From Agricultural Extension to (missing?) Cities of Workshops


And social makers, of course.

From Agricultural Extension to (missing?) Cities of Workshops /img/city-of-workshops.jpg
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Four years ago, I reported the result of a trip to Austria and Slovakia to present a paper about Digital DIY (DiDIY) for Sustainability of Rural Areas.

The paper was presented because, when it comes to agriculture and rural sustainability in general, DiDIY seems to be one more type of what is formally called “agricultural extension” and is usually defined (from Wikipedia) as:

“application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education”

The International Food Policy Research Institute states that agricultural extension “plays a crucial role in promoting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth”.

In the paper presented at that conference (slides here), we argued just that Digital DIY can contribute to those goals, in a bottom-up, community-driven manner that, in many cases, is more sustainable, more efficient and more cost-effective than centralized solutions based on closed products, services and monolithic development plans.

One reason to republish this post is that, just like in 2016, I look forward to receive feedback on this position from all stakeholders in agriculture extension and rural/agricultural support policies in general, as well as from all DIY-ers already applying Digital DIY products and techniques in their farms and gardens.

Social Makers and (missing?) City of Workshops

On my way back from the conference, I participated in Wien to a meeting of Global Villages and a workshop on the WikiHouse, which higlighted what were, in 2016, its main strengths (simplicity!) and (current) limits, like cost and very bare layout.

In those days, the most interesting concept I found was that of “social makers” proposed by F. Nahrada of Global Villages: makers, that is, whose explicit goal is to remake, by DiDIY and similar technologies, their whole community, not just what they personally need for themselves. Quite a relevant topic, isn’t it?

Besides bringing back to the limelight the concept of Social Makers, my other reason for this post is to know what happened to the most interesting project I heard about in Wien. That was the “City of Workshops” (CoW), which sadly, seems to be frozen now: CoW was, or hopefully still is,a “network of fablabs, repair shops and similar DIY-friendly activities all integrated in one neighborhood”. I would like to know about CoW, but also of any other project of the same kind. If you have some information to share, please add it in the comments, or email me!

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