People make places… our week in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

Just back from Moscow where we hosted a workshop at Strelka Institute over the last week.

Together with 15 students from all kinds of professional backgrounds (just as we like it, from financial advisors and sociologists all the way to architects) we explored the district of Otradnoe in the north of Moscow — starting with a derive and ending with a grand finale where the students’ proposals around community building and strategies to facilitate communication and exchange were shared with the people of Otradnoe.

The group of people dressed up in red raincoats and A-Boards must have been a novel sight for a Thursday evening, and it was great to watch the level of engagement and interest from the audience.

Now, how can we sustain the momentum and maybe take some of the ideas further?

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Day 2: Research in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

We saw some excellent deriving presentations today — especially impressed by the human chessboard strategy… And of course the graphic novel telling the tale of the industrial area!

The next phase of the workshop is to test the insights of the initial site research and some of the questions it threw up with a constructed situation — each team will go back into Otradnoe and stage a small intervention or action of some sort, to provoke responses, to engage people in conversations or to simply test a few assumptions.

Day 1: Storytelling in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

Yesterday was the first day of our workshop at Strelka Institute — part of the summer school ‘Agents of Change’. We wanted the workshop participants to approach ‘our district’ Otradnoe with as few preconceptions and assumptions as possible, with as little purpose and aim as possible, and to simply soak up the city and see what happen — so we didn’t really brief them about what was going to happen on Monday and the rest of the week.

We simply sent them out in small groups, each allocated a rough area of the district, and asked them to explore the environment through a derive, borrowing from the situationists…

We did our own bit of exploring today, in brilliant sunshine, and found beautiful green spaces, lots of apple trees, garages and wide roads with few crossings — and we envied the families that were barbecuing in the parks… Now, we are excited to see what the teams come back with tomorrow morning!

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