Seeds of Systemic Innovation
In our experimental work on developing and applying "Tools for Change" (towards a more sustainable, just and regenerative society) we aim to grow "Seeds for Systemic Innovation". Such seeds are direct-indirect positive impacts, synergies, connections, illustrations, ideas, solutions - that enable, incubate, nudge and scale social and technical transitions, now and here, or tomorrow and somewhere else.
Seeds stand for the impact and effects of our real-world laboratory transition experiments, the outreach and contribution to positive systems change across scales, the seeds we collaboratively sow, many of them may germinate, some of them may grow strong and develop a resilient root network.
There are many types of seeds. We highlight some of them on this page, being work in progress. More seeds will be added continuously in different media formats.
Media and social media
Instagram and Facebook
The MVI social media pages on Instagram (link) and Facebook (link) are important communication channels to interest and motivate people on sustainability transitions. We seek to combine inspiring photography with science and design content.
Economic revenue for the village and the region
Within the last years of evolving operation, MVI visitors and course participants stayed overnight and consumed in the village, bringing economic revenue to the local businesses. The direct, carefully calculated revenue MVI created for the commune has been between 15’000 and 25’000€ annually.
For the valley and the region, the direct investments in material and working hours for construction on Campus sum up to about 350’000€ in 2020.
Technicalities and events
MVI grows industrial hemp on our test site and relates with this to the historical growth and use of hemp in Ostana, before it was banned as a drug. Local people and visitors curiously appreciate this re-birth of hemp as a circular plant, and a potentially economically profitable crop for the local-regional economy. We demonstrate its use in construction and composite engineering, such as skis.
Paulownia tree plantation
Paulownia (Paulowniaceae) is one of the world’s fastest growing trees. Originally introduced from Asia to Europe in the 17th century, its wood is one of the lightest, while keeping high flexibility and stability. The fast growth, lightweight and stability make it an ideal wood for regenerative composite constructions (a wood core sandwiched by fiber belts, such as from hemp), like skis, surfboards, orthopedic splines, or electric car chassis. MVI experiments with Paulownia trees on our test plantation on 1500m asl, to understand its growth rate, resilience to frost, snow and hail, and to storms. Paulownia could well become another interesting economic “crop” for mountain valleys. Together with hemp, one would then have the main materials for regenerative composite materials, and a new valuable land use for peripheral and mountainous areas
Vicat Grenoble Cement
So-called “Roman cement” or “Grenoble cement” is a hydraulic lime from France, which hardens very quickly (rapid cement). This type of lime is distributed by the company Vicat and has the environmental advantage of an about 40% lower carbon footprint, compared to conventional Portland cement. The lime is “burned” at a lower temperature, thus having a lower embodied energy, and has no substitutes. We co-developed a technique to pour the foundation base plate of the passive net-positive building Il Doppio, together with Vicat and our local partner Valle dell’Eco
Windows Cobola and “low carbon timber” certificate
Cobola is a local window and door building company in the 4th family generation. On our initiation, Cobola built the triple pane passive house windows for Il Doppio from local chestnut wood, with a cork insulation. These are regenerative materials. With the in-value-setting of local chestnut, we developed an example for a new supply chain of actors, i.e. small scale forest owners, and received a certificate “low carbon timber”, with a supply chain transportation from forest to usage of less than 120km distance.
Housewarming party - Inauguration
The public house warming party of Il Doppio in January 2019 attracted about 70 people from the valley and the region. That day it was minus 10°C outside, sunny, but 14°C inside the passive house. After 15min, we had to open the windows cause it got too warm. Formerly critical people suddenly understood, by experience, how a passive house smartly uses passive energy design, the site specifics, insulation, and thermal mass to create a cozy and healthy living space without (much) heating costs. This experience was a milestone in public local-regional perception of our project.
The Regenerative Design Talks (RDT) (link) have shown to generate lasting direct and indirect impact on curiosity and interest of people. For example, the RDT on hemp systems led to new regional and national cooperations between companies interested in hemp-lime building systems. The RDT on e-mobility spurred interest in electric cars and bicycles.
Our study experiments with University students to develop the knowledge base for an integrated mobility concept in Ostana set the base for its official part-implementation in summer 2020.
Award Regione Piemonte
In 2017, MVI received an award by the Regione Piemonte for our public engagement in sustainability.
In 2019, MVI received the environmental award by Legambiente (link) for our public engagement and communication in and on sustainability.
People and partnerships
Enrico Crespo of the local construction company Valle dell’Eco (link) supported the Campus transition and the construction of Il Doppio. Enrico contributed with his rich local knowledge and quickly understood MVI work as “evolution”, where changes on the construction path were natural learning advancements. Enrico became a personal friend and an ambassador and who loves to explain our technical regenerative materials and design solutions to others; Enrico took co-ownership of MVI.
Our friend and MVI design associate Anna Rodewald (link to her MVI internship profile) bought a house in Ostana and renovated it in an environmentally and culturally senseful way. Anna became a new engaged inhabitant of Ostana.
American architect Haley Fitzpatrick (link to her MVI internship profile) who works at Renzo Piano Building Workshop near Genova contacted MVI via our website in 2018, because of her interest in the build infrastructure and cultural identity in mountain communities. Haley became design associate at MVI and since then a highly engaged colleague, and a friend.
Martha and Salvatore
Martha from Mexico and Salvatore from Italy contacted MVI via our website. They were on the move back from Mexico to Italy, and searched for a place to live and work, and relevant business contacts in the fields of biological construction, wood design, and graphic design. They found work in Ostana, Martha became web designer of MVI, and both bought a house in a neighbouring village and are now part of the Ostana social community.
Politecnico Torino Visiting Professorship
In 2020, MVI co-founding director Tobias Luthe (link to his MVI internship profile) was invited for a visiting professorship in systemic design at the Polytechnic University of Turin - as well based on the local-regional-international systemic design work at MVI.
Our MVI intern Claas Beeser (link to his MVI internship profile/video), who worked with us in spring and summer 2020, got to know the place and people, fell in love with Ostana, and decided to stay. He bought a house in Ostana to renovate it in an environmentally and culturally senseful way, and to become another new, engaged inhabitant of Ostana.