The Collectif Creatif
The Collectif Creatif is ökoRAUSCH’s cooperation partner in Tunis supporting our network and research activities. The NGO aims to promote cultural activities and the creative industries in Tunis, to improve the social and economic state of the Medina (the old town of Tunis), to provide creative activities for youth and to rise environmental awareness among the inhabitants of Tunis. The initiators come from the creative fields themselves. For example, we were accompanied by Dhafer Ben Khalifa, a designer and design lecturer at the Higher Institute of Fashion Design of Monastir, and Leila Ben Gacem, who with her Bluefish agency works on developing the social and economic potential of the Medina by restoration and crafts.
To understand the Collectif Creatif’s approach it helps to take a look inside the architectural and social structure of the medina: Beautiful large mansions provide space for large families to live closely together. Yet the structure of these buildings is inconvenient for a modern lifestyle with small families demanding privacy and individual freedom. So, many inhabitants have moved to the modern city centre of Tunis. A number of the empty mansions has stayed neglected, others have been filled by villagers moving in from the countryside and enjoying the close neighbourhoods and networks the medina is offering. This process led to a rather economically disadvantaged population mix, bringing along social problems like high unemployment amongst youth.
To tackle these problems by creative and cultural means the Collectif Creatif since its starting in 2016 realized a number of impressive projects and events, always involving and activating the inhabitants of the Medina.
In 2016, 2018 and 2020 the International Light Art Project „Interferences“ gathered several Tunisian and foreign light artists in the Medina of Tunis. The inhabitants of the medina, especially youngsters, were actively involved in the realization of the event as volunteers. So, they were activated not only in supporting the international artists getting installed in the Medina but also in improving their English skills.
Some of the volunteers acquired their skills in another project of the Collectif; „Doora-Fel-Houma”, an initiative to educate young people between 18 and 30 years old, living in the Medina of Tunis and its suburbs, to become guides for tourists and for artists involved in the Collectif Creatif’s projects. Valorising the knowledge of their daily living in the medina enables them to re-appropriate their living space. At the same time, they create an innovative urban tourism offer by offering guided tours in selected neighbourhoods. Another means to make the voice of the medina heard is the „Journal de la Medina”, a journal for the medina written mostly by the people of the Medina that traces the thrilling everyday life in the old town of Tunis.
With „El Warcha” the Collectif Creatif installed an open maker space where the local community meets to develop projects around urban furniture and public space with a focus on upcycling techniques. With „Fantek” the Collectif offers a digital art school and residency program that offers workshops and trainings in the fields of sound, visual and interactive digital arts and is especially aimed at reaching and activating youngsters. „Dar El-Harka” is a co-working space and cultural hub where several Tunisian and foreign young people meet to learn Tunisian dialect, foreign languages or calligraphy and to exchange around cultural projects.
In 2018 the Collectif’s collaboration on the international project „The Sea… Final destination?“ (by the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, supported by Drosos Foundation) in the Medina meant the starting point of the Collectif Creatif’s environmental activities. They dedicated three special issues of the Journal De La Médina to this topic and a series of zero waste creative workshops during which Tunisians were invited to explore sustainability in a playful way, e.g. upcycling weaving with women artisans, DIY composting, plastic shredding or recycling. Since then their engagement on environmental topics has increased; they focus on involving various stakeholders such as the Municipality of Tunis, the high schools of the area and the Medina community. With „Trash to Treasure” (2019/2020) the Collectif developed an educational curriculum for environmental clubs at high schools in Tunis focused on waste management, waste reduction and upcycling –in collaboration with the municipalities of Tunis and Cologne. Following the wish to initiate a movement of urban agriculture in the Medina uniting environmental commitments with economic development opportunities and strengthened social links the „J’nina Fel M’dina”, an urban garden on the rooftop of an ancient Medina House, was inaugurated (with the support of the German embassy). A second urban garden was initiated 400 metres away at another building’s courtyard. Hydroponic systems, trays for growing vegetables, a mushroom growing space and sitting areas were installed. El Warcha was and continues to be closely involved in the set-up, not only in building the physical structure of the gardens but also in continuing to maintain the gardens, involving the inhabitants, mentoring students from the neighbourhood’s schools and organizing cultural and gardening workshops.
With this impressive range of projects, the Collectif Creatif is very well connected into the creative scene all over Tunis, and thus a splendid cooperation partner for ökoRAUSCH on exploring the sustainable design scene of Tunis and bringing exhibitors to the ökoRAUSCH Festival in Köln.
Doora Fel Houma: Doora Fel Houma 2018, Photo-Med-Ali-Agrbi, http://doorafelhouma.net/
El Warcha: El Warcha, https://www.elwarcha.org/
Trash to treasure: https://www.facebook.com/برنامج-الفضلات-ثروات-109108353836794/
Jnina Fel M’dina: Collectif Creatif, www.facebook.com/Collectif-Cr%C3%A9atif-Tunis-113476726674662/