Carla Cipolla

DESIS International Coordinator

Dear members,

this letter is particularly addressed to those who are interested in the DESIS network development.

It is a bit long and I have written it as a personal and open letter.

No presentations: only conversation
This time no presentations were done in the DESIS assembly.  This results to be very interesting because a face-to-face inspiring conversation between members took place.  Although it was held in an auditory, we managed to arrange the chairs in a circle.

The DESIS Map: why have you done this?
I have started the Assembly presenting the DESIS Map, which was my first effort to “extract” and produce knowledge by analyzing our projects. You have very interesting projects, but they are all dispersed in the website.  I have worked with the material I had in hands, the projects you have sent in 2014.

You can visit the map and take a look in the thematic areas that the network has been more active (

Ok, the map is not updated (mostly 2014 projects) but it is a good “photo”, an initial photo of who we are, as DESIS Network.  Or who we were. However, it is not a “frozen” map.  My aim would be to keep it updated, including continuously your projects, being able to produce  “snapshots” (new maps) yearly, for example.

Someone asked: “- Why have you done this?”  “For what?”.  First of all, because I have identified the need to increase the knowledge exchange processes in DESIS Network.  This was the main result of a European research project on which I had the opportunity (as a partner) to analyze DESIS network (I tell more about it below).  All relations and contacts between us were, until now, mainly managed by Ezio.   We have grown up (in the number of members and in the number of years!). Therefore Ezio is not more able to do it alone.

The map is a first attempt to work in this direction.  The map was very useful for me (as coordinator) but can also be useful for the network in different ways.  For example: to enable new collaborations, to inspire publications, to identify potential partners for joint submissions, etc.  Please let me know your views about that! (via Facebook group,  or mail to
Therefore, when I ask your projects, is to organize them and to provide a view on what we are producing together as a network.  But not only: Desis statute describes that all labs should provide information about their own projects once a year.  This is not a paid network…so, not so much is asked to be part of, right?  Anyway, if I do not have your projects, I cannot organize and give visibility to them.

The importance of DESIS Network in the social innovation scene
We may not realize it, but DESIS Network is one of the first social innovation networks.  It is important and recognized.  Why am I stating that?  Because it has been featured and studied in one of the largest projects about social innovation theory (in terms of investment and resources) in Europe, called TRANSIT (Transformative social innovation project). We were mentioned and studied together with important networks such as Fab Labs, Hackerspaces, Via Campesina, Basic Income, Participatory Democracy (OIDP) and so on.  This, in my view, is great and woke me up to the fact that I should put my own efforts in developing the network.
Ezio, Virginia and myself we will be taking part in the final conference of this project on September, on which a Manifesto will be produced as a result of the conversations between network representatives.  It will be also a Stand Up for Democracy event there.

DESIS as a collaborative service
One issue that emerged during the discussion is that DESIS is a collaborative service. There is no service being provided from the international coordination (myself now) for members.  I see myself as an enabler and supporter.  The network is yours.  It is an invitation to you to co-design it.  If you can help me to enable this process It would be great.  I’m doing what I have described in the International Coordination program approved in the Hong Kong assembly.   My personal motivations were described above.

How could DESIS be more useful for you?  How could you use DESIS more to empower your activities?  This was a discussion in a post-assembly informal conversation between some members. The word symbiosis comes to my mind to express how DESIS could enter in symbiotic relation with your projects and initiatives.  I can tell you later, when we meet, how DESIS network is being symbiotic with my work here in Rio de Janeiro.

Communication channels
This was a long discussion.  Now I have complete control (I know how to manage) all our website, which is connected also with Facebook and Twitter.  We can update pages very quickly. So I can support whatever you want to do.  Do you want to edit a section in DESIS website about a specific theme? Ok, just let me know!  Do you want your project to be featured in all communication channels?  Yes, we can do it.   Let me know.  Very glad to say that we have featured already projects and have started the DESIS Newsletter.

That’s it, for now, my dear friends and colleagues.  Thanks for what I have listened and learned from you in the DESIS Assembly. Thanks Ezio for your support and wonderful conversations around the development of the DESIS Map.

These first five months as IC of DESIS were great, thank you!