As partners in the BRIDGES project, we strongly believe that meaningful dialogue and active collaboration of third-country and host-country nationals can create more inclusive and cohesive communities. We believe that everyone can play a role in the creation of these communities in their cities and in their neighborhoods, contributing to bring down the barriers of stereotype and exclusion. But what does it mean in practice?
In Tortosa, with a group of committed partners from all over Europe and with energetic and capable community organizers, we tried to explore, discuss and experiment innovative methods for co-creating community events for and with third country nationals, as concretely as possible, with an intensive 3 day training and loads of post its! (As well as reflecting, socializing and laughing).
The 3 days training was designed by Sociolab – the partner working on the development of the project methodology. Day 1 focused on sharing data and information on national needs assessment, a specific tool that each partner worked on to reflect on their local context and ground the co-design process in its specificities. To make presentation time interactive and allow mutual learning, we used an approach derived from appreciative inquiry and active listening: each participant had a specific question to focus on during the presentations (revolving around challenges, improvements and tools), to allow them to explore and capture significant elements. At the end of each presentation, participants read their post-it and composed a mosaic of learnings and shared meanings.
“It was useful to receive questions and feedback from others, it was the first time that the questions where not our own and it allowed us to discover new ideas.“
Day 2 was reserved to co-designing the project’s “call for community champions” and actual community events through the combination of gamification and Art of Hosting. We used a board game to plan our call to community champions where each square had a question to address in small groups in order to create the final “call for participation”: target audience, commitment required, resources needed, inclusion and diversity, dissemination strategy. A pro action café allowed participants to propose ideas, projects and actions they most cared about and to get the support of others in developing them further.
“Very helpful tools to proceed quickly and get results in little time, I really appreciated the concrete dimension to our codesign. “
“The games where very fun and engaging they can be used in many occasions.”
“I am worried about the work we need to do, I now understand more clearly how crucial is the work with the community.“
Day 3 was dedicated to project evaluation as a way of gathering collective knowledge and sharing experiences around an activity or project. The approach chosen is derived from the the most significant change technique, which relies on engaging stakeholders in a process of recording, discussing and analysing stories of change brought forward by a project or action. To prepare for the actual gathering of stories from their local context, the partners and community organized identified “small but powerful changes” in three dimensions: individual, community and in our work, thus confirming the complexity and multidimensional impact that a project like BRIDGES can have.
“I see now more clearly how much we have in common: we have all these visual reminders of our common vision. I feel that more than ever, we are truly partners.”
“I feel I have new tools to do my work as community organizer. More ideas and creativity thanks to the sharing with others and the working in small groups.“
“I am not used to these methods of working together and I see now how effective they are to reach our goals. You create a time and space where you are 100% on focus.“
“We listened to each other, shared our experiences and connected our ideas. Participating was so pleasant and I feel much more conscious.”
“I want to try to implement this way of doing things in my day to day work. “