On 23-34 May 2012 a collaboration meeting of HUB members & partners took place at Ca’ Foscari, Venice as part of the INSITE program to explore: How can we trigger innovation and collaboration between sustainability practitioners across Europe? The HUB and the INSITE Project brought together 21 sustainability practitioners working at the cutting edge of innovation within industry, urban development, energy, technology and policy across Europe. In this two-day workshop, they were invited to share their unique views and experiences in the current sustainability landscape.
The result was the seeding of new collaborations and strengthened relationships.
We interviewed Dr. Anja Christanell, General manager of the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development and representative of the HUB Vienna in the meeting. Her strong interest in cooperating with people who would like to move and transform openly and respectfully, create open spaces and realize creatively inspired ideas in science, business, schools, administration, culture and design can be seen in the interview below.
How did you like the INSITE initiative? Describe it in a few words.
It’s a great opportunity not only to meet inspiring people from all over Europe, but also to enter into a real dialogue with them. At conventional events people present their ideas in powerpoint presentations, and everybody else is listening or not listening and doing something else like checking emails, etc.
INSITE was an open-ended experiment that encourages people to take risks and just talk which can make it challenging to keep people focused on a particular theme. INSITE accepted this challenge and turned it into an event, and people ended up being highly focused on the discussed issues, interested in others’ ideas and really motivated to bring their own ideas to the table.
Tatiana Glad (HUB Amsterdam) and Alberto Masetti-Zannini (HUB Milan) led us through the process for two days and really supported each other in keeping the motivation, dedication and focus of the group. The participants communicated with respect and appreciation for one another’s even when they came from different fields or with different research backgrounds. The applied methods perfectly balanced openness and structure. And let’s not forget, the amazing palazzo where the event took place!
What impact did INSITE have on you?
The event left me optimistic, which differed from many other sustainability events, from which participants often leave without new insights and with an attitude of resignation. Maybe it was just the right mixture of experienced, courageous and grounded personalities who had a great sense of humor and self-irony on the one side, and the capacity to critically analyze on the other. It’s a combination I highly appreciated.
I’ve also learned to perceive inspiring people more and more as potential partners which is exciting, and the more events I attend, the more sensitive I’ve become to the limitations of conferences and meetings where you don’t really get a chance to enter into group dialogue. I’m planning to apply all the methods learned from INSITE to my future projects.
How would you see this initiative evolving? What are the next potential steps?
Besides keeping in touch with the group and some individuals, I’d love to meet with the same group and to build upon what we already started. I feel like each time you have this kind of event, a part of it is spent getting to know the potentials and strengths within the group, and so from my point of view, the next step would be bringing the same people together and to work on concrete co-operations, calls, etc.
That being said, I think it’s important to keep the initiative open to newcomers, and to keep fostering the space to think, create, develop and refuse.
What is the most important thing you left INSITE with?
More courage to initiate, to listen and to experiment.