Container Feelings

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One month flew by, it feels like we have been here for ages or just like we have arrived yesterday. We landed in a beautiful city far away from Germany, left the winter wonderland behind and experience the first summer of the year 2014.

People have asked us many times, why we brought the container along, to the other side of the world. A question we have discussed for countless times amongst our team. The container, as our social lab, is the most challenging part of our research journey, but also the legitimation for being here in this particular constellation. We integrated fast, and became part of Cape Town’s design, artist and sometimes hipster community within a month. We invested our energy into many working sessions and network events, where we have built the foundation for cooperation with the College of Cape Town, the CORE artists, Thuli, Cape Town Partnerships, Creative Nestlings, the KaosPilots and the City of Cape Town. If we look at all these supportive and interesting people and organizations, we can recognize a pattern that refers to the existence of our container.

We have faced frustration. Seven German students, marked by naivety, bringing a blue box to a new country, totally underestimated the complexity of permits, authorities and duration of bureaucratic processes. We had to learn to take this more relaxed. On our way, we figured out that communication, especially the interpretation of messages in a different cultural context, lead to different results.

We defeated desperation, which came along with failure due to laws, dead roads in authorities and uncoordinated working among our team. The innovation of our project implied that processes were new to all involved parties. But, we did not stop working on us, on the container and on our environment. We were told to improve our manipulation skills ;-). All challenges taught us: Our research journey is not about accomplishing goals, it is about taking ourselves one step back, understanding our new environment and designing public space with participation. Therefore we need the container. For us it is a greater good, the better suitcase; it gives a space to public, which had not been existent before. It is space for ideas. It gives room for people to design, discuss and create.

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Optimism made us strong enough to overcome our low-lights during the Humboldt Journey. We have been thinking and planning this “idea” for more than two years. If the Humboldt Idea fails with our project, it will succeed with the next one. The container finally arrived today, we are overwhelmed, excited and relieved. The Humboldt Journey became reality five weeks ago when we arrived here and today, it feels like its 18th birthday. We can move on, do our best at tomorrow’s workshop. Our last concern is that we won’t find the container tomorrow morning in the state we left it behind this early evening. In May, June or July, when we sit in the plane heading back to Germany, we consider the journey successful if we will have learned and experienced Cape Town’s society as intense as possible.

Dear South Africa our lost luggage is now here, the Humboldt Journey team is complete. Let’s make the next two and a half months unforgettable for you and for us, it is about tackling the challenging situation in short-term, defining the most urgent needs, and taking the freedom to decide any future decision in future.

At the end it is all about trusting the process!