Barcelona as a Laboratory for Social Innovation: A look at Aleksandra Zemke’s book “Co-created”.
For years, Barcelona has stood out as a benchmark in innovation and the implementation of bold local policies. The city has successfully integrated new technologies with a deep social sensitivity and openness to diversity. In the book “Co-created: Social Innovation in Barcelona”, Aleksandra Zemke, founder and director of Smilemundo, shares her experience working in the social innovation sector in this vibrant city and highlights four exemplary projects and entities.
The book presents projects that represent success stories in crucial areas such as solidarity, the fight against exclusion, sustainable mobility and the defense of migrants’ rights. One of these projects is “La Caixa d’Eines i Feines” of Pou de la Figuera, a neighborhood initiative that promotes the culture of sharing and the reuse of materials through a library of objects and professional services.
Another outstanding project is “Raval Km0“, promoted by Fundació Tot Raval and Impulsem, which seeks to commercially and socially revitalize the Raval, generating training and employment opportunities in the neighborhood. Since its inception, it has contributed significantly to the community, producing 170 arches of lights for the neighborhood’s Christmas illumination and offering training opportunities to 53 people, with 32 temporary hires to unemployed people.
The third project, “Bicihub“, is an incubator center for ideas and projects focused on the implementation of sustainable mobility, placing the bicycle at the center of its efforts through an inclusive, cooperative and social fabric approach.
Finally, “Top Manta“, born in 2017 as the social and solidarity clothing brand of the Barcelona Street Vendors Union, is an ethical and sustainable project that seeks to improve the living conditions of the mantero collective, offering an alternative that guarantees the future of local communities instead of forcing migration.
“Co-created” not only captures the essence of social innovations in Barcelona, but also stands as a source of inspiration and an example of good practice for activists, innovators and public administrations, especially in the Polish context. This project, published by the Polish Shipyard Foundation, has been presented by Aleksandra at conferences in Poland. The book is currently available in Polish in paper version, and its digital version can also be accessed online.
Barcelona, through these innovative projects, demonstrates that collaboration and creativity can generate impactful solutions to address contemporary social challenges.