Since 2017 we run a mobile fablab to operate in rural and decentralized areas in East Germany. The project is a huge success and we reached a grat amount of young, encouraged and inspired people off the beaten track. There are so many talented young people outsside the urban city centers. As we´ve been to few places twice or more with our Fabmobil, we saw the need of more regular structures to explore creative rechnooogies and artistic practices. Therefore we founded the Lokallabore Network. Lokallabore – which is german for local labs, are a network of originally three small sized makerspaces, that are not situated in metropolitan environments but iin smaller towns and villages. They understand themselves as a group in which they share ideas, technological infrastructures, knowledge and methods and first of all the joy of hacking, tinkering and going crazy with tech.
Lokallabore are empowering marginalized groups in decentralized rural areas. Due to demographic change beginning in the early ninites due to the falling wall a lot of acteurs left the non urban areas in the former GDR. This brain drain led to the loss of role models. There is also no identification as future makers. A majority does not see themselves as change makers. With the Lokallabore we provide a setting to become a change maker. Youths get the chance to explore new technologies and the progressive, democratic open source approach linked with it. This spills over on social behaviours and impact on the surroundings. By the intended network character of the Lokallabore, the active youths can connect with like minded peers in other rural communities.
The process to build up the lab was fully participatory. MA Student Haakon Hilse cinducted various workshops with the local peer groups to gain insight in their expectations and wishes for the space. The ideas led to the design of a furniture system that applies on all the Lokallabore and is visually significant and functional adaptable.
The Labs unite under one digital roof. It´s a website that displays all the activities and enables users and activists to share ideas and formats.
As a design studio and related non profit practice we enable the local peer groups to build up their own space. We help curating input sessions, conduct activation formats and brief the locals in how to run an open space not only now, but on a longer stretch. For a period of 3 years we accompany the groups in shaping their own lab. We help in applying for grants and empower them in conversations with local authorities and politicians.
The network is growing. Starting under pandemic conditions in 2020 as three Lokallabore, we widen the network on up to 6 labs in Saxony and Brandburg. We are integrated in larger Networks such as Verbung offener Werkstätten.