How can we turn an abandoned space into the heart of a cultural initiative?
This is the starting point of the "Bottled Stories" project, which was built in response to a TMP Challenge of Valnalón (https://retotmp.wordpress.com/), in which an entrepreneur, Beatriz Rodríguez Álvarez, proposed to the students of the Beauty Program of IES El Batán (Mieres, Asturias, Spain) to find a space without utility to give it a new usage. The project is coordinated by Paz Fernández de Vera (firstname.lastname@example.org), teacher of Business and Entrepreneurship at the centre.
Beatriz Rodríguez Álvarez proposed to the students to find a space without utility to give it a new usage. They studied their milieu and found an unused tunnel near the school that they rehabilitated, encouraging people from the village to write stories to fill it up.
Students decided to rehabilitate a tunnel located close to the institute, and use it as a place for a cultural initiative they developed: "Bottled Stories", which aims to encourage people to write and introduce stories into a bottle rack inside the tunnel so that they can be read and shared on the project's website and social networks. The challenge was very big: 21 meters long, 2.40 meters width, just one month for its execution in the classes and with an initial budget of... zero euros. Finally, it was achieved and the students keep working on the project outside school time.
The initiative has received a lot of media coverage (see the newspaper 'La Nueva España') and has been shared by different groups and people from Mieres, who have joined the proposal. On May 31st, a meeting of all these collectives took place in the Public Library of the village, where several stories were read. The Creative Writing Club of the Library of Mieres, Tino de Cima (a neighbor who has written several poems engraved in the tunnel), the English Conversation Club, students of our center and members of the youth association “El Camín” (intellectually disabled people, who continue to go every Wednesday to the tunnel) and different mentors, are still involved.
The project is being implemented on the academic year 2017-2018 by students of the Hairdressing Program, who will carry out a service-learning project with elderly people that will be connected with the tunnel and with the “Bottled Stories” project. Its name is "Bottled Stories 2.0" and is presented in this video:
You can find more information and resources at https://esteticaybellezame.wixsite.com/retobatan
Organization and people in charge:
This OSOS Accelerator has been developed by Highschool El Batán, Mieres, Asturias (Spain)
The aim of the project is to acquire entrepreneurship skills and abilities that can be used to develop real projects from simple ideas, which can provide social, economic or cultural value to the milieu. Examples of these skills include:
- active listening
- decision making
- resource management skills
- emotional intelligence
One of the key aspects of OSOS is the inclusion of RRI — Responsible Research and Innovation — principles (more information at RRI-Tools.eu). This is how this Accelerator fits into the RRI model:
Students will establish a collaborative model with several stakeholders in their community, with which they can discuss different aspects of the project get feedback throughout all the stages .
I.e.: several stakeholders, like local government (to know which abandoned places are available to improve, the local legislation, etc.) or culture associations (to develop a cultural initiative), scientist (so they show students how to apply the scientific method) will be involved in this project.
Students will be able to improve an abandoned place in their environment. To do so, they could ask public bodies to know how and where to develop the project.
I.e.: several stakeholders, like local government (to know which abandoned places are available to improve, the local legislation, etc.) or culture associations (to develop a cultural initiative) will be involved in this project.
The purpose of the new usage for the place will be established with a gender-neutral approach, this will benefit both men and women.
I.e.: students will discuss different options and choose the most appropiate one in terms of gender equality. They can discuss and reflect on the different needs, if any, considering gender.
This activity could use sciencific concepts and procedures (i.e. measure distance and areas, create budget and analyse sustainability of the project, identify materials, estimate variables, etc.) and it should be developed following the scientific method (define a research qustion, collect data, analyse, validate or refute the hypothesis, etc.).
I.e.: students will use science in a trans-disciplinary way, looking for answers through a scientific approach to know where, when, what and how they will develop the project in the surroundings of the school.
Students will improve or find a new use for a public space through a research approach, sharing responsibility with stakeholders during the whole process. People involved in this activity will also be able to reflect on their conclussions about the abandoned places in the locality.
I.e.: this project aims at improving an abandoned place, finding a new usage for it which will benefit the society around the school and will allow neighbours to reflect on abandoned places, and how to make a better use of them. Students can reflect and discuss on the ethical issues related to public spaces, the research method followed during the project, social impact of the solutions imagined.
Students could share resources and materials with both stakeholders involved in the project and also in the Internet, open and free, for the users interested in the project.
I.e.: materials developed and resources collected within this project will be available for free on the Internet, since they can help people in developing their own projects to improve other abandoned places.
This project began on the academic course 2015-2016 with human and material resources developed by students themselves. In fact, some of the main objectives for the project was to acquire the abilities to find the resources that the students have around them, to learn to work with limited resources and to convert the ideas into real projects that bring social, economic or cultural value to the local community and the milieu.
There are still collectives that continue to participate in the activity, such as the “Club del Camín de personas con discapacidad intelectual” (an association of people with intellectual disabilities), which takes stories and other stuff to the tunnel every Wednesday, and “Club de Escritura Creativa” (Creative Writing Club), with whom we still have regular meetings.
We are thinking about organizing a music concert in the tunnel. The students from the Hairdressers Program have proposed another related activity in which they will cut the hair and make changes of image to people from the local elder center in exchange for stories that they will document in different formats and link to the Bottled Stories project. They also intend to publish a compilation of these stories on paper.
Required human resources
It is hard to create a list of human resources needed, because they will depend on the milieu and the associations/organizations involved. We have been in touch with people with intellectual disabilities, writing clubs, elder centers; these people helped us without asking anything in return.
It would be good to have funding for:
- Create a book or a collectable with the result of the project, in paper format.
- Paint materials are necessary to clean the public space and to paint it again.
- Daily office materials (pen, paper, etc.)
- Computers and Internet to develop the digital materials (documents, maps, etc.)
It is recommended to adapt this activity to each milieu and environment, and we encourage you to do so, in order to select the best places and the best stakeholders (organizations and associations, people from the neighborhood, etc.) to work with, and also to know what to develop within the activity. The Bottled Stories is just one of the many more ideas you can implement for renewing an abandoned place.
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