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“Living Together: Possible Together”, 31 October 2019

The first workshop took place on 31st October 2019. After welcoming and introducing all participants from different civil society organizations (CSOs) and presentation of the project, AMSED and YADA Foundation, presentation of the background note, mapping report and conclusions based on the research and survey conducted between April and June 2019 took place. The participants expressed their agreement with the analysis and synthesis delivered, which they appreciated and congratulated. However, one of them pointed out that the term “living together” did not suit him: “we already live together, although more or less well in practice”. In his opinion, it would be better to speak of ” living together better”, which does not seem to suit him completely either. The notion of “doing together” is also evoked and proposed in the group to emphasize on the active dimension of this “better living-together”, which also offers the possibility of making the distinction with a passive living-together, observed and regretted in multicultural societies where communitarianism prevails. He also nuances the argument of social equality as a solution to the conflicts and tensions often attributed to culture. Talking about social rights and social equality, and focusing on them to reduce conflicts and tensions, carries in his view – although it is essential and is THE great struggle of CSOs – the risk of reducing the debate and solutions to this social dimension while the cultural dimension remains just as important. He thus advocates cultural and social equality. 

The participants Radio Bienvenu Strasbourg (RBS) & the Council of Foreign Residents (CRE) shared their history and experience. RBS or Radio Bienvenu Strasbourg was one of the very first FM radio stations in France, a pirate radio run by students and broadcast from an attic in the Neudorf at first. With the liberation of the FM radio bands and the creation of community radio stations under Mitterrand, it obtained its first official authorization to broadcast in March 1982. Guests on the radio include elected representatives, citizens, artists, writers and associations whose discussions are interspersed with a musical programme serving the theme of the day. Several of the workshop participants expressed an attachment to this radio, which seems to have played a role in their arrival in Strasbourg from abroad and in their local daily life. The Conseil des Résidents Étrangers (CRE) was born out of the demands of foreign residents in Strasbourg, deprived of the right to vote under French law and fighting for recognition and local citizen participation. They obtained the institution of a consultative and participatory para-municipal body set up in 1992 by Catherine Trautmann, Mayor of Strasbourg. The example is presented and established in other French cities following her example. Its aim is to promote an intercultural society, fight for equal rights and against discrimination and continue to fight for the right of foreigners to vote and stand for local elections. It is called upon to give its opinion on all matters relating to the daily life of foreigners in the city: access to rights, fight against discrimination, culture, housing, education and memory. 

In the afternoon, « Lines of Differences » activity was performed. The activity enabled participants to realize their differences & similarities but also their similarities in their differences & differences in their similarities.  Each participant wrote his or her answer to 2 statements on a piece of paper:

  • “what I think I have in common with one or more people in the group”.
  • “what I think I have that’s unique and that no one else in the group shares.”

The papers are then folded, bundled and drawn at random. The participants form a line. At each draw the facilitator reads a statement. Each participant who feels concerned takes a step forward. And so on and so forth. Reactions are not long in coming and they gradually realise that their beliefs or representations about themselves and their colleagues differ from reality : they have more in common than they would have imagined and they differ where they didn’t expect or even know they did, etc. 

Later, a spontaneous discussion started towards the end of the morning during which the participants wished to share their knowledge, views and experiences of multiculturalism and interculturality in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

ASTU Association was invited to present its experience and expertise on the concepts of Multiculturalism, Interculturality and Living-Together to fuel reflections and discussions on such complex and debated notions, necessary to understand and define in order to live and work together. The association was initially created for solidarity with Turkish workers in the 70s and later evolved towards intercultural citizen action today. The ASTU presented and explained the French system of assimilation, multiculturalism as known in Anglo-Saxon or Germanic countries and the interculturality that appeared later on in France. Fundamental and methodical elements as well as issues and challenges of this approach were presented.

The group was divided in two to work on their own definitions of Multiculturalism and Interculturality which they then presented. End word and notice of the next workshop entitled “Inter-ethnic & Interreligious Dialogue : How to Overcome Cleavage and Isolationism” and taking place end of november.

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