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Thursday, August 18, 2016

A huge and unique cross-cultural fablab in Europe!

I was wondering what +Florian Horsch was doing lately. If you are a reader of this blog and do not know already about this great person, you may remember him because he kindly invited me the Fabcon conference for a speech about the businessman and the maker in Germany, 2014. I would have bet he was on a novel and useful project, but I did not expect it to be this big and humanist.
One of the biggest European fablab (725m²), and most probably the most inter-cultural one!

Here we know: he was busy with a cross-cultural NGO startup named Soup and Socks setting up a huge fablab in Norhern Greece, named habibi.works (habibi is one of my favorite word in Arabic, which means "close friend/brother" -- I am using my other best favorite to close this post!). Soup and socks is already helping migrants and refugees: "we act with people in need".

Now this specific project of a fablab is unique it its own. Beside its size, its location is unexpected. You will find it in Northern Greece... 200 m "only" from a refugee camp. So it adds a bridge between cultures and populations to the already nice values of a fablab. This will make the place certainly even more creative!

I consider it one of a few outstanding and practical ideas to try and connect so painfully named "heterogeneous populations" in order to reduce cultural and ethnics misconceptions ... and plain racism.

Easy a-priori made by who-does-not-want-to-tackle-the-whole-as-a-whole are the root of an increase in fascism all around the world right now, and obviously in Europe (this is weird since it knows too well about the danger of fascism...).
Europe, and the world is small. Borders are killing us all. Cooperation, education, respect is the key to a safe world.
Greediness and aggressiveness trigger and fuel wars and so-called terrorism (which imho may only be despair).
Aggressive attitudes towards migrants and refugees, and even more generally towards the "other" do create wars, it kills people, it increases poverty worldwide, and it definitely makes a world less safe for everyone... Too many people naively believe on the opposite: closing borders and refusing to give help where help is needed is shooting one's (and the others') own foot in the long term.

As our dead Coluche said decades ago, cynically as usual: "if you do not help and give them food they will come and eat in our plates". His humor was pretty spot on as usual. Some are even so desperate in our societies so tightly ruled by the richest that they also use Kalashnikovs to try and have their voice heard (even though the message is inarticulate, and overall a pity).

Back to habibi.works fablab. Beyond direct needed help, which is being given by many NGOs, the project reminds me of the few remote villages in Italy that willingly called and welcomed migrants and refugees for the benefit of everyone years ago. Economical integration is as important as tolerance, if not more. Both are heart-warming stories and pretty smart ideas made real.

Now, I cannot imagine the difficulties the habibi.works team went through, digging its path through legal stuff, through misconceptions, locally and globally. They certainly did not count their time and energy to get up to this point. Just being able to open it is a milestone in humanism in my opinion, because it certainly helped everyone to get a better view and respect of each other, that the main media seldom give (not to cite many toxic and short-sighted politicians...). It gives hopes and skills to the migrants also, in the first place.

Check also this dynamic, 360 degree view of the inside!

Obviously, as a non-profit organisation, Soup and Socks is welcoming funding.

It is not to open the fablab: as it happens right now. Both migrants and local people are already on-board, they already want to build projects, they want to attend workshops. Funding is actually needed to keep the running costs covered: as far as I could read, this is less than $1500, which is certainly not a lot for the size of the project (Soup and Socks is no huge NGO where money sometimes sadly "leaks" all everywhere). For example, the campaign is backed by Indiegogo's social branch, namely generosity.com where no commission applies, but donations are of course welcome directly and with different means like paypal here.

I want to stress it out: projects like these are for the benefit of everyone, well beyond the village of Katsikas, beyond Greece, and even beyond Europe. States should spend more money on collaborating actions to "address today's most pressing social challenges" (as stated by the 258 year-old charity videos from The RSA). Instead, we spend millions on building fences, and on sending people back to a place they flee away, whatever the reason.

Seriously, nobody wants to leave his own house and family, to go and cause trouble abroad... unless he is a fascist or he greedily wants the oil of his brother, seeding long-range and long-term trouble all around, up to his own place in the end.

In two words: Yallah habibi :)

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