Jellyweek: a glocal event of networked collaboration

From the 14th to the 20th of January, Worldwide Jellyweek 2013 is taking place all around the world. For the third time now, this open and distributed event will foster collaboration, sharing and coworking within and across local communities. Anni Roolf, founder and animator of Jellyweek, shared her inspirations with us.

Whether it’s a coworking session, barcamp, co-creation event, hackathon or regular meetup, a jelly is basically a temporary local event, free of charge, which fosters the values of collaboration with coworkers, entrepreneurs, designers, makers, technology enthusiasts, and more. This concept first took root in informal coworking practices that emerged in NYC around 2006.

Everything can happen during a jelly, you are free to create all kinds of events. Do what you want to do!

Anni Roolf from Germany is the woman behind Jellyweek, whom I met at the third Coworking Europe Conference in Paris last October with her new partner in crime Leila Pais de Miranda, from Brazil. Here is my interview with her:

Hi Anni, happy new year! The 2013 edition of Jellyweek is happening in a few days, could you remind our readers what this week is all about?

Jellyweek is a week-long event about glocal collaboration that happens every year in the third week of January. Anyone can host a collaborative event for his local community (a jelly), which can either focus on a specific topic, or have an open agenda. Then, all local jelly communities are invited to connect globally through social media, as this enables partnerships and joint projects to emerge organically. Overall, Jellyweek is about connection, action and knowledge.

Jellyweek connects people from different places, cultures, mindsets, backgrounds, languages, technologies and social classes: meshing as many networks as possible increases the diversity, establishing new relationships in the process. Jellyweek is also about acting and co-creating together. It acts as an incubator for projects, tools and structures for the development of sustainable communities, and what one might call “bottom-up globalization”. Finally, it is about knowledge. Getting to know each other and the world around us creates empathy, which helps us overcome existing barriers to find creative solutions in an interconnected way.

The history of Jellyweek is closely associated with Coworking and casual coworking events called jellies. But now, Jellyweek seems to have a broader scope?

Anni Roolf, founder of Jellyweek

Anni Roolf, founder of Jellyweek

The roots of Jellyweek are indeed deeply connected to coworking. In the autumn of 2010, I attended the first Coworking Europe Conference in Brussels, and was very inspired by meeting the European coworking community. It’s there where I learned about the jelly concept, a free and casual coworking event which can take place anywhere: café, office, house, boat or any public space… this really inspired me. Since I thought it was a pity to have to wait one year before meeting everyone at the conference again, I launched the first Jellyweek a few months later.

For the first edition of Jellyweek in 2011, we had 48 hosts in 14 countries. The focus was Europe, but we had a few people in the U.S. and even a Japanese participant. The global interest in the concept was clear by then, and hence Jellyweek 2012 became a worldwide event with 223 hosts from more than 34 countries on all continents.

Since the first edition, the majority of the hosts have been coworking spaces, but the aim now is to involve even broader networks. Collaboration can happen everywhere and Jellyweek is dedicated to facilitate and promote it, in all its forms.

What was your favorite Jellyweek event so far?

This is a very hard question, because what I like the most is the overall dynamic that ties all jellies together. However, I am especially fond of jellies that have follow-ups that go beyond the initial event. There are a lot of stories I love from these past jellies, that are now taking part in the event for the second or third time.

For example, when Kyo Satani from PAX Coworking in Tokyo took part in the first edition, coworking was not established in Japan yet. His passion for coworking and jellies really helped kick off the concept in his area. Two years later, Tokyo has developed a rich coworking culture.

Another example : during Jellyweek 2012, Helen Nadina Bakos and Erik Fosland from Oslo started organizing jellies at home during. Since then, they have continued to host jellies every Friday, and now organize pop-up jellies in public spaces.

One of my favorite Jelly organizers, is Leila Pais de Miranda, from Niteroi near Rio de Janeiro. During Jellyweek 2012, she co-created a quilt with people from all over the world and is now traveling with it to meet all the contributors in real life. For this year, Leila is doing an amazing work co-organizing the Jellyweek 2013, and she is planning a co-cooking event, inviting people to cook with their local communities, and to share fun, recipes and more with all other jellies worldwide.

Map of Jellyweek events

What would you like to see in this year’s edition, and how can people participate?

Simply do what you love! There are no limits, just make it happen. Make a difference at your hometown. It can be small or big, professional or spontaneous. Invite people. Create a new community. Connect different communities and see what happens. Let things emerge. Open your doors to the world. Get in touch with a jelly community in a country you would love to visit.

To participate, you just need 1) to register on the Google map and answer a very short survey. Then 2) connect with other jellies, join the Jellywek 2013 Facebook group, which is our main channel for communication and community building. You will also find a lot of inspiration and connections there. Finally 3) to promote Jellyweek, join the official Facebook event and invite your folks! Everything is summed up in this step-by-step description.

Thanks Anni!