We imagine and designate together the next 5 years of positive social impact
On 28, 29 and 30 March, Impact Hub Athens celebrated its 5 + 1 years of positive social impact and offered its guests not only a three-day festive event but an interactive experience of discussion, collaboration and co-creation.
How does the world change today? Where do we need to focus on shaping the agenda of social innovation and positive change? What are the trends that will shape the economy and society in the upcoming years? Where can we find brilliant points of alternative ways of organizing, consuming, cohabiting and participating?
During panel discussions and workshops, academics, creative professionals, social entrepreneurs and other stakeholders, explored the dynamic development of systemic change, technology, activism, urbanism and circular economy. Together we joined our forces, our knowledge and our experience to plan the agenda that will determine Impact Hub Athens’ action plan over the next 5 years towards social change.
The co-Founders of the Impact HUB Athens, Sophie Lamprou and Dimitris Kokkinakis warmly welcomed all participants at #5yearsofimpact and pointed out that 6 years ago “social entrepreneurship was a misfit but we managed to put it in the center of attention”. While, Monica Cummings – Counselor for Public Affairs, USA Embassy in Athens, acknowledged the important impact that Impact Hub Athens has created since its foundation. Alberto Masetti Zannini – Global Programs Director, one of the first founders of the Impact Hub Network – in his keynote speech stressed that “Athens is a reflective of the complexity of today’s world and that we need to support systems that are dysfunctional in order to find solutions for a “world that works for all”.
In the field of Technology, the concept of human – centered design of technological tools was extensively discussed and was stated that Technology is the medium, not the purpose. Vassilis Kostakis highlighted that “it is imperative to understand how to create a sustainable economy, for, by and through people”. Suzanna Pollack, presented video games as a vehicle for social impact, as an immersive medium, which can actively engage and educate individuals . Vanessa Mason expressed her position that “the future is a safe place and allows for different scenarios and thoughts” and suggested that we should think about the opportunities to use technology for a good purpose, taking into account all the alternatives / optics (through forecasting). Thomas Patzko, from the Impact Hub Zurich, declared that “private initiatives (such as Impact Hub) are rising and complementary of what the government is doing, can actually drive innovation”. Vassilis Tsolis, from Cognitiv++, set the discussion towards Ethics in Artificial intelligence software and he spotted that “the solutions are in a combination of regulation and algorithms”.
The dynamics of Activism were examined thoroughly through stories of successful actions from around the world, testimonies, interventions and discussions. Ivan March from the Guerilla Foundation, underlined the diversity of activism out there and pointed out that “Activism brings some change via action-reaction and activism via art has as a purpose to affect emotionally, spiritually and cognitively” .Cleo Barnett, Deputy Director of Amplifiers, stressed that “art has the power to create substantial change”. Athena Spyridakis from Patagonia demonstrated how businesses can support social groups and organizations and sometimes respond to government policies. And Lila Tsatsis from Save Epirus noted that activism is the only viable solution.
On 29th of March, within the framework of urbanism, through a multifaceted approach, we imagined the future of our cities. Charles Landry underlined the importance of collective consciousness and holistic thinking. “Creating a sense of responsibility – the ability to create spaces where people can connect in different ways is vital. We need cities to make us feel healthy. The next big thing about the future of cities is: Beyond ourselves! We must think about what is best for the world! “. Sebastian Schlueter – Actors of Urban Change, Berlin – proposed that through a collective leadership between politicians, public and private actors, we can embrace our differences, the right people can act at the right time and share their passion for change. Tom Fleming, emphasized the importance of creative participation and that it is important that everyone tries to do something, create something, mobilize talent, and develop collaboration. Miograd Kuc, from ZK/U , believes that “Creative economy is the way to deal with the City and the challenge lies in the language in between authorities, which urge new ways of collaboration”.
In addition, in the field of the Circular Economy and its evaluation, it was stated that circular economy is a great challenge for environmental protection. Johannes Kisser – Alchemia Nova – believes that “plant powers, can be a game changer, if followed by the circular economic model ” and according to Professor Michael Scoullos, “if we do not change the values that govern our lives, we can not promote technical solutions. We have to change the symbols of success. We need to develop education, public awareness and participatory processes”.
The panel discussion, with representatives from the private, academic and public sector, was followed by the launching event of the European program HYDROUSA which was presented by Simos Malamis – Assistant Professor, School of Civil Engineering, NTUA – concerning the full implementation of the circular economy model in water management. HYDROUSA is an international cooperation between 27 partners focusing on innovative and nature based water management and water treatment solutions. Furthermore, with an “Innovation Cruise”, all the innovative HYDROUSA applications that aim to revolutionize the water supply chain in Lesvos, Mykonos and Tinos were demonstrated in round table workshops.
And of course after two days full of debates on looming and pioneering themes, the #5yearsofimpact celebration was skyrocketed by the most impactful party on Friday night, with 90’’speeches – given by our honored partners regarding their contribution, their experience and their most impactful memories with Impact Hub Athens and afterwards with dancing till early morning hours! **
On Saturday, March 30th, #5yearsofimpact took place on the Kypseli Municipal Market, where we enjoyed an impact festival along with impact focused organizations from the neighborhood that offered a series of educational, entertainment & cultural activities. Τhrough the format of Super Kypseli, participants gained a full experience of practical interventions and actions aimed at positive social change. The activities on the Kypseli Municipal Market were marked by the visit of Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner economist and social entrepreneur, who sealed the key message of the first social economy market in Greece – the elimination of exclusions and positive change through the collaboration and rallying of local communities.
The Impact Hub Athens in the last 5 + 1 years has proved that maximizing positive social impact and social change can only be achieved by joining forces through close co-operation, complementarity, debate and learning.
Reflecting on our #5yearsofimpact, we look back on our collaboration and connections with creative professionals and organizations from around the world, the knowledge acquired, the experience gained and the new ideas conceptualised, and the team of Impact Hub Athens, along with our community, is geared up to design the strategic steps of 5 succeeding years and to support even more initiatives and actions in the context of social impact and social innovation.
Let’s co-create “A world that works for all”.
Photo credit : Petros Chytiris
More information on # 5yearsofimpact can be found here.
* Vanessa Mason and Cleo Barnett actively participated in # 5yearsofimpact in the fields of technology and activism with the invaluable support of the US Embassy in Athens.
** The party was implemented with the valuable support of Chivas Regal.
*** Muhammad Yunus visited Athens as a speaker for the Convergences Greece Forum / Reconciliations on April 1 at the Olympia Theater.