How network collaboration takes time before it delivers small results. We're running OSCEDays in Sibiu, Romania!

Last year I finally started to actively connect the work I do in Edgeryders with changemaking in my homecountry. I’d had enough of being a stranger to the radical civic/ social/ ecological/ tech scene in Romania, and only working abroad. I even made a 6 month investment and moved to Bucharest announcing Futurespotters as a pilot, which was basically a local version of Edgeryders making use of our digital infrastructure without too much info overload for new members.

More than pitching a lively, global network and peer connections across the globe as perk for Bucharesters to join, I hoped to first bring a taste of open collaboration as an effective, cheap way to learn from people and projects across town bubbles (yep, tribe-like behaviours very much present: “the tech innovators”, “the greens”, “the independent cultural producers” etc). I marched on collaboration and not the idea of a global support network because global seems sometime distant for busy people on the ground, I’d noticed that while working in Georgia, Armenia, and from reading peers in Nepal. Admittedly, it also takes more work, time and skill to forge real connections than I had.

So collaboration is something everyone says they want. I found, while in Bucharest, that few tried to do it outside their usual ways. Doing grassroots work is hard, activists and movement builders are crazy busy indeed, but still, it wasn’t just that. In a conversation with one of the techies in the group, I was told their group perceived me as too much of an intrusive outsider to trust me and my invitation to join an online community. Fair enough.

Fast forward one year later. Out of Futurespotters, we are now running an OSCEDays event in Sibiu (central Transylvania) in sync with a global community: with @SamMuirhead @Irina_Breniuc @Iulian_Ifrim and others in Berlin, Amsterdam, Cluj, Sibiu, Bucharest, Brasov. It’s a result, albeit small one, of teaching ourselves Internet collaboration, as none of us are in the same town. For one day we managed to gather designers, makers, entrepreneurs who are working or living by circular economy values, but need more to make their work sustainable. One of the event challenge is figuring out how to close the loop in a product lifecycle. My hunch is that the challenges they face have to do with literally everything in the way an initiative is designed and not just with one of the cycles - from ability to find a team sharing the values, to costs of sourcing organic materials, to even purchasing some types of waste, and regulations! Irina talked about challenges in the upcycling field here, so you get the rough picture.

Other burning questions participants have:

  • What can the circular economy, if anything, borrow from principles of social economy? (the latter being just a little more advanced in practice)
  • How can small upcycling businesses scale up in order to have a significant impact?
  • How circular economy affects the integration between rural and urban areas?

Medieval Sibiu, a city of approx 150 000 people. Photo credit: Mats Önnestam on flickr.com

As you can see, it’s a lot to cover and we may not pass the level of deeply interesting discussions. Not this first edition of OSCEDays.

What I’m in for is inserting more openness and sharing in a group that is now very dispersed and may be lacking the tools to do so. The fact that it’s already aligned in their edgy endeavors and way ahead business-as-usual is a good base to start from. I will also make a case for online coordination platforms as a community asset. The planning work we are doing for a few months now is a testimony to that: still relatively cheap - costs nothing but our energy and some skyping hours - and mostly, it’s a LOT of fun.

So, join us in Sibiu or tweet #OSCEDays #Romania ?! Here’s how:

If anyone from Edgeryders global is around beginning of June, drop us a line!

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Wow, great

I am really proud of you, No, and of all of you in Romania. It’s a small thing, but it’s real. The project has ended, the fundng has run out, and you guys are still at it! Let me know how we can support you. Sure as hell you deserve it.