WORKSHOP: ENRICHING SOCIAL LIFE IN OSLO
Oslo has a lot to offer. It’s a compact city with a rich cultural life and a lot of initiatives and activities happening. Did you for example know that Oslo has more than 5000 live performances every year? More than Stockholm and Copenhagen! The city can offer everything from sledging in the winter, swimming in the fjord in the summer, a lot of good professional networks, talks, seminars, food initiatives, a hot startup scene and a lot of cultural happenings. Although this activity is amazing for Oslo as a city, it doesn't help if half of Oslo’s population (both Norwegians and internationals) don't know about these events or don't know where to find information about them.
In this workshop we focused on just this, how do we connect internationals to already existing social happenings, activities and networks in the city? An amazing bunch of people with an international background came to share and help us look into this challenge.
4 teams, 4 topics:
Music & culture
Professional networking & events
Sports & activities
Food & culture
Map out initiatives
Define challenges + user profiles
MAPPING OUT INITIATIVES
The first exercise we asked people to do was to help mapping out all the initiatives (within their topic), that they could think of exists in Oslo. We also asked the teams to think of missing initiatives or initiatives they weren't sure existed in Oslo and put them into an own category.
This resulted in a loooong list of great activities, organizations and events happening across the different topics in Oslo. These were also categorized according to how easy or hard it was to find information about these events.
Here’s a few examples (if you want the full list, we’ve posted it at the end of this post):
Meet-up, Litteraturhuset, Victoria Jazzscene, Blå, Øya, Impro Neuf, Sofar Sounds, Opera nights at Underwater Pub, Oslo Soup (member of a community project), Creative Mornings, Professional Women's Network, UiO seminars and conferences, Blank Space Gallery, Restaurant Day, Food Coops, Kontoret: Freegan dining, Havnepromenade, Korketrekkeren, Geo coaching, Kayaking clubs + rentals at Bygdøy, Tai Chi, Skiforeningen, Eight treasures yoga.
Although the list of existing events was a lot bigger than the list of missing/needed events (about 90/ 10) here’s a few examples of initiatives missing in Oslo:
(If you know or are aware that these already take place in Oslo, please share by commenting on the post or on the Why Oslo facebook group).
Pubs with concerts, street events, more english stand-up comedy, pub quizzes in english, friday events after work, physical discovery on the street, more Norwegian food places, healthy fast food, more vegan / vegetarian options and in general more cheap and good food places.
In general people also asked for more information about events, activities and happenings in English. And overall - looking at all of this, there are so much going on in Oslo, and so many people who don't know they exist. How can we change this?
DEFINING CHALLENGES & CREATING USER PROFILES
After having mapped out existing initiatives, the teams went onto defining challenges. We don’t know about half of the initiatives in Oslo. Why? What is stopping us? What are the challenges when it comes to living an enriching social life in Oslo?
Define the 3 most interesting challenges you come up with, and create a user profile for each -- just to give it some context. You have 20 minutes before sharing with the whole group.
Defining the challenges is always an interesting process. The reason we do this, is it leads us to opportunities for design. We want to be designing systems based on real challenges and needs, and not on assumptions.
One challenge was not daring to go to events by yourself - resulting in not going if you have a small network of people. ...like many newcomers do. And if you don’t know anyone, where do you begin? Where do you find information about initiatives, events, places and spaces if you don’t know where to start?
Language as a challenge was of course brought up: “Amazing events! Never in English. Therefore, a large audience can’t join.” The team who defined this challenge also mentioned the importance of balancing local culture, so that it’s not excluding to Norwegians. We feel this is an important one. There are so many events for internationals and so many for Norwegians. So instead of creating more of those, what can we do to connect more people to already existing initiatives? And most importantly, how can we make them more accessible and attractive to BOTH groups?
“Norway transforms you into an introvert”. Wow, that’s powerful stuff. What is it about Norwegian culture, Norwegians or Oslo as a city that makes people feel insecure or less outgoing? This is an important challenge to tackle both when it comes to expanding your network and wanting to try new activities. Some mentioned “understanding the dynamic of the city” as one of the biggest challenges you face when coming to Oslo. This is probably not unique to Oslo - like many other challenges for expats - but we have to take responsibility for ourselves first, right? So how can we make Oslo a more welcoming, more enriching city for newcomers?
The very last task of the workshop was to create a concept that solves the challenges and meets the needs that were revealed in the previous tasks. Each team had 20 minutes to develop their concept, before presenting it to the rest of the workshop group. The concepts were presented with a why?, what? and a who? – as well as a concept name and logo or drawing of the solution.
Oslo Meets World [ music & culture ]
A series of social events encouraging both internationals and locals to take part. The organization has a «helping hand»-program, where locals help internationals through the cultural, social and professional scenes of Oslo – with music as a common. An exchange of concerts and events between nationalities. This concept uses music to help newcomers socialize and network with locals, facilitating for a smooth integration to the local society. The concept is intended to be as much for locals as for internationals, blurring the lines between them.
Eat & Meet [ food & culture ]
A common, multi-cultural cooking space. People from different nationalities cook food from their home country and set up the food on tables across the space. You can come to eat, mingle and hang-out, moving from table to table trying food from every corner of the world. Food is something we all have in common, and is in this case used to bring us all together to socialize and get to know each other’s cultures better.
Funactivitiessportsforfree.no [ sports & activities ]
An online platform where people can offer and/or find buddies, instructions, and equipment. It will allow people to share their expertise, passion and equipment with others that are interested in a specific sport or activity. This is to make it easier to try out different activities and bonding with other people over these activities. The service is for anyone wanting to share equipment, experience or time – and for those who would like to explore new activities.
Speed Network [ professional network & events ]
An event that gathers people from the industry, businesses and job seekers to meet around a table – based on the concept of speed dating. This is to facilitate for networking and making new contacts within your specific field of professional interest. It is meant to be a great experience, with a low-key approach – allowing you to communicate in a physical space that feels safe, laid-back and spontaneous. The event is meant for anyone interest to broaden their professional horizon, might it be start-ups, students, job seekers, head hunters or HR-representatives.
We think these are pretty cool ideas in under two hours. We have event series, physical spaces, some sharing economy-ideas and ways of breaking the ice at networking events. So how can we mix this all up, further develop the ideas and hopefully suggest a solution that can make Oslo a more cultural, social and welcoming city for everyone?
A few people asked if we could share the whole list of initiatives happening in Oslo, here it is:
MUSIC & CULTURE
Victoric Jazz Scene
Big concert venues
Opera nights at Underwater Pub
PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS & EVENTS
Professional Womens Network (Fcebook)
Tøyen Startup Village
Norwegian Research Council
UiO seminars and conferences
Blank Space Gallery, life drawing
Making Waves: breakfast club
FOOD & CULTURE
Too good to go
Kontoret: Freegan dining
SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Holmenkollen Jump, rope ride, training and simulator
Oslo Hash House Harriers
SiO: for students/staff. Sports + interest organization
Environmental organizations; Spire, Fremtiden i våre hender, organize events,
Frognerparken + downtown skating rinks
Kayaking clubs + rentals
Visit Oslo; announces free guided tours in the city
Volunteering: many organizations and events, frivillig.no
Oslo skateforening + skur13 + street
Eight treasures yoga
Summer sundays at Vigelandspraken. Capoeira Rodas.
Sky facilities at Frognerseteren
Private classes of martial arts
Rent a bicycle