Publications : THIRD-PLACES : A MODEL TO FOLLOW? MYNE : for an ability to act as a citizen

Translated by Connie Chow-Petit, this Interview is excerpted from Observatoire magazine Issue No.52 Summer 2018 under the Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Interview with Lisa Pignot
Benjamin Chow-Petit, Connie Chow-Petit,
La Myne members

The Manufacture of Ideas and New Experiments (MYNE), based in Villeurbanne, is a citizen research laboratory working on the co-construction of experimental projects for sustainable lifestyles by and for civil society: “Join the MYNE” is to reclaim and do-it-yourself in disciplines as complex as those touching the living, digital, energy or agriculture, or social aspects. The initiative was launched by La Paillasse Saône in 2014, and has gradually transformed after the acquisition of an open house on the outside to accommodate collaborative practices. Far from the ostentatious forms that certain third places can take, the MYNE acts with frugality to make a common. The role of the concierge plays a central role, as does the invention of new forms of governance.

1- The MYNE already has “several lives” behind it that led to the creation of a third-place, at rue du Luizet in Villeurbanne. Can you tell us, in a few words, the history of your project and describe what is happening today in this place?

The arrival of new members is changing and enriching the MYNE, which is constantly changing, the MYNE being reappropriated by any newcomer.

The personal paths of life, the discussions and the projects that one meets there are thus very diversified.

For example, here we are self-organized during the life of the Myne: autonomous garden construction, aquaponics, arts-science projects, robotics, photovoltaics, research topics, business incubation, coffee philosophies, cartographies , collaborative meals, games evenings, participation in the Biennial of Design of Saint-Etienne and Architecture of Lyon, participation in the movement of Commons, AI masterclasses, laboratory of human and social sciences, cognitive sciences, bread making or soap…

The MYNE can be seen today as a complex ecosystem with as many different descriptions as there are points of view. MYNE is above all stories and practices, rather than a well-established descendant.

What do you want MYNE to be for you?

2- You define yourself as a citizen research laboratory whose vocation is to encourage a capacity to act as a citizen. In 2016, you also joined La Fabrique d’Initiative Citoyenne. What does this mean concretely?

FICA3 with MYNE, the Cultural Center of Villeurbanne (CCO) and the Social Center of Buers.

Our three structures have decided to gather and cross their particular skills and know-how in animation, social action, cultural, artistic, scientific and technological.

It took different forms of achievements:

Accompanying projects and initiatives of inhabitants, including a bus shelter project in a neighborhood that was lacking.
Links between individuals have been woven, indirectly contributing to existing projects such as the Atelier Soudé association (electronic self-repair), to the creation of training in personal data protection.
In addition, residents have been involved associatively in meetings, workshops and exchanges of ideas and skills during co-organized events between citizens ‘and associations’ initiatives: Ordinary Adventure, Lundis 3.0, Open Source Circular Economy days …
It is not necessarily possible to trace individual trajectories, because FICA3 as an entity is not necessarily the cradle of the incubation of ideas. It is more a hub of initiatives, which take different forms and mature independently of the FIC. This does not prevent to note the important citizen engagement during the various events.

3- Among the many projects that come to MYNE, are some developing with the cultural sector?

The projects at MYNE, and MYNE as its own project, are directly or indirectly related to the cultural sector – by its open source and third-place aspects, its fortuitous encounters, peer learning, the principles of doocracy, freedom of creation, research and association, and collective intelligence.

The impact on individuals and culture is not negligible, being part of the MYNE, you engage in a questioning and as much personal or cultural as scientific, political or philosophical.

High scores on the HDI (Human Development Index) are related to people’s notions of freedom and empowerment, which allow for resilience and ability to cope with cultural complexity. This reading, through the prism of the sciences of complexity, enables a sociologically diverse and constantly evolving community to live and create to this day.

Is it art, science, engineering, recreation, seriousness, human and social sciences, vital, informal, or economic?

After careful reflection and deliberation, it emerges that we do not care. It’s a mix of all this that emerges in almost every project or every story at MYNE.

4- The MYNE is a hybrid space that combines the functions of co-working, hacklab, manufacturing workshop, living space … but it is above all a “common” to animate and live. How does this shared governance work and under what conditions is it viable?

R & D on modes of governance have been part of the Myne from the beginning: we have moved from a classical presidency to different forms of adaptive and collegial structures.

In fact, in organizations, the majority of decisions are made outside of governance bodies, illustrating the reality that governance can not be detached from its concrete context, the dynamics of individuals and the environment.

Members of the Myne are currently working on a model of governance in “Adaptocracie” – which aims to compatibilize the creative chaos of liberties and difference with the order necessary for construction in the long term.

Among the essential notions of MYNE, the free reappropriation, illustrated by the role of concierge, welcoming, accompanying and connecting the newcomers as well as the old ones, and transmitting what was the Myne for him / her, the news, etc.
It is an essential connector role for third-places. At the MYNE, the conciergerie is open and participative and contributes enormously to cohesion.

5 – What place do digital cultures occupy in the philosophy and structuring of your project?

In connectivist approaches in the cognitive sciences, tools, especially digital tools, condition, co-form and are an integral part of our intelligence.

Concretely, an important part of the interactions and projects of our communities pass by digital tools such as RocketChat, which we host with a mynois experienced and engaged on these subjects:

Questions and experiments on these subjects are therefore very frequent in the Myne. There are as many different positions as there are individuals – from transhumanists to supporters of digital decay.
Among the recurring points in the projects: the place of open source and free software, the responsible opening of data, the proactive role of community members to develop inclusive and reappropriating cultures, the real utility, the environmental impact, Artificial or Augmented Intelligence, Blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things), human and social sciences related to digital …

6- We see that more and more communities are supporting the emergence of third places on their territory. What relationship do you have with local authorities? And, more generally, how do you see this sudden craze for third places?

This is part of the natural life cycle of popularity of concepts. Feedback from different individuals and communities has given us a panorama of these phenomena and the points of vigilance attached to them.
The popularity of certain keywords presents as many risks as opportunities, as many good reasons as bad ones.
Regarding communities, we see them in the same way as any other participant in the dynamics: individuals, organizations, with their own constraints, goals and stories. The realities and the interactions are different each time, according to the people, the projects and the context.
We believe that certain interaction mechanisms must be rethought, in particular to promote empathy and understanding, and why not the effective co-operation of major issues and small realities.

Contact us if the adventure tempts you!