La Cantine d’Israel

The Cantina - Israel Open Source and Open Innovation Center

As a (technology & web) community activist that has organized quite a bit of events and activities I can testify, the trickiest step of organizing a meetup or event is with finding the right place. The venue that will be sexy, fit the type of event, be equipped with fast internet and presentation & sound system and will hold as many people you’ll have, occasionally few dozens, once in a while a few hundreds, and once or twice a year even more.

The work we’ve done over the years in flashoo, webitalks and other community initiatives has provided us a list of connections from which we go to “schnorr” a room or sponsorship to rent a venue for activities. And occasionally, for small meetups (100 below), we also rent a place ourselves.

That’s part of why I fell in love with a new idea presented to me last week by Lior Kesos from Linnovate, an idea that is slowly materializing – “The Cantina“.

In a joint venture by the founders of Linnovate (Lior Kesos and Zohar Stolar), Silicon Sentier and the France Israel Foundation, a new community center for the promotion of Open Source and Open Innovation will be founded. It will be the first branch to the successful community center in France “La Cantine“, lead by few companies and individuals, including the Silicon Sentier and af83, a talented web development company (offices in France and San Francisco).

The Cantina will be a place for all the interesting technology user groups that are running around looking for places to hold meetups. In it’s core, the Cantina will be open to all, serving its visitors and members with the spirit of Open Innovation and Open Source, allowing everyone to present and collaborate, show great solutions and discuss interesting ideas. The Cantina, will also be a place to learn, featuring sponsored community courses for everyone to learn technology related topics.

The best part and what caught my personal interest, is the foundation of true collaboration and community work of the Cantina. The Cantina will provide a cool place for individuals to hold meetings and work in favor of providing free courses in the area of their expertise. It will also serve as a place for other education groups and NGOs. Promote Open Source and have an ongoing exhibition of innovative ideas and solutions. Companies that will make donations will benefit from a wide network of connections through the sister Cantina in France La Cantine (about 2,000 companies), have a very discounted awesome place to hold meetings and company events and be able to attract great talent to their ranks.

The daily routine (as offered currently) –

  • 9:00 – 17:00 – Coworking Space – Offices and meetings place.
  • 17:00 – 21:00 – Community, Open Source Innovation (Time for meetups, training, etc.)
  • 21:00 – 23:00 – Culture – Parties, Art, Music, etc.

Seems that the center will also offer Friday and Saturday activities, however currently not decided yet – what do you think should be on weekends?
You can find more information on the Cantina activities iCal.

It’s still in it’s infancy and has a long way to go. Nevertheless, the success of such place is highly dependent on the contributions and collaboration of the community. The technology people in Israel, who believe that a joint for free and open discussions can exist. Form valuable connections and provide priceless opportunities equally to all – even those who can’t afford it. We should all join and help, and we should start now, by offering support, joining the team, suggest ideas, make donation to the Cantina NGO and become partners.

A first seed money was invested and the Cantina is currently in search for its home. The places that were probed are described on the Cantina site, at the moment it seems the Cantina will soon find its place in the port of Jaffa. A great place for innovation and community work. The opening date discussed is October; 10-10-10… Some would say, a symbolic date for the opening of a technologists community center.

I’m a fan of initiatives that promote the Open Source spirit. I’m also a bigger fan of enterprises that will better the education and provide equal opportunities in Israel. This is all about building a better future.


Next steps. On how to get this initiative to fruition –

  1. Form a strong group that is willing to offer help. Post a public list of the people, what they are willing to do and when, how and what is needed, so everyone will know what can be contributed, how they can collaborate and what is needed to help out. Also, create a call for action badge – A badge to be shared among members of the Cantina. On the page provide a list of action items people can help with.
  2. Community work should be focused at providing a solid framework for connections and collaborative learning. The Cantina should form a list of people willing to contribute knowledge and time to educate and teach from their own expertise, this list should be public on the site to encourage others to contribute as well. It is also the start of the Cantina, even before there is an actual physical place.
  3. Public list of companies that will be interested in partnering and provide assistance or donations.
  4. A meetup, in continuation to the first ‘launch meeting’. This meetup should be focused on building a community and finding more stakeholders, investors and sponsors.


About The Cantina (Hebrew). Tweet using #cantinatlv. Join the Facebook Group.

Read about La Cantine center in France.
The Marker Article (Hebrew). And a follow up by Ira Abramov (Hebrew).
The Cantina page at Amutat Hamakor (Hebrew). The Cantina page at Code Patuach (Hebrew).
NPTech about the first Cantina convention (March 18, 2010).