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.
...to be continued