Third places at the service of a social and solidarity-based Europe: this is the name of the conference that POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ-PLS organised on 22 November 2022 in Brussels.
The event brought together nearly 80 people, including academics, researchers, representatives of European agencies, representatives of Belgian and French institutions and associations, students and representatives of cooperatives.
After an introduction by Denis Stokkink (President of POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ-PLS), Professor Sybille Mertens (Director of the Centre d'Économie Sociale - University of Liège), invited for the occasion, presented the phenomenon of third places, with a focus on the five reasons for the existence of these spaces: a collective space of proximity, a space of empowerment, a space of innovation, a space of diplomacy and, finally, a space that supports a systemic transition.
The second session allowed participants to learn about activities carried out by political authorities: European and French institutions. Patrick Klein (Head of Sector Social economy and social enterprise - European Commission, EC) reported that the EC officially launched on 14 November 2022 the Transition pathway on proximity and social economy. This document serves as a guide to point out the areas of action needed, as well as to call on social economy actors to make firm commitments on these areas. Marc Laget (New Places, New Links programme - French National Agency for Territorial Cohesion - ANCT) spoke about the analysis of third places carried out by ANCT. Marc Laget also invited all those interested in the subject to the big event "Third places in Europe" organised from 8 to 10 March 2023 in Montpellier, for the sharing of experiences in the development of third places across Europe.
The third session was a round table of actors from the field. Moderated by Alexandra Martin (Member, Coopérative des Tiers-Lieux en Nouvelle-Aquitaine), the round table brought together representatives of two Erasmus+ projects and two third places:
Liliane Esnault (Project Development Manager - Forum of European Regions for Research, FREREF) explained that the Erasmus+ project PLACES-3T aims to support the development in Europe of "the third kind spaces" - a term used to give more freedom to the concept of third places. Actors of third places are invited to talk about their new, emerging or confirmed spaces, by answering the questionnaire on the project website. Pedagogical resources from the PLACES-3T project will be made available in mid-2023, including a methodology for supporting the creation, running and sustainability of third kind spaces.
Then, Sophie Alex-Bacquer (International and Innovation Officer, Red Cross Competence Nouvelle-Aquitaine) presented the Erasmus+ project HOPE IN US, which aims to strengthen cooperation between the cultural and adult education sectors by creating a European digital third place. HOPE IN US aims to develop the capacity of cultural actors, adult learners and their trainers to make sense of their actions, to become responsible for what they can change and to be resilient to what they cannot avoid. For this purpose, the digital third place has been created on the project website, it already contains the toolbox, as well as a set of episodes of the Web TV. All those interested are invited to join the HOPE IN US online community.
Finally, two third places were presented to the public by their coordinators: La Halle Tropisme in Montpellier by Jordi Castellano (Director, Illusion & Macadam, Montpellier), and LaVallée in Brussels by Pierre Pevée (Coordinator, LaVallée, Brussels).
During and after the conference, the testimonies collected indicate that the audience particularly appreciated:
- The richness and variety of the presentations
- The exchanges with the speakers
- The inspiration that the event gave them for their future activities.
Did you miss the conference? Watch it on the YouTube channel below (in French only)