The Center for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Freiburg is thought to be a place where fundamental questions about our current and future ways of living are constantly being made. How do we want to live? And perhaps more precisely, which type of technologies do we need and want?
We understand that different technologies are needed, and that context plays a decisive role in the construction of such solutions making technologies more or less appropriate. Nevertheless, we also realize that the current paradigm of technology –dominant in many part of the world- is skewed and unbalanced. Because of this, we believe that new spaces must emerge where people can not only reflect upon these issues but also participate in the construction of convivial and appropriate technologies.
We are convinced that by doing so, we can draw on an insurmountable and unprecedented expanse of ideas that range from low to high tech solutions. It is through a participatory process of reflection, design and assessment of these different approaches that a creative combination of technologies can be achieved in order to facilitate and amplify sustainability.
Therefore, we are researching and tinkering into convivial, life-enhancing technologies that focus on the needs of individuals and their communities. We strive for technologies that are user-friendly, easy to repair while strengthening the productive capacities of people. Additionally, these technologies must be means that foster solidarity among people and communities, allowing for a balanced relationship between human beings and nature. This is not only an inspiration, but also a vision we want to build together!
A fundamental feature of our venture is to share knowledge. Thus, we publish our designs and creations as open source blueprints with the sole condition that all subsequent developments are openly published. Whether it is for private or commercial motives, that is irrelevant to us.
For example, SOLAWIS and small farmers repeatedly tell us that there is a gap between “hard” manual work and “expensive” large-scale technologies. Our desire is to propose solutions –together with the people that will actually use these technologies- to fill this “technology gap”.
The renowned and established French organization “L’Atelier Paysan” is not only a role model for us, but also a partner in our mission towards building sustainable, participatory and convivial technologies.
The subject of sustainable food systems has firmly emerged as a topic of wide interest and an opportunity to re-think and redesign the way humans work and connect with food. A sustainable food system is an overarching concept that not only encompasses food production but also distribution and logistics, processing and sanitary solutions among others. In principle, these are all areas in which technologies can be sensibly discussed, designed and implemented in order to achieve sustainable practices.
Additionally, we envision ourselves as a real experiment that aims towards a solidarity-based management organization that creates “good work” in a meaningful and holistic way.
How would the future be like if we had our daily-products fabricated locally in the next craft or small business on the basis of locally adapted open source blueprints?
In the p3 workshop, we have the space and opportunity to operate, where people can work with wood and metal. The open workshop of FREIlab, also offers an opportunity for this. In this context, we will be able to implement our first projects and learn from others through new collaborative experiences (see below).
We see ourselves as a node that will strengthen the already existing network of initiatives, workshops, individuals, producers*, users* who advocate for appropriate human-scale technologies. With the CAT, we want to increase the visibility for a convivial understanding of technology, offering a space for the development of ideas and skills where people can learn from each other. Through experimentation, workshops and co-learning experiences, individuals can cultivate a “good life” with others in a creative environment.
And remember, since we are an open-source initiative, everybody is invited to participate, collaborate and learn together…let’s strengthen the creative commons movement collectively!
Contact us if…
You want to construct stuff in a creative environment with others…
You want to share ideas…
You know people who would be interested in our initiative…
You have a technical problem/issue that needs to be solved…
You’re interested in sharing knowledge with people (conduct workshops)
You want to share or donate tools…
You just feel like it!
Philipp has always spent his time fiddling around and making drawings of all kinds of vehicles with pedals. He is a biologist and environmental engineer who loves to work with metal. www.pedalkreis.org
Benjamin is currently finishing his master studies in Environmental Governance at Uni-Freiburg. He has always been interested in small-scale farming, organic horticulture and DIY projects. Additionally, in Chile he gathered some experience building with wood and metal.
Peter is left-handed and has two left hands but is interested in sovereignty, alternative living and “small is beautiful“! He loves food and farming and works for Agronauten!
Partners and Current Projects: