Idea Camp 2015 – report by Paul Currion

Pametnija Zgrada went to Sweden! Well, I went to Sweden for Ko Gradi Grad and Pametnija zgrada, to IdeaCamp 2015. This is the second year of IdeaCamp, run by the European Cultural Foundation through a network of 6 partners. 50 Idea Makers from all over Europe were all invited to discuss and develop our ideas over three days. Following the camp, we are now asked to develop a funding proposal for more research and development in our topic.

idea_camp(Watch the video of  Paul explaining)

You remember that we developed a financial model for affordable housing as part of the EU Mild Home competition. I have been looking at the problem of finance in collective action, i.e. raising money and managing resources. While we don’t have solutions, I believe that there are opportunities created by new financial technologies combined with older approaches (such as timebanks). This was the basis of the idea that we presented at IdeaCamp.

We spent three days at Subtopia in the municipality of Botkyrka in Stockholm. Botkyrka is one of the most ethnically diverse and poorest parts of Sweden (with 25% unemployment), although it does not look like how I imagine – lakes, forests, lots of public space and play areas. The Subtopia complex has several buildings, hosting different activities, including a circus, meeting facilities, and business incubator.

The schedule was packed – we spent 10 hours every day in the venue, although there was a lot of free time to talk with each other, as well as some interesting presentations and panel discussions. However everybody I spoke to agreed that the event wasn’t very useful for developing their ideas – we did not have enough time – but it was excellent for the conversations we had with each other.

IdeaCamp was of limited use for us, but for a very interesting reason. None of the other ideas connected to the housing shortages that affect many countries, and none of the other participants had any financial expertise. As a result nobody was able to give me feedback, except to say that our approach to housing was very interesting (and ambitious!), and that there is a definite need for better financial tools for commons-based activities.

So: there is a big gap in the “commons community” around these issues. We now have to decide whether to apply for the research grant, to explore the issue of community finance. During the workshop I realised that this is a huge topic, and we might not be the best group to work on it. However it seems that nobody else is working on it, and so there is a huge need for somebody to take up the challenge.

(photo: Julio Albarrán/ECF)


There is also an article from the Guardian with a different perspective –