Mang Dian’s role in his district’s politics is at the most intimate level of administration in Indonesia. As part of Rukun Tetangga, he helps his neighbors with bureaucracy and in turn reports their concerns. Dian’s project partner, Vincent Rumahloine, began working with HIV and AIDS patients in 2011. This is among many other community-based initiatives Rumahloine has volunteered for over the years. Together their project is called Sedekah Benih.

It was clear in speaking to the two initiators of Sedekah Benih at the Driving the Human Mentoring Event in Munich that community comes first. Rumahloine and Dian’s project is hyper-localized; an achievable scale which nonetheless requires funding. The focus of Sedekah Benih, distributing chili plants and gardening, acts as an entry point. A chance to bring Indonesians together along lines of differing identification: gender, religion, politics, sexual orientation. As in many places in the world these remain contentious divisions. There are now five sister gardens throughout West Java. Upcoming initiatives include a sambal competition, challenging the widely held belief that only Indonesian housewives cook, as well as a food distribution model in which recipients will return their compost to one of the gardens. The increased scale of the project is due to the recent ability to hire collaborators, a point of pride for the duo.

Driving the Human is a three-year program exploring scientific and artistic collaboration with the aim of producing seven prototypes for a sustainable future. After a year of guided work, the final phase of Driving the Human will be a presentation of the outcomes in Berlin taking place November 2022. Dian and Rumahloine plan to create a journal presented in print and online. They believe the model of Sedekah Benih (which roughly translates to giving seeds), can be extracted and implemented elsewhere. At the core of this project are two enthusiastic community organizers who demonstrate that successful collectivizing asks for humble leaders who empower others.

Arctic Tern-Perception Looking at the Arctic region through the eyes of the Arctic Tern; Lifetime: 15 – 20 years | distance perception: 1mm – 100km | frame perception: UV light vision | sound perception: 70 HZ – 38 KHZ | speed: 50 km/h

The weekend event in Munich hosted by acatech (National Academy of Science and Engineering) provided participants the opportunity to speak with experts about their projects. Rumahloine requested to speak to someone from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, whose mission it is to conserve crop diversity for food security. Peter Giovannini is a scientist, his PhD in Life Sciences led him to research traditional and modern medicinal knowledge in a Mazatec community in southern Mexico. His work at the Crop Trust focuses on the status of genebank collections, commonly known as seed banks, at a global level. There are large scale genebanks throughout the world, but Giovannini and Rumahloine spoke specifically about scaling seed conservation.

Driving the Human undeniably brings together people from different backgrounds. Mentor Raphael Kim thinks this creates an interesting tension. Making the design question of “who is your audience” complex and ultimately beneficial to the seven projects. Kim is a researcher and designer at the Materials Experience Lab at TU Delft in The Netherlands. He is interested in bio-digital systems, many of his projects visualize one’s own store of bacteria. Kim was requested to join the mentoring event by the collective behind Human-Bacteria Interfaces. The multidisciplinary group of Anne-Sofie Belling, Bea Delgado Corrales, Romy Kaiser and Paula Nerlich are working to create a bioreactor that can be integrated into one’s home. The home product will feature a living interface made up of bacteria and yeast which will detect stimuli from its surrounding such as heat, and will respond by activating fluorescent proteins creating a glow. Kim encouraged the group to consider an unconventional stimuli; to push outside of what might be demonstrable into the speculative. The ultimate aim of the project is to visualize imperceptible microbial interactions.

Human-Bacteria Interfaces introduces the novel concept of human-bacteria interfaces within the context of the built environment.

Project partners Andra Pop-Jurj and Lena Geerts Danau of Monsters and Ghosts of the Far North Towards an Inclusive Cartography are particularly interested in the measurement of time, demonstrated within their immersive cinematic experience. The duo presented a visually rich proposal in October 2021 when seven projects were chosen from twenty-one proposals in the initial Driving the Human Open Call. The interactive video will offer viewers the chance to explore the Arctic from the perspectives of non-human agents. This includes methanobacteria within permafrost, who’s extremely short life cycle of only hours will be in stark contrast to that of the reindeer or an ice island and other characters within the narrative. Pop-Jurj and Danau will present data from the region which reflects global warming and geo-political conflicts. The long-term goal of the project is to provide researchers a platform to input scientific data ensuring the dynamic nature of their cartography.

‘Sedekah’ is a term derived from the Arabic word sadakah, an act of voluntary giving by Muslims without limitations in time or amount. ‘Benih’ means seeds. Vincent Rumahloine

Following the weekend in Munich, the duo was headed to Potsdam to speak with experts from the Permafrost Research group at Alfred-Wegener-Institut who make regular expeditions to one of their partnered stations at Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. For Danau and Pop-Jurj it is essential to understand data collection processes to accurately portray the information.

The weekend in Munich offered creators of the seven projects the chance to not only speak to experts at the top of their fields, but to one another. Seeking altruistic goals, each participant brings a perspective influenced by their specific region as well as their educational and professional background. While each of these projects can seem quite localized, collectively the projects gain a larger scale. Driving the Human continues to support and guide this international group to address current dilemmas within our world.