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Exponentially towards a future with net zero carbon output by engaging individuals & organizations, providing scalable learning & prosperity



CitizenScienceLab builds on earlier proposals (Green Tech Accelerator (2014) & Place-Based Creative Problem-Solving (2011)).

Intention is to bring together science, arts and technology through actively engaging the broader local civil society facilitating arising social and economic challenges to fuel joint activities to lower the CO2/GHG output of the city in exponentially fast ways using the best innovations we've got.

For Dresden, and Saxony three major forces are fueling this urge for action:

  1. shifting demographics (average age is around 50)
  2. digitization (all areas of life are touched by digital technology in some form)
  3. influx of foreigners (mainly through the current refugee crisis)

Through the rapid digital transformation (first and most apparent via use of smartphones/tables everywhere in use) the local citizens, especially the elderly are not taken with in a way that is bringing rising personal value to them, or lowering some of the challenges they have to undertake e.g. long commute times to work, and low wages in the Eastern part of Germany. The influx of foreigners and asyl seekers is at a large part handled by housing them in large facilities, e.g. former school houses, abandoned hotels or housing areas. This spurs negative negative reactions by locals (seldom exposed to foreigners over the course of their life time) resulting in weekly marches of protesters (e.g. Pegida).

The above dynamics already lower the attractiveness of Dresden for tourists, but even more so for foreign researchers who work at either scientific research institutions (of which are over a dozen based in Dresden, and more in the region), experts in the semiconductor and biotech related companies. 

Bringing these diverse developments into a broader systemic view to citizens, politicians, business owners, public and private institutions, to enable them to use these forces in a positive way through applying system dynamics, theory u and lean thinking making a future carbon free city possible.

The Ask

The key challenge for CitizenScienceLab currently, in its state as a grass roots initiative, is to engage and connect with trusted, and well-known stakeholders in the region. 

Currently we are asking for:

  1. your feedback for developing the business model, in exchange we offer our help to scale your business or startup venture.
  2. collaboration partners (companies, organizations, universities) to run first prototype summer course and workshops
  3. sponsors/ supporters extending the network & financial backing

What actions do you propose?

  1. making transparent publicly known resources that can be used for renewable decentralized energy installation and creation, e.g. using the city-wide solar cataster in Dresden (indicating which building roofs are beneficial for future photovoltaic installations) and involve local  providers of photovoltaic technology, such as HeliatekSolarwatt and Solarworld
  2. establishing a system dynamics think tank in joint collaboration with the Dresden University of Technology as envisioned in summer edition of the MIT Technology Review in order to bring the available research and economic resources towards emerging applied research outcomes, and companies and startups based on technologies that are improving in an exponential manner concerning output & price per unit measurements (Moore's Law)
  3. enabling collaborating between Dresden City Council, Free State of Saxony and other stakeholders of the local society in order to pull together already existing activities towards a smart city (digitization), carbon free city, and green energy application in business, and personal environment
  4. conducting action research projects (first locally focused in Dresden and Saxony) with support of local and global network partners presenting the results via a collaborative written 'white paper' pointing out feasible next steps to tackle the observed challenges
  5. presenting results in compelling narratives at various conferences, barcamps and other relevant events within the region and beyond
  6. pulling in performing artists (namely ballet) closer to the technology, business and civic community through interdisciplinary work as DZWK and Angela Incampo have showed already in the past
  7. creating a living platform similar to the Dresdner Lichtjahr providing a digital space (besides the physical space) to engage interested stakeholders in the overarching conversation towards applying new technologies and practices to lower the CO2 output of the city
  8. engaging with local players like, a group of enthusiastic citizens who envision a future of "old era" (GDR times) buildings, rather than tearing them down, and rebuilding new buildings (creating additionally "hidden" CO2 output)
  9. connecting with the local Initiative "Zukunftsstadt Dresden 2030" (Future City Dresden 2030) whose activities can be traced on social media using the hashtag #DDzu2030 (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog); during one of the workshops that focused on education we proposed to include the field of #SystemDynamics into the normal school curriculum (see final poster of workshop; top left corner))
  10. Engaging the global U.Lab - Transforming Business, Society, and Self (short intro video) to enable the growing of the local DresdenULabHub in order to initiate the conversation across different constituencies and stakeholders which could be felt during the 2015 #Dialogmiteinander workshops (here a personal reflection [German] on one of them in March 2015 at Albertinum)

Who will take these actions?

Local stakeholders will range from politics, corporations, startups, educational institutions, and citizens (including locals, researchers, refugees, students). which will connect as part of the action research projects with globally based stakeholders who are tackling similar challenges in their cities and regions. 

  • SMWA (Saxon Ministry for Economics, Work, and Traffic)
  • SMWK (Saxon Ministry for Science and Culture)
  • TU Dresden (Technical University of Dresden)
  • HTW Dresden (University of Applied Sciences Dresden)
  • UNU Flores (United Nations University think tank on the #NexusApproach)

Global initiatives, and institutions whom we have been engaged with over the last couple of years (around the topic of scaling and systemic challenges):

The vision is to attract a diversity of individual project team members the above (growing) number of institutions and organizations that engage in person (besides their day-to-day work obligations), are passionate about the future vision of the institute, and add a complementary role and skill to make the shared vision a reality. 

Where will these actions be taken?

  1. The initial actions will be locally focused in Dresden as the city has been part of several initiatives focusing on transforming the city towards the needs of the future and the reduction of CO2 carbon foot print towards net zero in the past, and present. 
  2. Scaling across the region in Saxony (as it represents a micro cosmos of diverse community settings from cities to small remote villages in the countryside)
  3. Meshing the emerging number of projects, learning and actions taken to connect the global networks that have been spun up over the course of the last decade.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

This part is still in the process - more details at a later time.

What are other key benefits?

  1. Engagement of local citizens 
  2. Engagement of refugees building on their experience in resource saving approaches in other parts of the world
  3. Attractiveness of the City of Dresden and Saxony as a role model in CO2-reduction through innovative creative and multi-disciplinary approaches
  4. Rising use of digital technology for mobility (commuting) for locals 
  5. Knowledge sharing across disciplinary boundaries (through digital communication, personal local meetings, XPRIZE Think Tank Dresden and Network Society Project which become part of the local event scene
  6. Politicians, citizens, business owners, students, refugees, startups, social entrepreneurs, scientists, workers become engaged and proud to be part of the movement as the play an active participative role to make the transformation happen 
  7. Dresden becomes a globally acknowledged green tech center known for its whole system view to tackling sociatal, economic, and environmental challenges using the #SystemDynamics approach

What are the proposal’s costs?

So far there are no large financial efforts needed for the actions, as the proposals (so far) are focusing to gain an comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamics, and social challenges including citizens who are not in the conversation for the moment, or whose voices are not heard at the moment.

Interested sponsors please get in contact with us!

  1. € 50 (drinks/ snacks) quarterly meetings at various university departments that are relevant for energy/CO2 reduction; lightning talks and specific given topic for the evening (e.g. implications of carbon tax for cars, incentives for electric cars, current framework fostering or hindering the transition towards renewable energy use)
  2. € 250 (per event for drinks/snacks)) Monthly design thinking workshops (10-20 people) on specific areas that are relevant to the transformation (e.g. grass-roots projects existent, maker community, Dresden solar roof cataster, energy storage, smart home solutions, mobility alternatives, electric transportation)
  3. €20,000 (appr. $20,000) sponsoring a 4-week Europe-tour of the CitizenScienceLab core team (#ScalingUpMOOC) to attract further awareness about the project, and scale it
  4. €30,000  (appr. $30,000) to run a first summer school (shared in real-time by social media by HTxA to attract further stakeholders and corporate supporters who are willing to become active members of CitizenScienceLab
  5. € 500,000 to install a fixed venue becoming the base of CitizenScienceLab (Dresden)
  6. € 5 Mio to finance the institute over the course of three years including base staff, researchers, and facility (preferrably a building complex that is has an industrial heritage status, rejuvenating it with CO2-reduced installations laying out standardized processes and procedures to be used on broader scale for industrial heritage facilities and making use of digital and exponential technologies - several points in Dresden, varying in size and location have been looked out already) [potential backers known, disclosed]


Time line

The timeline will evolve as interested partners are joining. 

For the time being sharing further concrete steps would like giving away the intellectual property, and description how to build the venture from scratch. Therefore there will be no further disclosed information here.

Anybody, or any institution interested and eager to join is free to contact me via the comment function.

Related proposals

Competitions that focus on the behavior change:

Competitions that focus on other points, and approaches connected with CO2 reduction:


Our Struggle for Global Sustainability Will Be Won or Lost in CitiesSays UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at New York Event, April 23, 2012


... where it all began in 2008 for me after returning from a trip to "Watch the Penguins in Finland" (h/t Charles & Ville inviting me to Finland) Team Action Lea(r)ning - A Journey into the Future

CitizenScienceLab - joint team project as part of ScalingUpMOOC
System Dynamics in Dresden, a letter to the MIT Technology Review
Jay W. Forrester (interview, 2015) on "How would system dynamics help an informed citizen"
System dynamics - the next fifty years - based on Jay W. Forrester's keynote at the International System Dynamics Conference 2007, Boston (D-4892), generously provided by Creative Learning Exchange (Clexchange)

Singularity University, Mountain View, USA
Tiimiakatemia, Jyväskyla, Finland
Presencing Institute, Cambridge, USA
Stanford University, Stanford, USA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA
Climate Interactive, USA
The Harvard Innovation Labs, Harvard, USA
Innovation for Jobs, Stanford, USA
The International Bateson Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
The Network Society Project, London, UK (Ambassador for Germany)
How cutting edge science is putting buildings to life via John Hagel

How to launch a campus innovation center
reparing Humanity for Accelerating Technological Change
Confronting Climate Change at Every Level, On All Fronts

Material on system dynamics:

1. donations by myself in 2009 out of personal library to enable a broader audience to learn about the issue of systems thinking & system dynamics
Business Dynamics, John D. Sterman, 2001 (HTW Dresden, link)
Road maps - a guide to learning system dynamics, Jay W. Forrester (SLUB, link)
Den Wald vor lauter Bäumen sehen: Reduktion von Komplexität - Anleitung zum systemischen Denken im Management, Denis Sherwood (HTW Dresden, link)
Grenzen des Wachstums - 30-Jahre-Update: Signal zum Kurswechsel, 2007, Dennis Meadows (HTW Dresden, link)

2. available resources at local Dresden libraries
Industrial Dynamics, Jay W. Forrester, (SLUB, link)
System Dynamics Review (SLUB, link)
Die Grenzen des Denkens: wie wir sie mit System erkennen und überwinden können, 2010, Donella Meadows (HTW Dresden, link)
Von der Zukunft her führen: Von der Egosystem zur Öko-System-Wirtschaft, Otto Scharmer & Katrin Käufer (SLUB, link)

3. Online resources
Resources shared by Linda Booth-Sweeney