“Cracking the codes for the most excluded”
“I was lucky to study at a business school in La Défense. Coming from the suburbs, it was an instant culture shock: I was entering a world with highly defined codes. While it was difficult for us as students, it must be even worse for people who have had a more chaotic career path. This was how we came up with the idea of collecting clothes to help those people get job interviews. But just changing their wardrobe isn’t enough; we needed to work on the substance and on verbal and non-verbal codes. This is what we do with our ‘helping hand’ workshops for young people without qualifications, those just coming out of prison and former executives.
We are a real player who promotes inclusivity in the city. We bring together people from different social backgrounds who would never otherwise meet: people excluded from economic life and our volunteers, active recruiters from the corporate world. And we raise awareness of our solidarity action among donors who give clothes to our centres and among employees of companies where we organise donation drives.”
“I feel concerned by this issue, so I am very committed”
“I have been into DIY since I was very young. I love it and wanted to pass it on, to be useful. I founded the association Les Artisanes in the Île-de-France region in 2020. The idea had been in my mind for a while, but during the lockdown I saw many women and single mothers facing numerous difficulties and it made me take the plunge. Les Artisanes organises workshops for women that are sometimes isolated to help them become self-sufficient in terms of DIY. They are taught the basics during a three-hour session: how to lay a laminate floor, put up curtain rails, fill a hole, etc.
It is also an opportunity to meet other people and have fun together. Workshops are organised in Paris Habitat and RATP Habitat residences, and the association – which has been supported by the RATP Group Foundation since its inception – will soon have its own premises. My workshops are also intended for young people in need. Showing people that they are capable of doing things on their own gives them confidence, it sets them in motion.”
“We want to contribute to the mobility of the most vulnerable at a local level”
“Croix-Rouge Mobilités is a national programme based on our 1,600 regional structures. One thing that makes it special is its very open way of working, as it operates through communities of local players, bringing together not only our volunteers and employees, but also local authorities, associations, partner companies and individuals. In practical terms, Croix-Rouge Mobilités provides access to mobility through car-sharing, car-pooling and solidarity transport for people in need, notably those encountering financial difficulties.
Involving as many players as possible at a district or village level naturally means offering inclusive mobility, but we are also very keen to create bonds. This generates positive externalities because, by sharing these experiences, people become more involved and come up with solutions that benefit the community. We would like everyone to be able to adopt our strategy, and the aim is to extend this offer more broadly to help combat social and regional inequalities. It’s an approach to mobility that places people at its core, which is what particularly motivates me.”
“We are seeking to give a voice to those who are never heard”
“Building the city has been a sort of common thread running through my career. I am deeply committed to affordable housing issues, and had never held elected office until last year. I did get elected by a good margin, but with a participation rate of only 25%. Among the three major changes that we want to implement in Villeurbanne, we therefore wanted to ensure that residents could be more involved in the life of the city. So, in November we formed a citizens’ assembly comprising 80 members. In addition, all residents over the age of 11 can use the participative budget platform to submit proposals for investment in works or purchases to improve the living environment.
300 projects were submitted in 2021, and 39 were put to the vote to share our €500,000 budget. Lastly, we are also organising two-day Citizen Consensus Conferences, a methodology which will enable us to come up with solutions to very divisive issues such as public order, which we will discuss together. These are all projects that will, I hope, give a voice to those who are never heard in mainstream politics.”
“Using our financial engineering to help make housing accessible to all”
“The concept of accessibility resonates strongly for La Banque Postale, as it is intimately linked to our public service mission. The idea of using our financial engineering to make housing affordable for everyone therefore makes a lot of sense for us. As part of our aim to be a player in the just transition, we are involved in the entire access-to-housing continuum, from purely social housing through to home ownership. We have built this project with RATP Habitat to facilitate access to ownership of mid-priced homes.
Our objective is to offer solutions that meet the needs and resources of the middle classes. This is one of the levers that help prevent extreme urban sprawl and bring living areas closer to centres of activity, thus facilitating the use of green mobility. In this sense, making housing accessible to everyone in metropolitan areas is part of a movement towards cities that are more diverse and also greener.”
[S]CITY, or “how to reconcile emotions with the urban transformation”
“What we initially had in common was a strong interest in the issue of social cohesion. We believed there was a need to take emotions and perceptions more seriously in the urban transformation. This is why we wanted to bring together our respective fields of neuroscience, urban planning and architecture, to found [S]CITY. We want to enrich urban planning through knowledge derived from the study of the brain and human behaviour in an attempt to create projects that make people happier. We apply this approach, which combines research and action, to many projects.
As an example, we carried out a sensory diagnosis with users at the site of the former Meunier chocolate factory, which has a unique landscape and built heritage, to identify which areas should be preserved. We can therefore act not only on a set of objective factors (volumes study, arrangement of street furniture, lighting, greening, acoustic comfort), but also on criteria linked to subjective perception to increase the feeling of safety and wellbeing, and encourage respectful environmental and social behaviour among users. This includes investigating how the presence of plants can help reduce the experience of noise pollution or the impact of historical heritage on the appropriation of a place.”
“Some of my students live in hotel rooms and would never have walked through the doors of a music conservatoire”
“The school has been participating in the Orchestre à l’école initiative for the past seven years. Children can join an orchestral class at the end of their first year of secondary school and have two additional hours of music per week over three years. We lend them an instrument and they are taught by teachers from the conservatoire. The classes have a good balance of boys and girls, and the students are of varying academic abilities, so it’s not a question of creating elite classes but of initiating a collective dynamic.
We have already completed three full cycles of orchestral classes and I remain in contact with the ‘alumni’ through social networks. Some have carried on with music and others not, but all remain marked by this experience and the opportunities and discoveries it gave them. Some of my students live in hotel rooms and would never have walked through the doors of a music conservatoire or thought that they would one day appear on stage. It’s very emotional, both for them and for me, and it’s very hard when they have to hand back their instrument in June.”