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The Story of the Brave Hummingbird: The “Seoul CoLab for 7 Generations” Creative Center

What does a good life mean? Is it the same for everyone? Can one achieve it on one’s own and should one try?

These are the questions at the focus of attention behind the “Seoul CoLab for 7 Generations”, also known as the Kurikindi Center in Seoul. This curious name comes from a South American folk tale about a small and brave hummingbird which did not flee the forest, when it caught on fire, but rushed back and forth with a single drop of water in its beak, putting all its efforts to save the woods, and not getting discouraged by how small its contribution may had been. While the title “Seoul CoLab for 7 Generations” stands for the idea of an active experimental place, where values such as co-work, collaborate, cooperation and coexistence are cherished, with an emphasis on the idea that the guiding consideration behind every action should be its influence, spanning over 7 generations.

The creative space is managed by The Center for Youth and Cultural Studies of Yonsei University. Its main purpose is to offer a safe and innovative space for discussions and creative experiments, as well as to provide people with various options to explore the benefits of alternative education with an emphasis on important practical skills and capabilities. 

The participants of the 30th International Youth Forum in Seoul (read more about it here), working on the subtopic of “Exploring the Universal Design for Inclusion”, received the amazing opportunity to visit and explore the Kurikindi Center. The first thing that we were truly impressed by was how welcoming and interactive the environment was. Instead of sitting silent, listening about the conception of the center, or following a strictly planned tour around it, we were invited to participate in QR code hunting game, thus exploring and experiencing all the parts of the center on our own.

Since the center offers a number of educational activities, it has various spaces for diverse people from all walks of life, such as the Improvisational Dance studio, the Wood Automata, where people can engage in carving pieces of wood, or the art space Bright Room designed specifically for young people with developmental disabilities who are interested in painting and drawing. One of the most remarkable spaces, which caught the attention of all of us, was the Goods Common Room, where young designers, fascinated by ethical fashion, recycle old clothes and turn them into “practical, wearable pieces of art”. This space was inspired by the Bangladesh factory tragedy, where an unsafe building of a garment factory collapsed in 2013 causing 1,134 casualties, and it aims at focusing the public attention on the crucial problem of exploitation and consumerism. 

Photo: Kurikindi Center

One part of the IYF participants, visiting the center, engaged in a class in parkour on the rooftop – a sport activity which makes use of the urban environment and involves movements such as free running, climbing and jumping. It possesses the potential to change the perspective through which one views the ordinary city surroundings as an uncomfortable obstacle, and transform it into a space of adventure. 

The other part of the IYF visitors enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a music workshop on traditional Brazilian drums. Thanks to our wonderful teacher, only in a few hours we managed to grasp the basics of the Brazilian percussion and make music together. The philosophy behind this activity is to eliminate all competition and ambition to pursuit virtuosity, and focus on the idea of creating music together and feeling a part of a community. For this purpose the center regularly organizes street parades and festivals. 

All of these spaces are aimed at bringing up important questions about the world we live in and how each person can contribute to improving it. These questions include the issues of ecology and climate change, alternative methods of producing energy, uniting people and fighting all kinds of stereotypes through arts and creative activities, planning a future career, and being aware of our actions and their consequences. And the search for answers always begins with formulating the exact questions.

The team of the center not only provides various educational programs, but also sets a good example for being active and following the values in which they believe. The most marvelous instance of this is the stray white dog Hyuck Goo, which was taken away to an animal shelter and was likely to be put down, unless the staff had not decided to rescue it. Now Hyuck Goo lives as an office dog during the day, working as the official talisman of the Kurikindi Center, and at nights he goes home to his new family. 

This is just a small part of the impact of the Center, inspiring people in their search for a better life for everybody by asking the right questions and providing them with a safe space for discussion, experiments and actions.

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