food&beverage&bio hacking activities

Food Hacking Tour Winter 2014, part I.

Roaming in the West
Hi to all,
first I would like to thank to all of those who we met during our journey, for your hospitality, for the open heart and mind with which you welcomed us and “shipped us” towards the next destination when the time came, thank you! 
For the ones who followed our progress and in same cases joined us on the way our goals were to bring people in the hacker movement together around “the table” if put it short. Sharing a glass of something mighty tasty and plate of something extraordinary, having a good time all together. It seems with retrospective that we had succeeded. Over the course of more than month and half of touring we visited around 15 places, hacker venues all around Northern, Western, bit of Southern and Central Europe. We gave numerous workshops and dinners, discussed many important topics related to hacking community and movement and at the end reached €2000 of our crowdsourcing campaign goal covering our expenses during our stay in Europe (alas not the flight tickets, we definitely hope next time …). As mentioned above we had great time and felt really well treated. If to give the number one for me, Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck, it would be the Novi Sad (Нови Сад) and our time with the LUGoNS group and our hosts Jelena and Goran, it was super cool there, thanks! Now what about actually starting from the beginning, shall we?
 
30c3 in Hamburg and later,
We the Food Hacking Base at 30c3 have been super busy and very productive, getting in touch with lots of people some of them we later one visited during the tour. We have been running quite a well equipped kitchen and workshop venue and thankfully from the stock of the ingredients which was left behind after the event we used most of that for our tour which saved quite a bit of cash and prooved our no waste policy. Concerning cooking&brewing equipment, there we were way over stacked to be honest. We were also carrying quite a bit of building material especially the wood which we used for our tables at the conference, thankfully we share it with Warpzone hackerspace in Munster (where they do a big build up at their really cool new location (except maybe the fourth floor issue with no elevator 🙂 )) and rest went to some of our members, after that our car actually was just overloaded, before it was kind of close to impossible. Anyway our first step in the tour was to go back to Augsburg where we unloaded Moritz and the OpenLab Augsburg crowd celebrating Silvester, which was lovely. After that we stayed a bit with my parents in Czech Republic leaving behind all the seats and parts of the car which were not absolutely mandatory and moved to Prague’s hackerspace Brmlab where we finished up our preparation for the tour and took off first  for Hamburg. When we arrived to the spot the CCC crew was still busy wrapping up after the congress, so we just got all our stuff, completely overfilling the car as mentioned above and bulleted for our first location ChaosKueste in Kiel, where we were hosted by Sven and Benie. 
Here we did our first Korean dinner event of the tour and the kimchi workshop. It was nice and relaxing, cool. Of course we did some sightseeing with our hosts and shopping, the Kiel’s Asian store had quite a selection so we got ingredients for next few events. Concerning the Kiel’s hackerspace it is personally one of my favorite small scale places. I was thinking about that quite a bit and it is hard to put my finger on “what is it” what makes it different, maybe low drama level, not sure. One thing which I think really shows up is around 30 years of history, yes you are right this is one of the oldest hackerspaces in Europe and in the world. This gives the place kind of continuity and I would say ethical or maybe social quality which keeps the place moving in some certain direction in a comfortable atmosphere. There are members of all ages around and from what I’ve been told, the group actually managed well keeping people who are members for quite number of years even if not actively involved recently, “on the list” which helps with covering the running expenses of the place. Many of us recognize this as a major achievement. In this case the presumption that low activity equals low on drama doesn’t fly. This group is actually behind one of the most successful open free mesh networks in Germany – Freifunk in Kiel with over 300 nodes now all over the Kiel, so activity is definitely there … By the way the location of the place is really cool, in the city center with a big shopping window facing the street showing all the various achievements and inspirations. 
So our time in Kiel was great as was the last time when I was around, we did what we could to inspire and get inspired sharing what we love and we moved on to the next venue the WarpZone.
 
if there can be a place as different as ChaosKueste it is the Warpzone, at least for me. Instead of a small spot behind a shopping window in the town center for this place we had to search at the city outskirts in the “ancient industrial estate” called  Pebüso Industriekomplex, the red brick scenery with plentiful graffiti still sticks to my mind. The hackerspace by itself is cosy, situated in a first floor and consisting of two rooms, one dedicated I would say more to socializing and food hacking and second being more electronic and build up focused. But mind me, when you are reading these lines Warpzone will have already a new “face”. They are steadily working on a build up of their new location which is in the same complex but much bigger! Also it will keep the local hacker crowd nice and slim because it is in the fourth floor without elevator (sorry could not resist this one 🙂 ). Now what about the folks, how did we got together? OHM2013 was the first event where we met and had a really good time together around Food Hacking Base with Warpzone helping enormously with the build up and later on with keeping it running. At 30c3 we were hacking together again and now we came back together visiting the hackerspace itself, “Food Hacking Base nomads and The Residents” :-). 
Now as the previous hackerspace was “old and seasoned”, Warpzone is “recent and vibrant” and you can feel it. The folk around is younger in general but also I would say more crazy and “lets do it” focused. They by themselves consider most of their activities being done spontaneously just thinking about something and making it happen in the next moment. That includes their project of installing programmed lights on the top floor of their building or for example their life video transfer of the detonation of the bomb left after the second world war in the nearby channel and you can go on and on … As a food hacker I have to report on really cool peltier based field fridge which Lars with others developed for OHM2013 and which we took partly as a blueprint for the the recent version of experimentally incubator – definitely from the point of view that it is doable. The 3D printed ice cream machine is a great idea resulting in some really tasty snacks based on wild experimenting, some recipes here (??? link ask Lars). As before we did Korean healing tablet, brewing workshop and as an extra cheese and some alcohol tasting including home brewed beers, cherry wine and cider among the others, many thanks to Phillipe, Hamburg brewer and our host in Münster. During our stay we had a really good time having cozy accommodation even when bit too busy, thanks to the community for having us. We definitely want to visit again and can not wait for the new premises! Before jumping to the next spot, I should mention that Münster has few automats for a fresh raw unpasteurized milk, which I think is super cool.
Hack42 in Arnhem,
Here I think I just have to say “classic” and alas in a way past my friends. If you did not make it to the Hack42 by April 2014 or so, you will have to enjoy their new location … The old spot hit for me one of the top places concerning the structure of the place, next to my favorites as C-base in Berlin or Noisebridge in San Francisco and it was just super cool! Located in a formal military barracks it had enormous floor place organized into variety of venues. There were presentation rooms, big dirty workshop, electronic lab, nice and big kitchen, of course the social room with bar and wooden stove (so good!) and so on. From the more alternative I should name at least the computer museum which was really something, do check the pictures! I felt like going back in time really to my beginnings with Robotron etc. Now for the falk we have been coordinating in advance with Lurwah, Erwin and Cookie the first two knowing from previous fhb events Lurwah being into mate experimenting and kombucha and Erwin into molecular cooking. The plan was to make as usually the Korean dinner to bring people together and in this case also the tempeh event. I really liked the Lurwah’s experiment with kombucha where he was growing extra large kombucha SCOBY for the biofilm. Erwin was demonstrating his progress on his sous vide machine with heavy 3D printing involvement, which was nearly ready for the testing. 
I personally liked the feel of the place, you had access to really great infrastructure which you could use to do wide diversity of projects so really an open platform, this is one of the advantages of medium to large scale hackerspaces. We had an  interesting discussion about the “official” structure of the organization, where Hack42 has legal concept under the Dutch law, where basically the board has the power and responsibility. However the system was described working in reality in a manner that people sign things to the board, the board announces them on the meetings and once the members vote in favour or otherwise the board “officially confirms” the decision.  In some situations the board goes forward directly like for example ordering T-shirts with Hack42 logos when they are low etc. Based on this description and amount of people being active in the community it sounds to me like working well. We have also made a short trip to the Arnhem on whichs outskirts the Hackerspace is located and it was really nice. I especially liked the local coffee shop after half year of keeping clean in South Korea … I can conclude that Hack42 is rather relaxed cool hackerspace in a laid back Dutch town, exactly what I like 🙂 This stay was very special and impressive and we really enjoyed it!

 

 

I think that the bulk of people involved in fhb is based around this hackerspace. I remember meeting Webmind and Arnd back in 2011 during my Food Hacking Tour around Europe in one squatter bar, when there was not a permanent hackerspace in the town yet. Well times are moving on and now Techinc is still very young but already well established on the Dutch hackerscene. With many members and really busy environment lots of things are happening. We knew the place already because we have beeing preparing there the Food Hacking Base for the OHM2013, especially brewing with just few little explosive incidents. This time we have run three different events in the place special ones being definitely the tempeh workshop with some nice Hack42 and Techinc graphical hacking :-). 
I can say that we were really busy enjoying the attention. It was in Techinc where we received the highest amount of donations which really helped us out especially later on. As I mentioned already this community is very quickly growing with lots of young people involved. Arnd who was one of the founders was acting at the time as “benevolent dictator” or however you call the responsible person who is member of the board and coordinating the hackerspace in the manner that it works and people feel welcome. Discussions were run if to rent another rooms in the building, if to move the hackerspace around etc. really busy times. I personally liked the green and nature friendly environment around the hackerspace, I really appreciate this especially in Netherlands it is great. From the practical projects in the place I was impressed by the 3D printer project where several prototypes were made. Very important fhb project was more or less put together here (and at 30c3 again with Arnd) – The Experimental Incubator. This device is going to allow to control internal conditions including at the moment temperature allowing for example for it’s oscillations which will give us chance to test some theories about preference of microbes in biofilm polycultures as kombucha, kefir etc. for wider temperature range rather than one set tempearature. We have managed  to assemble three prototypes and tested them measuring temperature posting it on the video. I was very happy that we managed to progress again it was I would say a big step towards making this project reality! 
So to conclude the Techinc was really busy and fun and helped us a lot with both the resources for our tour and moving the experimental incubator project forward. Also we would like to thank Marcel and Daan for their hospitality and joining us actually for the next stop of our tour the famous VoidWarranties in Antwerpen, Belgium.
this hackerspace was really interesting. It was my first place which was located in the catacombs of a castle and with selection of best beers which a usual mortal can get his/her hands on – compared to all hackerspaces which I visited so far. Our main contacts for this hackerspace was Kristel and Ivo with whom I believe we have organized this visit for more than two months in advance, unbelievable! We have arrived this time in numbers with Marcel and Daan coming with us from Amsterdam and Brabo visiting from Ghent and it was great! We have rocked and rolled for two days, doing workshops, hanging out drinking, sightseeing you name it. Both the kombucha workshop and the Korean dinner gathering (video courtesy of Bermarte) were really big, highest attendance so far. We were more and more moving during this tour towards hands on experience so people actually learn how to make things by doing it rather than doing demos and VoidWarranties had an advantage of extra space because our events were run in a social hall on the ground floor next to a bar and kitchen, which was lovely. We have met a lots of people from the local crowd and it was nice to see some of the folk popping in for the first time, saying that they were on the discuss for year or two, kind of always “coming for the next one” but when Korean social dinner and probiotic workshop made it up to the news, they just finally arrived. This is actually what I’ve seen in a lots of spaces and on the events to happen, that if you do stuff around food and drinks people who are bit shy to show up in the hackerspace for the first time come much more easily, the entry level of “braveness” is just way lower than for some special hard core software or hardware hacking. It is win to win situation because the old crowd is happy to hang out socializing, giving tours and introducing projects (generally the scary ones of course) so as long as the mess is cleaned in the numbers all is fine. As any hackerspace there are of course local projects going on. My favourite one were definitely trips to harvesting the overpopulating oysters which were happily running away from the farms to the river and sea, where the local hacker and slow food community took an advantage of that. I think it is really nice free time activity resulting in few kilos of fresh organic oysters in your bucket which can be shared later on around the barbeque with a bottle of local Belgian beer, ahh the memories are still haunting me :-).
The VoidWarranties experience was really lovely, lots of people and interest, great hosting and overall atmosphere. Lets hope that some of fhb members will park bit better next time, so they car doesn’t have to be towed away under a heavy fines, shall we?
 

 

Syn2cat in Luxembourg,
was the first hackerspace which I have visited enjoying the advantage of having fully subsidised rent and energies. Located on an edge of Luxembourg city in the former school it is I would say medium size hackerspace. Our host and long term fhb supporter MaCfreak arranged for us spot in his lovely house. I have never seen before so many Apple products in one spot, I think this impression will last me for decades (like my visit of Keukenhof). We got a tour around the Luxembourg city and have a good time enjoying the beautiful night scenery later on having a drink or two. Concerning the hackerspace I’ve enjoyed the premises and definitely the people. It was bright well structured place with one room dedicated to the community activities including a kitchen/bar corner and social place and the other room serving as electronic lab, dirty workshop, storage and what ever else you need. When talking to the community it was clear that the life in Luxembourg is still quite easy compared to the other parts of the Europe, the crisis did not hit yet, however when it comes it may be quite blow because the bank industry is the main source of wealth of the country. The good situation was reflecting also in the atmosphere of the hackerspace, which was at least to my opinion nice and relaxed, people were not worried about their survival and that makes difference. The hackerspace was well equipped and people showed in numbers enjoying our activities. The kitchen corner or I would say kitchen/bar corner was well equiped and structured, firdges full of drinks available for donation, well nice spot as I have said 🙂 To see some extra photos from the event, please check the Syn2cat pages! There are several project happening in the place, just check the link mentioned above for the first class information 🙂
Parking! Fucking xxx zones, all different colours, sizes, variety of “behind the window meters”, that is what I get as one of the first memories of the Geneva, thankfully lovely Post Tenebras Lab comes just next to it and stays … With these folks we met at 30c3 and coordinated for this visit, which worked out just great! Smoking my pipe in the park next the the Geneva lake enjoying the winter sun and atmosphere of the place, hmm I love Europe! We have done a Korean dinner as we did in the places before, made some fermented beverages during our kombucha workshop, kimchi and  had a great talk about beer brewing with the local enthusiasts. As a cherry on the cake (at least for me), this hackerspace is the first one which I have seen to possess a really cool “can smasher” or however you call the thing which makes a “disk” from your empty can, so no need to jump on it as an idiot. Just press it gently (or bit more aggressively to be honest) and voila, space safed, no question about that! Another nice treat in the spot (except the collection of beers of course in the fridge) was the “direct window” into the Fixme hackerspace in the near by town Laussane. Really cool idea. Thankfully some of  the folk arrived in person, among the other Robin formal member of Tokyo hackerspace and for us very importantly he demonstrated  the fermivino which is a device measuring temperature and allowing for controlling heating and cooling similar to the experimental incubator which we are developing but focused towards minimum costs. Well I can say we have been quite busy here for more info check out the links to the Post Tenebras pages here, post one, post two and post number three.
 
Now this was the last hackerspace of  the Western part of our tour, after Switzerland we have moved on to the Southern, Eastern and Central Europe and we have decided to dedicate another blog post to this part of the tour to keep  things more organized and also recognizing the difference in the atmosphere of the places.
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