Written by daniel

Building international communities or when makesense moves mountains.

On May 26, 2018, for the third time in a row, makesense organised the Worldwide sensefiction Day. In 23 cities across the globe, social project creation workshops saw hundreds of citizens and entrepreneurs take concrete action to tackle today’s most pressing issues.

From science fiction to sense fiction. Thinking the impossible to create better tomorrows.

What is a sensefiction?

At a 2013 forum in Oxford, Pr Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Grameen Bank, advocated the need for social fiction. Following on from his speech, Christian Vanizette, co-founder of makesense, decided to create a new type of collective intelligence workshop: the sensefiction.

Science fiction, Pr Yunus argued, consists in imagining impossible scientific breakthroughs. But by picturing as yet undiscovered technologies, science fiction not only makes us dream about funny or frightening fantasies, they make the impossible possible. They instill in our minds ideas and pictures of computers and robots that could be… Until science create such technologies and they become surprisingly unsurprising and common.

So, imagination is a powerful tool. This is precisely the point of Pr Yunus. We need social fictions. We need to imagine brighter futures regardless of present obstacles and constraints because it is the first step towards turning these fantasies into reality.

This day of 2013, Christian Vanizette, co-founder of makesense, is in the room. “How can makesense contribute to creating social fictions?”, he asks. By creating the context for creativity to arise and for each one of us to unleash his potential. By empowering young entrepreneurs, allowing anyone to make their idea for a better future come true. By using makesense innovative methodologies and international community. The sensefictions were born.

From challenges to solutions.

A sensefiction is a social business creation workshop. Like all makesense projects, it has a twofold purpose: inspire and enable to take action. It raises awareness among citizens and entrepreneurs on social and environmental issues while allowing them to make a positive change about it. In order to do so, makesense provides them with the tools and the support necessary for them to launch social and sustainable businesses.

From three hours to two days, between 15 and 100 citizens and entrepreneursare gathered to solve a challenge. In groups of five, they will go through four steps. The first one consists in mapping existing and obvious solutions to the challenge they face to learn from their strengths and failures (and to avoid reinventing the wheel!). Then comes the problem analysis: what issue would their project tackle, what need(s) would it meet? Once their problem is well-delimited, all participants give free rein to their imagination: it’s the brainstorming. Only one rule: there are no limits. The last step is dedicated to building realistic and feasible solutions to the challenge.

The 2018 Worldwide sensefiction Day.

What we did: building communities.

A Worldwide sensefiction Day is an international movement where sensefictions take place all around the world to address local issues. In order to organise an event of this size, makesense relies on a unique organisational model. This consists in a close collaboration between a supporting team of employees and a vast network of hardworking and highly motivated volunteers. One golden rule: co-construction.

Back in February 2018, a core team of four employees in Paris, one of our eight international offices, decided to renew the Worldwide sensefiction Day project. They defined the purpose and the format of the event and set a clear vision.

Then, as always, it all really started with a Facebook group, which is makesense’s main tool to mobilize its global community. On the Facebook group of all makesense’s volunteers, they asked the 1,500 members if they were interested in contributing to the project by organising a sensefiction in their city. By the end of the day, more than 30 people had shown their desire to join the adventure. So a taskforce was formed.

Here is the 10-line post the core team published on the group

Now that a fresh team of enthusiastic people had emerged, they organised a kick-off call to explain the purpose of the event and to make sure all members shared the same vision of the project. Above all, it was the opportunity for them to meet one another and to spread excitement.

Then, all volunteers were trained by the core team in Paris to the sensefiction methodology through online meetings and toolkits. They were also trained to organizing a local event in their city, including team coordination, partnerships management and communication.

The volunteers are organizing the event together with the core team, and they are trained to do so.

Moreover, they delved into the world of social entrepreneurship, and they discovered design thinking and collective intelligence methodologies.

In brief, there are 3 main features to makesense’s community-based model:

How we did it: makesense values.

This community is built on 5 values which serve as the bedrock of all our activities.

Collaboration.
Volunteers and employees work hand in hand, and they also collaborate with citizens, entrepreneurs and organizations.

Openness.
The volunteers have access to makesense’s open-source methodologies and expertise. All ideas and perspectives are welcomed, regardless of someone’s position within the community.

Creativity.
They are encouraged to give free rein to their imagination and to initiate new projects.

Life-long learning.
Volunteers, employees but also partners learn from one another, allowing themselves to grow together. They also learn from their successes and failures in order to do better.

Commitment.
We commit to social and environmental causes and to generating positive impact, both individually and collectively.

The result: making a positive impact collectively.

From 4 to 161 organizers.

Since March 26, when the four members of the core team called for help, a growing number of volunteers joined the taskforce, from 30 people in late March to 100 in early April and, eventually, to 161 volunteers in May.

These volunteers are spread all over the world, from Asia to Africa and from Europe to America. They come from more than 30 cities across the globe such as Baguio (Philippines), Quito (Pérou), Porto (Portugal) or Yaoundé (Cameroon).

50+ social projects.

On May 26, more than 300 citizens and entrepreneurs took part in 23 sensefictions. Some events were dedicated to a local issue such as resilient cities in Beirut (Lebanon), sustainable food in Lille (France) or circular economy in Madrid (Spain).

Among all participants, there were both curious citizens and young entrepreneurs who had already launched their business. Overall, more than 70 projects were created. In Lebanon, one of them aimed to tackle food waste in the capital by creating an app to collect out of date food from supermarkets. In Porto, a team sought to connect two types of super-heros: humanitarian organizations and local donors. How? Thanks to Bridges, an app that rewards donors in their community through partnerships. In Madrid, Walk on Waste decided to turn recycled plastic into flip flops. And there are dozens more inspiring projects.


So, this is it. We may not have changed climate change (yet) but we, together with hundreds of people, took concrete action at our level: we moved mountains.

Since we practice what we preach and because we preach openness and collaboration, we figured out we would leave you with a few things we learnt throughout this journey.

Now, it’s your turn!

Interested in experiencing the sensefiction magic by yourself? Join the makesense community on Facebook or on makesense.org to meet members of the makesense community in your city and to attend events.

Whether you are a citizen seeking to make a positive impact on an issue you care about or whether you are a social entrepreneur wanting to develop your project, there are thousands of people all over the world who are ready to help you.

So take action and enjoy the ride!