torsdag 2 december 2010

Equality going global

Rättviseförmedlingen (The Equality Agency) is a new approach to a social equality movement, which has grown from one persons' idea, to a collaborative movement of over 21,000 people, within eight months. And now it's going global.

The Equality Agency (soon to be given another official name in english), is a pretty straight forward response to an all too common problem. The big problem is the commonly used phrase "there aren't any", or "we couldn't find any", which pops up just about anywhere were the contact networks, imaginations, or research skills of the people looking is limited to the dominant majority norm or a confined group within a certain field. So if the great problem is too limited contact networks, the simple response is: let's pool everyones networks, imaginations and research skills together instead!

One of the great things about the Equality Agency is that people join and get involved at their own leisure and level. Whether you want to suggest yourself to a search where you fit the match or if you want to pass on a specific search to the rest of your network, or go out of your way to find people to suggest to every search, it's all up to you what your involvement is. The idea is that peole like to share and contribute to something larger than themselves.

Speaking of something larger, the movement that started in Sweden and spread like wildfire there, gaining recognition in the press and social media, winning a national grant for inspiring social projects, is now building up for its first international launches.

The online movement has received an interest from New York, London, Oslo, Berlin and several other cities and countries outside of Sweden. Now the process goes from expressing curiosity to doing initial needs and network analyses and mobilizing people and allies in the places where there is real potential for growth, relevance and making a difference.

Quelle Différence is involved in this exciting process of a movement going global, coordinating international contacts and allies, compiling best practice and how-to material and contributing to the english-speaking press and PR-work.

I am having a lot of fun with this process and I am looking forward to seeing the results in the actual spread and growth of the project. Early 2011 is going global time! See you out there!

/Ola Nilsson
quelle différence

fredag 15 oktober 2010

Meeting the racist gaze

This is a piece I wrote over nine years ago, one day when I met some every day racist comments in the grocery store. I came across it now, and could sense the frustration I felt then, as I feel the frustration now at seeing a racist party take place in the swedish parliament. It's on speaking out against every day racism...

When I saw the big headlines about the immigrant suburbs on the morning news I should have guessed that day would be something out of the ordinary. On the news they spoke agitatedly of family feuds, neighbor quarrels and they pulled out cultural differences and agressiveness as underlying factors. The police officer invited to comment, sitting upright in the sofa, highlighted the importance of the local police, and that there wasn't actually a problem with the neighborhood itself.

Sure enough, those headlines made it to national media as well, just like the time when a vietnamese man had fired shots in a restaurant in Oslo and his picture was put on the cover of all the large newspapers to point out the connection between the violent act and his ethnicity. The press loves to point a steady finger when it comes to placing the blame on the immigrants. These may be stories of crimes committed, but the news really blow up by stating the perpetrators nationality, ethnicity or housing area.

When the media perpetuates the case of ethnicity as a cause of crime with vivid descriptions of barbaric knife fights and gun waving, the public opinion is sure to get fired up. Those were namely the exact opinions openly expressed by the two ladies ahead of me in the line at the grocery store later that day; "it almost makes you a racist, doesn't it?" "Well, if they come here, they have to adjust, at least when they step outside their appartment".

After a weekend when several friends of mine had shared their stories of repeated verbal racist confrontations, I found myself in a situation where I could no longer just pretend that I didn't hear and go about my business. I had to act.

After fumbling for words and encouraging them to read a book or something I got an astonnished reply; "Well you got some nerve! I actually work with immigrants, and many of them don't even want to adjust". I expressed my sympathies for those people who had immigrated to Sweden just to be met by her racist attitudes. Then she took a swing at me instead, saying "it's people like you who go to protest rallies and vandalize."

There I was, standing in my postal service uniform after a day at work and couldn't really put together her arguments. I let her know my opinion that everyone who lives in Sweden is an integrated part of society and contributes in their ways, and that the true obstacle to integration and participation is that people who have immigrated here have to struggle against racism and discrimination in swedish society on a daily basis. If immigrants aren't "integrated" it is because of the racism that shuts people out based on their origin and color. And regarding any protest rallies, I said that I thought there was a whole lot of change that needed to happen in society if we were to move forward, and perhaps one way to express that is through rallying around those issues.

The other woman, who had made the initial "it almost makes you racist" remark and then stood in the background making puffing sounds and rolling her eyes, I met again on our way out of the store. I encouraged her to check her own issues before accusing immigrants for being the cause of her xenophobic attitudes. She countered with the lame "it's a free country and people are entitled to their opinions", and she actually had friends from Iran and other countries. Yet again, my condolences went out to the iranians who had such a "friend" who would betray them and actually help perpetuate racism through expressing her blatant opinions behind their backs.

That day really had turned out not to be like any other day, at least not for me. But at least I had had the privilege to choose to confront the everyday racism that I had met. I wondered how many people of color had been attacked by racist slurs that day, without having the option to stay out of it. I wondered how many employers had put new applications in the "no" pile that day because they thought that employees with "different" surnames may just create a problem on the job. The last thing I wondered was perhaps the thing that worried me the most. I wondered how many of us white swedes had read the paper that day, nodded and sighed and thought that we gave those immigrants a chance, but they just couldn't adjust.

I propose that we check ourselves and our opinions, start believing the best in people, stop generalizing, and start realizing that there are differences in power in our society, where immigrants are pushed down by white swedes to positions of inferiority. If we even go that far, we will have actually gone further in our analysis than much of the media, who would rather sell papers by perpetuating racist stereotypes. Unfortunately we have a long way to go before we can reach a more antiracist and fair society, and unfortunately, the media is not likely to help us get there.

So start breaking the silence. Step out of your comfort zone and speak out when you hear racist remarks. That is the only way that we can make our society more humane and open.

/Ola Nilsson

tisdag 21 september 2010

Lots of changes, moved to Brussels

Buying belgian waffles in BrusselsRight now, the name "quelle diffèrence" has acquired another dimension of validity for me in my everyday life. A week ago, on the 13th of september we moved to Brussels. Ali will be working at the Swedish permanent representation to the EU, negotiating development issues. I will be getting to know the city, developing my own new networks, feeling out the opportunities on the european scene and getting involved in things that I find interesting.

After a week in our new city we are definitely getting settled in our new apartment in central Brussels. It is much bigger than the one in Stockholm, but our things (furniture and such) are pretty much the same, and pretty much fill the place up. So weird how to completely different apartments can still be filled with the same interiors and suddenly become pretty similar. Quelle diffèrence, yet still so similar :)

The other new and BIG difference, as of yesterday, is that the far-right, racist, Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden democrats) got voted into the Swedish parliament with 5,6% of the votes. What was a real threat in the pre-election polls is now a sad fact of the political map in Sweden. I will devote some continuing space to this issue and its aftermath in entries to come.

One last pleasant difference that I have noticed every day in Brussels so far is that the weather tends to treat us to some sunshine and blue skies every day. Even though days may start out very grey, they have tended to turn around and get out the good side after a few hours. We are keeping our hopes up about this trend continuing well into the autumn here!

Keep on making a difference!

/Ola Nilsson

måndag 21 juni 2010

More creative meetings - workshop for young leaders

I was asked by my friend Cina Staron to do a workshop on creative meetings, as part of a leadership training for the National Association of Young Musicians (RUM). It was a beautiful, sunny saturday morning out at Kärsögården - a perfect setting for young leaders to grow! Walking the last bit from the bus stop to the facilities there were a LOT of little snails taking their morning walk as well, along the edge of the damp grass.

The group was intimate and attentive, they'd been together for the past two days so they were rather well familiarized and comfortable in the group, with some internal jokes developed as well, that spread giggles across the room a couple of times throughout the workshop - nice to see the signs of early team building (it was something about getting into a circle).

We transfered in to the workshop by each grabbing a little stone (I had picked a dozen on the path to the center, washed them off in the cold lake, and laid them to dry in the sun), feeling it, looking at it, then describing it, and finally drawing free associations to what the stone could tell us about creative meetings. The stone-exercise was a bit of an "Aha!-moment" for some, as a complete break from the ordinary and expected - so it had a good effect as a transfer in.

The rest of the workshop we used a bunch of different methods and exercises, drawing partially from the book Mer kreativa möten (which I project managed at LSU), to go through stages of planning and preparing for creative meetings. I essentially guided them through a needs-based approach to project planning, using the NAOMMIE-method (which I have been inspired by from Magdalena Musiala - every day arts).

So we brainstormed, collaborated, drew, antithesized, dart board evaluated, went out in the sun, and feedbacked. All in all, it was a creative atmosphere, lots of laughter, funny connections, ants in the pants, grass under feet, sun on skin and positive spirits!

The spontaneous feedback round from the group was really positive and included getting helpful tools, new ideas and liking the way I explained things clearly :) In return, I liked the group too, appreciated everyones interaction and participation and had a good laugh at some of the crazier ideas in the drawing exercise!

Oh, and another funny detail was that one of the training participants couldn't be there for this workshop because he was in town playing in an orchestra for the Swedish Crown princess' wedding...

Good fun!

/Ola Nilsson
Quelle Différence
- facilitating change, making a difference

söndag 6 juni 2010

Getting what you ask for

The global summit to Rework the World, in Leksand, Sweden, has come to an end. Four days of summit with 1700 people from 120 countries has been a very powerful experience. Up until the very end I can say that I have gained.

One woman told me a story, as we were sitting on the bus back to our cottages. She had been stressing the past couple of days over a project proposal that was to be handed in in two days and she didn't feel like she had the sufficient grounding in the issue that had to do with compiling an exhibition for a major actor that had to do something about sustainability, food and China. She was almost about to give up, but then in the lunch-line she starts talking to the person standing behind her who happens to be from China. One lunch-time conversation later and she is ALL set with her proposal - with all the necessary connections for her to be perfectly grounded and well prepared for her pitch.

Somehow, in the magic algebra of serendipity, her fears and doubts were swept away, her dreams were answered! I thought that was really great, and shows that consciously putting diverse people together creates a nice growing ground for these subliminal goals to be realized!

/Ola Nilsson

lördag 5 juni 2010

Workshop: creating a silicon valley for the clean-tech era

Outdoors group discussions at global youth conference

The National council of Swedish Youth Organizations organized a lunch session during the Rework the world conference in Leksand, Dalarna. I facilitated the participatory part of the session simply by dividing up in the teams and reflecting about the crucial steps needed to scale up our resepective initiatives.

/Ola Nilsson

Heal the hood at global youth conference

The rap number Heal the hood joined the big youth constituency gathering on the thursday evening session at Rework the world in Leksand, Sweden. The energy was high from a dynamic from a lively Global Village Market session around the solutions to reworking the world for a sustainable future.
Heal the hood helped get us to a high energy wrap up, a perfect conclusion of a rather long day. Thank youth! /Ola Nilsson

tisdag 1 juni 2010

Achieving a radical change in global policy making - Saturday workshop

Achieving a radical change in global policy making

Time: 5 June, 12:30-13.30
Place: Gropen (the park outside of the food tent)

To achieve the goals of a economically, environmentally and socially sustainable development we need to rethink much of the policies in today's politics. However, in order to do this, changes at a much more fundamental level are required. The question of this panel discussion is; what are the systemic changes we need to address in order to achieve a radical change in global policy making and what role can young leaders play?

Local initiatives – Global impact. Friday workshop

Local initiatives – Global impact

Time: 4 June, 12:30-13.30
Place: Gropen (the park outside of the food tent)

All over the world young entrepreneurs are finding new and creative approaches to deal with some of our greatest challenges. Many of these ideas are applicable in other settings, and a few probably have the potential of radically changing the world. However, as it is, the vast majority of these initiatives stay small scale and local. The question of this panel discussion is; what can we do to facilitate the spread of these ideas? How can we make best practices common good in order to go from entrepreneur to large-scale business.

Global Conference Thursday June 3 evening workshop

How global youth rework the world

Time: June 3, 20.30-22.00
Place: St Persgården

Youth from all around the world have ideas, experiences and knowledge about what policy steps are needed to rework the world. During this session we will gather youth organizations and young participants at the summit for a world café dialogue. By illustrating, exploring and exemplifying success stories during this creative session we will lay a foundation for new political ideas.

Build-up to REWORK the World


On 2 - 5 June, 2010, 2000 people from all over the world are gathering at The 5th Global YES Summit - Rework the World. The focus is on 100 carefully selected initiatives from around the world, which could provide the jobs of tomorrow and help build a more socially, financially and ecologically sustainable world.

The question asked is simple: how can we turn these emerging entrepreneurial efforts into transformative forces of change? This question has implications for business strategies, financial markets, global policy making and of course for our mental models.

The Rework story starts with people who are finding solutions to the challenges they face, in their local context.

Hope to see you in Leksand!

/Ola Nilsson

Workshop with Global Focus

On friday, june 4, I will be joining the Global Focus team for a seminar at Rework the World in Leksand, Sweden. The seminar will showcase the collaboration with Himin energy company, in the making of a solar valley in China, with a Global Focus Center in it.

The seminar will strive to introduce the participants to the ongoing initiative, the founding minds and visionaries behind it, and involve a cafe style workshop to develop the ideas further and make new connections with a global group. :)

It will be an inspiring workshop to facilitate! Looking forward to seeing lots of people there!
/Ola Nilsson

onsdag 10 mars 2010

Tillbaka till frysboxen

RE: Linus OlofssonSektor3:s Idédebatt...

Det låter intressant med Klimatkaffe-servetterna var ju ett riktigt kul drag

Där kan jag spinna vidare med min tidigare frysboxade ”social spaces” som är ett koncept som man skulle kunna applicera t ex på en flygplats där alla ju sitter vid en gate och väntar och lite grand småpillar med sitt eller bläddrar i någon tråkig tidning, men egentligen så är det ju enorma mängder av ”socialt kapital” som sitter där helt oanvända… i vissa fall såklart helt självvalt och önskat, men kan också tänka att flera inte haft något emot att utsätta(s) sig för lite intellektuell stimulans genom oväntade samtal…

DÅ… kan personer spontant ”claima” och inrätta ett ”social space” – jag tänker mig som en såndär polis-tejp/plastsnöre som det står ”social space” på, som kan sättas runt en sittgrupp eller två där folk kan sätta sig och snacka kring några utav givna frågor/teman (där är ju servetterna ett coolt exempel på stöd!), eller välja att ta upp andra grejer. sen kan de uppmanas att slänga upp någon reflektion från sin ”space-in” på sajten – så kan man se lite olika klipp där och skapa konversationer…

De multipla vinsterna i detta blir ju då att man kör
1. Platsen – samarbete med t ex flygplatsen som har en ”social space” monter med tejp och fråge/temabatteri,
2. Kunskapspartners – som formulerar frågeställningarna, står för att bygga innehåll för sajten, och
3. Mediapartner – som kanske drar ut ett uppslag en gång i veckan eller liknande så att folk jobbar upp ett medvetande kring det hela (jag tänker t ex att Aftonbladet har de där ”gratis DVD”-bilaga i nån påse på helgerna – där kan de köra en kampanj med såndär ”social space-tejp” för att uppmana till spontan-”cirklarna”…
just det, där har vi det, det kan ju heta ”social circles”, eller bara ”cirklar”, eller ”ringar” (på vattnet typ).

Ja, där har vi faktiskt en bra affärsidé som antingen kan spetsas som fan och köras som nystart, eller vävas in i befintliga anknytande initiativ… mattias, du får lifta vidare, vem som helst annars med såklart, sen så får det bli aktionverkstad också!

/Ola Nilsson
som fortsätter att spåna på de konceptuella samhällsinnovationerna...

tisdag 9 mars 2010

Ett steg närmre "intersekt" som "palla"

RB:mattias flising på Sektor3:s Idédebatt:

haha mattias! re: intersektionalitet blir nästa ”liksom” ”typ”!! du menar det nästa ”ofta”, ”palla”… (de andra har ju blivit lite gamla) haha! yepp! fan det är ett sjuuukt bra mål att ha! då har vi ju verkligen satt den liksom!

shit, detta är ju riktigt kul! jag vill kombinera den med ytterligare ett koncept som jag har haft i bakhuvudet ett tag också… men det får jag nog återkomma till senare (vi lägger "social space" i frysboxen), först måste vi ju bena ut denna!

re: ”film som inledning för ett gruppsamtal” så är det just det jag menar med ”video-walls med cirkelledare som kör kort-introduktioner med frågeställningar” i min första kommentar, så absolut, det måste vara med. jag håller med om att en isolerad blogg inte är nyckeln till framgång! vi ska nog snarare tänka ”apps”/widget. vilken org/företag/sajt som helst ska kunna klistra in en widget på sin sajt – där de kan välja att ”feeda” ett visst ämne, eller köra hela flödet. för att stimulera/få igång diskussioner på arbetsplatsen/skolan/föreningen/kompisgänget. Det riktigt najsiga blir ju när olika sammanhang (företag, organisationer, privatpersoner, kompisgrupper) börjar använda/se nyttan av detta som de facto kompetensutveckling och det blir naturligt att söka t ex på projektplanering för att få fram lite handy cirkelmaterial kring just det som t ex en blivande projektgrupp kan använda för sin utveckling…
tja, alltså det är ju såklart minst lika najs om kollegorna på bygget börjar ägna onsdagsluncherna åt att snacka Butler och Mohanty och ta olika ställning kring performativitet och postkoloniala analyser av det här med arbetskraftsinvandring!!

då kan vi vara ett par steg på vägen till att kanske en förkortad version typ ”intersekt” blir en såndär ”liksom” ”palla” – haha!

”jasså du ska ut o dricka med grabbarna… fett intersekt!” (ironi added då alltså)

Gött, men detta borde ju lätt vara klart att lansera innan våren kommer på riktigt!

/Ola Nilsson

(som går igång på sociala innovationer på kvällskvistarna)

Organisationsformerna för samhällsförändringen

Intressanta observationer och frågeställningar kring samhällsförändring, socialt entreprenörskap och folkbildning, av Sara Damber på Sektor3:s Idédebatt, något som jag tror att vi är många verksamma (bland annat) inom den ideella sektorn som ställer oss nästan dagligen.

Du nämner siffrorna kring kännedomen om begreppet socialt entreprenörskap:

"17% av folket har hört ordet men bara 2 % av dessa visste vad det står för och betyder. Det vill säga 0,4 % av rikssnittet är riktigt bekant med begreppet."
Just där så tror jag ju att begreppet ”ideell förening” är betydligt mer etablerat och bekant för den breda befolkningen, och därmed en väldigt stark kraft i att driva samhälleligt förbättringsarbete.

Jag tror också att den kraften som så ofta tar sig uttryck i olika former av (sådant som vi kan definiera som) samhällsentreprenörskap är (nog faktiskt) som allra störst inom den ideella sektorn – som jag måste påpeka är ganska stor i sin omfattning:

”I Sverige är sektorn betydande. Här finns över 30 miljoner medlemskap i 200.000 organisationer som tillsammans omsätter 150 miljarder kronor årligen. Här möts dagligen miljoner medborgare frivilligt organiserade i organisationer med demokratiska värderingar.” (klippt från

Som verksam inom ungdomsorganisationerna så ser jag flera olika aspekter – å ena sidan ser jag behoven av att omdefiniera de traditionella formerna för hur vi organiserar våra föreningar och organisationer utifrån gamla strukturer, rutiner och stadgar; samtidigt ser jag exempel på fantastisk innovation, drivkraft, passion och entreprenörskap där erfarenheter och kunskaper utvecklas och engagemang föds.

Jag hoppas och tror att Playing for Change kommer att hitta härliga guldkorn och stötta dem i sina samhällsförbättrande initiativ. Det som är otroligt skönt att veta är att de kommer att driva sina idéer och passioner framåt i ett sammanhang där väldigt många andra former och uttryck för samhällsengagemang är i högsta grad levande!

/Ola Nilsson

Nya nivåer på folkbildningen

RB (re:blog) på Linus Olofssons inlägg och Mattias Flisings kommentar på Sektor3:s Idédebatt

bra fnurat mattias!
Jag har ju spenderat en jäklans massa timmar och spånat på liknande tankar i lite olika sammanhang. Jag tror ju väldigt mycket på informationens och kunskapens frihet och spridning och människors förmåga att inspirera och inspireras av varandra i dialog!

Omvärldsspaningen gällande ”metro” som samhällsinformation är ju relevant. Något som borde utnyttjas! Kanske är det just i metro som cirkelmaterialet ska finnas till hands – just för kollegorna att prata om i lunchrummet eller efter jobbet, etc. (även andra mainstream kanaler typ aftonbladet online, på bloggar, mm).

För att lifta på ”sätta ett cirkelmaterial i händera på folk som inte skulle söka sig till bildningsförbunden” så tänker jag också på öppna wiki-format eller bloggar med taggmoln av ämenen/teman/områden som olika organisationer och personer kan bidra till. Jag tänker också på video-walls med cirkelledare som kör kort-introduktioner med frågeställningar i olika delar, där kan också video-responses göras av individer eller i grupp, det skulle kunna skapa en global (beroende på språk) studiecirkel av personer som möts visuellt via web, men också inplanerade meet-ups (som kanske också live-sänds för distans-deltagare).

Jag tror det är viktigt att kunna köra ut med teasers i väldigt öppna forum (och gärna då super-publika sådana, ex via sajter med många besökare) samtidigt som man då kan fördjupa vidare och höja kvalitet ytterligare snäpp genom mer vägledning från studieförbunden, ledare, återkommande träffar, mm.

Så tänker jag. Nu.

/Ola Nilsson

Genialiskt från NK

När jag kom hem precis låg ett sånt där snyggt Amerika-kuvert på dörrmattan och lockade. Nu har jag faktiskt (ja, fortfarande 2010) något så exotiskt som en BREVVÄN (ja, vi skriver och postar brev till varandra med viss oregelbundenhet) så jag blev ju lite extra förväntansfull på grund av det... Men blev faktiskt inte besviken när jag bland fejkade metropolitiska poststämplar kunde utröna att det var reklam från NK.

Jag sprätte glatt upp kuvertet som den (god)trogna nyckelkund jag är ;) och i den lyxiga förpackningen hittar jag klockrena fortsättningar på temat. De har tryckt upp vykort på stajlade snygga pojkar och på baksidan presenterat nya kollektionerna från diverse brands, med något litet erbjudande thrown in som grädde på moset :)

De har ju full koll på mig som kund. Jag/vi har ju valt favoritavdelningar, vi har samlat poäng och vi antas väl vara i kundkretsen som gillar resor, storstäder, lite glam och dessutom när man får lite special deals. Jag tycker att kommunikationen är klockren! Jag läser typ allt dessutom bloggar jag om det (med T9 från mobilen!). Jag kommer nog inte haka på något av de lite halvfattiga erbjudandena, men jag får definitivt en positiv association, och jag kanske till och med tar med något av de schnygga korten och sätter upp vid skrivbordet på jobbet bara för skoj skull ;)
Naturligtvis får jag även mail med regelbundenhet, men den åker alltid rakt i skräp, men detta var snyggt och smart!

/Ola Nilsson, som förvandlades från samhällsengagerad till lättfångad reklamkonsument av bara farten :p