Wohin des Weges?

Next station: Drahnsdorf

By Katja Hellkötter und Silvan Hagenbrock, June 2019

Alternative urbanism meets social entrepreneurship. China meets Europe. 30 CITYMAKERS from 16 cities – from Beijing and Berlin, Taipei and Vienna, Munich and Shanghai – all with powerful innovative ideas for future livable cities, came together for 2 and a half days at an almost magical place in the countryside south of Berlin: Drahnsdorf. What happened at Projektraum Drahnsdorf? And especially, what are the next steps?

Witnessing the huge challenge of developing good ideas into real actions and long-term sustainable project models’ the CITYMAKERS Social Entrepreneurship Competence Lab was designed by the CITYMAKERS core-team as a capacity building offer for urban changemakers from China and Europe working in the field of urbanism, sustainable and green city development, cultural or creative city making. Secluded from the 24/7 hectic of Berlin, we boosted the impact of their already existing pioneering ideas, co-created viable (Social) Business Models, designed scaling strategies and developed crowdfunding-campaigns.

Oliver May-Beckmann – senior social entrepreneurship expert and associated partner of CONSTELLATIONS International – led us through the Social Entrepreneurship Competence Lab main program. Oliver built up the social & sustainable entrepreneurship education programs of the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie – a joint initiative by the four university-based entrepreneurship centers in Munich, Germany. Online and offline, the programs of the Akademie enabled more than 15,000 students & young professionals to implement (social) start-up ideas.

In the face of the global housing crisis, climate justice and makers' cultures we were eager to learn from the participants' practices as well as from the questions they brought to Drahnsdorf:

Are we entering the age of social entrepreneurship?
How to develop an impact-driven scalable business model for a Schrebergarten?
Does social entrepreneurship extend our ability to shape a better livable environment?
Can we achieve environmental living and comfortable living simultaneously in the city of tomorrow?
How can we nurture our next generation to develop an entrepreneurial mindset?
What are the big challenges of our cities: Affordable housing and loneliness?
Is learning from the countryside the magic ingredient for innovative citymakers?
How to enable a creative link between the inspiring natural place and the challenges of citymakers?
How to involve and empower citizens to improve their environment independently?
How can we enhance the Sino-German cooperation in the fields of environment and energy?
Should innovation be thought globally?
What place helps us to live a low-carbon lifestyle?

Trying to find answers to some of these questions, we invited Markus Sauerhammer (Chairman SEND, Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland), Tristan Biere (Co-Founder Spacedigger & Stadtstattrand) and Andrea Weigt (Co-Founder Project Space Drahnsdorf, architect, philosopher) for a keynote session on the first day. Participants gained first insights about the potential of digital transformation for the design of a grandchild suitable future, the creative use of urban space and the new working and living culture in the countryside that combines modern knowledge about ecological cycles, digital and creative techniques and an international mind-set with traditional forms of sharing and solidarity.

The next day morning session started with ‘Reading the Traces of A Place’: What are the topics and objects that catch your interest in a PLACE? Why? How do you interact with the place? How are people using the place? CITYMAKERS China – Germany´s Yi Meng Wu and Katja Hellkoetter co-created a booklet as a tool for an alternative spatial cognition.

In "THE WORLD OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP RAPID PROTOTYPING & DESIGN THINKING METHODS" Oliver let us experience the power of state-of-the art methods for fast-paced, human centered design while showing examples of social entrepreneurship and presenting a definition of the term. What we learned: social entrepreneurship tries to change the target group’s lives’ situations.

Crowdfunding is a participatory approach, a real-time iteration test with your customers and a first funding opportunity. Participants learned the key factors to run a successful campaign in "A GUIDELINE FOR CROWDFUNDING".

Doing good – talk about it! The "STORYTELLING AND PITCH TRAINING" session raised the questions of "what is the secret of a thrilling cross-media communication?", "How to deliver the perfect pitch?" and "How to improve your storytelling skills!". A main strategy for a successful storytelling is based on Simon Sinek’s The Golden Circle which includes the WHAT, the HOW and the WHY. "WHAT represents the products or services a company sells. The HOW is an explanation of what the company does. The WHY is about what a company believes in, not about making profit. Therefore, inspired and influential companies communicate from the inside out rather than outside in."[1]

Finally, in the session SOCIAL BUSINESS MODELLING FOR CITYMAKERS participants learned about the theoretical background – re-think and co-create a socially, environmentally and financially sustainable business model for their idea/project.

After presenting six Business Model Canvases we realised within the group that social entrepreneurship holds an under-leveraged potential for actors in the field of urban change making. Key success factors for collaboration across cultures in Europe and China proved once more: Curiosity and openness of individual professionals who – despite living in sometimes fundamentally different contexts and systems – share the same purpose and passion for making a difference for better urban life. Common values of all CITYMAKERS-cases: Putting community, culture or nature at the very heart of attention in city making.