Rhizome for Cohesion believes in principles of Connection-Multiplicity-Heterogeneity to respond to a presently fragmented society. Youths, teachers, educators, solidarity groups, locals from different cultural/socio-economic backgrounds organize common experiences of knowledge and sharing (Rhizome) to explore solutions to challenges like polarization and racial intolerance. They will involve citizens in learning acts and art performances to promote the sense of unity among diversities.
Town of Ventimiglia (24.000 inhabitants), north-west of Italy, at the border with France.
Since 2011, Ventimiglia has become a transit point for migrants heading to France. At peak times (2017) migrants’ presence reached 50.000 people, over a local population of 24.000.
Populism and nationalistic discourses raised and tried to convert citizens’ concerns on the situation into an open refusal of migrants and shouted xenophobic claims.
As a result, citizens’ sentiment is polarized on the issue; ideologies and fear of the other have grown social borders within the population, isolating the need for critical thinking and attempts of solidarity.
Opportunity for dialogue, mutual understanding, awareness about global phenomena are lacking in schools and in the city, citizens miss examples of civic participation and need stimulus to overcome closed identities and inner borders.
Interaction among different social groups through participative labs is a first step for an exchange of perspectives and needs. Enhanced mutual understanding and horizontal decision-making enable multipliers to assess common challenges and agree on possible solutions, based on community’s resources and potentials.
Knowledge of collective richness coming from diversity is fostered by Rhizome Tours, meetings were residents of different groups uncover together invisible citizens and example of resilience stigmatised by public opinion.
Social cooperation and mutual responsibility are built through civic process aimed to produce social messages for a communication campaign of Casual Learning (transmitting knowledge in daily routine) and in an art performance involving the whole citizenship
a) Youths: students, volunteers, youths with socio-economic vulnerabilities gets civic competences, cooperation skills and offload social prejudice (25 multipliers, 2000 total); b) Teachers/educators share practices for social cohesion and develop skills to prevent polarization (min 15 multipliers, 100 total), these are scaled-up in project activities and applied to the whole community; c) Solidarity groups/associations build networks to strengthen impact on prevention of polarization and intolerance (min 10); d) Transit migrants (av 1000/month, 20% minors) and diaspora communities’ (11% inhabit.) exit from marginality; e) min. 3000 citizens play active role in Community Art Performance, whole citizenship benefits from social messages of Casual Learning actions. All targets are multipliers
1. Investigation on community’s needs to dismantle identity borders: Labs with social groups a), b), c) to tackle community’s polarization and foster a multiple vision of the community, participative methodology to make different actors cooperate to organize Rhizome Tours and Casual Learning
2. Community development vs Polarization: 2 Rhizome Tours for multipliers of different backgrounds to discover voices and resources by i) old and new residents, ii) Diaspora/minorities groups, iii) Local facilities for people in need and examples of social resilience
3. Community Art Performance and Casual Learning Campaign organised by a) b) c): actively involve the whole citizenship, raise awareness about the city’s multiple identities and promote unity across social and physical borders
The project empowers different social groups, including youths and marginalised categories, developing awareness, mutual understanding, sense of belonging to a community made of multiple needs, identities but also potentials.
In this process, enhanced cooperation and networking among different actors in the community to overcome common challenges will become an established practice, contributing to breaking social isolation and polarization, but also intolerance towards diversity.
Social cohesion and capacity to dismantle xenophobic rhetoric will strengthen the community’s skills to respond to contemporary global phenomena such as migration and poverty, showing to new generations concrete paths of active citizenship.
Promotion of civic engagement at local level is a way to raise citizens’ awareness about the need to contribute to societies that are fair, united and sustainable at local and transnational level. As member of the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Prevention of Extremist Violence, we see grassroots participation, social cohesion and cooperation as pivotal to tackle polarization, radicalization and violent extremism.
Through community development initiatives and citizenship education, citizens, practitioners, relevant social actors reinforce their civic skills, understand the functioning of democratic processes and become aware of their active role in the decision-making, bridging the distance between Institutions and residents.
Our mission is to promote equal opportunities and universal access to human rights.
Ventimiglia is a common challenge to us, as an area of border. Here, citizens are directly impacted by narratives on migrations manipulating the issue to get political consent, and they are directly facing the complexities of migration phenomenon, which shows inequalities, poverty and rights violation.
Yet, these affect most people, not only migrants: we feel committed to promote reciprocity and mutual solidarity to overcome divisions and rivalries, and start social cooperation to achieve dignity and social justice for all.
This idea is complementary to the humanitarian support we are providing in Ventimiglia, allowing us also to focus on long term resilience, promoting peaceful and robust communities
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Logistics (room rentals, consumables for labs and community meetings, logistics for poster campaign, materials and insurance for art performance): 13500 EUR
Staff, experts, artists (local focal point, experts in Global citizenship and polarization, facilitators community workshops, artists art performance): 26600 EUR
Travels, accommodation for experts/artists: 9600 EUR
Casual learning, awareness costs (graphics, communication materials, video production, press office, social media): 14000 EUR
Any comment or question is welcomed, from exchange of good practices in similar contexts to specific requests.
We would also appreciate connections with potential new partners.