FABLE – Building creative and sustainable spaces for youth

FABLE’s e-learning course is online! It consists of theory and activities dedicated to non-formal education, art-based methodologies, creative tinkering, sustainable fashion linked to entrepreneurship, mixing everything together and offering a process for evaluating and monitoring sustainable and creative projects for young people. The e-learning course is open for anyone interested in experimenting with new (and old) ideas related to fashion, creativity and sustainability. It aims to support youth workers and other professionals working in the field of youth to build their competencies aiming for the development of inclusive and safe spaces for youth. Young people would be able to follow creative learning and experiential paths, increase their awareness of issues surrounding sustainability, become more empowered, reflect and act! You can find everything here: https://fable-project.eu/training-curriculum/

The materials are available in Greek, Spanish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Italian, German and English.

Building this e-learning course involved a lot of discussions with the FABLE consortium partners, research, experimentation and pilot testing with local youth workers and relevant practitioners. Let’s see what happened in Greece!

Through an open call for participants and by involving the youth leaders and youth workers of Inter Alia, we built a local working group that went through the e-learning activities, suggested improvements and made proposals for further developing the content and its applicability. To support this work, we used critical insights from academia and organised two online seminars that looked critically upon what we call sustainable fashion. We also participated in other relevant creative and sustainable community actions offered by local organisations such as a Swap Party and a Repair Cafe. We finished the first phase of the FABLE project with hands-on experience and craft making!

Critical perspectives on Sustainable Fashion

Fast fashion companies, in particular, have been promoting their new ethical and green techniques that are assumed to be in line with sustainability. However, although they might use more eco-friendly materials and advocate for these in marketing campaigns, they need to do more to address the issue of sustainability and social justice, including ensuring fair wages and working conditions throughout their supply chains. And of course, it is their identity as a fast fashion industry and the patterns of overconsumption that they reproduce that should be questioned, not just their practices. With these in mind, we spoke about four types of critical interventions inspired by the Degrowth frame and discourse (read more here).

  • Materials & energy use: How could we respect ecological limits 

We said that recycling is not a panacea, it requires energy and we therefore need to produce less and consume less if we want to stay within our ecological limits. 

  • Social & environmental justice: How could we decolonise fashion

We talked about the impacts of drastically altering and intervening in the socioeconomic structures of other countries due to economic dependencies and power relations, including gendered relations. 

  • Economic democracy & community empowerment: How could we move towards autonomy

This part had more to do with how decisions about extraction, production, and waste management could be taken on a collective level and not based on certain market incentives and economic policies that might actually reward the polluters or those who exploit people and nature. Even universal goals should be questioned on the basis of how they are being decided. For example, there are hierarchical structures and power relations in international organisations which are not neutral and do not hold the one and only truth about socio-economic organisation.

  • Resilience and community engagement: How could we strengthen the commons

This implies a broader understanding of fashion being a solely economic activity, instead being more like a socio-economic process that is part of an ecosystem of other processes that take place and interact with each other. 

Similarly, we should not see these critical points as separate from one another. They are interrelated, connected with and affected by each other. What we tried to demonstrate was that a socio-ecological and economic transformation(or simply a socio-ecological transformation if we consider the economy as part of the social sphere) is more complex than using eco-friendly materials or making individual life changes. This is exactly what we aim to achieve by creating the FABLE Glocal Hubs!

Sustainable Fashion through the lens of the Commons: A good practice

To better understand the concept of the commons and its effect on individual and collective identities, we invited Mariangela from ANKAA Project to present the initiative and their ways of working. 

Commons go beyond cooperatives, clothing bazaars, exchange markets, and volunteering activities related to fashion. These are relevant. However, they represent distinct activities of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). Commons, on the other hand, represent processes aiming to inspire socio-economic and ecological transformations. We believe that the ANKAA Project supports and promotes such processes!  

Celebrating Community: The Swap Bazaar

Inspired by the transformative potential of the commons and because we like embracing opportunities to come together, we organised a Swap Bazaar with the support of some of the members of the FABLE local working group!

A swap bazaar is an event where people exchange things that they do not need with things that they need. People could bring anything – from clothes to plants to bicycle parts to books. It does not involve any financial transaction. Sometimes, it could become a larger festivity where bands are invited to play music, recycling or repair workshops could take place, people might bring and share food, etc. So, it could turn into a community event. Swaps in the form of regular festivities succeed in engaging  people that might not even have an interest in giving or taking stuff. They create the opportunity for interactions, reflections and networking. They produce common spaces. This is why we wished to create a space for people to come together, interact, exchange views, and have fun while also critically reflecting on the fashion industry through an activity taken from the FABLE e-learning course.

A Festive Handicraft Session by kookoonari

In the spirit of the holiday season, we invited Maria and Viktoria from the kookoonari social cooperative to present their work and make special ornaments from recycled materials! This was the last local activity designed to help people network, bond and exchange ideas, as well as to test a part of the FABLE e-learning materials. What was interesting was that although we had the activity taking place online, we managed to connect and exchange ideas on how we could work with youngsters using similar techniques. Working with hands can reduce stress and anxiety, help us concentrate and stimulate our creativity and imagination! Together with us, there was also a very young participant who discovered new ways and materials to create similar ornaments. That was the real spirit of co-creation! 

What’s next?

We cannot wait for the new year to come! This is when we will start developing new activities to support the setting of flexible, transferable, creative and sustainable G-local Hubs, i.e. spaces dedicated to creative sustainability, youth empowerment, reflection and action, with our local working group. If you are interested  in supporting this process, simply contact Amerissa at giannouli@interaliaproject.com