Project YK-01 Roadside
Introduction and work
November 10, 2014
We chose the roadside to do our first pilot project. The road is the main artery connecting the villages of Yène. In all villages nearly all commerce is found there. The spaces in between the road and the shops are Yène’s most common type of public space. A large part of village life takes place there.
Walking and talking around we found a good spot to do a first project. Abdou Aziz Thiom is the owner of a car parts shop and has become a friend. His place is also a hangout for the taxi clando drivers of Yène, the main form of public transport. Together the drivers form an association des chauffeurs. Who would know the road better?
The drivers and surrounding shop owners were invited to a brainstorm workshop. The strengths and weaknesses of the road and roadside were discussed, in general and for the specific location. Then we focused on what could be done with a group effort and small budget of 50 thousand FCFA, that’s 75 euros. This really got the discussion going.
Everyone agreed, the most important was to level out the roadside. The no sweat option of getting stones and sand delivered by truck was most attractive to some. But this left no budget for other ideas. So some calls were made and the rubble of a torn down classroom was arranged. It was not so far, we could pick it up with our car if we drove up and down many times. This left the whole budget to be distributed amongst the many other ideas. In the end everything was agreed upon and we planned to get to work the week after.
Some images of the workshop and first workday are found below. A week later our camera was stolen, so unfortunately we have no photos of the second workday.
Project YK-01 Roadside
November 17, 2014
Our first project is finished. It is small and successful.
The collaboration with project coordinator Abdou Aziz Thiom went very well, he remains responsible for maintenance. The participation of the association des chauffeurs is one to be carried on for future road(side) projects. The shop owners are proud of their new surroundings. The project is an example of how a small area can be improved a little. People already imagine how the whole roadside could be. It would take many such projects, but it’s possible.
The project was realised with two days of help from the involved drivers and shop owners. Many passersby offered a hand and joined in. On the second workday the budget was finished. The drivers offered to collect money from passing cars. They always do this when repairing the road, an interesting system. With this money cement and gravel was bought to fill a series of potholes. There was enough left to buy some butter and chocolate paste. A shop owner donated bread and we had lunch for everyone. Not as rich as the first project lunch, but enough for everyone to stay and continue work. However small, the self-organising principle is something we appreciate a lot.
In general, we feel that the small budget has a very positive effect on the project process. It fits into the local financial size-of-things. Of course bigger budgets are needed to have more effect. For the moment we want to explore possibilities within this financial scope. This will inform the best way to move forward when projects get bigger.
All the different elements of the project were proposed by the participants of the workshop. We took it upon us to design and prepare a group of seats. We have noticed that social life here makes people turn around in all directions when seated. That’s nice design input. Just like the beautiful volcanic rocks that characterise this area. The resulting little seats were well known within days, people love them. Totally new and totally local. This works. A little metaphor about how we like to work.
An important remark to be made is the lacking participation of women. Of those invited only two showed up at the brainstorm, they kept very quiet and let the men speak. During the physical work women were absent. The woman selling vegetables by the road is very proud of her new surroundings. She has offered to clean up stray rubbish every day. That’s great. But we hope to find many other ways to make women part of placemaking.
To round up. Our worry that the tree will not get enough water has been solved. Before praying the shop owners wash their hands and feet by the tree. Good idea, we never thought of that.