THE FRIENDLY DEVELOPMENT GROUP

2010 – 2017


Unemployed people are nowadays treated like lepers, due to the neoliberal idea that unemployment is self inflicted. In an attempt to challenge this, I initiated the Friendly Development Group in 2010. It was designed as a platform where artists and long-term unemployed could collaborate for change and sustainable transition.
Over the course of seven years, almost 300 people participated in this experiment: a mix of art, innovation, un- and re-learning, and most importantly, a lot of Friendly self-cultivation.


Friendly 1.0 was marketed as an agency for sustainable transition and social innovation, and its design quickly made it an attractive alternative to regular mandatory prison-like workfare programs. Our operation soon involved hundreds of people and required a corporate structure which I created and then led as CEO, with artist Madeleine Tunbjer as 2nd in charge and responsible for HR.

During the first years a great many initiatives were taken and a lot of projects started. In one of our more successful projects, a pioneering ecological building insulation material, Isolen, was developed. Another of the Friendly projects managed to get an independent bookkeeping business off the ground. This enterprise, Kamrer Direkt, also sponsored the art sector for several years, by means of providing artist run gallery spaces with free bookkeeping services.



The first Isolen prototype, art in the wall



Early days in office #2, 2010
After some years, in spite of our perceived success, it became more and more evident that our approach, however radical, obviously had failed to emancipate ourselves from the mindset of the society of labour. As a consequence I decided to downsize the project and put more focus on it's qualities as a self-organized academy with a mission to explore less production-oriented strategies for life after labour.

Friendly 2.0, from 2014 and onwards, was characterized by collective deep thinking in pursuit of self-cultivation. This really benefited personal development and transformation, but also had interesting side effects (in my own case e.g. the emergence of both the Conversatory and Frihetsförmedlingen).
The radical down-sizing of the operation came with a more familial environment where some remarkable existential leaps became possible. I will be forever thankful to some very special people that had the courage to join me in that particular endeavor!
The extraordinary level of trust and responsibility we exercised together also encompassed a much higher level of personal freedom, compared to what had earlier been the case. 

The project ended in 2017 when we, after concluding that our exploration could lead no further in its current form, made a joint decision to close the last remaining FDG office on June 30, a day that marked the end of a truly profound learning experience.


The Friendly Bookkeeper

>> Friendly Development
>> Isolen
>> Kamrerdirekt

Additional reading:
 
DISKURSBROTTSLINGEN: Lars Noväng and Per Johansson in a conversation on labour, published in the first edition of Mooria, October 2014

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lars.novang<at>gmail.com
+46 708 558 555