Short description
The first milestone we engaged in was purely formal: ending on time the initiation phase of an UIA project. What a challenge, 4 months pass very quickly when it comes to agree on a common text with eleven partners as different as a city, a NGO, or a research institute ; including sometimes very long-lasting political validation processes. At last we managed to respect the deadline, and to focus already on a few operational aspects.

Defining a collective dynamics.

Therefore introductive time was the opportunity to meet again the different partners, and to define the spirit of our collaboration. Here are the main “rules” we chose to respect:

  • Collaboration and multilateralism. A monthly meeting is set up in order to meet regularly and share information ;
  • Implication in the neighbourhood. Meeting should take place as much as possible in the neighbourhood of Fives/Hellemmes. No action is supposed to be implemented without the collaboration of local actors : elected representatives, NGOs, citizen groups, or inhabitants ;
  • Adaptability and versatility. Our actions must adapt to the local context. No one can lead his own action without adapting it to the others.

The first opportunity we had to collaborate on a concrete topic was to think of the prefiguration. As the final output of the project is a building, it will take years (at least 2 years) to build it. So a great deal of our preparatory program relies on temporary buildings or public spaces who will host during at least 2 years a series of workshops, meetings, parties and all kind of public events. The objective is to create a community of support for the future equipment.

We had a collective brainstorming, in order to define how and where this prefiguration should take place. As we had imagined at first that it could be made of three containers next to the future building, many of us manifested the intention to create a more generous and open space, including open air activity and the possibility to bring children. These new elements contributed to enrich the competitive procurements that our partner Soreli then organized to select architects.

MARCH First group visit between UIA partners to the F6 building which will host the projects.jpg

Discovering the neighbourhood

During this preparative part, we started already to apply our main objective: getting to know better the neighbourhood. I.e.: meeting with local actors; presenting the project; creating envy. This went through different canals:

  • First of all, through the socalled “Mairie de quartier” (neighbourhood municipality). They are in constant contact with the local inhabitants and associations. The local representative decided to organize a regular meeting in order to inform the population about the project.
  • Secondly, through informal word of mouth, meeting at their place the NGO’s known as the more active or simply whose activities are already linked with alimentation. They are as diverse as: a local theatre; a group of urban farmers; social and cultural centres; etc.

In this first moment of the project, especially in our case (11 partners with a lot of diversity), it is certain that energies are mostly focused on the initiation processes. Paperwork, agreements, discussions, and of course recruiting workforce is what we do most.