You are from South England. What made you decide to come to Berlin?
I’d closed down my old business, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and a friend offered their couch. I thought why not. I never looked back, Berlin is a place for explorers, for creatives and people exploring the edges of possibility. It’s fascinating, exciting and laden with potential. Berlin is one of the last Bohemias, and I hope it remains so. Berlin gives me hope for the world.
What are you doing exactly?
Good Question - I’ve taken to describing myself as an enabler of interesting projects. I’m motivated by prototyping new forms of collaboration and new forms of living. This year I resolved only to work on projects that make sense, for me this means it has to be emotionally, economically, socially and environmentally meaningful. Presently I’m Chaordinating a MakerLab on Human Rights - an autonomous event where people are encouraged to explore, and share their ideas on Human Rights through making, and action.
You are based in Open design city; in betahaus. How do you like working in a co-working space – particularly Open Design City?
I thrive in collaborative spaces, ODC/ betahaus is a bridging space that allows for people of very different backgrounds to feel comfortable - from suits to hackers. I love the mix, it creates opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise arise.
Could you tell us more about the Human Rights MakerLab and about the vision behind the event?
A symbol for Human Rights was crowd sourced last year, we want to create the opportunity for people to attach meaning to this symbol, and to explore what Human Rights means to them through action and participation. The MakerLab is created by those who attend it, and who build it together. We create an event frame, where anyone who is interested to create an action or discussion within the frame of Human Rights is free to do so. People can even spontaneously participate - creating and action or workshop at the event, as well as attending and participating in the actions of others.
Right now the Human Rights MakerLab developing the infrastructure and approach for the event DMY (International design festival Berlin). How did you come in touch with the DMY, and do you have any expectations about the DMY?
The first MakerLab was born at DMY, so it’s exciting to be back in the space. The first MakerLab gave birth to the Open Design City, so our fates our intertwined. I’m looking forward to the event, and to see what people create with the opportunity - it’s always fascinating to see what grows out of simple seeds of permission to engage, and the chance to meet and work with others.
What is the aim of the Human Rights Maker Lab? Do you have any challenges in the future for The Human Rights Maker Lab?
The aim of the Human Rights MakerLab is to create a space for exploration of the topic, in order that solutions and ideas can occur, and existing successes can be shared.Personally I would like to see the lab continue in other countries. For me I would like to see the Lab develop, share and curate products, actions and behaviours which can be replicated and adopted to empower the Human Rights of everyone. Many of the rights and
human rights logo
freedoms which we take for granted are under threat, and there are others which we simply do not enjoy. We will become more aware of the absence of rights as the resources we require become harder to find or more expensive. I hope the Lab can demonstrate to people what they are capable of, and also raise questions as to what Human Rights means, and why it is relevant to our lives.I’m particularly excited by the prospect of a device that would contain all the information necessary for citizens of the world to create their own structures of empowerment - from social behaviours and strategies to combat oppression to knowledge of DIY medicine, farming tech, energy generation...this would act as a bootstrapped and slightly slower internet, connecting villages and cities with information relevant to improving lives and ensuring rights. The really exciting thing is - we can already see how it will work - we will begin prototyping in the lab.
What kind of advice would you give to young designers or explores looking to become successful these days?
First define your terms of success - note these are your terms not those of your parents or peer group. For me it’s the freedom to create in my own way, for you it may be different. Old models and business paradigms are failing, the future of everything lies in telling new stories. I travelled to old route, it left me miserable. Define what you want from the world, and what you want to offer. Communicate it clearly and encourage others to join you, allow for them to find their benefit from collaboration. Begin it - don’t seek perfection, just start to do something. Above all make your work meaningful and joyful.
Want to work with us? Follow this link to become a part of the community!
January was the month we settled in our new ‘haus at Rudi-Dutschke-Straße. Just like moving into a new apartment, it was cold at the start. It felt a little new and different, but the moment the Club Lounge started filling and members were getting lunch together at the betahaus | Cafe, a new magic started to happen. The magic we call the betahaus community. It takes time to build, but the connections that blossom inside the ‘haus stay forever.
In February betahausX released The Accessible Transportation Challenge - a partnership with Toyota Mobility Foundation for the BETAPITCH challenge in Berlin. Devoted to making Berlin a more accessible city, this edition of BETAPITCH gathered many startups working on great new transportation solutions.
In March, we announced a soon-to-be-open second location in Berlin in our favourite neighbourhood in the city. We took over the iconic Geyer Werke building in Neukölln and with the help of our architects from Kim Wang we turned the place into a four-floor coworking space. We shared with you some fun facts about the space before it’s opening and made a virtual map with our favourite businesses around the ‘haus.
In April, we celebrated a decade of coworking with our biggest party in the last few years - ''10 Years in beta''. For this one we transformed the coworking area in betahaus | Neukölln into a party venue. An art exhibition took over The Basement underneath and The Garden was filled with activities like acro yoga, mandala painting, and a collage workshop.
‘’One of my many favourite betahaus moments this year was when Christoph, Max and I stood nervously in the Garden to give a speech in front of all our friends and members at our 10th birthday party. We talked about our values, our future goals after this whirlwind of a change and our intention to make tech more human. There was just so much love and appreciation around us.’’ - Madeleine (Co-Founder, betahaus)
"My favourite betahaus moment of the year is the woman who was gently putting beef and minced meat around our 10 years party installation. Until this day, no one knows exactly who she was and if this was a part of the installation, but out of all the things we saw on the 10 years in beta, she stays my highlight.’’ - Maria (Graphic Designer, betahaus)
The 10 Years in beta party was also the official opening of betahaus | Neukölln. Spring was the perfect time for our new project to start growing. The Club Lounge started filling, amazing new teams joined the community such as LAUDO, Obst Digital, Wonderwerk, Trybe and The Zeitsprung Project. Our Gil became the Lord of the house, giving hugs to everybody, fixing all kinds of problems in the ‘haus and keeping it run smoothly with the rest of the Front Desk team. This was also the month when we launched our beloved weekly yoga classes guided by our dear Cynthia from Arrive Yoga.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.