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01 Dec

Study visit in Bordeaux in the frame of SEYW project!

In Blog by Magdalena Jakubowska / December 1, 2019 / 0 Comments

Art Square ASBL travelled to Bordeaux this week for a study visit regarding the SEYW Erasmus+ project on “The added value of social entrepreneurship in youth work” in six different European Countries—France, Italy, Greece, Estonia, Bulgaria and Luxembourg.


Bordeaux—more than the home of good wine and canelé, a city full of hidden secrets in the social and sustainable sector. The greater Aquitaine region which stretches three hours north and three hours south Bordeaux is a particularly important part of France for social solidarity because it is the only region in France with a special government department dedicated to the social economy. On 31 July 2014, Minister Hamon established a law on the social economy defining what the social economy is in France and included in its structure were different types of organizations having a general mission towards common interest including associations, cooperatives, mutual and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).


We had the great privilege to be shown around Bordeaux by our fantastic host organization Co-Action. Co-Action is a place where a network of around 80 to 90 entrepreneurs come to receive financial support and trainings for their projects. Co-Action works closely with many organizations across Bordeaux like La Cress who is the main association responsible for raising awareness for youth work inclusion through communication, animation, a lab for statistics and a national forum held every two years.

Representative from Co-Action explaining the organizational structure of La Cress.

Representative from Co-Action explaining the organizational structure of association La Cress.


The next stop on our list: Sew & Laine. A fab lab started in 2011 tucked away in an old neighbourhood factory, Sew & Laine’s three-week program allows ten young people aged 18 to 37 from different social backgrounds to create and ideate an individual project using textiles, such as designing clothes or screen printing bags. The focus at Sew & Laine is to repair, reuse and recycle materials and at the same time empower every entrepreneur who goes through the three-week la residence program with the skills and tools to enter the design industry in a socially conscious way.


Getting a closer look at the machines that the young entrepreneurs use during their three-week residency at Sew & Laine.

Getting a closer look at the machines that the young entrepreneurs use during their three-week residency at Sew & Laine.

As if we hadn’t seen enough beautiful creations for one day, we went on to enjoy an incredible meal at Entr-Autres. Using local, seasonal and organic products as much as possible, Entr-Autres is an association that caters approximately ten office lunches around Bordeaux per month, with a one-month in advance booking system. At times, the chefs are even given produce about to go to waste by farmers which they then turn into something delicious—we sure couldn’t tell difference, everything was fresh and full of flavor! The other neat service they offer is an orange juice bike; young people with little work experience, poor social skills or disabilities have the chance to partake in a 3 to 10 day program whereby they cruise around Bordeaux on a bicycle making juice, connecting with people, and building the self-confidence they need to enter the labour market! The whole idea is to promote youth inclusion among 16 to 25 year-olds and give them a route to obtain recognized work experience for their CVs.

Outside Entr-Autres with the orange juice bike after our amazing local, seasonal and organic meal!

Outside Entr-Autres with the orange juice bike after our amazing local, seasonal and organic meal!


We finished the day with a visit to La Ruche, a co-working space and incubator dedicated to social business, circularity and connection. Addressing the fact that only 30% of entrepreneurs in France are female, La Ruche runs a nine-month program for women where they go from idea to creation on their own personal projects, and in parallel, La Ruche also supports fourteen other projects throughout incubation and gives opportunities to two volunteers. Given La Ruche’s limited space, only fourteen projects are selected out of a total of ninety-two submitted to share a thoughtfully laid-out working area, lounging area and cooking/eating area that are designed to promote connectivity and the sharing of ideas. With over 60 different profiles under one roof, one of La Ruche’s priorities is to not only create a sense of community among its members by hosting events and parties, but to exchange skill sets and also bring outside skills in using a box where people write down what they have to offer and also what they are looking for—a super idea for networking and get the conversation started!


Thoughtful design that promotes connectivity at co-sharing space La Ruche.

Thoughtful design that promotes connectivity at co-sharing space La Ruche.

On day two we ventured outside of Bordeaux, two hours outside to be exact, until we reached a rural village called Rion-Des-Landes. What were we doing in Rion-Des-Landes? Well, we were visiting Ecolieu, or “eco place, Jeanot! This old reconverted farm house situated on a beautiful green property—plenty of bio fruits and veggies growing—is a place where artists, youngsters, woofers, local farmers and socially conscious people gather to participate in activities like organic gardening, speaking on the web radio, setting up galleries and food tastings, a weekly market for local producers, educational workshops and larger music events. Jeanot, established in 2005, was first created by a group of 15 to 17 year-olds with the intention to support inter-cooperation with Peru and to hold a festival for international solidarity with Africa by using the proceeds from the collective garden, which initially belonged to a senior man by the name ‘Jeanot’. In 2010, Ecolieu Jeanot refocused its activities towards providing opportunities in the local community that teach youth entrepreneurial skills and give them more prospective than working as a cashier or in the local paper factory, which at the same time address the outward flows of people leaving the rural region in search of work in bigger cities like Bordeaux. The three overarching goals of Ecolieu Jeanot is to raise awareness and educate, to provide a space to incubate social entrepreneurial ideas and finally, to mutualize cooperation in the social sector.


In the onsite live radio station at Eco-lieu Jeanot.

In the onsite live radio station at Eco-lieu Jeanot.

Wandering further off the beaten track, we stopped for lunch at Café Associatif La Smalah, a small café where the entire town gathers to sip a warm coffee in the winter and a fresh daily menu. This café, only a few kilometers from the beach, was created as a way to keep the community-like feel during the winter months when the population declines considerably, compared to the summer months when tourism is booming. The café also functions as a space for artists and musicians to showcase their work, as well as a place where cultural events and workshops occur.


Leaving full and happy from a lunch at La Smalah, an association supporting local food, artists and events all year round.

Leaving full and happy from a lunch at La Smalah, an association supporting local food, artists and events all year round.

Coming to an end, our tour finished at a place called Le Granier de Mézos. Running since 2003, Le Granier has operated as a self-funded warehouse run by nine employees and volunteers in the nearby area. Full of donated books, clothes, furniture and many other treasures, Le Granier is both a shop for people to buy affordable second-and goods and also a workshop where old goods are refurbished and redesigned into something new! If an item has been sitting for a long time, it is taken to the back where local inhabitants can come to exercise their creativity and give it a makeover!

Some recycles treasures at Le Grenier de Mézos, a volunteer-run operation refurbishing second-hand goods.

Some recycled treasures at Le Grenier de Mézos, a volunteer-run operation refurbishing second-hand goods.


Overall, our trip to Bordeaux was enriching and insightful! Some of the best practices we witnessed in France could indeed be beneficial for fostering youth work and social enterprises in Luxembourg, such as finding more places to recycle exchange used goods, as well as encouraging restaurants or cafes to make use of food that will soon expire in creative, tasty ways!

Many thanks to Co-Actions for hosting and organising this inspirational visit!

#seyw #erasmusplus #ka2 #strategicpartnership #bestpractices

08 Oct

The EREK International Conference: What is the circular economy anyways?

In Blog by Magdalena Jakubowska / October 8, 2019 / 0 Comments

Tossing the old ‘linear’ way of viewing the economy, the circular economyis a concept that seeks to maximize the value and use of products, material and resources within the economy for minimal generation of waste. This is done by encouraging the circulation of secondary raw materials for uptake by both businesses and consumers to honor the life of goods and their longevity on this planet.

The EREK International Conference Make it happen with Resource Efficiency! highlighted a number of different innovative models used by businesses and industries geared towards more resource efficient solutions, including those that focus on digitalisation and strengthening the circular and social economy.

With 33 countries and 253 participants on the attendance list ranging from the European Commission’s DG GROW and the United Nations Environment Programme to CEOs from Avaesen and university professors, it is unsurprising that some interesting ideas ‘circulated’ the room. A few themes put on the table for further debate included:

  • Boosting resource efficiency in the real economy
  • What does Game of Thrones, Tomorrowland and Carnival have in common? A waste management challenge
  • Social businesses and resource efficiency
  • Digitalisation and Industry 4.0.



Erek Conference 092019

Tackling the ‘throwaway’ culture mentality, Art Square Luxembourg ASBL participated in the session on social businesses & resource efficiency to help identify ways that actors within the social economy (cooperatives, associations, foundations and social enterprises) in sectors as far and wide as agriculture, manufacturing, social services and banking can improve resource efficiency. Supporting social enterprises to create strategies in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and bringing stakeholders together to orient policies towards sustainable production and consumption were some of the main takeaways.

Erek Conference 092019

​​So, who is behind the real dirty work on cleaning up the environment and contributing to a European Green Deal and climate-neutral continent? Support and partnerships between national and regional environmental agencies, European industry clusters working on environmental technologies, business support services providers, SMEs, academics, students, officials from the European Commission are the backbone of ensuring a cleaner future for Europe!

If you are interested in the topic of Social Economy and youth work, do not hesitate to contact us

Article was written by Kelsey Todter in the frame of the project ” The added value of social entrepreneurship in youth work” supported Erasmus Plus Programme. 

LOGO ANG European Commission





08 Aug

Book Review: Make Space

In Blog by Bianca Bressy / August 8, 2019 / 0 Comments

Book review of "Make Space"

Book review: Make Space


Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2012
Pages: 271


Jam-packed · resourceful · hands-on


SCOTT DORLEY is the Creative Director at and focuses on the intersection between physical context and digital media. SCOTT WITTHOFT is an engineer and teacher of human-centered design at Stanford University.

Goals (what’s inside)

Based on the d-school’s experience, this guidebook shows how changing your surroundings can spark creativity and innovation. There are tools – how to build furniture or treat walls – but also ready-made layouts for specific situations, insights, case studies, and a breakdown of how properties of a place can inspire new actions and attitudes. Because this book is about “creative spaces,” but ultimately it’s also about “creating spaces” for everyone’s inner innovator.

Values (why we love it)

Much like a cookbook, you can look for what you need – and the references at the end of each page guide you to what else can help you. Moreover, the book also teaches you how to build specific stuff for your space.

Needs (read if you…)

  • … want to understand how space interacts with your activities
  • … want quick ideas to change your environment and improve your work
06 Aug

Futures of Education, Educations for the Future

In Blog by Bianca Bressy / August 6, 2019 / 0 Comments

Education facebook post

A number of things happened on Wednesday, 24th July.

First of all, one of these was already happening before. Since Monday, actually. We were hosting 20 educators and youth workers, coming from all over Europe, for our Erasmus+ training course “Discover Design Thinking” – an opportunity not just to give them a new tool to create better services for their communities, but also to build trust in their own creative abilities.

Secondly, we were hosting the last Meetup of the season – hurrah! These events are always a huge appointment on our calendar, but this time it was even more important for us, because our Luxembourg Design Thinking group had reached more than 1000 members. (Not a small feat here!)

And finally, we were going to present the first results of our research of education here, in this country. I say “first,” because as you already know from the process, the research stage is never truly finished. But what we had gathered in these months was already pointing in some interesting directions. That’s why we decided it was a good time to start sharing these directions with others, exchange views and further tune our compass for the next stage.

All together, these events conflated in two of the strangest and most exciting hours I’ve seen in a long time – in a World Cafè on “Futures of Education, Educations for the Future.”

Untitled design

Our event kicked off with a presentation of the work we’ve done so far on this topic. We shared with the participants (our educators from the course, plus around 20 between aficionados of our group and interest newcomers) the work done so far, starting from current changes in education to case studies of design thinking applied in the educational context and ending with our user interviews. As we explained, this was just a first step: more interviews and research would come, but at this point it was interesting to get this out and receive input from the outside. Then, we explained how our research had generated 14 themes to work on, from curriculum development to the identity of schools and teachers, and more than 40 “How Might We” questions. From those, we had already selected 12 which promised the most potential in terms of change, and we used them to start our discussion during the World Cafè.

The World Cafè is a way to have a great number of people exchange ideas and opinions on a variety of topics very quickly, and this is exactly what we saw happening during the event. For our European guests, it was an opportunity to hear the point of view of a local community; for our Meetup members, to discover stories and inspiration from other countries; for us, to see connections and insights thanks to a multidisciplinary group of people who all share the same interest in improving education.

Soon, we’ll start with the second stage and develop our first prototypes. In the meantime, we feel good: there is a community of people who care about the future of young people!

The event was support by the Erasmus+ programme.

25 Jul

Book review: How to Research Trends

In Blog by Bianca Bressy / July 25, 2019 / 0 Comments

Book review "How to Research Trends"

Book review: How to Research Trends


Publisher: BIS Publishers
Year: 2017
Pages: 200


Pioneering · down to earth · illuminating


ELS DRAGT is a trend researcher with over fifteen years of experience in translating them into insights understandable to everyone. Now she works for agency MARE Research and teaches at Fontys International Lifestyle Studies.

Goals (what’s inside)

What are trends? Some may think about fashion, but actually trend research still looks like a mysterious work for many. In this book, Els Dragt doesn’t limit herself to giving us an insider look into this job. Instead, she puts into words what for many practitioners is “an art and a science,” the intersection of analytical approaches and methodology and the human factors of insight and intuition.

Values (why we love it)

The book details each step of the process of trend research – a true guide into a futuristic job! There are also lists of websites and other references you can use to kickstart your journey as a trend researcher!

Needs (read if you…)

  • … want to learn how to research and find signals of change
  • … want to use your curiosity to discover what’s changing around you