Decent Life For ALL

cat2-attitudes-initiatives
cat2-commitment-in-society
ethno-openvillage-mena

#1

My name is Yosser Belghith, I am 23 years old, I come from the south of Tunisia, and to be more specific, Medenine.

From my very childhood I found myself interested in different set of activities, arts (painting, poetry…) Sports (Handball) and even politics (I was elected to represent the children of Medenine in the Tunisian child parliamentary, and I did spoke up for them.

However one thing was in common between these different activities, which is my love for Medenine, and wanting to present it in these activities as good as possible.

As I grew up I have always loathed the fact that the Tunisian people didn’t know my beautiful Medenine, and worse, they had only negative prejudices about it and its people, so I decided that I should do something and start working on changing that, starting from working on myself.

I went to Tunis Business School to have the right knowledge in how to manage projects and improve my professional vision of the future, I got selected to represent Tunisia in the US department of state as a Woman Leader in Tunisia so that I can work on my leadership skills, and when I felt like I am finally getting things clearer in my head about what I want to do, I applied to the Moving community program in Madird, and I was chosen from among more than 600 people from Europe and the MENA region to be one of the 50 finalists to present and work on their projects in the Idea camp in Madrid.

Now I can say I have a better vision about what I want to do in Medenine, I want to start a mixture of a cultural and a co-working space.

This hub will be the home for artists, intellectuals and entrepreneurs (We don’t have such a space in Medenine) where they will develop their knowledge and skills through giving people a more focused sense of purpose by fusing different set activities, workshops, and exchange programs. It will be a meeting point between the youth, the NGOs, funders, programs, embassies, governmental institutions… that want to create positive changes in the region and support the youngsters.

The major hypothesis is basically to integrate the youth from the point zero, in a manner that makes them, the one who make the space, and not us. When having a focus group we reached a conclusion that, to let the target become active, we have to provide them with OPPORTUNITIES to learn, to observe and to act.

The space’s target group are the youth of the region, aged between (17–35), they are divided into three major niches:

  • 17-19: High School Students, that we will focus on during the whole year, with different activities and events.
  • 20-25: College Students, they come back home mainly in the summer, so the major focus on them will be during June-July-August-September, we will dedicate them different kind of events and activities, that matches with their needs.
  • 25-35: Unemployed or not satisfied with their current jobs, we will work with them during the whole year as well, but the activities and events will be more into entrepreneurship and providing them with opportunities that suits them.

The involvement of these niches will be the core of this project, since this project is dedicated to them, we will have to make them be part of it and feel like it belongs to them.

We will basically invest in the target people that will, themselves, invest in the people surrounding them and so on, which will help us spread the idea in a faster and smoother way, the idea that is based on EQUALIY, SOLIDARITY, and SUSTAINABILITY. Those youth are the future of Medenine, they are the ones who hold the keys to break all the stereotypes about the region and to change their current passive situation.

We aim to start with artistic activities, once the space is launched, we will work on fusing arts in the streets of Ben Guerden where ISIS tried to start its caliphate, by spreading colors and life in the walls of those streets. Then making theater pieces and musical shows in all of Medenine, so that we can bring life to people and show them another perspective of living that they have been avoiding.

The point of this project, is to change a whole position of a region, a region that has witnessed terrorism, ISIS, refugees, illegal immigration, unemployment… yet, it is still stuck in the same position, we believe that it is up to us to change that, and to create a positive impact in it that will definitely create more opportunities for the future generations.

I believe that belonging to large community will help me have another perspective of my project, through this network and the different great people helping each other I will be able to have a more productive brainstorming that will make me have a more focused tools to make the project a successful one, through the chats and the discussion, I will be able to peel off the general idea and get instead different details of how the project will be like in terms of the activities, financial sustainability and the technical knowledge.

So that is my story, I am that little girl who grew up to be this young woman holding her dream for 23 years, and believing in it and its beautiful positive impact over the whole region.


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List: OpenVillage Houses
OpenVillage House Jordan
#2

Nice to meet you @Yosser, welcome to Edgeryders! My name is Alberto, I am one of the older members here. I think I actually rode my motorbike through Medenine in spring 2010, on my way to Djerba :slight_smile:

Your project sounds super-interesting. I like the insight that [quote=“Yosser, post:1, topic:6774”]
[for people to] become active, we have to provide them with OPPORTUNITIES to learn, to observe and to act.
[/quote]

In my experience, meeting spaces for youth are always at danger of being, instead, places to hang out and talk. It is difficult for anyone to be self-directed, and the relative inexperience of young people does not help. So grownups can provide activities for them, but that risks being paternalistic and typically does not work either.

Maybe @zmorda already told you that she and others (@nadia and @hazem, for example) are working on a similar idea. They can tell you more if you are interested. I would recommend for you guys to share notes, maybe we could collaborate somehow.


#3

Hello,

Well reading your Email definitely made my day! I am so happy that you still remember Medenine to be honest, unfortunately most of the people wouldn’t even notice it! And next time you come to the south of Tunisia you will have us with u as your local guides.

I would love to share knowledge with Zmorda, Hazem and Nadia and take advantage of their experience as I am still trying to figure out a way tobring this project to life, and a collaboration with you all would be perfect for me!


#4

hey @Yosser
that’s interesting what you are trying to do in your Medenine, :smiley: and you working in Medenine not in Tunis is driving to more decentralized Tunisia, who knows may be in the future young girls don’t have to go to Tunis to get their degree as you did.

so how concrete is your progress, do you have a space in mind, a focus group of people to build the core community of this hub ?

I am asking because, It is just me here thinking out loud, that as @alberto mentioned we are planning to have a co-living co-working space , a prototype to invite people for a residency program to work on their projects. it could not be a bad idea to bootstrap the hub at the same time - ( @matthias @nadia @zmorda what do you think about Medenine, it is not a coastal city though :frowning: )

hany or atef
can help with the non-parental alternative educational workshops, @m_tantawy also + other physical concrete projects like composting and hydroponics could be a start

and pinging also @E-CULTURA may be a link to provide art education to Medenine could work


Proposal for a network of OpenVillage houses
#5

That is the point, Tunisia is so centralized, you’d find everything in the North, and nothing in the South, sadly… so yes I already have had a questionnaire sent to a sample of 150 citizen of Medenine belonging to the different target groups that I mentioned above, and I have had so many positive feedbacks (I can share the results with you) and I am preparing a focus group of 7 people to discuss more the insights and the objectives of this project, my point is that I want this space to be made by the people of Medenine, with their ideas and needs, and not mine.

I do have a space in mind, I want to rent a house that would make everyone feel like home, I don’t want an open space neither a bureau, I just want it to be a house, a home for all.

Well I would love to help you with anything you need!

Aw Hazem you got this point wrong, because Medenine is a coastal city that owns one third of the Tunisian coast, with :smiley: and even more it has, land, air and sea boarders :smiley: so we can say that it has a strategic position.

I will go and check the ones you mentionned can help me more with this project :smiley:


#6

Yosser, that was really interesting to read! Also interesting: Is this the beginning of a larger trend towards communal spaces in MENA region countries? We have come across several early-stage initiatives over the last weeks … maybe the timing is right for this type of community organizing / community self-management now.

At Edgeryders, we’d certainly welcome it :slight_smile: As Hazem mentioned, we are pushing some ideas around for a network of “OpenVillage houses” – all independent spaces of different kinds and with different names, all managing their own economic sustainability, but also supporting each other in the network.

Not sure how relevant / attractive this sounds for your initiative, but let me make a guess: Medenine probably suffers from brain drain as many of the young folks who go to college in the north will stay there, or even go abroad. Though on a different scale, it’s the same problem draining rural areas of young people, all drawn to big city life. But then, big city life is not what it seems either: lots of pollution, traffic, high expenses compared to earnings etc… So what an international support network of communal spaces could do is, to become a way for making rural life and life in smaller cities attractive again, countering the brain drain. In addition it could help in cross-cultural understanding through frequent visits.

I don’t imagine it would be that hard:

  • All communal spaces in the network agree on a simple way how people from the OpenVillage network can visit other communal spaces. Ideally, no rent has to be paid for guest rooms, as all spaces would agree to host people in return. A free and open source, web based resource scheduling software can be used for the whole network to “book” a place as a visitor. Of course, some kind of reputation system is needed to manage trust between people who never met.
  • Create and tune instructions for “effortless travel” between the different OpenVillage houses, including tips and tricks for obtaining visa, templates for visa invitation letters, lists of low-cost travel options, ride sharing coordination.
  • Actively look for groups of people with interesting initiatives (both cultural, tech and entrepreneurial) who want to work from varying places in the network in a way that provides a good amount of engagement with locals.
  • Develop a manual, including instructions for tools to build, for “creating your own decent life”. I like your vision to make the feeling of the space “home-like”, and whatever contributes to that could be documented to let others achieve the same. In addition, tips for events etc. to “create your own fun” where it’s not provided by the living environment.

But maybe I’m just naive, since I’m not a city dweller anyway. So, feedback welcome!


#7

Hallo :slight_smile:

So maybe a good thing to do before our workshop in Tunisia is to look at other examples that could be relevant for what you want to do? If you want to articulate a question, we can push it out to the bigger network asking for input to help us do the research…what do you think? If you want we can maybe work on it together?


#8

I love this idea! to be honest, I have always imagined that the space that I will be working on would be included within an international network, since I wanted that people who’d to the space would get aglimpse of what it is going out there, meaning that they get out of their comfort zone which is Medenine, and see thing from another perspectives through both, having foreign people coming to Medenine, and having people from the space going to foreing countries!
I absolutely love what you have suggested! as for the brain drain it is a huge problem in here! I mean, I have just graduated two months ago, and I already have most of the people asking me to go back and settle in the capital because they believe that it doesn’t make sense for me to go back to Medenine… maybe I am seeing things differently here, I just want to, as you have mentionned, to make the living in smaller cities attractive again!


#9

Hello Nadia :smile:
That would be super helpful for my case! Well, one of the things that I still have in my mind, as I was discussing with @matthias, is would be people from outside of Tunisia, with such spaces, be interested in the exchange of people and knowledge with us? And, as a begginner, what sort of activities should I focus on in this space? and also, to maintain the financial sustainability of the space, I am thinking if having a café in it, but is there any other activities that may generate some income to ensure the space sustainability?


#10

And I think that can really work, with a well-connected space like you have it in mind.

This is speculative and all, but I think this space networking idea really has potential, also for Edgeryders as an organization. It would not be that much work to realize and could attract quite some existing communal spaces to join. And it adds a nice twist to the OpenVillage vision, by adding international exchange to the current focus on creating “the good life” in communal spaces.

So I just wrote a detailed proposal. Much welcome to discuss further over there!


#11

Greetings @Yosser! I am so impressed by your vision and your spirit. And I love these approaches that are positive (I just read @Sabouny 's clown topic) - going toward something that is good and right instead of opposing something. No illusions about what is bad, but - make the world you want to have.

Do you have good people helping you?

And is there a decent infrastructure for communications there?

I think big city, small city, countryside all are ripe for change!

One thing though, if you get too far out in the country, the air is pure but you won’t be logging in much! I live in a pretty mountainous region of the California coast and while my house has a good internet connection, everyone farther out than us does not and they won’t be getting it anytime soon. So, small town and rural, but connected to the wider global community.

Finally, “Those youth are the future of Medenine, they are the ones who hold the keys to break all the stereotypes about the region and to change their current passive situation” is right on…so well said. Gets to the heart of the matter.


#12

:smiley: :thumbsup: great, this makes it more appealing to attract people from bigger cities.

this may be off-topic, as I don’t know much about Medenine but may be setting a Wireless Mesh Network could be a good project to start if it is needed. ( one network is already done in Sayda we can learn from )


#13

I don’t have a team yet but I have lots of people supporting the idea of this project.
Medenine is one of the 24th states of Tunisia, we do have a good infrastructure and technological infrastructure as well so that wouldb’t be a problem :smiley: , you see the point is that people in here are buried alive, the live in the same way with the same dreams, that we get from the society, life, for the people living in Medenine, is a bout School, College degree, Job, Marriage, Children, with nothing happening in between those shifts, no space for innovation for being ALIVE and not just someone living for the society… I want to bring them opportunities, I want them to leanr more about the world, to observe and to liberate themselves of themselves… you get my point?
We used to have acinem back in the seventies, and now it is closed, we have no cinema, no big theater, just a small one, not even coffee shops (except for 2 and they are really bad) ! we only have cafés everywhere that are dedicated for men only… Medenine is drowning, as Hazem said, Tunisia is centralized in the north, so most of the people will have to move (the case of us in Medenine) to the north, to have a better life.


What I am learning from Sawa and the OpenVillage MENA project
#14

well that’s the time for open cinema like the one in Himalaya :wink:


#15

I remember @giuseppecik and his enchantment with his organisation of students studying outside Matera, their hometown. Giuseppe, hope you are well and thriving! Do you have advice for Yosser? Anything you found helpful in launching activities locally and giving something valuable to your town? @Yosser, for reference Matera is a South Italian 60000 people town.

Oh and hi, good to meet you, loved the energy!


#16

I would like to commend the following:

This is very, very useful analysis of the situation on the ground. Can maybe @nadia and @zmorda go see Yosser in Medenine?

@noemi: I just used the “invite to topic” feature of the platform for @giuseppecik. See if it works… you (and anyone) can find it at the end of the topic. It is an “Invite” button when viewing from a computer, an item of the “Topic control” menu on mobile.


#17

Hi :slight_smile: I am already discussing with yousser about the possibility of hosting one of the workshops that will be run in Tunisia, and so far it is going well :), we just need to make sure that there is an exciting community of social actors in the city . Yosser start to get in touch with some of NGOs and entrepreneurs there.


#18

Hello! I have just checked what @giuseppecik is doing and it is so interesting, we share lots in common and I think we canlearn from each other !
@noemi thank you so much for the support and it is super nice meeting you <3


#19

Do you have any space similar to your dream home in Tunis? If yes you might also want to learn from their experience. How do they keep the space sustainable. There are many ways to keep you space sustainable, first you need to identify your business legal form. Is it going to be an NGO, company, or cooperative? (…)
Collecting the community common vision / dream for the space will help in engaging people from the beginning. By community, I mean the large community for example, the local government in Medenine, NGOs who work with youth and employment, or NGOs in the area where you intend to buy the house, local business, the people, the elders and influential ppl, etc. Analise the dreams and ask again how you can all work together to materialize the set of dreams.
We can connect you in a later stage with people from Egypt who can give you some idea or tell you about different forms of coworking spaces and how they generated money. Also it’s good to know your countries development agenda (focus) and multinationals CSR programs related to culture and youth empowerment. Nice project good luck.


#20

Thank you for the notes! and yes I am currently lloking for such spaces in the Capital as I want to observe how they are working… as for generating money I am thinking about having a café, membership in the space, and making the brand of the space where we will work with women whom make artisanal products, and traditional food as well, also renting a meeting room in the space when needed… so far this is what I am thinking about! And I totally agree, we should work on this together as a community, after all the space belongs to them not to me
And Yes I would love to meet people who are working on such ideas in Egypt,that would be super helpful! Thank you :slight_smile: