LEX Barcelona: Learning how the sharing city of tomorrow is being designed, implemented and shaped today.
From November 12th to 15th four facilitators from Argentina and France joined for an unique Ouishare Learning Expedition (LEX) around the Smart City Expo World Congress and Sharing Cities Summit in Barcelona.
What was the LEX about?
Ouishare Learning Expeditions bring together innovators of all kinds, from entrepreneurs and activists to collectives and local authorities to unravel a particular theme, explore the emerging trends and imagine novel solutions to current challenges. For the LEX exploration programme around the Smart City Expo World Congress and Sharing Cities Summit we included visits to a number of local entrepreneurs, innovative social projects, collectives and regional regulators, as well as hands-on experiences using free floating electric bikes and joining an EatWith dinner. LEX participants were encouraged to change their perspectives and were challenged to rethink the way people will live, move and work in transformational environments. The aim was to learn, first hand, how the sharing city of tomorrow is being designed, implemented and shaped today in a city like Barcelona.
Initially, Barcelona City Council and Open University of Catalunya (UOC) commissioned Ouishare to produce a private afternoon tour for Sharing Cities Summit participants. Building on top of this initial request, the Ouishare Spain team developed the four day-long Learning Expedition (LEX) project with the objective of offering professionals from public and private sectors from around the world the opportunity to get in touch with and experience the latest innovative practices within the local ecosystem of Barcelona. The LEX Barcelona was an evolution from previous LEX projects run by other Ouishare communities (LEX Scandinavia), building on the idea of Ouishare global commons.
What happened during the LEX?
During the four days of LEX, participants lived in a dynamic environment of visits and conversations in different places around the city, many of them located around the 22@ Barcelona tech and innovation district inside the Poblenou creative neighbourhood. Four different workspaces hosted keynotes and meetings [WeWork, ApocApoc Nest City Lab, Makers of Barcelona (MOB) and Cloud Coworking]. Participants had the chance to learn about the history of each place and the projects being developed.
The keynote “Barcelona and the Platform Economy Ecosystem” lead by Albert Cañigueral was the LEX’ first activity. The complex relationship between global platform players alongside civil society and the public administration lead to interesting debates. Other topics such as Mobility as a Service (Maas), digital social innovation projects and citizen participation tools helped to understand what is happening in Barcelona. The group moved from WeWork Barcelona to the Barcelona Design Hub to meet with Mara Balestrini, CEO at Ideas for Change. Mara introduced Making Sense Project, an European project that seeks to engage communities around digital 'maker' culture, open design and environmental sensing.
“I have really enjoyed the variety of all the projects we met and inspiring spaces we visited.”
-Eric Sieberath, Chief Digital Officer at Paris Saclay (France)
For the last activity of the first day the LEX expedition joined Procomuns Meetup, held at MediaTIC Barcelona Activa. The event, part of Sharing Cities Summit programme, was where Barcelona's collaborative economy ecosystem actors (governments, companies, foundations, networks, research centers and entrepreneurs) gathered. There were short presentations from officials from Barcelona, Amsterdam and New York. Barcelona’s Ouishare community joined LEX participants to share after work beers, humans connections and reflections on the learnings.
The LEX’ second day was marked by a tour visiting interesting startups: Glovo, Ulule, Meetup, SIX-TER and Ecrowd!, followed by a late lunch with Anna Merino (former Regulation General Director at Generalitat de Catalunya and nowadays consultant in competition policy and market regulation) and Oscar Aguilera (Technician at Generalitat de Catalunya) at El Mercat, where LEX participants had the opportunity to taste the traditional Catalan Cuisine before stepping into the world of technology at the Origin Protocol Meetup, hosted at Pier 01 - Barcelona Tech City HQ. Stationless shared electric scooters from Yego and Ecooltra made the trip from Barceloneta beach to our dinner spot easier, faster and more comfortable. Booked with EatWith, a culinary experiences platform, Pablo Bruera's atelier was a perfect site to eat, drink and learn the art of sculpting from the Uruguayan artist. Tom Llewellyn, Strategic Partnerships Director at Shareable, a San Francisco based online medium, reporting about the Sharing Economy around the world, joined the dinner and helped to end the LEX’ second night playfully.
“Inspiring, energic good brotherhood, sisterhood and people with great projects.”
-Marielle Villamux, Chief Client Officer at Transdev (France)
The following morning LEX explorers headed to Fira de Barcelona to attend to the 8th Smart City Expo World Congress, where the day was reserved to get the most out of the Congress, including visits to the stands, attending keynotes and of course, a lot of connections with visitors and exhibitors from 146 countries and more than 700 cities. Javier Velasco, Lendi App founder, joined us for lunch. Lendi App connects citizens in the same area to share goods for free. In the evening LEX participants, together with more than 30 public officials from different cities around the world, jumped into a bus to join the Sharing Cities Summit Tour. Tour participants got to know socially oriented projects such as Coopolis, Can Batlló, Decidim Barcelona, Som Mobilitat, Fundación Goteo and FabLab Barcelona. The tour and the day ended with a dinner at Leka restaurant, the first open source restaurant in the world, with open recipes, open furniture design and open clothing.
“I have been fascinated and impacted about what is going on in Barcelona."
-Mariano Carniel, Modernization Official at Mendoza City Council (Argentina)
After three days of intense activities, connections and learnings, LEX participants spent Thursday to revisit the Smart City Expo World Congress in their own way and pace.
What have we learned?
To design a LEX where participants can have an immersive and meaningful experience is a great challenge that requires, besides a multidisciplinary and cohesive team, a network of relationships (Le Lab, Smart City Expo, Barcelona City Hall, etc.) allowing to explore diverse people, projects and spaces. Mixing languages (English, French, Spanish and Catalan) in a smooth way was also a great challenge to including everybody in the experience, both the formal parts of the programme (visits, talks, conferences) and the social moments (drinks, lunch and dinner, shared mobility journeys, etc.).
Ouishare’s moto “exploring the edges” was a perfect fit for this LEX. In the context of a medium sized city like Barcelona we were able to move from the corporate world of the Smart City Expo, to the community-led projects of small and large cooperatives, jumping into well-known and emergent startup projects and rounding it with regulators perspectives, both at city and regional level. This capacity to switch contexts and adapt to different environments and languages is one of the unique characteristics of Ouishare events and projects in general. The extra effort to make it happen like this is worth it!
We have also learned firsthand that a city is a place of collisions, conflicting points of view, diverses perspectives and mixed realities. A LEX will not provide you with the answers to your initial questions, on the contrary a LEX participant is more likely to end up their visit with new, better and more meaningful questions to be asked. New questions are the answer you were looking for.
"It was a great opportunity to be part of this LEX expedition creating connexions, allowing more people to explore new ideas to transform the society by sharing work, projects and dreams."
-Emilie Jacquetton, LEX co-coordinator (Spain)