I know Professor Daniela Finke and Mr. Daniel Wiener both through completely different channels. When I then heard that Seniors@Work and KOSMOS were in contact and that good networking was useful, I asked the two founding members for an interview, which we conducted by email in compliance with corona regulations.

Dear reader, let yourself be surprised by where on the Bruderholz “the universe is organized” and what a great project is being created here.

You two, Professor Finke and Mr Wiener, are both founding members of KOSMOS Basel. KOSMOS… what is that exactly?

KOSMOS is the name of a new creative and experience space for senior citizens at the observatory in Basel. It sounds as if the name has something to do with the location. But it was decided long before we had the opportunity to rent the building of the former Astronomical Institute of the University of Basel. Perhaps in this case, nomen est omen is particularly true. At Venusstrasse 7 in Binningen, an open space is being created that senior citizens can use to realize their own ideas after they retire. However, the priority is not private studios or workrooms, but rather offers from senior citizens for all generations. For example, in areas such as music or health, exercise or travel. As soon as Corona subsides a little, there will also be events, joint gardening, sports or "co-working spaces". Our building has many different rooms including an auditorium, seminar room and tea kitchen. We curate a colorful, exciting mix of leisure activities and work. We also arrange work outside of the KOSMOS premises, sometimes in cooperation with Seniors@Work. This is because many people want to use their skills long after they retire, including to earn money.

How did you two come to start such a social project together? What was the trigger?

We met almost three years ago at an innovation conference in Zurich, where we happened to be sitting next to each other at a lecture. We soon realized that, in addition to living together in Basel, we shared an interest in the topic of age and work. When we made contact with this "scene," we discovered a whole new world.

I know from my own experience how difficult it is to find space for such projects. Was the observatory a lucky coincidence?

Yes, the house was advertised and we applied with a concept that was obviously convincing.

Does KOSMOS have a club structure? Can you become a member? If so, how much does it cost?

Good idea! We've never thought about founding an association, but we should seriously consider it. The current sponsors are the "Culture of Change Foundation", which also supports other activities, and the two of us as a simple company. We're feeling our way around the right structure. At the moment we think a social enterprise would be desirable, but perhaps supplemented by an association, as you suggest.

Who exactly do you want to address?

All senior citizens who want space for activities, want to be entrepreneurial or are simply looking for work to continue using their skills, whether voluntary or paid. We want to offer "moderated workplaces". What does that mean? We hold discussions with potential employers and with people over 65 to get to know their needs and opportunities and to bring them together. The aim is not least to break down prejudices on the one hand and to promote self-confidence on the other.

I see on the website www.kosmosbasel.chthat there will be a digital booking platform with which seniors can choose from a wide range of offers and activities. Older people without computers are excluded from this. How do you want to reach them?

Not everything is digital, as we have already explained. And we trust in the ability to learn, even among older people. And we want to promote this in a targeted manner.

And speaking of which: you wrote about a shuttle service that ensures accessibility to the building. How is that planned?

Discussions are currently underway with the municipality of Binningen and with the BLT. The municipality has long had plans to open up the neighboring Bruderholz to public transport. We didn't know this before we made contact. But there are other activities up here, such as the sunbathing area, family gardeners, a farm shop, and the meteorological and astronomical associations, to name just a few examples, that dream of such a scheduled bus service. In addition, the Binningen cemetery has so far had poor connections, and there are many walkers. Together, we may be able to generate the demand needed for such a shuttle. This would then be integrated into the TNW tariff system.

You both know the Seniors@Work platform and its founder Alexis Weil. How did you find out about it?

Seniors@Work is well known. We were encouraged to contact Alexis Weil, not least by the Health Department of Basel-Stadt, whose head is on our advisory board. The exchange was extremely positive and open. We have also already started to work together in a concrete way by engaging employees from the Seniors@Work pool for our brush renovation of the house on Margarethenhügel.

How do you imagine further cooperation?

In general, we proceed step by step. We try things out and keep what works well, and discard what doesn't work so well. This is called "agile" project development. This is also how we build up our collaboration with Seniors@Work. So far, things are going very well, and we can imagine working more closely together.

Professor Finke and Mr Wiener, I wish you all the best and much success for your extraordinarily exciting project. All the best and stay healthy!

And to “my” readers, I would like to say: if you have any further questions, ideas or commitment, please contact KOSMOS!


Beatrice Isler

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