De Chocoladefabriek Gouda – Making is Connecting in action

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I was really delighted to be the ‘guest of honour’ at a grand symposium at De ChocoladeFabriek in Gouda, the Netherlands, last week.

In an old chocolate factory they have brought together the city library, the regional archive, workspaces, a media workshop, a youth workshop, a fine printing society, and a restaurant – all under one roof and all together, undivided, as part of the same initiative, to bind the creativity of the community together. It’s wonderful.

They work out programmes of events all together – even the restaurant is a full partner in these decisions – so it’s all done collectively and fully integrated.

The idea is that the library (and the other parts, all together) becomes a factory of knowledge, not just a repository, with opportunities for this to be collectively built and shared. They started planning all this before Making is Connecting was published, of course, but they say that the book has inspired them, and supported what they are doing, and how they continue to develop it and build on their first achievements – so that is very nice, of course.

The whole process of creating this place is full of lovely stories. One example: When the library moved from its old location to its new location, the citizens were invited to take a bag of books, keep them at home for a week or so, and then deliver them to the new building. What a wonderful community-powered (and trusting) way to convey thousands of books from A to B!

It’s a great interesting case of how a library and other civic places can come together to create something that is a valuable resource, and a driver of creativity, as well as being a lovely place to come, for the city and the region.

I like to make a short video when I come on trips like this. So here’s what I did on the rainy Wednesday morning before the event started:

The event included discussions, a talk by me, and a workshop using LEGO where people built representations of ideas to do with the Chocolate Factory and collaborated around how they could be fitted together. (This was also the first time I tried out using LEGO Friends Animals sets – as in this blog post – in a big event. It worked very well).

Here are a few tweets.

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