4. Frihamnstorget

Frihamnstorget is a meeting place for grassroots art, crafts, creativity, events, and culture – open to your initiative.

By sharing our resources, we can all afford to be more generous. At Frihamnstorget we have transformed a parking lot into a communal square for culture and art.

Frihamnstorget: A founding constitution

Frihamnstorget

Urban Heritage and Creative Communities

In UNESCOs Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, Urban Heritage is roughly taken to mean that a place contains traces of past generations. Keeping traces of what came before creates continuity and identity in a city. For us at Blivande, this means that when the freight containers disappear from Frihamnen, we would like to keep some of them behind. This is exactly what creative communities are often good at doing in industrial and post-industrial environments.

Frihamnen just celebrated its 100th anniversary. In honor of its history, we collaborated with the Ports of Stockholm to build the first phase of a creative hub with containers. We built a colorful container village full of art and activities as a backdrop for their celebrations. We call it Frihamnstorget.

Our vision for Frihamnstorget


Early model of Frihamnstorget


From the 100 year anniversary of Frihamnen and the opening of Frihamstorget

Frihamnstorget should be a true “third place”. It is not just a place for culture and art but is itself a beautiful and exciting work of art. Frihamnstoget questions established principles of city planning and placemaking in Sweden today, and we are tilling the earth for the creativity of its members.

Frihamnstorget is a work of art with no single vision. It is co-created by the initiatives and creativity of the different people and organizations involved. This process of co-creating a public place through citizen initiative is itself a work of art and an experiment in self-organization and creativity. It should feel like a tiny container village, full of art and culture, but also workshops for craftspeople, creative businesses, food, and drink.

Frihamnstorget and Blivande should also be a foundation for community-run and community-owned businesses, creating an opportunity for people to create good lives for themselves and others.

Temporary permanence: Learning from other port cities

As we all know, nothing lasts forever. Eventually, our containers will have to be moved. However, some buildings live longer lives than others. For example, we are hoping to stay in the house for at least 10 years. Other structures we occupy or build might have shorter lifespans. You might call it a philosophy of temporary permanence. We are learning a lot on how to build a community in these conditions from the creative communities of Aarus. One of them is Institute for (X), perhaps our biggest inspiration for Frihamnstorget.

Institute for (X) have become experts at building “temporarily permanent” structures that create infrastructure for creative communities.


Institute for (X) from above

Integrating these sorts of structures into industrial or post industrial spaces can mean that areas that would otherwise be devoid of human activity and culture suddenly come to life. Institute for (X) have referred to this as moving from a model of instant reconstruction which leaves big open wounds in a cityscape for years.


Illustration by Institute for (X)

Adaptive reuse for a more sustainable port

An important part of becoming more sustainable and energy-efficient is to switch to more modern technology. New technology often requires new buildings and infrastructure. One example of this is how container freight shipping makes warehouses in ports largely redundant.

According to the World Green Building Council, 11% of worldwide carbon emissions come from construction. This means that the embodied carbon footprint of a building is immensely important. If a building is in use for longer, more value is extracted from that embodied carbon. Putting these buildings to use instead of tearing them down might be among the most efficient sustainability actions one can undertake. Raising new buildings to replace the old is a large source of carbon emissions.

Of course, old buildings can have major problems. They are often badly insulated and air-conditioning or heating them is often very inefficient. This causes problems if you rebuild them into hotels, traditional apartments or high-end offices. Creative communities often solve these things differently as they are often looking to minimize costs. Expensive air-conditioning often isn’t an option. A music venue, a photo studio, an art workshop or a gallery space does not have to be temperature controlled in the way an office does. Creative communities also often find innovative ways around these challenges, like building custom insulated parts inside buildings.

It’s also the case that a high concentration of creative communities is likely to foster experiments in urban greening. It’s hard to imagine that the wildly successful High Line Park would have become a reality without the creative communities of New York pushing for it. A bridge with a huge embodied carbon footprint became a green oasis.

Who is running the Frihamnstorget experiment?

Blivande, the organization that runs House Blivande, is the steward of Frihamnstorget. Blivande is managed by @hampus, @Linnea, and @hugi. We rent the land from the Ports of Stockholm, and we are legally responsible for Frihamnstorget. Blivande needs to make sure that Frihamnstorget makes enough money to sustain itself. This includes paying for rent, maintenance, necessary improvements and eventually salaries of those managing its commons. Blivande also leads the negotiations with the Ports of Stockholm to extend our contract. We are currently on a one year contract, but our ambition is to create a vibrant place to get it extended.

Although Blivande is responsible for Frihamnstorget to the Ports of Stockholm, we are committed to it being a truly co-created place. We run Frihamnstorget as a collective of initiatives united by a set of common goals and principles. This platform, forum.blivande.com, is our primary place to organize and where we make and document decisions. We also hold meetings at House Blivande and at Frihamnstorget, and those meetings will always be announced on this forum.

Getting involved

Most people involved in Frihamnstorget are members of Blivande or The Node. We are in this together, so start by joining the community. It will become a lot easier for you to gain momentum for your initiatives once you make friends and get to know the community. Introduce yourself in a new thread, let us know who you are and what you desire!

A growing number of creative and talented people have gathered around Frihamnstorget. Currently, most aspects of Frihamnstorget are open to your initiative, granted that you have the skills required and are willing to put in the work to make things happen. As we move forward, we will settle into roles and responsibilities, but we want to avoid a traditional hierarchical organization. Frihamnstorget should be a place for experimentation and citizen initiative, where its members have the power to act to improve it.

There are many opportunities for you to get involved. One good place to start is to post in the forum, and we will connect you to the people you should talk to. Things change quickly, so instead of having a traditional organization map with pictures and emails, we instead encourage you to get in touch here on the forum so that everyone gets a chance to get to know you. It saves both you and us the endless chain of introduction emails, and our conversations can be read by other people who also want to get involved. We rely on the power of the crowd to connect you. Go ahead and try it!

If you want to contribute to Frihamnstorget and have a specific idea in mind, post it in the Frihamstorget group on the forum. It is then up to the existing group of co-creators of Frihamnstorget and Blivande to make the decision on if we can bring your initiative to Frihamnstorget.

In summary, contributing a new project to Frihamnstorget if you are not already involved works like this:

  1. You post your proposal in the Frihamstorget group on the forum. Expect to participate in making sketches, answering questions and adapting your proposal according to advice.
  2. A current co-creator of Frihamnstorget gets convinced by your proposal and starts an advice process to make your project a part of Frihamnstorget.
  3. If your project is approved in an advice process, it’s still on you to make your project happen. Start working with other co-creators to make it a reality.

Being a co-creator of Frihamnstorget

As a co-creator of Frihamnstorget, you are trusted to initiate and participate in decision making. Much of the work involved in creating Frihamnstorget is publicly visible in the forum to make it easy for everyone to join, but only co-creators of Frihamnstorget can participate in making decisons. These groups are considered co-creators of Frihamnstorget:

  • All members of Blivande. On this forum, you recognize them by the title “Blivande Member” and a little Blivande badge on their profile picture. If you have one of these, you are in:
  • All people running on-going projects that bring significant cultural or financial value to Frihamnstorget. Everyone in that group who is not a Blivande member has the title “Frihamnstorget Co-creator” and a little container badge like this: container
  • All people approved as co-creators of Frihamnstorget by an advice process. These also get a container badge.

All co-creators of Frihamnstorget are added to a protected group which gives access to a closed part of the forum where we discuss things that for some reason can not be completely public. If you are in that group, you are considered a co-creator of Frihamnstorget. If you think you should be in that group, but you are not, contact @hugi.

Making decisions

Frihamnstorget is a place for creative innovation and open to your initiative. There is no single person, board or committee that calls the shots. Instead, you are invited to make proposals, gather advice and take initiative. We call this the Advice Process.

Our goal is that to the largest possible extent, decisions affecting Frihamnstorget as a whole should be made by using this process. We are still learning, and there will probably be mistakes and fuckups along the way, but we believe this is our way forward to becoming a truly co-created public place. Used together with the Conflict Escalation Process, the Advice Process defines how power is used at Frihamnstorget.

Our ideal is that each decision is made by the person most qualified to make that decision. This is easy to say, but takes some practice to get right. If you want to make a decision, how can you know that you are qualified? You do this by checking in with the community and seeking advice.

Introduction to the Advice Process

At Frihamnstorget, the power to decide should rest with those who are going to do the work. In order to do this skillfully and without stepping on other’s toes however, they need to gather advice and consent from those who will be affected by their decisions. By doing this they become the best qualified in the community to make a decision. Frihamnstorget is managed not through commands and control of a central authority, but rather by a network of temporary hierarchies based on the principle that power should flow to those who need it to take leadership.

Frihamnstorgets Advice Process: The Short Version

As an active co-creator of Frihamnstorget, you are free to make decisions.

However, before you make a decision, you must ask advice from those who will be impacted by that decision, and those who are experts on that subject.

Assuming that you follow this process, and honestly try to listen to the advice of others, that advice is yours to evaluate and the decision yours to make.

This is what we call the Advice Process. Sometimes a decision leads to conflict, and in those cases, we use the Conflict Escalation process. These are the two processes that together govern Frihamnstorget.

Making a decision, Step by step

If your decision does not affect a lot of people, you can just use the short version. Talk to those affected, make some calls, and make the decision. If it’s something others should know about, post about it in the forum. However, if your decision affects a lot of people, use this step by step process:

  1. Talk to people about your idea. Try it out and listen to the feedback. You can do this in person or by posting your idea on the forum and discussing it here.

  2. Once you have a clear idea, make a post on the forum with your proposal. Include sketches, timelines, budgets, and requirements. A clear proposal makes it easier for others to engage and give you advice.

  3. Answer any clarifying questions.

  4. Receive and resolve principled objections, and modify the proposal as appropriate. Be open to taking back your proposal if there is important advice that you had not considered.

  5. Decide to go ahead with your proposal or not, based on the advice. That decision is yours to make.

  6. If you decide to make a decision, make that very clear by stating: “I am making the decision to XXXX”. Make sure to include any alterations you made according to the advice in the final description of your decision, like modified deadlines, budgets or drawings.

Conflict escalation

Conflicts happen no matter what. A well functioning community isn’t one where conflict doesn’t happen, but one that handles conflict in a productive way. Used together with the Advice Process, this process defines how power is held and practiced at Frihamnstorget.

Sometimes, someone might make a decision that someone else really disagrees with. In these cases, we have a conflict on our hands. If this happens, follow these steps:

Level 1: Start with yourself. What do you need to take care of yourself in such a way that you can handle this situation in the most productive way? How can you better listen and try to understand the opinions and arguments of the other side? Start finding that place in yourself, then try to resolve the conflict. If you’re still stuck, move on to the next level.

Level 2: Find an impartial mediator, a space holder who can facilitate the conversation. The role of this individual is not to have an opinion on the matter or try to make judgments, but to make sure that both sides listen to one another.

Level 3: If one of the conflicting parties at this stage refuses to participate in the arbitration process, or if no agreement between the two parties can be reached, the board of Blivande will make the decision. To escalate a conflict to this level is to be considered a complete breakdown of self-organization and something we hope to never happen.

Get in touch

The easiest way to get in touch is to just write a reply to this post and join the conversation.

Remember, this document is just a draft. It’s open to feedback and re-interpretation by our members and interested third parties alike. Please consider this grounds for discussion, rather than a final document.

1 Like

Great work Hugi. (And everyone at the meeting yesterday)
Really good to se the whole picture of the process when I read it and I think its great to be a part of this.

Ping @hampus, @Linnea, @jakobskote, @Frida_Simon, @elch, @spargeltarzan, @MariaMartin, @Ollxor, @Thedodod

This is a very good example of @jakobskote running an advice process:

Ping @Frida_Simon, @Simon, @elch, @Thedodod

I am now making the decision to adopt this document as the founding constitution of Frihamnstorget.

2 Likes

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