A key question is how these spaces are filled to best use. This article describes the speed dating process between city authority departments and bottom-up initiatives which are candidates for the temporary use of urban vacant spaces. The challenges of Zaklad Markerspace in Poznan Zaklad is a Makerspace hosted for a temporary period in a disused former printing company in the centre of Poznan.
Yes but what is really a makerspace and what does it mean for the neighbourhood around? These forms of open and collective workshops are popping-up in cities all over the world.
Like many such social innovations, they show evidence of strong assets in terms of social empowerment attracting unemployed youth, fostering collective projects , capacity-building teaching skills, triggering economical activities , sustainable lifestyles recuperating wasted material, teaching maintenance and repair of goods , etc.
As an innovation in progress, it is promising, fresh, but not always very clear and often a bit clunky. Their promoters themselves have a fuzzy idea of what could be the rationale and the arguments when seeking support from social entrepreneurship business angels or public authorities.
They show a strong potential but at the same time they present huge difficulties to express and realise it. Temporary use initiatives sometimes have difficulties to connect with the different departments of the city administration. They often don't express their intentions and projects in a readable way to match the city policy priorities or to tap into the different municipality departments' agendas.
Reciprocally, the city administration tends to look at temporary use initiatives through their own grids of structural organisation and policy orientations. They tend then to miss opportunities to liaise with social innovation's dynamics and fail to build win-win cooperation with citizens. Designing a meeting process between city administration departments and candidates for temporary use Cases like Zaklad Makerspace raised in REFILL the idea of organizing a 'matchmaking process' between such promising grassroots initiatives and city administration.
This matchmaking process should take the form of a co-construction workshop where different social and cultural initiatives could sit together with different departments of the municipality and investigate possible collaborations. The aim of the matchmaking would be to look for synergies on burning problems such as social inclusions, youth employment, sustainable education, etc.
But are we dreaming here or can we really do it? As Zofia from Zaklad would have surely said: Scheme by REFILL consortium Brokering between city departments and local initiatives in Ghent The city administration hardly knows the many initiative of social innovation in the city and all these initiatives hardly know each other. We need then to bring all these stakeholders into the same room to let them familiarize and discover each other.
The city of Ghent is accustomed to organize such gathering as they recently did with the Bibmarkt: This was an incredible successful marketplace of social innovation organized by the Policy Participation Service together with the different departments of the city administration and policy makers. The REFILL Match-Makers process has built on this idea of the city playing the role of a broker bringing all the stakeholders together proposing a matching process.
But they also followed the advice of the intiatives to then let it go and leave it to them to find mates and organize partnerships. Photo by Strategic Design Scenarios Simulating public private people partnership in Amersfoort Stakeholders' gatherings, participation processes, citizens' forums and such like are more and more common within city governance. Here again an average of participants were involved in a speed dating event.
And this is where the method is inspiring: About such fake contracts were signed in one day: Here also this experience is very inspiring for the REFILL Match-Makers process showing that departments of the city administration and bottom-up initiative should not only meet but expect concrete collaborations to start right-away.
On-site and out of comfort zone The REFILL Match-Makers process started with on-site visits involving civil servants out of the comfort zone of the city administration. The intention is to see initiatives in their own contexts and not only through the applications they submit to answer city's calls. The tour of initiatives in Cluj allowed city departments to visit Fabrica de Pensule a former paintbrush factory temporarily hosting more than 70 art studios and 7 art galleries; Reactor contemporary arts, theatre, craft workshops temporary center; Somes delivery temporary installations along the Somes river; etc.
It allowed also the initiatives themselves to take part in the tour and discover and liaise with each other. Photo by City of Cluj Inviting players to share their agenda Both bottom-up initiatives and departments of the city administration were considered as separate parties at stake sharing their intention with one slide picturing who they are and why they want to take part.
If Pecha-Kucha-like speed presentations is common ground for social, cultural or business initiatives, it is far less common to see public administration departments presenting themselves with one large picture and a claims such as the "improve the touristic offer with quality projects"; "increase the city collaboration with informal initiatives"; "act as ambassadors in order to link initiatives and private investors" or "better accommodate bottom-up initiatives through the development of temporary use in Cluj"; etc.
Cluj stakeholders engaged so far sat together in one-to-one configurations. Speed dating setting allows going beyond generic discussions generally leading to nowhere. They focused on what a specific initiative and a specific city department could do together. We all realized that simple discussion and imagining ideal situations where we could help each other brought a lot more than we thought they could. All that took place at the Cluj Makerspace, echoing where the all process was ideated in Poznan.
The space of the printing company where they were hosted has been sold and Zaklad urgently needed to find a new place to settle in the city. The Match-Makers process was presented to Zaklad Makerspace. Zaklad's organizing team found it interesting in the perspective of their future activities.
In parallel the Match-Makers process was also presented to different departments of the city administration both rising informally interest among colleagues from cooperating departments and sending official invitations. The same day one-to-one meetings took place between Zaklad organizers and representatives of different parts of Poznan city administration: Every hour, starting from midday the different departments came and discussed new perspectives of collaboration.
In particular, a great match emerged between Zaklad and the Department of Education outlining possible actions directed to students, participation in the events organised by the City, special programmes of entrepreneurship for schools. Most of them can be started right away while Zaklad Makerspace makes use of a new temporary use period in the old paper mill building.