Archive for the 'Project incubator' Category

Shit rules

This post is from Fionn, who works on a betterplace incubator project:

As Joana has already mentioned in ealier posts, Noa Lerner, Holger Schmitz and I are working on a sanitation project for the bottom of the pyramid market segment.It started as part of this WTO-Project on betterplace. We decided to design a squat toilet which requires no H2O and for which, therefore a drainage system is not required.

Our first prototype/ concept enables the residents of slums, who live in cramped  conditions, often in one room, to own their own toilet.  A mechanical syphon will permit the odourless enclosing of faeces and urine in a tank. The tank, when full,  can be transported to a public bio digester. Here the contents will be turned into methane gas.

A nanotechnological finishing surface will facilitate the complete emptying of the tank. The biodigester can be connected, according to need,  to an energy kiosk in which the methane gas can be transformed into electricity. In turn, slum residents will  be able to charge batteries. Small businesses, such as goldsmiths where well-lit work places are needed,  could  operate using the methane gas.

Maybe you remember Joana talking about a little stop and motion film we made from cut out fotos, finaly here it is :


To prove our concept, we recently went to India for two weeks. Here we had the honuer to work together with Dr. Pathak, the founder of Sulab international. His organisation is successfully trying to improve sanitation in India: up to this day, they already installed 1,2 million privat and 7000 public toilets. Together with his engineers , biologists and mathematicians  we work on all the issues which were still open regarding biogas and electricity.

Another part of our field study in India was to talk to the future owners of the toilets. We wanted to find out if they actually would be open for our sanitation concept and how they would like there toilets  to be designed.

Prepared with specialy designed interview tools we went into the living areas, were we not only talked to the inhabitants, but also tried out our first prototype, which we had brought along from Germany.

At the moment we are evaluating the results from our trip to India and prepare our business plan. This we will be presenting at the University of Arts in Berlin in April.

Fionn Dobbin


Visiting Cinema Jenin

We love people visiting projects posted on betterplace and thus I was thrilled to read the latest visitors account: Dagmar had travelled to Jenin – just a few days before the outbreak of war in Gaza – to take a look at Marcus Vetters Cinema Jenin. And this is what she wrote in the Web of trust:

My friend Johannes and myself, we have been in Jenin in December 2008 to meet the Cinema Jenin team and the local architects and engineers. Johannes is the project architect. I am working on coordination, network, and fundraising. We both are enthusiastic about what we experienced. Everybody in Jenin seems to know the project, is keen to participate – and cannot wait for the opening. We strongly believe that this place will not only be a cultural highlight in this forgotten area, but also a place to show that watering little plants of culture, education and business will carry the fruit of empathy, understanding and freedom. Our dream is to take our Israeli friends there to meet our Palestinian friends at the opening of Cinema Jenin!

Cinema Jenin

For the past few days we had Marcus Vetter, an award-winning documentary film director, staying with us and visiting betterplace. It’s been a great time, with little sleep and much talk, many meetings resulting in a number of creative ideas.

What is a film director doing on betterplace?
Well, Marcus latest film, Heart of Jenin, took him to the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. Here he documented the true story of Ismael Khatib, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp. In 2005 Ismaels 12 years old son Achmed was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Still grieving, his father agreed to donate Ahmed’s heart, liver, lungs and kidneys to save the lives of Israeli children.

The film documents not only the dramatic days after Achmed’s death, but follows Ismaels journey two years later to three of the Jewish families whose children owe their lives to the organ donations.

The New York Times writes:
Offering a startling vision of hope while laying bare the deep divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, “The Heart of Jenin,” a new German-Israeli documentary film, recounts the story of Ahmed, his father, and three of the five people who received the donated organs.

“It’s not about politics, about Jews or Arabs, it’s about human beings,” said Ismail Khatib, Ahmed’s father, in an interview after the film’s premiere in Jerusalem.

“I see my son in these children.”

The encounter with the protagonists of the story, as well as the political and humanitarian catastrophy defining the Palestinian Territories, moved Marcus to go beyond his usual task of documentation. Together with Ismael, who had started a child center in the Jenin refugee camp in order to keep children off the dangerous streets, he decided upon a new social project: the renovation of the old cinema in the city center.

You can read more about the project here

Marcus came in touch with betterplace when presenting his project (alongside our CEO Till) at the Hasso Plattner Institute, devoted to Social Entrepreneurship, last month (thanks Dagmar Quentin for making the match and for Jörg Rheinboldt to pass it on to me!).

Since, Marcus and I have met at the film festival in Locarno, where Heart of Jenin was enthusiastically greeted, and where I had the chance to meet Ismael himself. Now in Berlin we sat together with Moritz (responsible for marketing at betterplace), Hannelore (projects), Aishah (press) and Hans-Jürgen (project incubator) to devise effective fundraising strategies for Cinema Jenin. Today we also spent a constructive hour in the offices of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, leaving with the prospect of systematically gathering support from important German cultural institutions abroad.

Supporting a project like Cinema Jenin is no only intellectually and emotionally exciting, it also teaches a lot about project work. We are in direct contact with a project manager or social entrepreneur, who gives us valuable feedback about the functioning of betterplace as a fundraising and networking platform. Thus by engaging deeply with one project, we are hopefully able to develop solutions which will benefit all users of the plattform.