functional_green took place during the Vienna Design Week from 30th of September till the 9th of October 2011.
The project is presented by collective stadtpark ( and puts its focus to the very different aspects of urban gardening. Can people identify themselves and take responsibility for something they don't own – I mean the city? Is there a base for urban farming to redefine regional food production and thus can it contribute to environmental protection? Can the specialist knowledge of migrants coming from rural areas help and provide to better social integration and acceptance?...


How to „functional_green“ part 3

Finances are an aspect, that you really shouldn't underestimate. Most of the gardening stuff doesn't cost much as a single position, but in total you won't come very far with 1000€.
You need earth. To get the right earth it is important to cooperate with someone who has a clue about agriculture, as compost earth and the earth for flowers you get in the flower shop will with a high propability kill your small vegetables... the knowledge about earth, plants... I will share in the next how to parts. Let's stay at money stuff. You need plants, wood, perhaps grass in rolls... it depends on your project, so make an exact list, not forgetting about tools... if you have a list you can start looking for money. There are state sponsors, in Austria it is BMUKK or Vienna specific MA7 (Magistrat for cultural issues). What they want from you is an excel sheet, you have to make a prognosis about what you want to do, how much time you will spend on it, how much money is your time worth... do you need flyers, print costs, do you need money for drinks and food for the people working with you... don't hesitate to write every little position down, that could cost you money and send it to all cultural institutions, that could help. Normally these institutions won't give you the whole amount of money, you you apply for. These institutions need minimum one month for considering your case, so it's good to apply min. two months before you'd like to start as they don't have regular dates for discussing the budget, and that you see some time before starting, if you'll actually get some money or not. Another thing is, if you do the project in the context of a design festival, check what institutions are sponsoring this festival, as it is possible that if they are sponsored by an institution, where you also want to apply for, you won't get any money from them, as the whole festival is sponsored yet.
After that check out possible private sector sponsoring. There are two parties, one from which you'd like to have money, here you can first apply at any possible partners that have to do with ecology, bio food, green lifestyle (and if that doesn't work go to banks)... and other partners can be companies that will sponsor stuff like seeds, plants, earth, tools... find out what are the companies in your countries, call them, go to them, present your project, cooperate with ecological companies, they have mostly an ideological background and are more open to help you, your plants will be bio, that's healthier and it gives you at the end better PR. I can not tell you how much money you'll need at the end, but for a project in the scale of ours it's no failure to have 4000€ plus. With money everything is just easier.
That's my statement about money, so we have the basics to actually start in the next how to's we'll discuss a bit more about the actual plants, earth and so on.
… to be continued


How to „functional_green“ part 2

Now you have to organize permissions for the stuff you want to do and money to realize it. In the end it's not so hard to get permissions but it takes some time. As you see on the pics below we have greened for example a parking lot. More difficult than getting the actual permission was finding out who is responsible for that. Mailing is not the best way of finding that out, your mails will be send further and further, then they'll come back to the person you've send them at the beginning and at the end they'll get lost. The best results you get when go to the „Bürger Service“ (so they are called in Vienna). It's a kind of office where inhabitants can go and ask for some stuff. These guys don't seem to be overwhelmed by the amount of work they have, so they'll be glad to help you. They will look up for you, what „Magistrat“ is responsible for your permission and in Vienna there are plenty of institutions for everything. In my case they called the person responsible and got me the email-adress of this person... Then after minimum 3 weeks you get a date for a meeting with 3 or 4 people, from police, politics and the guys responsible for street and parking stuff. You tell them that want to grow salad for one and a half months on a parking lot and that you want to have grass on it and eat and cook there with people. If you don't harm any law with that what you do there, they won't be really interested in the sense of your doing, so they'll give you the permission, this procedure costs in Vienna 60€. Then you have to put signs in front of your parking lot, that it's not allowed anymore to park there (it doesn't matter that there is a table, grass and salad growing there, the sign has to be), you have to organize or buy a non-parking sign on your own. It is good to have an official permission for stuff like that, because even when most of the people like the idea and don't care what you are doing, there always some people that think, what you are doing is stupid and they'll call the police. Then the police asks for a permission, in general the police-man we've met were quite positive about our project.
We have also greened a small area, that was more a dog-toilet than a flowerbed. When we asked on our own nothing happened, so the „Grätzelrat“ helped us, they are also something like the Bürger-Service, but they are NGOs. Actually it doesn't matter, the essence what I am trying to say is, you have to go to institutions and people that are working for the city, talk to them, talk often to them, don't hesitate, go there again, and talk again to them, and at the end either they want to help you, or you are going so much on their nerves, that they will also help you. So at the end we got a flowerbed, where we put grass, salad, a bench, a „no dogs“ sign...

to be continued...


How to „functional_green“ part 1

In October 2011, during the Vienna Design Week I was asked by Ravi Naidoo (founder of Design Indaba), to blog about my experiences with our project „functional_green“. As we finished our last exhibition for this year and Vienna is getting cold, I appreciate sitting inside in front of the oven, writing a „how to -blog“. So I'll try to write once a week an episode, how we prepared our project, what went wrong, what are the organizational problems, how much money you need...

First of all you need a happening, a design or art festival, to have a frame for your project. This gives you publicity, it convinces people to join your project and it'll help you to get permissions and eventually sponsoring.
In every bigger city is minimum one festival like Design Indaba, Vienna Design Week, Dutch Design Week... or an art festival. Beside the fact, that a festival gives you a frame to work, it gives you also a kick in your ass to finish your project until a fixed date.
After that you need a team of people, architects, designers, artists... a bunch of creative people that work out a written concept, that is not too short and includes illustrations. It has to look professional, as if you know what you are doing. Then you need more people, kind of specialists. In our case we found a permaculture designer (Richard Mahringer), who was actually the only one who knew something about plants. If you are working with plants look for gardeners, people from the area of agriculture... don't rely only on the knowledge of Google if you'd like your plants to actually grow. If you know some other people from media, marketing, or people that are good with money, motivate them to help you. The more people you have in your team, the better the result will be, as it's quite probable that during the project about one third of your helpers will leave the project, as they cannot identify anymore with it or just won't be able to invest the time you need for a project like that. With the time you shouldn't have any illusions, we needed for our project approximately 1 month full-time for 3 people + several unregular helpers.
Now you have your team of creative people, specialists and voluntary helpers. You have to make two or three meetings to work over your concept, the permaculture specialists will tell, what is possible, what isn't, what makes sense and what doesn't. The other members of the team, will tell you what they like, what they don't, what they would improve... listen to all proposals, but be sure that at the end, the team of 2,3 people, that has worked out the concept has to decide, what they want to change in their concept, what they want to keep, perhaps even if it sounds irrational for the gardeners but just because it's nice from an artistic point of view or for the publicity of your project. The presentation of your new concept can be the step where you lose some team members, because their proposal could not be adopted or I don't know. But that's ok. Now you need in the best case 3 months preparation time for organizing permissions, money... we had a bit more than one month before actually starting with our project and had because of that massive problems with getting permissions and money. All what you do will cost you more money than you think at the beginning.
Summary 1, what do you need to actually start:
- a team of creative people, specialists and voluntary helpers.
- a concept that looks professional, has several pages theory, description, and good illustrations.
- time, patience and some money to start. be continued