Study visit in Bordeaux in the frame of SEYW project!

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

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