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.


Co-Engage project meeting Liverpool

Back in September People’s Voice Media came together with representatives from Co-Engage to discuss project progress and share ideas on co-creation. The meeting took place in The Quaker Meeting House in Liverpool and proved to be a productive couple of days in terms of developing the project.

Representatives from project partners School Raising, Modusas, CRN, Future Fashion Forward, Ipso Facto, FYA, Miastro Jest Nasze ‘The City Is Ours’, FAJDP, Echappee des coproprietes and Education for Democracy in Education were present and collaborated in sharing methods of practise, which helped formed a large part of the meeting. Stakeholders from Stockport council and Manchester Access Project also came and presented the framework for the projects they have been working on.

After reviewing logistics and updating the team on aspects of project management, we discussed impact measurement and the importance of authentic collaboration with members of the community. The stakeholder practice presentations shone a light on the work being carried out by organizations of varying sizes here in the UK. With Stockport council providing insight into governmental bodies and MAP reflecting smaller grassroots organizations. Leading on from this, the speed sharing practice activity contextualized the projects currently being delivered by Co-Engage partners and it was great to hear about the diverse methods being used to engage communities.

The team also discussed the planning of a series of Co-creation labs, highlighting the importance of listening to and sharing authentic stories in the process.

After a brief discussion about the looming Brexit decision and it’s effects on project logistics, team Co-Engage makes a start on planning for the upcoming meeting in Toulouse, which is set to take place next year. The second day came to a close with an Apple digital storytelling workshop, which saw us explore video editing techniques with Eurospectives, another European project PVM are currently working on, and gave us the chance to be tourists and explore the Docks on a photo walk.

In summary, the meeting proved to be a productive couple of days, packed with discussion and the sharing of co-creation practices. It was great to catch up with the team and get a better view of the current stage of Co-Engage.

Co-Engage project meeting in Bologna

The third transnational meeting of our Co-Engage project took place in Bologna on May 16th and 17th, 2019 hosted by the Italian partner School Raising. The main goal was to collect two good practices’ case study about co-engagement for each partner. Secondary, we had to check together the progress of the work we did in our previous meeting in Portugal and to plan our next steps.

The first day we worked together at Le Serre, a coworking space obtained by the abandoned former municipal greenhouse thanks to Kilowatt, who regenerated that area. Kilowatt has also been the first case study School Raising presented to their European partners as a successful example of inclusion, community-centered design and, of course, urban regeneration. You can find more information about Kilowatt here.

During this first part of our meeting, each partner presented to the other ones two examples of good practices so, at the end of the workday, we gathered fourteen case studies.
Before leaving Le Serre we had a look at our next steps, building our agenda through the Scrum Methodology, which allowed us to allocate priority and timeslot to the activities we had to work on.

After leaving Le Serre we met Archilabò, a social cooperative with a strong female component, whose main work is to investigate and support schools in developing different ways and methods to do education.
Then, finally, we had our dinner together.

The second day has been fully dedicated to meet stakeholders and to find out new good practices realized by other companies based in Bologna. We met: Dynamo Velostation, a small local community project here to help you out discovering the city through cycling, Camilla Cooperative, a self-managed emporium where its members could buy high-quality goods directly from producers, Fondazione Innovazione Urbana, an open lab – supported by the municipality and the University of Bologna – where to study, analyze and co-design the urban transformations into the city, and Baumhaus, a cultural network which use to work on suburbs, young people and minorities in general.

It was a nice way to discover the city while taking inspirations by different realities closed to our values and working on our similar goals.

Co-Engage project meeting in Porto

During the days 11th and 12th of February, Co-Engage took place for the first International Meeting Project, after que Berlin kick-off meeting in December.

This working meeting took place in Porto city, Portugal, and FAJDP – Porto Federation of Youth Associations – was the host.

The activities took place in FAJDP headquarters House of Associations and the main goals were:

  • Work on the evaluation grid;
  • Discussion of some details;
  • Visit FAJDP partners that are working in the youth field –  Porto Municipality; MedEstu; Abrigo Seguro;
  • Work on the Impact/ Stakeholders assessment details;
  • Website details;
  • Discuss the next steps.

Co-Engage kick off – starting the co-creation in Berlin

The idea of Co-engage was born in the heads of a team, that was working from offices in different European countries. This, on its own, gives a good example of co-creation and its potential. Co-Engage is built on the conviction, that teaching participation through co-creation will contribute to the empowerment of activated citizens and social innovators.

A few months after the project application was written, submitted and approved, the partners from 8 countries met in Berlin at the end of 2018, for a kick-off meeting. Following the topic of Co-Engage, the host, CRN, facilitated the meeting using various interactive approaches, including design thinking. Design thinking by nature is a co-creative process, therefore, it was a good practical example in action. 

The overall aim of Co-Engage is to identify the main areas, where co-creation can contribute to supporting citizens in becoming active innovators in their social realm.

As one of the results required to reach the project goals is the elaboration of 80 smart practices on co-creation, the partners started working on a commonly approved evaluation grid. 

In order to start creating the grid, we identified the user. For whom are we creating it? Who’s going to benefit? After a quick brainstorming, we defined a user as an organization, that needs to evaluate their co-creative potential. Following that, in the spirit of co-creation, the partners started prototyping the evaluation grid on the spot, working in small mixed teams. 

The consortium partners also discussed how they understand the concepts of participation and engagement, as well as how these two relate or differ (the key results are presented in the word clouds).

Partners wrapped up by agreeing on administrative and project management issues, as well as steps to be taken before the next meeting in Porto.