RE:PUBLICA PART 2 - What I learned about immersive storytelling, innovation in refugees camps, Neo-tribes and much more

On the third day i had a lot on my plate I didn’t only choose to have all day sessions, but a lot of people connected to POC21 were speaking today. I had the chance to be part of this amazing story: building twelve open source prototypes to help the future be more sustainable in a 5 week camp. But before we enter the magical world of OS philosophy i had to be mind blown once again.

Immersive storytelling

Virtual Reality (VR) is a new technology that for most of us still looks as gadget, but for the company RYOT it is a change maker in immersive journalism. With the motto: “A riot is the language of the unheard” by Martin Luther King they want to give the 360° camera to people in places that normally aren’t heard. VR can make you feel immersed into a story much more easily than any other medium. Instead of explaining how children have to walk to school in Beirut, why not show them through the eyes of the concerned. Everybody can be a storyteller when you can film your surroundings like that, it seems that RYOT found the right spot to bring VR to a whole new scene.

Innovation in refugees camps

When the first giant refugee camps where set up, the people who worked there assumed that they where a short-term solution. But now, 25 years later a lot of those camps are still their and sometimes more then 300 000 people are living in that temporary space. What happens to those people living in a daily struggle, having an urge to settle, but also always having a chance to be evacuated?

Through this lively panel made up by four on the field specialist we learn that we have to stop as society to victimize refugees. We need to search for empowerment tools, and we could find it in innovation. The people there are resourceful, but just need the right chances to work it out. Invest in refugees, not the camp. They will find the material stuff easy, give them energy (electricity and water), the tools for education and it will possible have a far better outcome then any specialist that will construct the camp.

But of course it isn’t that simple. A lot of barriers are in place to keep refugee camps from becoming own entities: Politics, Legislation or even big stakeholders on an economical level don’t see the camps as an opportunity to learn how to deal with conflict and solution based thinking in times of crisis.

One of the solutions a person of the panel was giving was the need of a resource mapping tool. Just showing the people where they can find resources around could give them far more independence. We need to start connecting with them on an equal base, don’t look at them as ‘lesser humans’. By changing our attitude on how we look at them we could help them much more.

Open Source Society

Manuela Yamada was one of the persons i met at POC21 and already then I was impressed how strong-minded she was towards open source and sustainable materials. She is the founder of Materiabrasil an open source platform showing all the specificities of sustainable materials.

Through her lecture she explains how Open Source models can bring much change in the way we interact with each other. Classical consumerism is dangerous on the long term because it follows the logic: what we can make, we consume.

She pleads that through empowering civil society in an open source environment we can bring the change we want in our environment. She showed different examples on how already now Open source ideas are better and cheaper as the alternative. Like Open Energy Monitor or her own created low-tech Coconut fiber that uses a material that is in abundance in Brasil and gives it a new use.

Of course when the public could react that one question that always pops up discussing open source was asked: but how do you make money? And Manuela had a charming and complex answer: dedications, diversification, thrust and still a lot of hope. Cause making money in a open source business model isn’t perfect at the moment. It is in an experimental phase, but if you have in return a warm contact with your clients, a sustainable product and an ethically way of dealing with partners and your team, it is worth the try!

Neo-Tribes: The Futur is Tribal

Alexa Cley was also part of the POC21 community for a week to observe the ‘tribeness’ of POC21. She comes from a family of misfits: thanks to a father studying ancient tribes and a mother observing Alien believing people she got the right amount of ‘outside the box’ thinking already from her childhood. That immersions in other cultures give her the spark to start neo-tribes: an observation and knowledge-sharing platform about post-modern tribes.

What can we learn from Gangs, pirates or hacker collectives? After spending time with each of those groups Alexa found out that, even if their business isn’t the most ethically correct, the way they organize themselves is resourceful and sometimes much more efficient and meaningful than how we organize ourselves as a society. They have codes, respect for each other and are a much stronger group. They have cooperative reflexes that we thrive, but can’t manage to organize.

Another reason she started Neo Tribes is because she felt the urge to answer a necessity from a lot of young people to jump out of society. There is a crisis of meaning, burn outs all out and time poverty lurking at every corner of our society.

Some of the colourful tribes she met with:

Gangs: they have the skill to make feel people part of a community

La Barbe: A woman action group going to mostly manly events and through fun actions try to represent minorities.

Preppers: people that are preparing for the end of the world

Cults: there are still some witches around

Enspiral: a tech-savy group of researchers in New-Zealand making tools for enhancing civic society.

Surprisingly she mentioned a group I wouldn’t have seen as a tribe, but from where she learned a lot: LARPing is a form of live action role-play that could be used to prototype the future. What can we learn from an immersive play for a weekend around a post nuclear society, or where roles are inverted or money became obsolete. LARP gives us the possibility to invest new ways of living without the constraints of being trapped in it.

Finally she evokes the question a lot of people have had after an awesome festival experience: why can’t we bring the festival culture to our every day live? For her the biggest problem of festival is that it still is a tool of escapism, how long can people be conscience about the way they live in a festival. Without a structure or model, the festival atmosphere will fall like a castle made out of cards. Even examples as Boom Festival or Burning Man can exist because they aren’t an everyday occurrence. So Neo-tribes is still going a long way, but it is great to see and hear that we can learn from every kind of misfits, even the Amish!

Resource for Open Source Business Models

First off, the Preppers for the end of the world are tremendous, what a find! From the little I browsed I noticed quite a lot of variation in how extensive materials are, but some could maybe compete with @Matthias’s EarthOS :slight_smile:

Then, some of POC21’s friends which are Open Source Circular Economy (OSCE) Days admit to having received the question of profitability in these new models a LOT, which is why they posted an extensive quide for “How to set up a business model with Open Source” right on their homepage. The take is straightforward: you should create your project or business in a way, that it works, BECAUSE it is Open Source, not DESPITE of it. There’s a section there on (6) Value Extraction which lists no less than 13 points for activating income sources… really ingenious. But I highly recommend reading the whole document. @SamMuirhead, Lars & co. have picked up exactly where the weaker points are in pitching this future and took concrete steps this second year of addresing them explicitly. More power to them, POC21 and all the rest.

Great post - thanks

I think the question about the everyday festival experience is interesting and there’s a bunch of part hackathon / part conference / part festival type events springing up that feel like they actively engage people in issues in actively creative ways that have a festival magnetism (issues from climate to circular economy debates.) This feels like a positive shift away from a conference culture of verbal speculation and towards something a little more like a festival with a focus. No doubt it is true that everyday responsibilities, jobs & financial struggle, bills, childcare and exhaustion constitute most people’s sense of why it is not possible for every day life to be like a festival.  The various activities at the ZAC centre during the COP21 in Paris really opened up to me that it is possible to engage people in a non festival environment with living differently for a set period of time. Like any ambitious creative production it took a solid team of energetic people, a shared vision (roughly!), interesting design, great communication strategy, a hub location and a clear invitation or question but did really galvanise creative focus, action and enthusiasm. It feels like there’s lots of interesting events emerging, linked to hacking, making, creative workshops & game-jam culture and people are really working with this sense of making clear well delivered invitations for creative action. The POC21 lot made clear that making “in public” and around a precise question has some real activist reach. Combining creative production & solid organisation with activism to enact alternatives opens up many possibilities for temporarily reclaiming the streets or living differently in the city.  There’s many examples that could be mentioned and, yes, also a lot of questions around longevity and sustainability. This post made me consider that there’s useful learning from festivals and how the early rave culture scaled up (or failed to scale up) to become rigorous music festival operations with serious production schedules & crews to share the load. I’ve worked a lot of music festivals but never put that one together before - thanks for posting.

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