Mobile Open Culture and Innovation Hub
“We are Ivo Krug and Arnen Sula from Tek Bunkeri, Tina Kuzman and Una Jovovic from Munja in Podgorica, Lulzim Hoti and Rinor Kurshumliu from 7-Arte in Mitrovica, Tiemo Ehmke from icebauhaus from Weimar and Berlin, Thalia Rizou and Xrysa Petala from Youthnest in Thessaloniki, Ana Marica from Home in Fagaras in Romania. Together we are Mobile Open Culture and Innovation Hub [MOCI].
We all are working as younger or more established NGOs in community projects and initiatives in our local contexts, bridging arts and culture with education in fields such as social entrepreneurship, environment, youth empowerment and community building.
Arnen and me met in summer 2017 when we worked for the first time on a temporary artistic transformation of a military base. Arnen is an architect and urban planner by profession and an activist by heart. My own background is a mix of political and social sciences, cultural work and social and creative entrepreneurship.
Since 2017 we follow the vision of sustainable rural development through community building and the connection of culture and arts with social entrepreneurship.
The idea of the MOCI initiative emerged in late 2019 after reflecting on our journey in Albania so far with the numerous community meetings we had in different regions as well as our pilot project with three villages in central Albania and its very productive ideation phase. The closing of our pilot phase fell together with a series of events and meetings with international communities such as MitOst, ChangemakerXChange or the Ljubljana Creative Forum. During these exchanges we met many other inspiring young actors from the region and beyond, and even though the professional backgrounds and also event format and communities differed, it became clear that many of us share similar local challenges and that our complimentary skills and backgrounds would enable us as a team to address them with new approaches. Only a vision and structure were missing that would connect us across borders and aside of project funds.
Hence, MOCI was born – the idea of a travelling pop-up space for experiential and experimental learning and co-creation activities combined with a growing online platform full of crowd-created open resources, challenges and best practices that would allow us as the MOCI team and less connected grass-roots in rural areas to encounter each other, learn together and exchange, or to even match to come up with new collaborative projects and initiatives.
The issue of mass migration, youth unemployment and a huge lack of cultural and creative activities and offers in rural communities is prevalent for long, but the pandemic worsened the situation significantly. Mobility decreased even more, so did cultural funding and with it, activities of established civil society organisations. Not only Albania, but also the whole region fears growing emigration trends and worsened political developments. With MOCI we want to spark local visions and seeds of change and solidarity across the region and beyond. To show that there is a future worth trying and living and that there are like-minded professionals or active citizens nearby that face the same struggle but also will, to experiment and find solutions.
MOCI follows an ambitious vision of becoming a platform and network in the region and beyond that is rooted in an idea of an open Europe without borders, with solidarity and peer-support. MOCI carries and manifests this vision by dismantling prejudices, overcoming rural-urban divides and South-North or East-West disparities. We hope to build a pan-European audience for MOCI and to connect ourselves and our participating communities and creatives to a wider Europe, bringing them closer to a perceived center and slowly but steadily showing them that they might be physically at the fringes or even outside the EU, but not as people and communities anymore.
We are convinced that the challenges and local contexts that made us think and start MOCI in the Balkans also exist in other European regions, and that we can grow into a pan-European network or community of peers using and co-shaping the MOCI platform as well as providing valuable and inclusive learning exchanges across regions.
Already by now we have a MOCI team with four other organizations in the Caucasus region to launch MOCI Caucasus and to build a shared platform, enabling collaboration and exchange between the Balkans and Caucasus, which share a lot of challenges and similar historic paths and conflicts.
We hope that we find more likeminded actors in other regions in the future, that will join our MOCI vision and co-create the platform and network as a way to bridge and connect the local level with the international, pan-European.
From the perspective of those communities we work with, Europe is an exclusive and desirable space – a space that provides and allows to thrive. And almost always, what is called Europe is the EU. We feel as Europeans from the Balkans, and our understanding of Europe is an open space of liberal thinking, inclusion and solidarity. We are well aware that the reality often doesn´t match this idea or image we carry. But with MOCI we want to bring it to life and contribute to promoting this idea and practice. By working with rural communities in the Balkans we want to include those that feel far away from such a Europe – and bring it to them as well as create it with them. And as MOCI is an open platform and initiative, we believe that itself will become an open and shared public virtual space that creates open and shared public spaces in different localities across Europe that will be all connected transcending physical and social distances as well as transmitting this idea of Europe to other communities around them.”
Granted: 24900 euros