Trial&Error is Berlin based collective of artists, cultural workers, craftivists, doers and activists. They have shared interests in DIY culture and craft, non-formal education, open design, reuse of waste and open source culture. They are looking for ecologically and socially sustainable ways to live in the city and to activate local people to participate. The area they are working in Neukölln has amount of social and economical problems due to unemployment, immigration and poverty. Trial&Error is one possibility for locals to take part in neighborhood activities and strengthen community in sustainable way.
I was happy to meet Julia Vernersson, one of the funding members of the collective. We met in their shared working space, near by Karl-Marx ubahn station. They started working in the area around one year ago and have run many workshops with the local residents and also around the city. Trial&Error hosts also cultural events and run semi-official cafe in their working space which is shared with another small organization. The space itself is really nice and feels like home. They try to keep it active and as open as possible for people to come in. As I was interviewing Julia a man from the neighborhood interrupted us and asked if he could give them an old camera and later on a woman walked by with great smile and greetings. Julia told that they have faced some preconceptions among locals but little by little more people are coming with positive feedback. Trial&Error wishes people could also come to them with their own ideas related to recycling and reuse of waste, local environment, community issues etc.
Trial&Error hosts workshops mainly in public spaces like in parks. They hope people could just run in to action they would not normally participate in. In workshops they build new obstacles out of recycled stuff, for example tea bag video screens, chairs, piece of art etc, and the process is open and collective. It is important to offer different levels of participation – you can just give material for workshop, design what to do with it, make a small contribution in making process. They believe in non-formal education and open communication as a seed of change. Trial&Error produces manuals and publications from the best practices and inventions they have come across in workshops. Their method is try and experiment – sometimes it works, sometimes it needs an other time. Now they are building a wonderful mobile workshop wagon with local people to be able to move easily around the area with all workshop stuff required. Trial&Error takes also part in an international activist magazine called Masta.
Generally spoken Trial&Error seems to have really good network in Berlin and internationally. As Julia explains the best way to work is collaborate with many different organizations, public and private, and also entrepreneurs. According Julia in Berlin it is easy to find people to work with and for example bigger institutions are willing to give used materials for reuse, as it is also easy to find secondhand wood, piece of furniture and so on in the city.
The funding issue is of course always important. For now members of Trial&Error work mostly voluntary and earn money for living in different jobs. But they are optimistic in finding mixed model for regular funding, like grants from the city, selling products made in workshops, selling workshops and finding partners. They also organize support parties and the incomes are used for covering rent and other costs.
I find interesting the open attitude Trial&Error has. They don’t want to define too much what they are and what kind of projects they will run in the future but they are still or maybe because of that capable to plan and run active workshops. Trial&Error is flexible and mobile. They work for the local community in grass root level. It is the scale of their work what seems to be in balance with the local surroundings and resources available. It is like a hyper local culture and art act without strongly defined goals and at the same time a research of how active persons can affect positively local community by starting open process that have clear values behind. The active collaboration and reuse of everything possible makes it possible to act with small money. I think their attitude is great. Hope the best for Trial&Error and many good years of active action!
See how to make bag without electricity and sowing machine.