During the workshop in Kenya we came to learn that the prices for land are way higher than what we had been originally told and that our initial goal of supporting the school in their attempt to purchase their own land wasn‘t very realistic. The material experiments and product ideas we presented to the kids were adopted very well and were quickly adjusted, improved or reframed. A lot of the children stated their wish to continue the project, build and learn more things and even discover the potential for a professional future in carpentry, pottery or other craft-based work. On the students‘ side, the feedback was similar. Instead of having wrapped up a semester project, the workshop participants felt that this was rather the beginning of something bigger. That it should go on and be turned into an economically sustainable business concept.
The cooperation with Antony Karori had proven very reliable and fruitful. His interest in professionalising his design and craft skills came natural to his prior artistic work and the children trust him and love to work with him. He is the hub between the German students and the Kenyan kids and teachers from the schools, having built relationships on both ends. Due to these facts we shifted direction towards the rather pragmatic and tangible goal of bringing Antony to Germany, integrating him in the next design project, REGENERATE!, offering him access to University amenities to skill up and learn from and share with the students, thus taking home the new insights and spread them in the Nyendo community while working as the local project lead of Supernova Institute responsible both for The Love School Project and REGENERATE!.This attempt was inhibited by German bureaucracy, denying Antony‘s visa application for presumptuous reasons, which in itself is a tremendous proof for the educational work that needs to be done to reduce prejudices, barriers and the general paranoia the “global north” has of the “global south”. The power games this project‘s participants have been exposed to, both from the very institution they study at as well as the government‘s administration are quite worrisome (which funded a workshop significantly run by Antony yet didn‘t allow his visit to conclude it, still processing remonstrance at the time of publishing). It evokes serious reflections about how to approach this obvious systemic imbalance from the project‘s perspective, as well as from the Supernova Institute, as an internationally operating organisation.
While the organisation will tackle administrative concerns, thinking about residency programs and other ways to simplify the real exchange between open minded people and imaginary, law enforced borders, REGENERATE! will focus on urban food systems, permaculture and coop-gardening. By pursuing topics that are as important in both cultural contexts when it comes to empowering communities and gaining self-sufficiency, the project will offer a great chance for knowledge exchange, sharing techniques and analysing structures and relationships on a systemic level. The project will investigate different scenarios (in Berlin and Nairobi) to understand systemically how to tackle challenges connected to urban food production.
Meanwhile, The Love School Project will be pushed to the next level, developing a corporate design, a curatorial concept for the design of products, a business model and potential distribution channels within Kenya and internationally . Combined with the results that come out of REGENERATE! and additional projects in the future, the current vision is to develop a package of methods and hands-on approaches for communities in the “global south” to finance and feed themselves, thus liberating themselves from passively waiting for donations by a corrupt and dysfunctional charity business and being treated poorly by global power structures.
On an academic level, the aim is to integrate these projects in a PhD research project, looking at how to empower local communities through co-creation, design and direct distribution. Over a period of 5+ years, different projects will be pursued within the global south, analysing the effect of culture, community and social structure when applying these methods and hands-on approaches, to better understand the relation and connectedness of these constraints and therefore build better methods and tools.
-Susanne Stauch, March 2017