ABOUT THE PROJECT
This was an urban education project, financed by EEA Grants, which took place between May 2009 – June 2010.
Our project’s main goals were:
1. Facilitating active participation among youth living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods to improving their urban environment – through applied urban socio-anthropology endeavours;
2. Promoting social solidarity among different social categories and generations of youth, as essential socio-civic ability – through team work.
Following these main goal, the project’s specific objectives were to: stimulate 90 participant pupils to know their city and to reclaim their future; encourage the 90 young participants to meet and work together, challenging the negative stereotypes that keep them separated.
The project offered many types of activities created together with the beneficiaries themselves, following work-in-progress and do-it-yourself principles. We worked almost daily in the partner schools, having parallel activities and also mixed age groups.
In short, the activity types were:
– Discussions and film screenings for the beneficiaries about their neighbourhoods, urban legends, city history, their relationships with other social groups in the city, famous architects and urban artists, street art, public space
– Analysis of the urban social problems and of the available resources to solve them
– Presentations of the beneficiaries’ urban visions in from of professionals with decision power: sociologists and social workers, students future sociologists and social workers, architects and planners, social activists
– 4 workshops of recycle-art
– Identifying and collecting personally meaningful objects for life in the city (10 for each group)
– Building over 10 replicas (with recycled materials, silly putty or cardboard) which illustrate the beneficiaries’ views of the city, their neighbourhoods, but also of the desired (“dream”) city and neighbourhoods
– Urban promenades, to explore the city and to analyse the quality of the public spaces and of the dwellings on the route. This type of activities lead to the development of supplementary activities: 3 actual site-specific interventions for improving few semi-public and public spaces, planned and implemented by the beneficiaries themselves, with the help of volunteers
– Trips to 2 other representative cities where beneficiaries compared the different urban realities and identified ideas of good practices for urban social development (important result considering that most of the beneficiaries never visited any other city).
– Building and painting wood houses for birds; the small houses were placed around various parks from Bucharest. The building workshops took place at the Landscape Faculty (University of Horticulture), with help from students
– Building a small wood cabana for kids, which was placed in the yard of School 136 from Ferentari
– An open air event, organised by teenagers from the two high-schools involved in the project, with the participation of pupils from the two schools involved in the project; the event took place on a little island from Tineretului Park and consisted in: painting workshops for kids, a theatre play presented by the pupils from Ferentari, music, juggling, forum-theatre, an open air library, placing hammocks and decorations along the island; this event was a civic participation exercise for young people, and its message was a symbolic one: during a day, we will all be refugees on an island, an urban oasis of culture, air and green space – and we wish that in the future, all “urban islands” to be able to unite into a strong archipelago.