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The Art & Innovation Workshop was the second activity held as part of Project VOPS 26/2022 ‘Together We Strive’: an event that truly exemplified what building community cohesion means, with participants of various nationalities and cultures and across all age groups, including from Nepal, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, the UK and South Africa, Cameroon, Ukraine and Belgium.  The workshops theme was What can I do for my planet?, where participants worked on a blank canvas using acrylic paints to depict their ideas and vision for the planet’s future, in the context of social cohesion for communities to face climate change.  

The event’s final outcome, beyond the colourful works produced, was a practical example of how community involvement can overcome cultural barriers, where people support each other and embrace togetherness. Art, indeed, can foster social cohesion and generate innovative ideas for environmental consciousness and conservation, even as manifested by the process underpinning the workshop. The blank canvas was first illustrated by the participants with their names, which were then connected together, showing how we can support each other and meet the Other who can become our ally for a common cause. The process then led to filling spaces and ultimately colouring and creating, in a way that each participant could position themselves within this new matrix of cooperation.

This creative togetherness transformed the scene: from the potential emptiness of the blank canvas to an experience of change and the creation of something new together.

This event’s final outcome was based on the collective effort to foster social cohesion and create environemntal resilience. This was also expressed in the various participants’ comments who viewed the event as an eye-opener on how diverse identities can meet and find a common goal and create something new and useful in shuch a short time after the encounter, beyond all cultural differences. 

The second part of the workshop dealt with practical suggestions around the theme What can I do for my planet?, where participant’s offered a mix of original solutions but also tried and tested ones that require community cooperation to succeed. From the original suggestion that if every inhabitant of the planet created 1 gram less of waste daily, the world would save nearly 9 billion kgs of waste everyday(!); to the reminder for daily indidvidual and communitarian acts suck as conscious spending and consumption, waste seperation and energy saving. 

The event’s success was also due to the appreciation and perception of the momentum created within the participants to carry on working towards building integrated inclusive communities.