Collaborative inclusion: how migrants-residents collaboration can produce social values. A reflexive design exercise

In collaboration with:


The migration issue is here to stay. Europe is the place-to-go for several millions of women and men. This will not change in the next decades. The challenge is to think about this not as a threat, but as an opportunity. That is, to imagine how migration can become a driver of innovation towards a younger, more dynamic, more cosmopolitan and, at the end of the day, more resilient Europe.

No one knows whether, and how, this positive perspective could become real. The only wise move to do is to consider this broad view, i.e. the possibility of a new cosmopolitan Europe, as a design-orienting scenario: a shared vision on the basis of which to experiment local solutions, to discuss them and to use them to feed a broad social learning process. And this is what we attempt here.

“Collaborative inclusion” is a reflexive design exercise to explore how collaboration between migrants and residents can strengthen the social fabric. More precisely, we look at what kinds of collaborative services (intended as result-oriented collaborations among different actors) can produce social, cultural, economic value.

Answering this question will lead us to another one: how to conceive and/or evaluate collaborative service capable to produce such multiple value? This reflexive design exercise adopts three simple evaluation criteria. A service is considered “better” when:

  1. Each migrant has more scope to express his/her ideas, and to choose what to do and how.
  2. He/she is active and uses better his/her sensitivity, skills and knowledge in the service.
  3. He/she produces more, better results for him/herself, for other migrants and for the whole resident community.

These three criteria, which come from design for social innovation experiences in different fields of application, are quite simple. We suspect that most services deployed in Europe to dealing with migration fail all three, quite spectacularly.

Who should participate

We only ask that participants do their best be critical, creative and committed. No specific information or competence on migration issue is required. We believe we all have firsthand experience at coming to terms with migration. Many of us are migrants (especially in Brussels!); the others are part of host communities. We are all citizen experts. Additionally, some of us have extra skills (design) or experiences (hosting newcomers in their homes). We specifically welcome:

  • refugees or ex-refugees.
  • people who can translate to and from Arabic.
  • people who are involved in projects aimed at facilitating the welcome and insertion of migrants and refugees (example: there are many projects in the Techfugees project directory).
  • designers.

We already have some participants in all these categories, but the more the better!

When, where and how to participate

Collaborative inclusion is part of the Living On The Edge 5 community gathering. It takes place on February 26th 2016 in Brussels, at SmartBE. To participate, click the “Attend” button on the top right if the page, then download the Notes for Participants and have a look at them before the event.

Background notes: designing for social innovation

Design question: given European problems and the way they are perceived in Europeans’ everyday life, how migrants can be part of these same problems solution? How can migrants and other resident actors collaborate to improve their quality of the life?

Hypothesis: In the complexity of the present society we can already find promising examples of migrants-residents collaboration: collaborative initiatives demonstrating how the search of migrants’ inclusion can be turned in a collaborative service, and therefore, in the exploration of new ways of living and working.

Methodology: The exercise is in two steps: (1) to consider and discuss a number of promising examples, and (2) to improve them and/or use them as triggers for brand new proposals.

Specificity: We build on our previous experience in design for social innovation, and aim to verify its usefulness in creating value for both the migrants and the whole society. This leads us to work in three main directions, that translate into three main criteria for the conception and evaluation of the services the group will come up with:

  • User-centered approach (as precondition): solutions must consider each migrant as a free individual. That is, it must be based on his/her right and concrete possibility to express ideas, and choose what to do and how.
  • Capability approach (as main design guideline): solutions must be based on migrants’ active participation. More precisely, they should enable them to use at best their sensitivity, skills and knowledge.
  • Multiple-value production (as result to be achieved): solutions must achieve some practical and social results for all the involved actors (migrants and residents) and for society as a whole (in terms of physical and social commons improvement).


The aim of the workshop is not to invent new solutions (it will be impossible to do it in a serious way in this context) but to start form some existing promising practices, to imagine and present ideas and actions to amplify their potentialities.


  • Promising practices are initiatives that are already operating in the collaborative inclusion spirit. That is, living examples of how collaboration between migrants and local communities can solve problems and generate values for all (the same migrants and the whole society).
  • To amplify potentialities means to give promising practices visibility and support. That is, (1) to increase their possibility to be positively recognized by larger number of people (among both migrants and residents), and (2) to improve the (social, cultural, normative, technical, and economic) environment so that it could become easier for the given promising practices to consolidate and last in time, and for other similar initiatives to start and flourish.

Ideas and actions means everything can be conceived in terms of communication, services, places, events and performances that could give that specific practice, and its produced values more visibility and/or that could produce for that same practice, or for other similar ones, a more supportive environment

Workshop structure

The workshop is organised in three moments:

  • 10.00 Setting the scene and promising practices presentations
  • 11.00 Group work (in 5 parallel groups) (including lunch)
  • 15.00 Group presentations and discussion
  • 16.00 End

Working groups brief

A facilitator will help each working group for extra speed, fluidity and fun. Each group will work on one promising case study of a service for refugees and migrants. Given this, each group outline one or more ideas/actions to amplify its potentialities. The focus can be on:

  • Visibility, to make the values a given promising practice (directly and indirectly) produces more visible and attractive.
  • Support, to make its environment more favourable, for the same promising practice and for other similar ones.

Expected results for workgroups are:

  • Each group conceive 2-3 ideas/actions and the communicative artefacts needed to present them. These ideas/actions must be motivated and presented indicating the main involved actors, outlining their organization and their technical and economic viability.

Activities of working groups activity will be divided into three phases:

Phase 1: Understanding and representing (the case, its actors and its values)

  • Outlining the promising practice organization form, focusing on the values it produces (for the migrant and for the local community)
  • Identifying the involved actors, focusing on migrants (and creating personas).
  • Defining the related journey of experience, focusing on its main touch points

Phase 2: Generating ideas (on how to give visibility and support to the case)

  • In-depth discussion of the produced values, focusing on their strengths and weakness.
  • Generation of ideas (for example, each group member indicates an idea. These individual ideas are clustered in groups with similar meanings and discussed by the working group to find the first 2-3 better ones.
  • Ideas consolidation, with the definition of: main involved actors, outlining their organization and their technical and economic viability.

Phase 3: Making visible (producing communicative artefacts to present the group results)

  • Group members prepare the 2-3 ideas/actions presentation, considering the need of a very short, 5’ presentation.

Before the workshop

Each participant is invited:

  • to search for promising case and select, at least, one example that, in his/her view, is (totally or at least partly) coherent with the three previously indicated criteria of conception and evaluation.
  • to write a short presentation of the selected example (name, place, main promoters, goals and values produced for the migrants and for the society), add a photo and edit the whole in an A4 format (only one sheet). Upload it in the website and bring a paper copy to the workshop venue.

Possible references:

Reading the references is not obligatory at all! But it may help you to get into the flow and enjoy it more.


  • Ezio Manzini, Design when Everybody Designs”, MIT Press 2015
  • John Thackara, How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow's World Today, Thames&Hudson Ltd, 2015



Feel free to suggest more!


  • Ezio Manzini. Designer, interested in social innovation and sustainability. Collaborates with the OpenCare project. More
  • Yara Al Adib. Designer. Originally from Syria. More
  • Gido Van Den Ende. Expert on the history of migration in Europe. Currently hosting refugees in his Dilbeek home. More
  • Vishall Jankie. User experience- and service designer at Namahn. Passionate about human-centered design, travelling and surfing. More
  • Stefanos Monastiridis. Professional interests in citizen participation, systems thinking and design for transformation. Also with Namahn. More
  • Mousab Alshikh. Professional in the furniture industry & economic analysis, he fled the war in Syria to make a new life in Belgium. More
  • Rand Abu Fakher. A student in music and sound engineering, she had to interrupt her studies due to the war. In Belgium, she returned to one of her favourite pastimes: designing jewellery. More
  • Orwa Isaac. In his work, he would like to combine ideas from the West and the East. He wants to build a future in Belgium for himself and his family. “Hope and setting goals is the key to success.” More
  • Virginia Tassinari. She has always been interested in connecting the world of philosophy and design. In her work at LUCA arts, Virginia mainly focuses in her projects, teaching and writing on the relationship between social innovation and philosophy, practice and theory. More

Contact alberto [at] edgeryders [dot] eu if you want to join the team.

How to get a ticket!

Tickets for this event do not cost money, but you need to complete some small tasks. It’s easy!

  1. If you don’t already have one, sign up for an edgeryders account here:

  2. Leave a comment below to introduce yourself and let us know you want to come!

  3. Someone will say hello and suggest some small tasks you should complete for a ticket!

  4. When you finish the tasks, we will send you the ticket

  5. Khalas! See you at the workshop :slight_smile:

Date: 2016-02-26 10:00:00 - 2016-02-26 16:30:00, Europe/Brussels Time.


Mr. Manzini, do it again in Berlin in April, please!

I am currently organising a product design project at UdK Berlin around the OpenCare topic and would love to invite you to Berlin from April 4-8 to support us with your knowledge and input. The project is a cooperation with Nadia and it would be super awesome if you could come! The project aims at providing the research project with first ideas/products/services to work with further on. I have organised this place for the workshop and look forward to your response! Thank you!

1 Like

Would love to help

Greetings :slight_smile: My name is Yara, i am a service and social designer and have experience facilitating workshops. I am Syrian who seeked refuge in Belgium a year ago and so currently working and living in Belgium. I would love to help and contribute both as a designer and as a refugee during the event and in this workshop in particular.

1 Like

Yes, do come!

@yara_al_adib, thank you so much for this offer! Yes, you are just the person we need. Welcome aboard! We will make you a co-host of the event, together with @ezio_manzini.

Where are you based? In a few days it would be nice to make the final decisions on this workshop and open up registrations. If you are in Brussels, we could even meet in person, maybe also with @nadia, @ireinga and @kiravde. If not… Skype or Hangout or even good old phone.

Sure thing!

Thank you @alberto for the warm welcome! I would love to be co-host with @ezio_manzini! I am based in Antwerp and work in Brussels. Keep me in the loop on the time of the meeting, preferably after 6, since I work full time. Tell me what time and medium suites you best :slight_smile:

Done :slight_smile:

Only one point of concern: no problem scheduling a meeting after 6, but the actual workshop will be during the day. At the moment it is scheduled at 10.30 pm Friday morning, the 26th of February (program). Will that be a problem?

No Problem

Good you told me @alberto, I can take that day off then, no problem :slight_smile:

Ok, we’re in business then!

Excellent, @yara_al_adib!

We’ll be in touch very soon. Meanwhile, there are two things you could do to prepare this:

  1. Register for the LOTE5 event... wait, you already did! Well done. By helping with the workshop, you earn a LOTE5 ticket (the conference is not free, but you cannot buy a ticket with money).
  2. Add a short bio – it goes the conference website. Three or four lines is ideal. You can put it in your Edgeryders profile:, then click on the "Edit profile" tab. You'll find a link that says "Personal info". Click there, and write in the "Bio" field, then hit Save. You can also add your own website, Twitter handle etc.

Thanks a lot!


@alberto Done! Buzz me when you would like to have that meeting and please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is anything else I can assist with

Sorry I am not super active on the platform in the mornings, due to work, but I try my best to keep me self notified and posted :slight_smile: Grazie Millie :slight_smile:

Take part to the reflexive design exercise


Just a few words to let you know that I intend to take part to the exercise but on a part-time basis as I’m busy in the morning.

As part of the orgaizing team of the “Hack with Refugees” event, I can also share briefly as requested the main elements of this activity and how it connects with the three main criteria for the conception of services.

Kind regards

Philippe Drouillon


Intersting project

Dear all, 

Unfortunately I am only able to attend on the weekend! A link and a project that seems for me promising is they set up a free online university of refugees - I guess a great way to supporting the transformation of a problem into an opportunity. Hope to meet at the weekend and all the best!



Thanks anyway

Thanks @adrian. seems like a great project!

Looking forward to the workshop

I work for a non-profit social enterprise alliance that employs different strategies aimed at improving the lives and well-being of the thousands of Syrian-Armenians impacted by the ravaging war in Syria. I’m the only representative of the platform in Armenia and I multitask(social housing project in Dilijan, independent social workers’ unit in Yerevan, writing blog posts, helping some extremely vulnerable families to integrate, etc) and volunteer as much as I can. Here’s my session at LOTE5, feel free to join or be a part of the team :slight_smile:

What’s the difference between the team and the participants in this workshop though? @alberto

1 Like

The team is willing to work harder :slight_smile:

… otherwise there is no difference! It’s more me wanting to communicate that there is a small group committed to driving it. You are welcome to be on the team yourself :slight_smile: There has been a separate Skype so far. The next one is Sunday 14th. Do you want to participate?

1 Like

Sure sure, this is what I wanted to know :slight_smile: Count me in! What time is the call? Will do my best to participate!


15.00 CET

@iriedawta it is at 15.00 CET on Skype. Can you make it?

Will do my best to join you!



Can I call u at the phone? 0472 907679

Need to talk to u

Send me an sms and I call u back



I want to attend


I want to attend this exercise as citizen with a design background.

I hear a lot about the refuges in the media but have never met one. It seems like they are kept in a bubble, and so am I! Bearing in mind that many have just went trough a traumatic experience, it’s good to be keep in a protective bubble. But at the same time we have to learn to trust each, break the bubbles and cooperate.

I am not sure on the three criteria for the cases we have to bring, what are they?



1 Like

I would love to attend

Hi all, I am Nastasja, Polish-German from Berlin, living currently in Brussels. I am project manager working mainly in communication and organization of cultural events. I was participating at the hack-with-refugees weekend a couple of weeks ago where we developed a project idea on the integration of refugees in the job market. The idea consists in valorising professional skills and qualifications by supporting refugees to develop their first CV in Belgium, translated and adopted to the Belgian job market in face-to-face meetings. We are currently working on the development of an adopted tool/method together with psychologists and HR specialists and we are aiming to collaborate with Fedasil and public authorities in Belgium. I would love to participate to this event, meeting inspiring people, contribute with my perspective, broaden my horizon and collecting further ideas for our social inclusion project. Looking forward to meet you!!