MU Program Week 1: Inspiration

At Makers Unite we have designed an effective social inclusion program to collaboratively create products that matter – driven by stories that matter. The stories come right from the heart; they are tales of new hope, the stories from newcomers we have welcomed from a refugee background.

During the six-week program (which this blog is all about), we will work with life-vests (worn by migrants to cross into Europe) as our main material and source of inspiration. We are up-cycling them to make everyday products, which – due to their background and history – encourage conversation between newcomers and their hosts. In doing so, it sparks dialogue, but more importantly, makes our newcomers aware of their needed talents.

We believe trust between newcomers and locals is sparked and dialogue is started by making things together. That is the reason behind the program and in the coming weeks you will have the opportunity to follow the development of it by reading this blog.

Impact is our goal and inspiration is our motto
That is what this week was all about. We kicked-off through an inspirational workshop with a participatory approach where participants had the chance to share their feelings and expectations.

“The creativity boost at the beginning of each session is really important. It helps us to bond and getting to know each other” said Noor, an artist, designer and mom of a three-year-old.

Noor is right. Each session is designed to initiate an activity that connects the participants on an emotional level with the intention of bringing out their talents. Opening a communication channel among participants and using creative workshops to inspire us all, helps the team to get to know the person behind the title of ‘refugee’. The talents are noticeable when a safe, fun and easy-going environment is provided and Makers Unite wants to offer it.

Each week a subject – inspiration for this one – leads the way during the four hours and pumped-up our spirits for the next phase: production. That is right! Production! By making new products with the life-vests worn by refugees during their travel to Europe, we intend to alleviate the environmental damage and pressure that these life-vests make while left on the Greek shores.

Different rhythms of music accompany the pace of making during production sessions. Tea and coffee is poured constantly while sharing personal anecdotes. Each one of the participants has a uniqueness that we will continue to explore during the next five weeks. Their showed talents will help us make a match between them and potential contractors or companies, where they will have the opportunity to join for an internship, traineeship or hopefully, even for a job.

One important activity of each session is done by check-in at the beginning. We share our state of mind, expectations of the day, how our bodies are feeling and then proceed with the planned activities for each session. The moment of closing the sessions is similar but by checking-out, we like to share a reflection within the group after the activities. How do we feel and how did we find the session is a nice way to close the subject of the day.

As mentioned by What Design Can Do – Refugee Challenge: “Makers Unite is a reality already, with several workshops that have proven that making products together starts a conversation and creates trust”.

We will deliver more great activities and inspirational subjects during the next five weeks to fulfil our mission: to connect makers and unite people.

So follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay posted on how this program is making an impact.