Lisbon: The last few weeks have changed the outlook – from Lisbon as an eco-system full of physical meetings and face to face creativity into a new reality. How can we begin to re-think our entrepreneurial future? Susy Silva gives a personal reflection on dystopia and how we can begin to find new beginnings.

Susy Silva
Susy Silva
Head of Programmes & Partnerships @mourariacreativehub, City of Lisbon.
April 23, 2020 • 4 min read
Mouraria Creative Hub

From a sense of helplessness – realising everything has changed to – what next?

This is it. Life as we know it has come to an end. Gone. Our bubble, the universe around us has changed: feels smaller, gloomier, as working from home and social distancing have become the new normal in a matter of weeks.

The previous idea of working in a space like the one I work in, a creative incubator, a “shared space” as it is, for many of us, is looking increasingly unattractive. COVID-19 has fully contaminated our public spaces.

Like many of our city incubators, @mourariacreativehub, demand just dropped close to zero: if you do food tours around the city of Lisbon, but flights are now cancelled, everything cancelled; you are an independent vegan chef and cannot cook now because all restaurants are closed; the incubator staff move into instant agile work, no pilot possible to see if it works; every-day is a multitasking day, from one living room at a time.

We ask ourselves, how can I help? What do I do now? how can I be safe? how do I survive this? Uncertainty is all around us shaping the way we think about our choices from now on – the way we adapt, to find solutions, how to plan and how to act.

I believe that life moves forward by matching new atoms together, in continuous creation and collaboration, an infinite number of possible types of universes that can bubble up in a new multiverse. We can be sure that the world can be tirelessly re-drawn, re-viewed and re-read. Re-created into the option that fits us best – Doctor Strange (1963), a character from a Marvel comic written by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, would say 14,000,605 possibilities. He did his research. So should we.

Photo: @colectivo_patio
Come to the window movie at the incubator/knocking on doors flyer

Cross Innovation – an approach which envisages new possibilities

Cross-innovation – an INTERREG IVC programme, financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund ( ) – in which the city of Lisbon was a partner, since 2012 proven that change can be embraced, accepted and seen as a constant factor. Change is inevitable. It was clear through all 11 member cities that open minded solutions and shared perspectives across disciplines can be a continuous path of wellbeing allowing collaboration to thrive, markedly different from individual sector growth, with a powerful ripple effect in cities and regions.

To quote Karl Mordo: [to Doctor Strange] “All you need to do is focus. Visualize. See the destination in your mind. Look beyond the world in front of you. Imagine every detail. The clearer the picture, the quicker and easier… the gateway will come.” (Doctor Strange Quotes & Dialogues)

Cross-innovation as an idea is about action. Actionable tools using collaboration and experimentation to find solutions: pilots, mindmaps, matricities, partnerships. Frequently you hear the phrase “Think outside the box”. That box defines the way of approaching an issue. So, do not think outside the box. A problem-solving mindset comes from the definition of how you act upon considering the limits of a problem. And in there you can go on forever in countless variations, with every possible outcome considered.

Movie at my window/build/test
Photo: @colectivo_patio
Movie at my window/build/test

New thinking for a new World

New world, new challenges. What do we want? What do we know? How could it work in the new situation? What works and with who? “Test and repeat” is the mantra.

Whatever box you choose to transition into needs, now, more than ever, to embrace tailor-made, human centric commitments. In this crisis, a full re-design might be considered, grabbing the opportunity to test new ways of working and to trial for effective tools.

Build your box: Measure evidence on impact, quick responses to challenges by testing prototype ideas, shifts in the skills we now need to adopt, arts contamination in companies focussing on creative thinking, multidisciplinary studies and teams are elements of the re-thinking process.

Now is the time to test out new ideas and to co-develop solutions for new realities after Covid 19.

Photo: @susysilva

Cinema from my window – An example of new thinking as a reaction from Lisbon

Mouraria Creative Hub is a special physical box. Not today, but normally, it is an incubator that holds a dozen creative universes. Business residencies are run in the space for artists, visual artists, designers, fashion designers, chefs, business owners and serial social consultants. In a certain moment during our programmed activities with them and the community, we came across a project called Cinema no EstendalCinema on the Washing Line.

The project celebrates the patios, the squares, the neighbourhood life, the art and the day to day of cities by projecting images, short films and videos on a sheet, on a washing line.

One social organization, Bairros, that develops programs and activities at the municipal Mouraria Creative Hub, at the heart of this pandemic ambiguity has immediately tested this idea. Together they arranged a movie session in our incubator’s backyard. They sent out “come to the window” flyers and rang doors letting the neighbourhood know. People watched Charlie Chaplin’s and Buster Keaton’s selection of hilarious movies! (Link)

It demonstrates a capacity to inspire, to be kind to others and to be authentic. These principles are at the core of our humanity and our capacity to respond and recover from this current crisis. People, neighborhoods, cities and regions, share responsibility for a stronger, common, creative, free, and supportive future.

And I can see the beginnings of this philosophy from my window!


1. Mouraria Creative Hub

2. Come to your window tonight:

3. Cinema on the washing line: