Co-Engage project meeting Toulouse

Late February 2020, we hosted our 5th partners meeting in Toulouse, France. For this two-days meeting, 18 people were gathered, not only members (workers or volunteers) from our organisations, but also stakeholders and “partners of partners”. That brought in a rich diversity regarding approaches and contributions to working groups, as we could have inputs and feedback directly from “outsiders” of the project, that came with a “clean eye”.

Those inputs we could put them to work specially during our first meeting day, when we were hard-working on the development of the project.

First of all, after a brief welcoming and “getting to know each other”, we started by working on the booklet[1] structure through a “collective mind map” of all the smart practices already collected and the new ones. For that, each partner presented very briefly up to 6 practices, and we placed them on the wall according to their similarities, making different “groups” of practices.

The result, even if chaotic, was a starting point to co-design the structure of this booklet, the organisation of all those practices so that it can be easily navigated: filters, chapters, categories… Two people were missioned to come up with a proposal that was presented to the whole group at the end of the day. We gave our feedback, and a final version is expected to be designed soon.

After a well-deserved lunch break, we continued the hard working! In order to take out the most of our time together, we decided to work on two groups: one will be developing the “impact assessment” methodology,  while the other worked on the future labs (goals, guidelines, structure, logistics…).

To introduce the work on the Co-Engage labs, we had the chance to hear the testimony of Lucilla, from School Open Source. They have been organizing labs based on design thinking for XX years, and we could learn a lot from their experience, as our labs will most likely be also inspired of this particular way of co-creating.

At the end of the day, we presented the results of our work to the other work and we stabilized together the following steps of the project: next meetings, homework…

Next day, we had the opportunity to visit a coop-working space that hosts 7 non profit organisations and a “café associative” (non-profit community café). Two of those organisation spent the morning with us to present their project and make us test their tools:

La Volte”, an informal collective of « éducation populaire »[2] made us reflect upon our thoughts on the education we have received, as well as around the question “does education need to be political?”. For that, we could experiment two of their preferred tool: “the think-and-listen” and “the fishbowl debate”. What both these tool have in common is that they break the regular vertical and uneven relation in presentations or trainings, by putting the participants, their stories and their thoughts in the very center.

Le Bruit de la Conversation” is also an « éducation populaire » organisation that was born in 2016 from the ambition of a group of architect students: they wanted to empower inhabitants by helping them to “own” their urban environment. This meant for them to include inhabitants in each and

every one of the steps of urban design, in order to “contribute to the creation of unique, inclusive and friendly territories where common spaces are seen as opportunities to work together and experience sharing”. With them we could try out “the thermometer of freedom”, “the cooperative pencil” and a even play “charades”!

This closed our two-day fruitful meeting. Looking forward to meet again, once that “social distance” is back to normal!

[1] This booklet will be one the outcomes of the Co-Engage project, and it will gather more than 80 “smart practices” (study cases, tools, project methodologies…) to reinforce community co-engagement.

[2] The « éducation populaire » is a French pedagogical and political way of thinking that seeks awareness and empowerment

of the oppressed. It considers that knowledge is power and because of that, the oppressed must be able to “build” their own knowledge, through exchange and reflection upon their own experiences. This way, an individual and collective emancipation from the oppressor’s interpretation of reality becomes possible.

 

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