In 2009, the area of Bagarmossen along with the whole city district of Skarpnäck was considered an uneasy and unsafe part of Stockholm in several regards. For example, many interviewed residents perceived the district centre square as intimidating. Skarpnäckslyftet, a collaborative effort by the police, the local city district, housing companies and various youth and social workers managed to increase the average perception of safety in the area during the next 5 years. However, in order to stabilise this recent positive development, more proactive local work was considered
necessary by public housing company Stockholmshem with regards to public safety in particular and social as well as economic sustainability in general. Many residents still requested more viable and diverse public spaces with access to ecological food and social activities. The local non-profit organisations such as Folkets hus – a public facility for meetings and activities – had become increasingly indisposed to current demands from local residents.
Good practices & solutions
With key actors in and outside Stockholmshem having experience from previous development project Hållbara Hökarängen (Sustainable Hökarängen), also in south Stockholm, Bagarmossen has access to substantial knowledge regarding the implications of utilising local initiatives and knowledge. Thus, Bagarmossen Smartup was conducted from 2014 to the end of 2017 with three focal
areas; creating a living area centre, urban gardening and creativity & entrepreneurship. Bagarmossen Resilience Centre followed in 2016 and is still a key actor in the ongoing sustainable development of the local area.
Involving the local residents proved quite challenging to achieve in practice. Residents were first reluctant to the notion of external projects meddling in local affairs. Moreover, a certain fear of gentrification processes was present. Both the Bagarmossen Smartup office and later the Resilience Centre (established in the same house) were therefore used as meeting points, enabling residents to visit and discuss local issues when willing, rather than being confronted by consultants or top-down experts aiming to “solve” their challenges.
Economy is a lasting challenge for the locally driven initiatives. As the development of Bagarmossen proceeds, more and more ideas arrive at the forefront waiting to be realised, either proposed by residents or other key driving actors. Yet there are no sufficient joint resources or vision among the involved actors for promoting all ideas, nor for prioritising and selecting them according to a guiding principle.
Two of the constant guiding principles for Bagarmossen Smartup were to only sponsor initiatives who were able to support themselves financially after the conclusion of the project, and to only use local knowledge and activity whenever possible. The project was viewed as a means for reaching a desired outcome of long term safety and sustainability.
Bagarmossen Smartup co-funded two researchers – one from KTH and one from Smart Retro Innovation Demos in Helsinki – who followed the city development process and exchanged knowledge with the project leaders. Bagarmossen became one of three chosen testbeds for sustainable solutions and was presented in Smart Retro’s speculative future history scenario in three parts.
Practices supported by the Smartup project included opening of second hand clothing shops, bicycle workshops and creating opportunities for grocers and other entrepreneurs in the central square. A bicycle mechanic container was installed at the square in 2015 to promote sustainable transport and local craft professions by offering accessible repairment and classes on how to repair one’s bicycle at home.
Bagarmossen Resilience Centre (BRC) was founded in 2016 by Susanna Elfors, KTH PhD in sustainable development, together with local social entrepreneurs. The founding followed an ambition of promoting resilience and sustainable transition in a local context. It serves mainly as a co-working space and education hub for local sustainability, e.g. by giving permaculture classes to individuals. It is maintained as a co-operational society for commercial purposes. BRC:s strategy has since been to cooperate with actors commanding more resources, with BRC providing specialised expertise on sustainable development to already existing projects and processes.
In collaboration with KTH, Bagarmossen Folkets Hus, City of Stockholm, Emmaus second hand enterprise and Runö Folkhögskola, the pilot project Local Life was tested in Bagarmossen as in several other areas nationally and locally. Local Life is a digital concept for sharing economy and aims to reinforce social capital mechanisms by facilitating sharing practices between neighbours and residents in the same area. BRC was coordinating the pilot insofar as they reached out to residents on social media in order to create commitment for the project, as well as following up the
outcome of the project with interviews and surveys among residents to investigate whether their levels of interaction have increased or not.
“Skrubben” is a sharing platform tested within the Local Life project initiated by a local resident. Skrubben functions as a loaning wardrobe (Swedish: lånegarderob) that enables residents to exchange clothes in a local barack.
Bagiska Veckan was introduced in 2017 as a week of entertainment and educational activities with the purpose of promoting the UN SDGs. This initiative was co-managed and funded by Swedish international development organisation SIDA together with Andreas Sidkvist from BRC and co-developed with the City of Stockholm.
Outcome & opportunities
Stockholmshem owns roughly 75% of the buildings in the centre of Bagarmossen,enabling them to take action on a broad scale. This is an exceptional advantage,
since a diversity of private and public landlords would have demanded another approach and partnership constellation.
After the Smartup project, Bagarmossen’s residents experience a more safe andstable environment compared to the early 2010’s and have willingly contributed on their own account to various sharing, cultivating and social capital-building efforts during the period. Stockholmshem’s goals for increased perception of safety for 2018 were met or exceeded already by 2017. 3 The prerequisites of the area, including a committed population, a socially aware public housing company with a strong presence and key individuals and organisations moving matters forward, have
shaped this development and should be considered both outstanding within the region and essential to the outcome.
BRC is constantly developing and producing ideas for future local sustainable development; one of those mentioned is allotek, which can be translated as “omnibrary”: a sharing centre for things and resources. The municipality is interested but BRC would have to become a non-profit association in order for this to happen.
Lessons learned & recommendations
As entrepreneurs, the members of BRC try to work according to three rules:
economic gain, values and competence. If an idea will generate income while not compromising one’s core values and the issue is situated within one’s area of knowledge, it is worth developing. Bagarmossen Smartup owed much of its success to being receptive and focussing on providing space for local initiatives:
“[Bagarmossen Smartup] is a successful project and we owe that to us not being locked in the idea of how we are supposed to do things, but rather being perceptive and listening”. – Tobias Lind
Engaged partners & stakeholder groups
Stockholmshem, local residents, local SMEs, KTH, Smart Retro Innovation Demos Helsinki, Bagarmossen Folkets Hus, non profit associations, City of Stockholm/Skarpnäck City District Administration, SIDA.
Project: Stockholm Co-creation