A new citizen's space in Seraing: methodology and experiments facing the Covid period
« La Ruche à Projets »
« La Ruche à Projets » is a small house located Rue François, close to the administrative centre. The place is composed of several spaces: « l'envol », a 35 m2 room located on the ground floor and « le nid », a 20 m2 room located on the first floor. It aims to become a place where different people meet and get to know each other in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
In collaboration with project partners, a programme has been established between October and December to offer activities to inhabitants, in addition to nature workshops conducted by Natagora.
LEMA, which is in charge of setting up these citizen spaces, focused its work on three main tasks: the design and participatory development of this space; the organisation of regular activities to bring the public attention to the new existing location, to amplify its dynamics; and the launch of a call for occupations by citizens to test new projects.
In order to fulfill these missions, various social and cultural activities were organised in the premises of « La Ruche à Projets » and a permanent presence was provided two days a week, allowing passers-by and occupants of all origins to spend time together over a coffee and/or an activity in a welcoming context. From children's stories to furniture making and craft activities, there were activities for all ages and interests. This programme of activities established win-win partnerships with various organisations based in Seraing.
Call for projects
In addition to activities offered to citizens, a call for occupations in the « Ruche à Projets » was launched. The aim is to make two spaces available free of charge for a period of three months to project leaders interested in testing their economic, cultural or social activity. Several information and support sessions were held to inform and support candidates. Two evening workshops were planed in partnership with « InterAct » (Research Centre from University of Liege) to encourage calls for projects to occupy « La Ruche » by citizens and enable them to develop their projects. During this period, some fourteen ideas were put forward for potential projects. Due to the layout of the premises, the health crises and its organisational setbacks, many projects had to be abandoned, but local actors are showing increasing interest in this space.
For each activity organised, a specific approach was developed in terms of citizen participation, the objectives pursued, communication tools put in place and the target audience. Despite the amount of resources engaged, the number of participants in workshops varied greatly. As citizen participation takes a long time to set up, the first workshops were easier put in place through partnerships with organisations, schools and groups already present on the territory. Next phase of the programme will therefore take these lessons into account, while keeping on to carry out actions that have been engaged, but also by seeking to give more concrete expression citizen’s needs.
What happens next?
The call for projects to occupy the « Ruche » will close on January 24th. A jury will select projects that will take up residence in this citizen space until June 2022. With the help of LEMA, winners will also organise small activities accessible to inhabitants of Seraing in order to gradually revitalise their neighbourhood. This call for projects is the first of a series of three in order to gradually reach a wider public and encourage more inhabitants to launch their own initiatives. At the same time, a management group was formed to define the functioning and objectives of a permanent citizen space: the future « Maison du Peuple ». While waiting for the building to be renovated, this group will meet and test its ideas and activities at « La Ruche ».