irina_Breniuc)

6. Some projects take a village to make it work. “Yes, I’d want to be able to support myself out of this, but if it doesn’t work out I’ll have to change path. But of course I’d love that… The plan is turning the garage into a ceramic workshop, and build a small house. I wanted an earthship house, a passive house consuming very little, with an interior garden… well, a live organism. Afterwards the idea changed, because Romania is too exotic for the idea of earthship. I still hope to build my own house but for this I need money, and currently I only do gardening to get a sense of it.” Crina admits her biggest challenge is to bring people in to help her organize and make the gardening work more efficient. So without a plan but however part of a movement of sorts, it made me think that Crina can’t afford to take it upon her shoulders and turn her lifestyle into a mission for the sake of it; she is also awaiting an opportunity to go completely rural. There is nothing that her own land and kid whom she’ll be homeschooling could not make up for (Crina Cranta).

We can grow the social economy and social entrepreneurial mindsets - from legal standpoint up to fighting for a change in mentality and teaching ourselves to collectively overcome the ideea that NGOs are a service for “beneficiaries”. We need smart activism, smart marketing. (Noemi in conversations with others in the community).

add here…

Visualising outer networks so far

Work in progress. Originally editing here:

Where are we going next and how can we support Bucharest 2021?

(we need a credible proposition to put on the table in the aftermath of the workshop 9-10 July!

Community members have sat down and thought about why and how they see their involvement in Bucharest’s bid for ECOC 2021. The following is proof that all it takes for them to get behind the candidacy is a proposal that is perceived beneficial and open by them:

“intelegerii conceptului alternativ adus de platforma EdgeRyders si ideile rezultate ce pot fi integrate ulterior intr-o viziune “from the bottom up”, libera si transparenta, in strategia B2021. Aici ar fi de adaugat criteriile cele mai importante care decid potentialul de capitala culturala al unui oras:

a. strategia culturala in simbioza cu strategia de dezvoltare a orasului

b. implicarea semnificativa a cetatenilor

c. sustenabilitatea si dezvoltarea “ecosistemului” cultural creat si dupa anul in care orasul a avut statut de capitala culturala

Elementul definitoriu este tocmai mobilizarea cat mai larga a comunitatii in jurul proiectului CEAC, nivelul la care, cred eu, actioneaza conceptul EdgeRyders / Spot The Future Bucharest. Asadar punctul b este foarte important pentru intreaga evolutie a procesului.” (Bodgan Alto)