We founded the community lab Borgerlyst – Civic Desire – because we wanted to become more active citizens. We wanted to make a difference in-between elections and referendums. But we had no idea how to go about it, since we didn’t want to buy an entire package of ideas and ideals from one party nor play just another small part in a huge unionized machinery.

That is why we decided to develop the tools, meeting facilities and forms of collaboration we longed for ourselves. And we wanted to see how far two regular citizens could take a project without having any money, applying for funds, founding a company or being backed by a big corporation. A project living solely on our civic desire.

These are some of the tools we have come up with – feel free to test them. You can meet some of the people we have met. And you can learn what we have learned during the first five years of Borgerlyst. We hope it will inspire you to get started yourself.

Andreas Lloyd og Nadja Pass

Host a conversation salon

“Conversation Salons” are our most successful experiment so far. It’s an easy way for strangers to meet, exchange views and be inspired to act together.

All of a sudden, you have to do things you've never done before. You learn new things, you meet different people, you use yourself differently than you're used to.

The bliss of being a beginner

For a grown-up, one of the biggest perks of starting a civic initiative is the opportunity to be a beginner again. All of a sudden, you get to do things you’ve never done before. You learn new things, you meet different people, you use yourself differently than you’re used to….

The Copenhagen Food Co-Op

Københavns Fødevarefællesskab – Copenhagen food co-operation – is a good example of a professional ‘pot luck’.

The Civic Desire patchwork

Borgerlyst’s patchwork blanket is made by designer Jan Rasmussen and illustrator Kristian Eskild Jensen. The idea stems from the old tradition of making patchwork blankets where everyone provided a small square of old, worn out fabric. None of these pieces were big enough to use by themselves. But when everyone brought a little scrap of fabric, beautiful blankets were made. That’s the way it works with community, ‘Dutch treats’ and civic desire too: None of us can do it by ourselves, but when we patch all of our wills and skills together, we can create something amazing.

School for a day

Example: How a bunch of grown-ups created a “school for a day” to teach the children when the teachers had been locked out of the school during the 2013 strike.

Instead of thinking you have to do everything on your own, try thinking of your project as a "professional pot luck".

Throw “professional pot lucks”

You don’t have to be an activist or be especially brave to act out your civic desire. Actually, most viable projects are born out of a shared effort, people getting together to turn their dream into a reality. So instead of thinking you have to do everything on your own,…

Your home turf is the perfect place to start. Once you know it works you can always spread the word to the rest of the world.

Why not make it as easy as possible?

Always start with yourself – and begin by making a difference in your own neighbourhood. This is a place where you know the needs, possibilities and challenges inside and out. Your home turf is the perfect place to experiment with turning your ideas into reality. That’s the place to start….