I believe that Europe should be a space for collective learning and collective help. A shared common ground of human rights; A balance between local and global economical advantages; Politics that benefits everyone equally. An understanding and respect of different cultures, traditions and ways of seeing. A connection between different ways of collaborating and open for an exchange of knowledge.
In my view, change should come in a micro-scale approach to be successful on a daily basis. Is with a continued presence that we develop relationships that can create more in depth changes. In El Warcha we are constantly learning with each other. The adventure started in Tunis 2016 with Benjamin Perrot, in a neighbourhood called Hafsia, Tunis. The idea was to open up a space for the young community to learn design and architectural skills connected to furniture making and public art/installations. The workshop from its beginning is a place of experimentation and exchange open onto the street, it is above all a social space that allows to create and work together.
After that one another space was open in 2018 in London by me and Ben. We are engaging with the older generations, people with mental health issues and disabilities. We can see that working with these 2 different generations makes a huge difference. We analyse what is the role and empowerment of these two different generations in the city. For a generation that is often on the margin of society and left behind by our economic system it is important to have these sorts of projects that besides creating new ways of sharing skills, they open up for new relationships to be built and create a sense of community. The people make the space.
If in Tunis we have an independent space that steps on to the street, in London we work in two shelter homes managed by council. Our practice is not to be there to entertain people or teach them new skills per say but instead, it is to share experiences and moments with individuals who might otherwise not cross our path or be part of our daily lives because of the generational gap.
Comparing the two workshops, with the same methodology but with different energy and community, is great to see how much impact it has in the dynamic of a space is social and cultural context and that organically El Warcha develops its own dynamics depending on the people and context where the workshop is located.
Already for a few years I have been thinking on how to bring this project to Lisbon, where I am from. I have been living in London for many years and lost touch with how Lisbon has been evolving, overcoming a big economical crisis and having an exponential number of tourism. It is a country with underlying issues and problems related with segregation of classes and communities and I believe that a project like this could make a big difference to the young community in the periphery of Lisbon, where existes less opportunities and we need to invest our time in inclusion and social education creating connection in between the gaps. At the moment we are planning already a few workshops to start analysing different areas of interests and different locations where the project is most needed, after this the next step is to find a place and start building in depth roots.
Being included in this great group of participants I would like to collaborate exchanging different experiences and methodologies of work, brainstorming on new strategies for cross generational and young engagement strategies, sharing our ups and downs on financial struggles and the different ways on how participatory design and social engagement work can be translated on qualitative and quantitative statistics of funding reports, sharing the way you tell a long-term project story.
London-based designer practices human-centred design with experience in community led projects and social engagement . Her work is focused in exploring issues of inclusion, interaction and civic benefit in the public and private sector. Ines holds a Masters Degree in Material Futures from Central Saint Martins, a course that explores design, technology, science and craft applied to current issues. In her practice, Ines has a specific interest in applying design thinking and education to social purposes to generate interactive and sustainable creative outcomes.
Great job !