Christoph Fahle
May 14, 2012

Startup of the Week: Terranauten

The Terranauten is a project of professional dancer Lisa Oettinghaus and freelance photographer Kay Strasser. They have developed a symbiotic project between dimensions of the creative worlds: text meets dance meets photography, creating something new. Terranauten explores spaces with gravity, and provides a relation between the act of flying, and the texture of the ground.

The Terranauten is a project of professional  dancer Lisa Oettinghaus and freelance photographer Kay Strasser. They have developed a symbiotic project between dimensions of the creative worlds: text meets dance meets photography, creating something new. Terranauten explores spaces with gravity, and provides a relation between the act of flying, and the texture of the ground. This is what they capture in exciting photos that show what cannot be, taken without tricks, without any technical manipulations and without photomontage.  The Terranauten have been betahaus members since last October.

What and who are the Terranauten?

Kay: Terranauten is an interdisciplinary project between dancing and photography. We met each other last autumn, Lisa performed in the backyard of betahaus, and I realised then that she is able to fly. That was the main idea of the whole project. I asked her to do a project about flying, she agreed and we started prototyping.

Lisa: We started like two freelancers, working from ODC. By coincidence, he saw me while I was doing a performance and took a really nice picture when I jumped. After the performance, he talked to me and asked me about working on a project where I was outside gravity. Afterwards, we made a project out of it and we have developed the technique for making me appear as though I was always flying. Nowadays, I appear higher off the ground than before – this is because over several months, we’ve developed our techniques, and also chosen the right surfaces, the right lighting, the right dress to wear, and other things.

Terranauten projekt

What is your main aim with the Terranauten project?

Kay: First aim is to do more art and creative work in betahaus. The second aim is to have an interesting project to impress the people, and to show them that there are still things which are possible.

Lisa: …and to make people to look from another perspective, to touch them, and make something beautiful out of gravity, the power which is given by the earth.

Terranauten project is working with Startnext. Can you tell me more about your collaboration?

Kay: We were thinking about how to raise money for a whole project. We thought about cofounding at first. We found Startnext, and it was pure working together. We will be presenting at the Browse photo festival in June. Startnext also wanted to implement the idea of cofounding in the whole festival and combine that with photography.

Lisa: In the end, we wanted to do also an exhibition there and in betahaus, and with Startnext and cofounding, we were able to get more publicity. The project is still like an experiment – we don’t know where we’ll end up, but we do put a lot of time and effort into it, so we do need money in the end.

Terranauten projekt XI

Lisa: We brainstormed in the beginning, and wrote a long list of surfaces where we want to jump – snow, ice, and so on – and then we got started. We keep challenging the idea of what would be possible.

Kay: We always keep our eyes open when looking for interesting locations.

You are based in Open design city, in betahaus. How does working in this space affect what you do?

Lisa: We get a lot of inspiration here at ODC. People help us with design, brainstorming and other details. The community is really nice, and they support us a lot, mentally and practically. We want to create a community that supports what we do, and is interested in it, and we found just that in betahaus.

Kay: It is our home and our community.

Terranauten project VI

What are your future plans?

Lisa: With Startnext, we would like to organise a flashmob; the people will be the surface, and I will be jumping over them. So the aim is to get more challenges with it, and take more difficult pictures which seem even more impossible than the ones we’ve already done so far.  We are also thinking of taking pictures at different locations in Berlin – we’re thinking of taking some at Alexanderplatz, which is one of the city’s best-known locations –  and in other cities, and maybe even making a video.

Kay: I would like to ask you to please support us on Startnext (http://www.startnext.de/terranauten ) it is really important to us, because we need as many people to support us as possible. With that, we’ll be able to do further work and to develop ourselves. All kinds of support are welcome, and we will reward our supporters with photos, postcards, posters, and other gifts.

Want to work with us? Follow this link to become a part of the community! 

In our previous interview from 2017 Lubomila told us about how a trip to Morocco got her really concerned about the future of our planet and absolutely changed her life path. After this trip, Lubomila became obsessed with learning about climate change. She started reading books, taking online courses and pursued her own research which would later serve as the foundation of their current online platform.

Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
A typical working day at Plan A's Team Desk - Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: I started creating a massive spreadsheet with indicators about every country on our planet. Then I compared how much money flows into these countries with regards to protecting nature, versus what is actually happening in the country. It turned out that there are a lot of discrepancies. That’s when I decided to quit my job in London, move to Berlin and start my own company. And this is how in April 2017, Plan A was born. 

After meeting Christoph (Co-Founder, betahaus | Berlin) at the birthday party of betahaus | Sofia, and talking with him about sustainability in Berlin, Lubomila came to betahaus for a trial month and never left. In the beginning, she worked alone on the project. On her own, Lubomila developed the first version of their website and made a call on social media for people who want to help her with her mission. And this is how Nathan joined Plan A in 2017.

Nathan: I was finishing a project with a former organization that was working in fundraising and communication back then. When I saw the call on social media saying that Lubomila was searching for support to do fundraising for sustainable and  climate action, I directly hopped on the call and we have been working together ever since.

With two people on its team, Plan A started taking shape and turned into the first-ever knowledge and donation platform solely for the fight against climate change. Every month they focused on one project, spreading information and raising money. 

Plan A betahaus Nathan Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
Nathan working on some content ideas - Photo by Lea GK


Lubomila: One of the biggest issues that I faced really early in the process was that the science behind climate change was really complicated and very poorly or not at all communicated. It was hard for stakeholders to understand the problem and get involved. With the initial platform in 2017, I wanted to make it clear to people how they can get involved, explain the different projects we have running around the world and, what kind of problem they’re solving.

Nathan: It’s important to add that Plan A has always been data-driven. The foundation of anything that we do is the data that we’ve been collecting since the beginning.

Lubomila: Exactly! Having this foundation, we now have two sides of Plan A. One is for the individuals - providing informative content in all kinds of forms and building a community - and the other one is focused on helping businesses become more sustainable. 

Lubomila: Our team has also grown a lot in the last couple of months. We currently have 9 people on the team and we’ve evolved in something like the United Nations because we have people from South Africa, France, India, UK, Australia, I personally come from Bulgaria …

The full Plan A Team - Photo by Lea GK


Nathan: The first step is always to learn more about the problem, understand it in-depth and then find how to make positive changes in your lifestyle, day by day. We as a company try to inform individuals and also empower them to speak up, and use their voice in their surroundings and social circles and so they can start implementing this climate change action on a bigger scale.

Lubomila: That’s why since the beginning, we focus mostly on gathering data on the problem and sharing it in a fun and digestible way. There are a few channels that we focus on when it comes to the connection with individuals. We have The Academy, where we do interviews and expert analysis explaining the problems in a very kind way. We have Mighty Networks, which is a closed platform where individuals and NGOs can talk to each other and exchange knowledge. And of course, we have events, which is a really powerful tool for us to build a community. These events are focused on meeting scientists, on fundraising for environmental organizations or on educating people about issues that they maybe didn't know of.

Nathan: One of the most important parts of your mission against climate change as an individual is making it fun. It’s not about limiting yourself or making huge sacrifices. We rather see it as an opportunity and it can actually be cool.

Small details on Plan A's Team Desk - Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: That’s true! What we have made sure that happens there and Nathan has been amazing with this, is that we consistently speak positively about the issues, not because we’re in a positive situation, but because the only way you can empower people is by giving them a set of tools with which they can act and encouraging them that they have the capacity to be part of the change. If we continue speaking about apocalyptic statistics, that in 12 years, we're going to die or that you have to blame this stakeholder or that stakeholder, we're never going to get anywhere close to solving the issues. Solving the issues is about collaboration.

Nathan: My main challenge as a head of content was how to get a maximum number of people on board and make them as efficient as possible. Since we are a data-driven company, a lot of my time is spent translating this information into something that is understandable and actionable I’m constantly looking at everything that everyone does outside of Plan A and finding a way to represent our content in a positive and engaging way.

Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
Details from Plan A's Team Desk and Space - Photo by Lea GK

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Lubomila: The carbon footprint of a company is always involving what's happening in the actual office but it also involves the external partners and choices. We always advise companies to start in-house, looking at what's happening in their office and within their team. As second comes the communication aspect including how you present yourself as a brand and what you communicate to your customers or online followers. Then the final step is actually implementing changes on a product level, looking deep at the supply chain, and checking if all small parts of your product are sustainable - for ex. the packaging, products made with palm oil, etc.

Lubomila: Our focus has been shifted towards actually educating businesses on what is sustainability and helping them connect to actions that can make them immediately more sustainable, and reduce their carbon emission level. This is also where our new tool comes in handy. We have built a platform which calculates, monitors and offsets CO2 emissions, that are created by a certain company and connects them to environments and projects that you can now see on our platform.

Photo by Lea GK

If a company wants to get on their sustainability journey, they come to us and the first thing we do is an initial analysis. We ask them around 20 questions, which gives us an overview of how sustainable or unsustainable they are, we understand what's their emission level on a monthly basis and then we propose to them projects that they can use to offset their emissions. The point of this, and why we shifted is because actually, close to 70% of emissions on this planet are created by businesses. And unfortunately, very few businesses actually have any sustainability strategy. They don't know how to become better and they don't know what they need to do. So, this is where we're helping to kind of giving them an action plan as well as a place where they can immediately support a positive impact.

Vihra (betahaus): We as a company have also worked together with Plan A to create an actionable plan for our spaces and make them more sustainable. They also keep us accountable and support us on our journey. So why don’t you? 
Photo by Lea GK


Nathan: I was really happy to see that there were lots of marches in different places in the city I was really hopeful and happy to see that there were kids, parents, teachers, party crews, everyone was on the streets and it was nice to see so many people concerned and involved with this. This being said, I come from France. Protest there includes much more loud voices, cries and chants and it was what I'm kind of used to. So to me it was very, very orderly but I left very hopeful, actually. 

Nathan: At the same time it’s important to remember that Berlin is a bubble for sustainability

Lubomila: That’s true. There are a lot of projects happening at the moment which sometimes can be deceiving. Because it lets people think that this is what the whole planet thinks and feels. It generates a bit of a fake hope about our moving on the climate change topic. I would say that when Plan A started, it was really difficult to find anyone to speak about climate change. Now. It's kind of THE topic but we still have a long way to go.

Plan A at the Climate Strike in Berlin on 20th September - Photo by Lubomila

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Lubomila: This Sunday I just discovered this new restaurant that opened in Mitte called FREA. It’s zero waste and is a result of a crowdfunding campaign. It's a really beautiful place with very good food and nice values.

Nathan: My new favourite place is called Karma Kultur. It’s a little space, arranged with wooden planks and decoration. And I just stumbled upon it while walking around, exploring my new neighborhood. And it’s really nice. The owners try to live fully sustainable or be as fully sustainable as possible.

Lubomila Yordanova, Nathan Plan A and Vihra betahaus Lea GK
Lubomila, Nathan and Vihra in betahaus | Kreuzberg - Photo by Lea GK

If you haven’t already, make sure to follow Plan A’s Instagram account to get your daily dose of fun facts, stories and event updates around climate change.

You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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