Nationellt nätverksmöte i Göteborg den 15 mars 2016

JPI Urban Europe-projektet SEiSMiC – om sociala innovationer i/för städer är inne på sitt sista verksamma år. Det svenska SEiSMiC-nätverket arrangerade ett nationellt nätverksmöte i Göteborg den 15 mars 2016.

Under mötet diskuterades sociala innovationer kring flyktingvälkomnande – sådana som redan introducerats och sådana som väntar på att realiseras, som till exempel byggandet av tillfälliga bostäder för nyanlända i Frihamnen. Internationella masterstudenter från Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk ställde ut resultatet av dagskisser om ”design för transformativa platser”.

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Nätverksmötet tog avstamp i de nya initiativ för flyktingmottagande som uppstått under det senaste året. Många av dessa drar nytta av internet-baserade verktyg som på många sätt liknar de plattformar som uppstått inom den så kallade ”delningsekonomin”. Exempelvis har organisationen Refugees Welcome lanserat en boendeförmedlingstjänst som liknats med tjänsten Airbnb. Nätverksmötet diskuterade hur dessa nya initiativ fungerar i praktiken, och undersökte samspelet mellan de tekniska och mellanmänskliga aspekterna av sociala innovationer.

Nedan kan du läsa en sammanfattning av mötet på engelska.

Report from the third National Network Meeting, March 2016:
New urban economies and refugees welcoming

On a sunny spring day in March, members from the Swedish national network and invited guests from Eurocities and the UK partners from CSES met in Gothenburg’s old free port ("Frihamnen") for the third SEiSMiC national network meeting. Frihamnen is one of Gothenburg’s most important sites for inner-city development, located some five public transportation minutes from the Grand central station and the city’s most central districts. Until 2021 and the city’s 400 years’ jubilee, some 3000 new apartments and a whole new city district will rise here, giving the city quite a new water frontline. 

With ”new urban economies” as the thematic focus point, the meeting was devoted the subject of social innovations for refugees welcoming. Many of the initiatives invited promote internet based tools that in many ways remind of those developing in the sharing economy (i.e. air bnb, etc.).

Presentations were given by Älvstranden utveckling (developing company, owned by city of Gothenburg); Refugee Phones; Refugees Welcome and the Refugee Guide integration center for the city of Gothenburg.

With a majority of the initiatives being voluntary, they witness shared experiences of growing fast in order to meet high demands, facing difficulties concerning lack of both time and financial resources. The following discussions revolved around how social innovation and city administrations can cooperate, how there are challenges particular for such social and voluntary initiatives as well as issues concerning the discrepancy between technical and social innovation.

During the morning world café session, presentations were held by Hack for Refugees and Invitationsdepartementet (the Invitation Department), followed by a joint discussion together with the other initiatives. These discussions further touched upon the fact that even though the aim is to help people, much of that work is of a “dry” administrative character, almost like setting up web-shop, like in the case of Refugee Phones. As Hanna Wekell of Refugee Phones put it, “the most satisfying part of the work is when we know that an immigrant has gotten in contact with a relative far away”.

Beyond the initial phases, the initiatives face questions on how to adapt themselves and their business models in order to sustain their work for the long haul.  The initiative Integration Center Gothenburg started as an initiative with support from EU and was integrated into the organization of the municipality, giving it an important continuity. Such issues were imminent throughout the day: making initiatives permanent and given a resilient structure is a key challenge. The authorities need to find better ways to co-operate and support local NGO initiatives, both in economic terms as well as coordinators; there are many possible coinciding effects to be created.

Another issue discussed was that people are great at constructing platforms (i.e. sites) for various needs and situations concerned with the refugee situation in Sweden. As put by Lahdo Burun of Refugee Guide, city of Gothenburg, “there is no need to pay a lot of money for different platforms, that is easy today and there are several good ones already available. The problem is to get people to use them. We need to do PR, but that’s costly”. 

During the afternoon, representatives from the City of Gothenburg organized a walk-shop through Frihamnen (the Free port) and more specifically the Jubilee Park and an adjacent area where the city is planning for temporary housing for 600 students, refugees and international guest workers. Today the park holds several meeting places, a sauna, an outdoors pop up library, a sailing school, a playground for children and more. The idea behind the Jubilee Park is that the citizens of Gothenburg will build it themselves, by integrating and using the space. In this way it will grow and evolve naturally and socially. This unique way of building urban places – a method labelled “place-making activities” is thought to be an ongoing growing project for and by everyone. The idea is also to establish the physical and social structures for the temporary housing.

The Swedish SEiSMiC-network is a cooperation between IQ Samhällsbyggnad and Mistra Urban Futures. SEiSMiC revolves around ten European cities and countries and their work around social innovation. The project alternates between national network meetings and international forums. The aim is to create national networks and international knowledge exchange.

Hela programmet (PDF)

Det svenska SEiSMiC-nätverket är ett samarbete mellan IQ Samhällsbyggnad och Mistra Urban Futures. SEiSMiC-projektet bygger på tio europeiska städers och länders arbete kring sociala innovationer. Projektet växlar mellan nationella nätverksmöten och internationella fora (i Bryssel) där syftet är att skapa nationella nätverk och internationella kunskapsutbyten. 

Photographer: Emmy Lilliehorn