Making a place for culture | Interview with Mocci Ryen, PEOPLE workshops community activator

Public space is all about the PEOPLE using it. It’s very definition – public – assure it’s openness to everyone, without a difference of age or gender, with no need to pay money or to plan – implies that public space needs people.

It is almost magical how a public space can bring everyone together. Being the people’s place, a square is a meeting space, where people hang out with friends, meet and greet their neighbours, and feel comfortable interacting with strangers.

PEOPLE and public space is one of the 5 topics we will explore during the on-site workshops.

Today I would like to share with you an interview with Mocci Ryen, who will conduct the PEOPLE workshops in collaboration with our international guest Andres Walliser. A charismatic and brilliant woman, she is the creator of Hamar International Children Festival, a yearly event bringing together children from all corner of the world through creative happenings.

<Noa>: Tell me about yourself.
<Mocci>: I was born in Hamar. After I finished school I thought of how to get away from here…now I think of how to get back!
I am a vocalist. I’ve studied music and I also develop cultural concepts and events. I’m a person who likes to create ideas, and I like to have ideas. Sometimes, I hope to develop these ideas into something that actually happens.

<Noa>: What took you to Hamar?
<Mocci>: Well, I left Hamar. But, I see Hamar as a great city; it has a wonderful location overlooking Lake Mjøsa, which is the largest lake in Norway. It is also close to Oslo. I see Hamar as a very comfortable place to be, people are friendly, and there is not much crime here. And, within an hour drive you can get anywhere – the forest, the mountains, the beach, anything.

<Noa>: What is your favourite spot in Hamar?
<Mocci>: It has to be close to Mjøsa, the area next to the Domkirkeruinene, where we are sitting now. This is my favourite spot. My favourite memory is the mid-summer dances that use to take place just here years before. I wish we could come back to that, and have a city dance down at Mjøsa.

<Noa>: What do you dream for Hamar?
<Mocci>: I dream to have a place where people can gather. There are many good places to gather here, and there are many attempts to get people to gather. But, we had a downfall of the city centre, as the biggest stores have been moving out. So it is not the same ambiance to the city centre here as you may find in other cities, where the main street is where all the mains things take place. We need that!  So, my dream is to get Stortorget to become one of those places that everyone wants to pass by and spend some time before they run off to their other activities, meetings or places to go.
I dream of Hamar to be an open place, both mentally and place where everyone feels welcome. Being a cultural person, I dream of Hamar becoming a cultural main seat, there is lot of great things happening in Hamar, but I wish that when people think about Hamar they think about a place they want to go to and experience culture.
In the past Hamar was known because of the Domkirkeruinene, and in the 90`s because of the Winter Olympics; I want people to know Hamar as a place where many cultural things happen.

<Noa> The dreamhamar on-site workshops will explore 5 topics – TECHNOLOGY, ACTIVITIES, ENVIRONMENT, PEOPLE and SEASONAL STRATEGY. Which one do you find interesting and why?
<Mocci> That is a hard one! Activities and people. Because activities are for people, and people create activities. But diversity is a key word in both of them. And that’s what I’m hoping for Hamar, this is what I mean about being an open city. A warm and welcoming city.

<Noa>: How do you think Stortorget can be more attractive to people?
<Mocci>: Getting rid of traffic. Making it into a place where you automatically want to seat down and breathe, take a break. There are a lot of people there all the time. It is a place where people gather. By having some sort of built installation or architecture it will involve people from all walks of life.

Miroir d’eau, a large paved rectangular esplanade is part of the river-front strip in Bordeaux. Photo taken by Valmente on flickr

I was in Bordeaux a couple of months ago, and I really liked one of the public spaces there next to the river, not at the city centre. It is full with people all the time, everyone is there, even the dogs and cats are there. And it is a pleasure for everyone. And if you can make something like that outside the city, imagine how you could make Stortorget, which is in the middle of the city if you added something that everyone falls in-love with.  You have succeed in getting people to use that area.
I think Stortorget should be linked to the cultural house. I think there should be things happenings at Stortorget all year around. Open air concerts maybe? Things that can involve people without getting them go inside and pay money, and the two work together.

Mocci Ryen, who will conduct the PEOPLE workshops. She will bring her creativity and charm to the Physical LAB on the 8th and 10h of October. Come share your ideas with her!