Local community spaces – LOKAL K in Cologne

600 community events

have taken place in 2019 in the 6 local community spaces supported by Wikimedia Deutschland.

The volunteers of the German Wikipedia do valuable work. The Mayor of the City of Cologne agrees. The Lokal K in Ehrenfeld has been a lively meeting place for the community for six years. This is where drone flights are planned, articles about track cycling are written – and video clips are shot for the “Unboxing Wikipedia” channel to create a desire to get active.

“Thanks to the voluntary commitment of the authors and photographers, there are always new articles on the city of Cologne in Wikipedia. The presentation of information and images on the fifth largest website in the world contributes to the reputation of our city,” says the delighted Mayor Henriette Reker, who also honored the “special commitment” of the community in 2018 with her city’s honorary award.

Reker’s praise is also particularly directed towards the volunteers of Lokal K. Thanks to the support of Wikimedia Deutschland, this community meeting place in a side street of the Ehrenfeld district has existed since 2014. The room was built by a group of about a dozen Wikipedians, furnished second-hand, and turned into a community room and ideas factory: Atamari, Achim Raschka, Geolina, 1971markus, Elya, Loegge, Raymond, Superbass, Nicola, Duschgeldrache2 and HReuter.

Why do we need such community spaces? “Face-to-face interaction is important,” says Elya, who was also involved in regulars’ tables and WikiCon-like workshops of the Cologne volunteers even before Lokal-K times. But for this, spaces always had to be found and rented on a long-term basis. In Lokal K, working together, cooking, being creative or simply hanging out together is always possible.

Everyone cultivates their own specialties here. Raymond’s passion is photography, and he and Superbass worked together to purchase a camera-equipped drone, which was also used for two exciting GLAM projects in 2019. Thanks to a special permit from the Düsseldorf district government, which was applied for with financial support from Wikimedia Deutschland, “the drone is now allowed to fly over federal waterways,” Raymond explains. Normally, this is not permitted.

Achim, on the other hand, writes articles about board games and the squirrel species, Elya about Cologne churches, sacred art and female virologists – the normal cross-section of a very diverse community.

Naturally, Nicola says, people in Lokal K are interested in each other’s topics. “I would expect a Wikipedian to be interested in everything!” She herself – equipped with the Lokal K house camera – is on the road several times a year to take pictures of track cyclists and portray them in articles. “As far as I know, I am the only Wikipedian in the world who systematically dedicates herself to track cycling,” she says, not without pride. Her pictures are always directly available in 15 language versions. The retired journalist, who also wrote a brilliant Wikipedia article about the rivalry between Cologne and Düsseldorf, recommends that friends who complain about loneliness or empty days also become active as volunteers.

Elya and Achim talk about the Lokal K community drone, how the team uses it and what possibilities it offers. They show some results and tell a few stories about it.

To attract new authors is also the goal of Elya and Achim. However, they have their eye on a younger target group – with the YouTube series “Unboxing Wikipedia”, which is also being created at Lokal K. “At the last WikiCon, there were hardly any participants under thirty” says Elya. That got her thinking. Together with Achim, she now leads us through the Wikiverse in 10 to 20-minute video clips. Not in order to explain the world to other Wikipedians, but to make it accessible to newcomers.

The clips are about the so-called stubs (short articles), about writing about fiction or about an edit-a-thon in the run-up to World Women’s Day: #100wikiwomen. 100 articles about women were to be written in 100 days, which was far exceeded. The feedback on “Unboxing” is good. Recently, one user wrote in the commentary: “Videos on how to add a missing comma in Wikipedia do exist here and there, but this channel tries a different approach, is fun and benefits the cause”.

On Thursdays, volunteers and curious visitors are always welcome at Lokal K. You can get a feel for what Raymond means when he says, “Wikipedia is exciting offline too.”