By Alessio Chiodi | Photo by Matilde Castagna
Translated by Andrea Gioseffi
Under the skies of Athens, the international project Plotsi starts with the participation of Witness Journal. During the two day meeting (17-18 June) in the Greek capital, the association joined four other associations: Memory Lab (Belgium), Sirigaita (Portugal), Karpos (Greece), and the University of Malaga (Spain).
The June meeting
Hosted by the Karpos association, the Athens meeting was the first of a three-monthly series of meetings around Europe. The two days in Greece made it possible to put on the table the first contents for a project that will end in June 2022, at least in this phase. After a moment of reciprocal presentation, the five associations laid the foundations for a collaboration that falls within the Erasmus + and European Commission projects.
The Plotsi project
The partnership created, called Plotsi (Peer-Learning stOrytelling Techniques for Social Inclusion), is supported by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. The programme allows associations or networks of associations to access EU budgets for medium to long-term projects. Plotsi’s primary focus will be on training trainers to interact with young people with a migratory background seeking integration through “non-formal” approaches. The participating associations, invited by the lead partner Memory Lab, have different but complementary experiences in storytelling, be it photographic, video, or more focused on training.
Storytelling for integration
Bearing in mind the potential of storytelling to facilitate inclusion and integration, Plotsi intends to develop a transnational peer network to share initiatives and good practices in youth education. The storytelling activities proposed during the project are very diverse. Memory Lab, Karpos and the University of Malaga prefer the visual language of video. Witness Journal integrates the photographic message with written text, while Sirigaita focuses on oral storytelling.
The activities planned between now and 2022 fall into two categories: workshops and transnational meetings. The former is more practical, while the latter is more theoretical and serves to consolidate the ideas that characterise the various initiatives carried out in previous months and lay the foundations for future ones. The next meeting will be held in Brussels between the 30th of August and the 3rd of September 2021 and will consist of practical workshops in which the project’s partner associations will participate. Afterwards, it will be the turn of Italy, and more specifically Witness Journal, to organise a transnational meeting, as in Athens. In 2022, it will be Spain’s turn, with the University of Malaga organising the second workshop in March, and the last meeting will be in Lisbon in June.
The organisations: Memory Lab
MemoryLab is a non-profit organisation created in 2017 and based in Brussels, dedicated to promoting audio-visual creation in Belgium. Its video-creative workshops mainly aim at an audience of young adults aged between 16 and 24, particularly with a migrant background. Memory Lab makes the video channel its working method to improve intercultural dialogue and further develop the educational aspect through well-defined paths.
The University of Malaga
The University of Malaga (UMA) is one of the leading higher education institutions in Spain and has been managing numerous international projects for years thanks to its Research results transference office (Otri). Those projects include the vocational centre dedicated to offering academic and vocational counselling services, paid internships, and scholarships to students and young researchers. The institute, like Memory Lab, will participate in the Plotsi project by proposing activities related to video storytelling and making use of its sound experience in the field of migration with its “Support plan of refugee” (a desk to support refugees and migrants arriving in the region).
Karpos was founded in Athens in 2008 to gather expertise and ideas in media and education. It has carried out several international projects: in 2012, its members were senior trainers for “North Aegean Narratives”, a project to make cross-cultural documentaries between 15 young Greek and Turkish media on the identity, personal history, stereotypes, and connections of the two communities. In 2018 Karpos undertook a series of photography and video workshops on behalf of the Danish refugee council within a refugee camp on the outskirts of Athens with 15-20 unaccompanied minors arrived in Greece.
Sirigaita is an association from the centre of Lisbon. Its main objective is to promote activism, art, and culture in a multicultural and diverse neighbourhood. Sirigaita, formerly known as Mob, has been operating since 2012 in a city in continuous evolution. The association has over 2000 members and is run by a collective of almost 30 collaborators. One of the organisation’s projects is the “Human library”, where local people who are victims of stereotypes can share their experiences orally. The purpose is to fight judgement and promote inclusion within the inhabitants of a neighbourhood or a specific town.