Verbund offener Werkstätten

The Federation of Open Workshops, VOW, offers space, tools and counseling for creative and customized co-production. They connect a wide range of workshops which Produce Cosmo-Locally from Repair-Initiatives to Fablabs.

Stop refering to Do It Yourself, it's about Doing It Together.

Open Workshops might be wood workshops, 3D-print workshops, metal-workshops, electronic workshops and repair-cafes. They offer space for community-building, collective thinking and learning (symmathesy). They are meant to inspire people for being concerned wiht societal challenges.

Open workshops are like snowflakes... always different!

One of the first open workshop in Germany was founded by the Anstiftung (html ) in 1987: the Haus der Eigenarbeit in Munich. In 2017 more than 260 initiatives are part of this intriguing ecosystem - only in Germany. The following video says it all.

YOUTUBE YAwxDIHD1bw The philosophy of the Federation of Open Workshops

# Legal Status and Location?

eingetragener Verein, Germany, Europe, transnational,

# When did it start?

The Federation was founded in 2012 (html ), based on a mid-term process of empowering Open Workshops.

# How do they work?

"Wir ermächtigen uns der Produktionsmittel, wir eignen sie uns wieder an. Wir wollen verstehen, wie die ganze Kette der Produktion eigentlich funktioniert, um uns zu ermächtigen, die Dinge wieder gemeinsam zu machen." Bettina Weber

VOW is a space of networking and mutual learning "with huge transformative potential" (Tom Hansing). It makes all kinds of open workshops visible and offers counceling for members regarding legal and insurrance related questions.

According to Hansen, this potential doesn't derive from "beeing a club of like minded people" working on similar projects, but from connecting diverse approaches and mindsets:

"As diverse as we are ... there is something that unites us. Something we stand for (not against!) This is what we have in common, a shared motivation from where, step by step, shared values cristallize. (Tom Hansing, December 7, 2017)

VOW also offers information about environmental protection, public funding, sponsoring and donations. It organizes workshops, common activities, project cooperations or simply expert or peer-meetings. During events, assemblies and informal gatherings projects and common people interested in open workshops share and discuss designs, swap devices, materials and - above all - a lot of contacts ("Vitamin B"). Once a year they organize a network-meeting to enable f2f contact. (html )

Co Wiki Icon. source

One of its most important tools for collaboration is called Co-Wiki html a kind of cooking book for Open Workshops. Co-Wiki is a convivial tool, a distributed platform which offers open-workshop-specific content ("recepies"), based on their concrete experiences. It is an overly inspiring online space for introducing their work, projects and ideas to others and helps avoiding to build everything from scratch, time and again.

Tom Hansing refered to the idea of honoring situated knowing when he expressed:

Cowiki is simply beautiful because it reflects and enshrines certain believes, as a tool.

# VOW in numbers The number of Open Workshops in Germany is growing, for updated information, see: html . By 2017, 260 of them are registered on a common platform: html and XXX are members of VOW.

Map of Open Workshops in Germany in November 2017. source

Map of Open Workshops in Germany in April 2013. source


# Finances and Partnerships

- basic coordination and accounting is being paid by an ethical, civic foundation committed to the commons, Anstiftung (html ) located in Munich regularly contributes to Finance Commons Provisioning During events and informal gatherings people share and discuss designs, swap devices, materials and - above all - a lot of contacts ("Vitamin B"). Once a year the Federation organizes a network-meeting to enable f2f contact. (html ) - membership fees, individual membership is possible but seldom; members are usually collective entities (Open Workshops and Fablabs) - Some concrete projects are financed by the German Federal Government (usually no institutional financing) - There is a discussion about the ethical dimension of financing, but no explicit rules so far.

# Which Dimensions of Commoning are enacted?


Two patterns might suffice to get an idea of the social and cultural dynamics VOW seeks to strengthen. Asked if such a networking effort does "Strengthen the Nested-I?, and interviewee replies:

Most importantly, I am hold, bolstered within a We that shares a certain structure and culture. (B.Weber)

[In German: "Vor allem wird man als Ich eher aufgefangen, aufgefangen in einem Wir, welches eine gewisse Kultur und Struktur teilt." The phrase "aufgefangen werden" is difficult to translate. It is a feeling of being part of a bigger whole, something the interviewee experiences when the federation comes together and shares ideas and projects]

To Trust Situated Knowing might be considered as part of VOW's DNA. As Hansing puts it:

"For Open Workshops, 'knowing' is way more decisive than 'knowledge', because that kind of "sticky information" (cf Eric van Hippel) is not reproducible through knowledge.

"For Open Workshops, 'knowing' is way more decisive than 'knowledge', because that kind of "sticky information" (cf Eric van Hippel) is not reproducible through knowledge.

Whoever looks at the way Co-Wiki (html ) has been designed and set up, will find this idea confirmed. Instead of offering a schedule or a manual, instead of coming up with a clear instruction of "how to do an open workshop", the myriad of elements and existing approaches is presented as "ingredients" and "recipes"

This way of connecting information and knowledge reflects the social fact, that everybody has to walk on his/her own path, and will find specific rules, circumstances and hindrances, as well as specific social and cultural context, that can't be ignored. -> Proceedings can't be copied.

This is, according to VOW, why a certain scepticism with regard to 'knowledge' is helpful, and it is also part of the Hackerethics wiki .

What we need to do, is to produce 'knowing' from/out of 'knowledge' about different methods, techniques and approaches (as for instance reverse engeneering). (Tom Hansing.)

@ DAVID - I THINK THAT WE COULD USE OPEN WORKSHOPS TO DESCRIBE DIFFERENT LEVELS FOR convivial tool: constituting tools, manufacturing tools, community building tools, learning tools etc.

# Inner Kernel

Relational categories: impulse (production is always impulse and needs driven; DIT not DIY; "ideas, impulses and products have always something connecting" Metaphors: concepts which don't trigger hierarchy, spatial concepts; " Open workshops are like snowflakes... always different!"


# Realms of Commoning

# See also VOW Peer Governance, Landkombinat

# Sources

Interviews with Tom Hansing (November 11, 2017) and Bettina Weber (June 29, 2017) Website, html