SOFIA / YIP Report (Dec ’09 – March ’10)

Posted on March 28, 2010


I am a trainee of Föreningen SOFIA completing a 1-year training in Social Entrepreneurship at the International Youth Initiative Program (YIP) in Järna, Sweden. This traineeship is funded by Forum Syd, a program of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). This is an update of my learning experience, following my previous report, which covered the following courses:

  • Political Economics Helene Bank
  • Business & Sustainability Jane Lorand
  • Placemaking Kiara Nagel
  • Portrait Painting Rachel Miller
  • Art of Hosting, Oslo Toke Møller (external course)
  • Facilitation & Group Dynamics Jay Roberts
  • Study of Man Marcel de Leuw

This report will cover the program since December, including:

  • Biography Work Annie Meijer
  • Oasis Game, Copenhagen Edgard Gouveia Jr (external course)
  • Visioning & Entrepreneurship Jane Lorand
  • Chaordic Design Valentine Giraud & Jasmine Cargill
  • Budgeting & Bookkeeping Christopher Lüthi
  • Communication Skills Tormod Bjørnstad
  • Fundraising Matthias Weber & Burcu Becermen
  • Art of Hosting, Karlskrona Toke Møller (external course)
  • Internship Preparation Carolin Hedman
  • Storytelling Tina Sahlberg
  • Freedom & Community Chen Atid
7-11 Dec 2009

Biography Work Annie Meijer

This is a form of counselling with strong Anthroposophical roots. The course was a week-long group therapy excercise, where we split into smaller groups and worked together on our personal development with encouragement and guidance from trained Biographical Counsellers. We took part in meaningful excercises and group conversations that allowed the individual to delve deep into their life story. Overall, I felt it helped me a lot in my personal journey and provided a healthy way of developing clarity and insight. It was a very challenging and emotional course for many of us.

14-18 Dec 2009

Oasis Game, Copenhagen Edgard Gouveia Jr

This came about as a follow-up to the first YIP course on social change by Edgard in September. During COP15, the UN world summit on climate change, Edgard led an “Oasis Game” with half of the YIP team, to develop a popular youth centre and take action in a positive way. This was an opportunity to apply our education to a community action, taking initiative to lead a transformative process with Edgard. Over the course of a few days we transformed unused, dilapidated spaces in the basement of the centre into warm and welcoming, functional spaces. This not only made the most of the resources at hand but inflamed the space with a new vibrant energy and a sense of motivation. We also got to experience the scale and magnitude of this political event from a fresh perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the strong team work carried out by the YIP participants.

18 Dec 2009 – 8 Jan 2010

Winter break Rail trip

I took a personal journey from Sweden to France. This was an awe-inspiring and revitalizing rail journey that exposed me to a prominent European culture and filled me with energy to continue the training in 2010.

11-15 Jan 2010

Visioning & Entrepreneurship Jane Lorand

Also a follow-up from a YIP course in October, Jane returned with her wealth of knowledge and practical experience. Her approach to leadership and social change is both holistic and pragmatic. This time around, she delved deeply into the practice of Critical Thinking and the World View concept. We were tasked with developing our “Higher Purpose” statements with regards to our personal, community and professional commitments, which evolved into “Opportunity” statements, which is a way to identify the critical next step in your initiative. We explored the topic of innovation and Jane gave a brilliant lecture on creating a culture of working in complexity, providing a strong introduction to the idea of working with Systemics. Her knowledge base is so extensive and appropriate to our field of study that it is impossible to represent the extent here. I plan to do a focused harvest of my learnings from Jane, and will post that seperately.

18-22 Jan 2010

Chaordic Design Valentine Giraud & Jasmine Cargill

This course fitted into the “Project Management” week on the YIP calendar. It was a great way to explore a deeper side of project design and management, through a learning of the Chaordic Stepping Stones as taught by the Art of Hosting community. (The term “chaordic” was coined by Dee Hock, who founded the VISA credit system on this concept.) This approach was soaked up by all the participants and it was a tremendous addition to the year course. The lively and passionate teaching methods of Valentine & Jasmine motivated us to new heights and gave us an introduction to an international community of social change practitioners that are doing amazing work all around the world, in all realms of society. We applied the practice to our Individual Projects during the week and since then the tool has come in handy in countless ways. I used it to develop my concept for a Social Enterprise model and to lead a process for designing our final group project, Sense Festival.

25-29 Jan 2010

Budgeting & Bookkeeping Christopher Lüthi

This was an introduction to basic budgeting & bookkeeping for businesses and projects by a valued member of the Järna community who heads up Ekobanken, an ethical bank based on the principles of social finance and Threefolding. Apart from an interesting look at budget management, I felt the course content was at a lower level than I experienced in my high school education, so I benefitted very little. It seemed to be designed for those who had no previous experience in these subjects, so having managed small businesses and large projects I found it difficult to engage. On the other hand, it was very helpful to apply the tools to our group projects during class time. I would recommend in future that the teaching of this material is optional for those who have valid experience, and that this experience is invited into the course for a more beneficial outcome. It would also be very exciting to learn about the design and development of a pioneering bank system that embodies a high level of ethics, which appears to be the contributor’s area of expertise.

1-5 Feb 2010

Communication Skills Tormod Bjørnstad

Similarly to the preceding course, this course content was quite dry and static, yet enthusiastically presented by Tormod, a wonderful man with an enthusiastic approach to youth and education in general. He enlivened the space with songs and humor, which was well received, and he provided genuine support and encouragement to us individually. It was great to have the older generation present for a change and to relive a lot of the customs that get widely forgotten in today’s modernistic society. Tormod did bring in our contributions and together with Pieter (a friend, colleague and fellow participant at YIP) we presented a class on elementary website design and blogging. This allowed me to engage a little more in a course that is in my area of expertise in my professional work. It was very unfortunate that towards the end of the week the majority of the class including myself fell ill with a stomach virus and so did not get to partake in the live presentations, which was the main task of the week.

25-29 Jan 2010

Fundraising Matthias Weber & Burcu Becermen

A very useful subject and vital to all our initiatives and projects, this course provided loads of good knowledge and the experience of the contributors made it a tangible learning model. However, being the third in a series of dry course topics, I think the full value of this course was under-utilized. Although it makes very logical sense to have it in this sequence, I felt it was too much headwork in a short space of time and could have been meted out more holistically. At the beginning of the week the concept of “The Joy of Giving” in fundraising was posed and this created a lot of excitement, but due to the endless streams of dry information and powerpoint presentations many including myself felt it to be quite tedious. Again it was very helpful to process the exercises by applying them to our projects with support and guidance from the contributors, and perhaps this could be more of a focus in future.

12-21 Feb 2010

Project week Art of Hosting network (Berlin & Karlskrona)

  1. Project exploration Berlin 12-16 Feb
    I used the good timing of Project Week and the available low transport costs to visit some network opportunities in this fascinating and historically important city. I really appreciated the experience of public culture in Berlin, which was a great learning to me as I have long since been interested in the developments of world society that were brought about here, with particular reference to WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall. For my project, I had an introduction to the Hub Berlin and Betahaus, two co-working spaces that provide effective platforms for collaborative Social Entrepreneurship, which is the focus of my individual project.
  2. Art of Hosting, Karlskrona Toke Møller & hosts 18-21 Feb 2010
    This was my second training in the outstanding frame of practice that explores the leading edge in social change work. I have written numerous articles regarding the exponential learning that this event provided and is still providing me. Please view them on my blog under the “harvesting” category.
22-26 Feb 2010

Outdoor Experience Tännäs, Sweden

A PHENOMENAL experience and exploration of the Swedish countryside! Getting to share the pristine nature and challenge of winter in the western mountains of this beautiful country is definitely one of the main highlights of my year in Europe. As a group adventure and team-building experience for YIP, I couldn’t have asked for anything more joyful – especially with the snowboarding, my now favorite winter pastime!

1-5 Mar 2010

Internship Preparation Carolin Hedman

Having Carolin from SOFIA helping to prepare participants for the daunting International Internships really helped as she has vast experience in this field of work. It is great that the course was a combination of world culture and practicalities regarding the month abroad. However, the course was not so well received as it did not provide a comprehensive approach to the preparation needs of the participants. Where it seemed to be most effective was the individual and group check-ins where Carolin could assist with direct advice and guidance on specific challenges regarding travel and internships. As I will be in Scandinavia for my internship the course content did not really relate to or cater for my needs, so it was helpful that I was allowed to spend time on my individual preparations.

8-12 Mar 2010

Storytelling Tina Sahlberg

This was a very fruitful course in a discipline that is not necessarily recognized as a technique for social change. The skills taught in traditional storytelling allows you to deepen your understanding of speech and inspires one to really connect to any audience – and in our arena there are an abundance of speeches! With deep practice storytelling develops the ability to ‘read between the lines’ and gather significant insights and meaning from stories and other texts. The week culminated in a very successful community evening of live storytelling where we all got to shine in front of an enthusiastic audience. The ideal that YIP carries to ‘educate the whole human being’ is really prevalent in such a course, and it creates a good flow of attention between the various disciplines.

15-19 Mar 2010

Freedom & Community Chen Atid

A path-finding, envigorating, inspiring, focused and influential course that was well attended, even celebrated. It could not have come at a more appropriate time with our impending international engagements. I felt the concepts were so well presented and the presence of Chen so clear and conscious that the class time felt too short for the powerful insights on offer – I would have been happy with a full day program for the week, or even two weeks at this level of teaching. I feel that the content of Chen’s course is fundamental for the YIP theme in general and could be brought in with more emphasis and more time set aside for it in future. It provided huge momentum to the YIP team spirit.

29 Mar – 30 Apr 2010

Next report: Internship

And now, I pause in anticipation as 38 intrepid young change-makers are spreading themselves throughout the world to engage in a magnificent cross-section of social development. This month of April is really a powerful inclusion in the YIP program, perhaps the climax of the year, and I am incapable of giving you an adequate description and pre-evaluation of the amazing missions everyone is currently embarking on, in this format. Please keep posted for future writings on this amazing advent.

During this time I will be working with 2 organisations, namely Fanzingo in Sweden and KaosPilots in Denmark. I will be posting more about this shortly.

Looking forward!