Last Join Staff training in the frame of SEYW Project in Luxembourg!

This October Art Square ASBL hosted our partners in the SEYW project “The added value of social entrepreneurship in youth work” funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union here in Luxembourg. The 7 representatives from partner organizations in Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria and Greece once again enjoyed Luxembourgish hospitality and a tour of our social economic sector.


The week-long visit is one of the last short staff training for the project and we worked hard on bringing together the final analysis. From the 4th of October to the 9th we enjoyed working in the open shared space at #Facilitec and eating at #Chiche!, #EscherKafe, #Mesa, #KUFA, #FlorenceCafe, #Agave and #Brasserie Cercle. We also visited #Ouni and #Refashion and had a presentation with #NYUKO.   The first day that everyone arrived we met up for dinner and re-introduced ourselves, those who were new and those that were not…before going to sleep, ready for the busy week!


During the second and third day, we were able to use the open shared space that is Facilitec. Located in Esch sur Alzette, it is a collaborative space and in the context of public vs. private spaces, Facilitec is considered a ‘Third Place’… anchored in its territory, co-managed and co-constructed by the collective intelligence of its participants. We took a wonderful tour of the space and were very impressed with the design and construction, especially since it was built using 90% upcycled and recycled materials as well as constructed by members of the SIS (Société d’Impact Sociétal – SIS, Social Impact Company). To end our 2 days at Facilitec, Pelagia Baxevani from NYUKO visited with us and gave us a presentation. NYUKO is a free support service for local entrepreneurs and specializes in the ‘pre-creation phase of a business in the broad sense’.  It was a very informative session and we learned about their 4 programs: Idea shaker, Idea tester, Idea launcher and Impuls. We also learned about a few new Social Enterprises including Know Thy Brand – a women specific digital strategy company and Talkii – an app that allows children with speaking difficulties or even intubated patients communicate through images. 


During these 2 days in Esch sur Alzette, we took the opportunity to eat locally. For lunch we again visited Chiche! on the first day and Mesa the second day. They were so good during the first visit a year ago, we had to return! Chiche! is a social enterprise and restaurant that employs refugees and Mesa is a grocery store/ restaurant/ and community hub for the Luxembourgish transition movement. We also stopped by Kaf Local for a quick coffee! This new social enterprise in Esch sur Alzette is providing meals made with local produce and also collaborating with local small batch producers and artists as a location to sell their goods.


Thursday, our 4th day, the weather in Luxembourg was gorgeous and the beginning of the day was free, as we were working hard, it was well deserved. After meeting at the offices of Art Square ASBL, we took advantage of the weather to walk to Florence for lunch. This new coffee shop is ‘a place where you can find hand sourced specialty coffee from the origin itself and artisanal/craft products made right here in Luxembourg.’ The owner, Kelsey is focused on empowering the growers she sources from by buying directly and supporting them through ethical economic practices. Her support of ‘honest goods’ can be seen in every aspect of the cafe, from the dishes used to the coffee accessories you can buy… all traced back to individuals who produced and cultivated it. Finally, Florence supports the zero waste ideal and strongly encourages customers to bring in their own reusable cups and containers. 

The place was very busy when we were there and we were lucky to have made a reservation!


After a delicious lunch and friendly chat with Kelsey, it was back to work on translating our findings from English to our various languages. This is a major element that is being provided in this project.  Having these types of resources available in multiple languages is the cornerstone of being able to share and offer support to other organizations and individuals. The fourth day ended with a visit to La BUVETTE for some food and music. The location this restaurant is housed in is called the Rotondes and quite simply describes the shape of the two buildings – round! They are located directly behind the main train station in Luxembourg and historically were maintenance sheds for steam locomotives. While they have experienced several iterations since then, these buildings currently serve as a hub for many social and cultural events as well as a home base for several organizations. 


On Friday the day began with a tour after lunch. First was Let’z Refashion in their pop-up store for ethical, sustainable and local fashion in the middle of the busy commercial district in the heart of Luxembourg City.  It ‘…aims to be the meeting point for the promotion of ethical and sustainable fashion in Luxembourg in order to make Luxembourg consumers aware of the environmental and social issues linked to the textile industry.’ While we were there we were given an introduction to their history as well as some of the challenges and successes they have addressed, and still are. We also were able to see several of the designers using the space as a small studio to produce some of their items for sale!


After being in the center of town, our next stop was a little quieter. Walking was preferred on this gorgeous day and we crossed over the Petreuse valley on our way to Ouni. Ouni means ‘without’ in Luxembourgish and having visited them the last time we hosted, we knew that they are an organic grocery store that does not use packaging and sources the majority of their fresh produce locally or within the EU. We enjoyed a coffee while waiting, as the shop regulates the number of people inside to maintain Covid safety regulations. We were quite happy with the arrangement and enjoyed hearing about the administrative aspect of this Social Cooperative and about the new location in Dudelange. 


Arriving back at the office of Art Square we took a moment to collect our things before heading right back out again for dinner at Agave restaurant where we enjoyed very fresh authentic Mexican fare.


Saturdays are for JAM-ing! The Design Thinking JAM at Art Square ASBL was a lot of fun even though we are all completely knackered from a very busy week!

Having several people join us from outside our group this week brought fresh insight and energy to the JAM. This exercise usually is experienced over 2 days but we are so amazing we were able to accomplish results in just one. It was a fast and furious sprint involving rounds of mind-mapping, testing, ‘How might we…’, prototyping and finally presenting for feedback. It’s amazing how well this process results in surprising discoveries and the debunking of assumptions.


Staying in Luxembourg for the week it only makes sense to have our farewell dinner at a popular Luxembourgish restaurant in the main square. Brasserie Cercle has been around for a very long time and serves a range of foods but most importantly, they serve several traditional local dishes. Everyone agreed that the food was delicious and  the perfect cherry on top of the week. 


Overall the feeling of the week-long study group effort was highly productive and that there continues to be a sense of growth in the social solidarity economy in Luxembourg… slowly, but surely.  


#seyw #erasmusplus #youth #socialentrepreneurship #sustainability

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