In my second year at iArts, I participated in the development and implementation of a social project in collaboration with the municipality of Maastricht. We chose a neighborhood to work with, where most residents were elderly. Our goal for this neighborhood was to co-create a community that takes pride in their living environment, where the community members respect and support one another. A community in which neighbors work collectively for common goals. Our mission was to encourage openness and exchange between the members of the neighborhood by starting with our own example in taking the initiative. We envision a community that is cohesive, safe and prosperous, one that values participation and is open to newcomers. A community in which neighbors work collectively for common goals.
We chose the format of a book, as that is a Covid-proof way of communicating within the community of this neighborhood. The book was created together with people and consisted of stories from people’s lives. We gathered information about each person through having conversations about them, about their family, about people living around and any other topics that would come up. We also collaborated with a photographer Warre Dries, who took an active role in making portraits of people that would be an expression of each personality. We distributed books together with a couple of people to their neighbors. With each book, people got a collection of their neighborhood profiles as well as a letter kit (postcards, envelopes, etc). Within the profiles, connections were made between multiple people (for example, some people shared the same hobbies) that is intended to spark an interest in people to reach out to those, who they find common interests with. It also enables people to discover each other more in depth, rather than having a casual “hello” in the doorway.
After the distribution of the book, the important part in which participatory element is the key, will take place. Through exchanging letters, there will be a space for a new connection to form, a feeling of belonging and community to spark.