The ongoing nature of RECIPROCITY is one of its key foundations, and in the Welcome to__ project we see the role that design can play in engaging and bringing about positive change in local communities. It is an encounter with a series of new narratives woven for and with the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods of Saint-Gilles in the city of Liege, and Trasenster in the town of Seraing.
Cuts in government spending regarding welfare are highly topical. How do you think projects like these fit into that narrative?
On the one hand, there’s the danger that these kind of approaches get instrumentalised by local policy makers: ‘OK, this is a way that you can take care of it yourself, we don’t have to do it.’ That’s where the danger lies. On the other hand, it’s also true that for decades we invested so much in outsourcing a lot of our responsibilities as citizens or in the role we can play in our society to third parties. So there’s a rediscovery of certain relationships. I guess we need to find a new middle ground between keeping the best of both worlds. We have to realise that because of the complexity of society and of certain issues, there is a need for expertise as well. You can’t just re-outsource that back to the citizen, throwing away decades of research.
Interview extract by Emma Firmin in the publication RECIPROCITY 2015 / About Social Innovation
Photography © Germain Ozer