Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Choukeir Hojeily


 Robert de Niro: Who’s fault? The owner or the rabid dog?

Do you acknowledge Apartheid exist? And that Israel is an apartheid State?

 Nora Tehaili‘s photo.

He is a great actor but has also gained my respect as a humanitarian. We need more people to speak the truth.</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>------> Nora Tehaili <------</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>Instagram:<br /><br /><br /><br />
He is a great actor but has also gained my respect as a humanitarian.
We need more people to speak the truth. ——> Nora Tehaili <—— Instagram: Twitter:
More to read on apartheid

Boycott products with barcodes starting with 729.

Ricordiamoci questo numero quando facciamo la spesa.<br /><br /><br />
E boicottiamo.

Ricordiamoci questo numero quando facciamo la spesa.
E boicottiamo.

This is #Palestine.

Hold on! We are just killing and stomping dirty Palestinian babies. You know, the “other” dead in the statistics that don’t need to be mentioned.
People less than 70 and can still see don’t need to look at the gory pictures of maimed children

Promote well-being?  Tell me how

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily via Uscreates posted this July 15, 2014

For those who have been asking, here’s more info about the recent launch of our Wheel of Well-being website!

The Wheel of Well-being (WoW for short) was born out of research evidencing that certain actions, and habits can improve mood, reduce risk of depression, strengthen our relationships, keep us emotionally and physically healthy, and ultimately lengthen our lives.

WoW is a framework designed to translate theory into positive practice to build more flourishing communities.

Just launched: A new tool to promote well-being

We are very proud to announce the launch of the Wheel of Well-being website:



The Wheel of Well-being framework is the result of our ongoing partnership with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) dating back to 2007.

“ Since 2007, the brilliant team at Uscreates has been impressing us with their creative energy, collaborative ethos, deep understanding and enthusiasm for our work.

They’ve been instrumental in the evolution of the Wheel of Well-being: scoping out projects, designing strategies, and most importantly, opening our minds to new ways of working together to create maximum social impact. ”

Sherry Clark, Research & Development, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

At the heart of the WoW framework is the WoW website, an interactive platform providing inspiration for everyone who is interested in improving their own or their community’s well-being.

The website shares tools, resources, and intervention ideas that we have been crowd-sourcing, developing and piloting with SLaM over the past 6 years.

For example, the DIY Happiness pop-up game gets people talking about well-being at community events, and the Happier at Work programme tailors interventions that improve well-being at an individual, team and organisational level.


The website is divided into three sections:

WoW Yourself – For people to contribute with well-being tips and places, create their personalised well-being checklist and track their own well-being.

WoW Your Community – For people working in the public, private or voluntary sector, to access free practical tools and ideas for improving well-being in organisations, workplaces and local communities.

WoW Strategy – For people involved in policy development and local government, to access a transferable well-being strategy. This section is a work-in-progress.

We at Uscreates hope that you will enjoy the Wheel of Well-being website and that you will use it as a resource to make yourself and the people you influence happier.

If you are interested in more information about the Wheel of Well-being, please contact us (


How warlords in Lebanon got filthy rich from civil war?

Let me name a few of the warlords during the civil war, and many of them are still running the country and abusing the citizens as their own chattel.

The living warlords still  controlling the State of Lebanon are:

Nabih Berry, AMAL movement of the Shiaa sect, and the Head of Parliament for 3 decades

Walid Jumblat, political leader of the Druze sect, and deputy for ever. He admitted assassination, mutilating the victims and throwing the corps in deep wells

Samir Geaja, leader of the Lebanese Forces and candidate to the Presidency. Where ever he lead his forces, the Christians ended up relocating to other districts. He served 11 years in a military prison for series of assassinations and was released on political ground.

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared this link showing the amount of money generated by the warring factions:

This is shocking, no wonder it was in no one’s interest to end the war.

Who would want to close down their own thriving business?

This is shocking, no wonder it was in no one's interest to end the war. Who would want to close down their own thriving business?



Legislation applied to mixed marriage: An Infographic
We developed this infographic a couple of years ago at Imagination Studio, clarifying the legislation that applies to mixed marriages in Lebanon, and empowering couples in mixed relationships with this hard to access information.
I came across this again today while writing my thesis and thought people might find it useful.
The source of the information is conversations with priests, sheikhs and personal status lawyers in Lebanon.
If you do spot any inaccuracies please let me know. As you know, there is no centralized source for this information.
Finally, the clearest message that this infographic communicates is the gender and sectarian inequality in Lebanon, where some of us have more ‘freedoms’ than others when it comes to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, and so on.
Feel free to share.
Link to larger view:</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>We developed this infographic a couple of years ago at  @[112491075545884:69:Imagination Studio], clarifying the legislation that applies to mixed marriages in Lebanon, and empowering couples in mixed relationships with this hard to access informaton. I came across this again today while writing my thesis and thought people might find it useful. The source of the information is conversations with priests, sheikhs and personal status lawyers in Lebanon. If you do spot any accuracies please let me know. As you know, there is no centralised source for this information. Finally, the clearest message that this infographic communicates is the gender and sectarian inequality in Lebanon, where some of us have more 'freedoms' than others when it comes to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, and so on. Feel free to share.
Women marched against family violence: Lebanon, March 8, 2014. And shocking statistics

The earliest Women’s Days were held in the first decade of 20th century. This was before women had the vote, before women could legally terminate a pregnancy.

In the UK, it was only ten years since a married woman could legally own her own property, rather than be property herself. Marie Curie was yet to become the first woman to win the Nobel Prize.

More than a century later and it’s tempting to see International Women’s Day as redundant, a celebratory event at best.

Why do we need the event at all?

The causes that triggered those first campaigns have been fought and won.

Women in today’s society have all the equality they could ever need, right? Wrong.

Women own less than 2% of properties and less than 10% of total revenue for working 60% more than males.

Women in Lebanon marched against family violence and the urgency for laws that punish the perpetrators.

So moved seeing photos on my wall of all the wonderful people filling the streets today to demand equal rights for Lebanese women, and end this horrible state of patriarchy.
This was our rallying cry today! With no politician to support. People of Lebanon, you still give me hope
Leah Choueiry's photo.
Excellent turn out at the demonstration to have a law against violence against women ‪#‎womensrights‬ ‪#‎lebanon‬ ‪#‎kafa‬ ‪#‎whpwomenwhoinspire‬
Excellent turn out at the demonstration to have a law against violence against women #womensrights #lebanon #kafa #whpwomenwhoinspire
Reine Azzi added 9 new photos — with Rania Hammoud and 4 others.
Excellent demonstration today! Turn-out, messages, creativity…
This gives me hope! It’s a shame that we have to fight for a law that should be common sense! Against domestic abuse and violence!
A crime is a crime, regardless of whether it happens on the street or behind bedroom doors. ‪#‎Womensrights‬ ‪#‎kafa‬ ‪#‎Lebanon‬
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Reine Azzi's photo.
Cynthia Choucair was tagged in Salam Hammoud‘s photo.
Salam Hammoud's photo.
March 7, 2014

International Women’s Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important

International Women’s Day is still needed to motivate change, at home and abroad. Some of these statistics put into sharp relief just how far we still have to go.


Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime. About 44% of all UK women have experienced either physical or sexual violence since they were 15-years-old.

Britain ranks among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to women being violently abused.

On average, 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.

38% of all murders of women worldwide are committed by a woman’s intimate partner.

A UN report said 99.3% of women and girls in Egypt had been subjected to sexual harassment.

Female Genital Mutilation

This is where girls have either all or part of their clitoris and inner and outer labia sliced off without anaesthesia, and sometimes have part of their vaginas sewn up too.

Over 130 million women living in the world today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.

There as as many as 24,000 girls are at risk of cutting in the UK.

In one Birmingham hospital as many as 40 to 50 women every month are treated after undergoing female genital mutilation.


Around 14 million girls, some as young as eight years old, will be married in 2014.

An estimated 1.2m children are trafficked into slavery each year; 80 per cent are girls.

In 10 countries around the world women are legally bound to obey their husbands

Only 76 countries have legislation that specifically addresses domestic violence – and just 57 of them include sexual abuse.

Working rights

In the UK, the gender pay gap stands at 15%, with women on average earning £5,000 less a year than their male colleagues.

The disparity is even greater in part time jobs, going up to 35 per cent.

Globally only a 24 per cent of senior management roles are now filled by women.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission estimates it will take 70 years at the current rate of progress to see an equal number of female and male directors of FTSE 100 companies.

This hurts everyone. The gender gap in certain industries is even more apparent and damaging.

Zemach Getahun estimates that closing the gender gap in agriculture could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17 per cent.

If the skills and qualifications of women who are currently out of work in the UK were fully utilised, the UK could deliver economic benefits of £15 to £21 billion pounds per year – more than double the value of all our annual exports to China.

“Did I choose to be a social designer?” And “Did the will and opportunity collide?”
My niece Joanna Choukeir Hojeily posted on FB:
“Did I choose to be a social designer, did it just happen, or did the will and opportunity collide?
I will be reflecting on how I got to doing what I do now; a practice and industry that didn’t exist 10 years ago when I first started out as a designer. Creating Futures Symposium this coming Tuesday at the ICA in London.
Did I choose to be a social designer, did it just happen, or did the will and opportunity collide?  I will be reflecting on how I got to doing what I do now; a practice and industry that didn't exist 10 years ago when I first started out as a designer. Creating Futures Symposium this coming Tuesday at the ICA in London.
I replied:
“Your field existed since 1942 when designers tried to minimize the frequent pilot accidents in the air war with Germany. It was called industrial psychology, then industrial engineering, ergonomics, Human Factors in Engineering
The advent of fast computing, personal computing and fast graphics facilities shifted the trend to social graphic engineering or design…
It is the varied opportunities in developed countries that upgraded your passion for “social graphic design” projects: Giving priority to the health, safety and ease of use of products and services…”
I have posted about 50 articles on that topic in the category “Human Factors in Engineering”
I have in a previous article, in a short sentence that may have gone unnoticed, mentioned that the main objective of Human Factors in Engineering is designing interfaces between complex systems and targeted end users.
Modern days are an accumulation of very complex systems that societies can no longer live without and have to suffer their consequences in health, safety, comfort, risks or fatal accidents. 
Modern days rely on communications systems, on health care, on educational, on information, on transportation, on energy, on financial, on tourism, on diplomatic, and even on political systems.
Usually, there are purposes for establishing any system and the money generated could only be the consequences of satisfying human specific demands that a developed standard of living requires, or are encouraged through advertisements, or are initiated by new laws to regulating a society.
This modern world, more than in any previous centuries, is plagued with complex systems that are automated in many portions with no human understanding of how a system functions or can be repaired or be redesigned except a few rare professional experts.
These vast and very costly systems are created, assembled, maintained and run by different specialized personnel who have no serious interconnections among one another.
Every section of any system requires an interface with another section so that the end user can communicate with another section without any obligation to know or understand the details of the other section.
These interfaces have to be designed to be used with minimal skills, knowledge or special training.
Consumers require easy to use objects, safe objects, error free and accident free objects.
Consumers need to access these complex systems quickly, cheaply, without the requirement for extensive training or intermediate personnel to doing business or making the objects function according to their idiosyncrasies.
The Human Factors engineering discipline should be the application of the body of knowledge, information and facts about human abilities, limitations, (physical, mental and psychological) and characteristics to the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environments for safe, comfortable and effective human use.
The Human Factors engineering discipline is expected to direct its research toward practical design purposes and offer data that can be readily applied by engineers from different discipline”.
Here is a brief story of how I went about finishing my PhD dissertation.
My adviser had a business in forensic of accidents in workplace, safety consultancy and was focused on the lack of safety signs and pictorials since it was the rage of suing in consumer liability cases.
He proposed that I work on safety signs for my proposal and I didn’t feel hot about it: I sensed this topic was at best good enough for a Master’s thesis. The effects of safety signs were very short term, unless the system includes safety behaviors as an important part in the proper functioning of the corporation.
I recall that I worked for a year on a PhD proposal related to graphics of safety signs and pictorials. There were no personal computers and no graphic facilities. I toiled by hand.
My idea was to gather the used and adopted safety pictorials in many fields and try a taxonomy of elemental parts that designers could assemble in their jobs.  This proposal was killed by the team of advisers within half an hour of the session.
I tried another proposal related to cognitive engineering and it was not accepted. I was hooked to the cognitive field but my adviser would have none to do with cognition for my dissertation: he was not interested in such a field and it was not in his line of business.
To be fair, Dr. Purswell was more than patient with me and let me write two proposals related to cognition that both were turned down within a year.
I spent two years on idiosyncratic topics that my main advisor was not comfortable with, and I had no support system to guide me.
Two years earlier, my advisor told me: “Get on with my idea of a proposal. Get you degree and move on. At your age I had already three children...”
Two years earlier, one of my classmate obeyed the same advisor to the word and finished his dissertation (no experiment was conducted) and was accepted at a university as assistant professor, while I was toiling uselessly.
Finally, Dr. Purswell had to deliver an ultimatum or he would have no choice but to suspend my scholarships.
I was ordered to stop all part-time jobs. I obeyed and within a semester I wrote the proposal, designed the experiment, finished setting up the fictitious chemical lab and carried out several intelligence testing protocols just to divert the true objective from the over 120 “subjects”.
The subjects were mostly first year Psychology students because they are required to submit to experiments for credit-hours. That semester was hectic but a lot of fun.
The next semester was the worst of all semesters because I had to input thousands of data and read hundreds of pages of computer statistical results and the gruesome task of writing up my dissertation.
I had Dr. Schlegel in my advisory team and he forced me to use a specialized word processing program, simply because the print was professional and versatile. The problem was that no one could interpret the error in the program and fix it when I got stuck except him. I occasionally had to wait a couple of weeks to meet with him in order to untangle stupid word processing glitches.
By the time I submitted the final written copy I was totally depressed and I had erased from my mind any academic prospect.
To make matters worse, the US was experiencing a depressed market and universities had put a moratorium on hiring professors.
What a foreign PhD graduate with the wrong nationality and in a bad job market is to do to survive?
I asked for what I deserve. My temperament predicted this outcome.
I don’t complain in real life, but the blog is supposed to write about the oddities in life.

“My address does not exist…” and “I have been receiving mails in the last 6 years…” Why?

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily posted on FB this June 19, 2013:

“Royal Mail says my address does not exist but I have been receiving my post fine for the past 6 years.

Southwark Council says my address does not exist and the only way to add it is to register on the electoral roll, but I am not eligible to vote.

My bank says my address does not exist, but I have been banking with them for the past 6 years and they have been sending me statements/cards/chequebooks to that address.

Bank says we can’t give you a mortgage if your address does not exist.

I might just have to do something half illegal and get on that electoral roll but not vote!”

Is this phenomenon restricted to England?

Is England downsizing its mailing services? Kind of catering for only those who registered to vote?

And what about the kids who are underage to vote? Should they receive mail in their parents name?

And what if the parents refuse to register? Kind of not hot on England “democratic system”?

How would you “circumvent” this problem, receiving mails? If you are not eligible to register?

In order to register to vote you must tic either British, EU, or Commonwealth citizen…

I suggested to tic Commonwealth: If you like your country to belong to the  Commonwealth.

Would this suggestion be considered illegal?

Social Impact?

When  was planning a new website, the team realized that other people may not understand the term “social impact”. Sure, it’s a recognized and much-used phrase among the social impact community, but what does it mean out there in the real world?

Can you share your experience and the alternative terms that you used to clarify the meaning of social impact?

Connect with  for examples of Public Social design projects, like this Was a pleasure working with #MAD4D @KingstonUni through #designthinking #workshops to create #Volunteering models

In Comfort ZonePoint of View, the team of  posted on March 26, 2013:

As trusted friends and contacts of Uscreates, we are hoping you can help us with a problem.

Over the years we’ve built up a reputation for being thought leaders in social impact. We’ve wowed clients with our results, and we have won awards.

Oddly, this leaves us with a problem.

We have spent the last 10 years working with public sector clients, and we’re used to talking in a certain way about the work we do.

We talk in this way when we speak to our colleagues, business contacts and others who are passionate about social impact.

It was only when we were planning our new website that we realised that other people may not understand the term “social impact”. Sure, it’s a recognized and much-used phrase among the social impact community, but what does it mean out there in the real world?

Why does this matter?

Well, we are hoping to use our skills and experience to help clients from different sectors with their social impact work.  But if they don’t understand what we mean, how can we communicate that we can help them achieve some of their business goals in our unique, positive and creative way?

So, that’s where you come in.  What is your answer to “What is social impact?”

Is it a meaningless jargon or a pithy way to communicate what we do?

Do you use it?  What could we use instead?

To join the conversation, tweet us @uscreates hashtag #whatissocialimpact or chat with us on our LinkedIn page.

Note 1: I would substitute Social Impact with Community Share.  

1. Social connote a magnitude at the national scale in impact, an idea that is not welcomed since people are wary of State imposing on them large scale plans and programs without effective large scale communication input and feedback. I’m inclined to feel that social impact sends the message of a large scale change.

2. No change takes place without starting on a smaller community-based dialogue and sharing with the project. A community can share and appreciate what they agreed upon and disseminate the change to the neighboring communities.

Note 2: Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared Uscreates‘s photo.
Our brilliant design and communication director Joanna Choukeir Hojeily, will take part in a panel discussion on Service Design next Wednesday:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The Art, Science (and Magic) of Service Design<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
April 3rd, 6.30pm to 9.15pm @ the Hub Westminster </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Our brilliant design and communication director Joanna Choukeir Hojeily, will take part in a panel discussion on Service Design next Wednesday: The Art, Science (and Magic) of Service Design
April 3rd, 6.30pm to 9.15pm @ the Hub Westminster

Last year I developed InnovaChart, a tool to measure our Innovation at Uscreates and ensure we are contributing new and good practice to the social impact landscape. For us to reach a ‘healthy’ level of innovation our work should aim to reach the following goals: 

  • 25% REVOLUTIONARY work: working with entirely new audiences, on entirely new issues, while creating entirely new offerings within Uscreates
  • 25% EVOLUTIONARY work: two novel territories, and one existing territory (for example the issue could be something we have worked on before, but we’re now approaching a new audience and creating a new offering)
  • 25% INCREMENTAL work: two existing territories, and one novel territory (for example the audience and type of offering is familiar to us, but we’re tackling a new issue)
  • 25% MINIMAL work: working with existing audiences, on existing issues, while creating similar offerings.

We used InnovaChart to look at the yearly innovation of our internal and external projects in 2011 and 2012 and this is what we found out

  • Although we worked on more projects in 2012, we were less REVOLUTIONARY in our projects than in 2011
  • Although we were more REVOLUTIONARY in 2011, our MINIMAL innovation rate was too low which means we were taking too much risk treading too many new territories
  • Our EVOLUTIONARY, INCREMENTAL and MINIMAL innovation is in a healthier range in 2012 than it was in 2011
  • We need to REVOLUTIONISE about 5% of each of our MINIMAL, INCREMENTAL and EVOLUTIONARY work to meet our 25% targets in 2013

InnovaChart analysis

Overall, our 2012 results seem closer to the ‘healthy’ targets, but are still not there yet. So this is what we plan to do in 2013 to foresee results early on and intervene at the right time:

We will use InnovaChart before the work commences as well as after it has been completed. This way, InnovaChart would also act as a forecasting tool during key innovation decision points in the business:

1. “Should we go for this project?”

2. “We’ve done a similar piece of work before, how can we make it better?”

3. “do we design a more novel methodology?”

4. “are we being too risky on this one?”

Get in touch if you would like to use InnovaChart to measure the innovation of your business.

Is it Hate or Contempt that kill? How can you reverse crimes of hate? What practical solutions can salvage acquired hate feelings?

Different hate tendencies are predominant in communities around the world. We are the inheritor of hate, bred through bloody scenes, erased from land, brute force subjugation…

The feeling of hate against particular persons, community at large, ideologies, religious clerics, and institutions should be considered a positive feeling compared to the nastiest of all human tendencies of “Contempt“.

Contempt, this feeling of over-lording it on other people, hovering in an upper sphere of superiority and condescending our opinions and orders on the inferior species of mankind…

All these mass killing of people we have never met, from Norway to France to the USA and all those “terrorist” acts that harvest thousands of civilians…

Why the white European mass killers are labelled “crazies”, while the Moslem killers are called terrorists? Is there any fundamental difference in crimes of contempt?

The worst part in contempt is its trade-mark among the most ignorant who have no patience to acquiring knowledge and tending a listening ears to other people opinions…

I can vouch that most kids exhibit behavior of contempt regarding one of their parents, although they are far less educated and far less experienced in almost everything…

Is their any cure against contempt if the concerned person is not willing to make the effort of becoming a knowledgeable individual and refuse to do his due diligence on improving his behavior?

At least, the various feeling of hate can be overcome, simply because we can modify the environment of communities, and we can control the first instant impressions acquired from the constant flow and flood of discriminating impressed upon us by the extended family and peer pressures within our culture…

The Lebanese inherited a wide spectrum of hate-kind emotions from personal experiences (17 years of civil war) and the archaic pseudo-State system running Lebanon since 1943, and Rima Rantisi  explains.

Rima Rantisi posted on July 22 an interesting article on her blog crosseyedrevolutions under “Imagining New Sectual Relations“:

“You have heard the words “Muslim,” “Christian,” and “Druze” refer to people your entire life. And when you lived through the July 2006 War (preemptive war of Israel against Lebanon that lasted 33 days), you might have been partying in resort Fraya or outside the country or only just heard a whisper of the sound of the bombs and only tasted the hate that your parents ate and breathed for 15 years.

So how do you hate? And how can you unlearn it?

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily wants to help you find out. She will not tell you, nor force you to tell her. But she will design a way for you to interact with the “other” – because you have inherited hate, not created it.

As a “social designer”, Joanna uses innovative and creative projects to tackle social issues. Her latest pilot project, which was co-created with volunteers made up of students, activists, professionals, and creative people, lasted for 48 hours, in the form of an “Imagination Market”.

In two locations (towns of Byblos and B3akleen), 5 pop-up tents addressed the identified five key social barriers that contribute to a sectarian-divided Lebanon.

Why Joanna “as an 18-year-old hadn’t met any Muslims?”

I joined Joanna’s team of “Imaginers” in Baakline and witnessed the optimism of a group so ready to show others the vibrancy of the new path they had found.

The moment I walked up to the “Market,” which comprised 5 booths – Gharam (Love), Moushwar (Trip), Khabriyeh (Story), Dardasheh (Chat), and Souhba (Friendship), I was met with red excitement of volunteers and team leaders. They each wanted to explain “Imagination Studio” to me – the incubator that yielded “Imagination Market” (created by Joanna Choukeir) and their investment in it.

Aisha Habli put it simply: “We want to fix the social situation in Lebanon.” She fizzed as she spoke about the project and its audience of the youth and for the youth.  This project echoes Choukeir’s commitment that it is not “experts” who come up with solutions for youth, but rather youth coming up with solutions “for themselves with one another.”

Yussef Chaker, her fellow “Imaginer volunteers”,  says: “What the studio promotes is what I’ve lived.” His mother is a religious Muslim and his father is a religious Christian. As a result of this mixed upbringing, Yussof says he’s “lived the good experience in Lebanon.”

Yussof and Aisha were introduced to Imagination Studio at Tedx Beirut where Choukeir’s presentation inspired them to volunteer their time towards bringing youth of all sects closer together. This does not seem elusive to them, as they proudly claim the proof in the bond that has grown between them as team members who have come from all corners of Lebanon.

At the age of 18, Joanna Choukeir realized that “there is an issue of social segregation” in Lebanon led her to a PhD program, where she could have the structure to “make something happen.” Her research question was:

“How can we use communication design methods for social integration with youth in Lebanon?”

Joanna’s first step toward the answer was an intervention called “Expressions Corner” – a pop-up tent in which she conducted blind interviews with people of different religions and regions over Skype.

Participants, whom she was linked to as “influential youth” in their town, had a deck of cards that each had a religion or region on it.

Their task was to simply respond in any way they wanted, and thus they spoke about experiences, ideologies, or prejudices; while others had “nothing to say.”

From these responses, Joanna found the 5 major barriers, upon which “Imagination Market” is based and which the Studio builds their designs around.

The divisive combination includes sect and marriage, region and mobility, politics and friendship, media and influence, and language and prejudice.

Souk ek Khayal! Souk el Khayal!” (Imagination market)

“Come closer so I can tell you a story; one from me, one from you!”

“Hizb (party of) el Sushi! Hizb el Hummus!”

Imaginers called out by the side of the main road in Baakline, a quiet town in the Chouf populated predominately by Druze, where young people started emerging after their Sunday lunches.

Two young men were coaxed out of their convertible over to the dardashe booth where they sang the Beatles “Imagine” in Arabic, English, and French with the help of flashcards.

One walked away and had to be pulled back, his cigarette intact between his fingers. The two men sang the song with Imaginers’ help and moved from booth to booth, laughing though reluctant.

The two young men resumed their tour of the booths and visited the moushwar booth: Imaginers proposed taking them on a trip to an old Maronite Church in the village that had been closed for years – and which by the end of the day only 2 of 50 participants knew existed!

The day before, the trip was from Jbail (Byblos) to a fish tavern owned by a woman named Maggie, who opened up shop just after her husband passed away. Visitors had wondered how they could find more of these authentic places in a country that had less and less of them.

The young men sat down for the short skit at the souhba booth, where two friends get in an argument over their political allegiances – Hizb Sushi and Hizb Hummus – the guys participated in the post-performance discussion which focused on conjuring up ways the conversation could have been civil. But ultimately they said, “We already know all of this.”

However, Choukeir does not feel pressure to change these people.

What seems to be most particular about the ideas behind this project is Choukeir’s hypothesis that of the five personalities she has divided people on the subject of sectarian divisions in Lebanon – open-minded, curious, stubborn, distant, and skeptic – she believes that Imagination Studio’s efforts will have the most impact on the “curious” and the “skeptic,” both of whom just need a little “nudge” to see a “new path.”

“We had some ‘distant’ and ‘stubborn’ people yesterday.

The distant people don’t even want to acknowledge that there’s a problem in Lebanon; they’re living in their closed social circles – they don’t think anything is wrong with that.

The stubborn people realize that there’s a whole other community in Lebanon that they don’t know, but they don’t even want to have anything to do with it. They are very politicized; they’ve made up their mind. At the market they said, ‘This activity isn’t going to change anything.’

And we know that with stubborn people, it’s not going to change anything. But with the curious and skeptics, there is potential. Sometimes they just haven’t had the exposure. Seeing something optimistic like this could trigger the change.”

Imagination Studio has been an ongoing project of workshops that led to the Imagination Market, which was a pilot to prove that some of the ideas have potential for nudging minds.

For example, the khabriyeh booth, a 48-hour user-generated blog, could be an ongoing project where people share their stories and experiences, and make connections.

All of the ideas are registered with Creative Commons, so anyone can use them, as “Change has to be something continuous. A one-off thing will only affect those who were there at the right time and the right place,” says Choukeir.

Attendance was low after a few hours (as opposed to the previous day in Jbail), when two girls, aged 18, walked up to the gharaam booth, where a volunteer acting as a fortune-teller (Ashley) awaited them in full glittery gear.

Ashley (younger sister of Joanna) fluttered her ringed fingers over the cards as they sat expectantly. She flipped over two cards, which revealed a Sunni man and a Druze woman.

Although the fortune-teller was to brief them on the rights of the individuals if they were to be married – conversion, kids, inheritance, custody, etc, she only gave them their options in terms of how two different sects could get married.

One of the young women asked if she could choose the combination, so she chose a Druze woman and a Druze man: “This is the best option,” she said.

Here, again, the fortune-teller told them “That’s easy. These two can get married, no problem.” I believe she missed an opportunity to be detailed about their rights.

The young women walked away and wrote their complaint on the chalkboard on their way out: “We wish there could have been more than just choices for marriage.” But they also wrote that “The idea is awesome.”

When I asked her what she expected, she said, “We already know the stuff the fortune-teller told us. I thought I would have my fortune read.” I really don’t know what to think about this response (except that it’s kinda funny – and made sense :).

Will any of these ideas have potential for “nudging” the minds of skeptic and curious youth who know they should think or feel something, but do not know why – or that there’s an alternative?

Could more and more people just like Joanna, who grew up in a small mountain village dominated by the same sect, went to religious schools and university, and met someone from another sect for the first time at 18 years old…And that an apt description of many Lebanese.

Could the Lebanese open their lives to accepting the others, past a simple tolerance, in a country that largely frowns upon the union of these sects?

Could this fascinating co-creative project evolve and tighten the execution of its ideas and actually make an impact on the youth and future social situation in Lebanon?

The Imagination Studio plans to take on the challenge. And use these learning opportunities, such as at the Imagination Market, to build on them, imagining and imagining, that a better country is possible”.

Note: inspired from Rima Rantisi

Crowd-sourcing: Not exclusive for intelligence gathering…Applied to social connection in Lebanon

Note: The structure of society in Lebanon is a big hurdle for people in communities to connect personally (face to face) and get to know one another.  The long civil war (17 years) exacerbated the division and the creation of exclusive cantons and subcantons…Mind you that Lebanon has 18 officially recognized religious sects with autonomy to regulate personal status from birth to grave…

Several dailies in Lebanon (French Orient Le Jour, Arabic Al Safir, and English The Daily Star…) and several TV channels covered two events in the coastal historic city of Jbeil (Kesruwan district) and Baakline (the Chouf). The initiator and project organizer Joanna Choukeir Hojeily had met with several municipalities in order to secure a public space for youth to meet and tell their stories (Khabrieh).

This social project was run under the banner of Imagination MARKET – سوق الخيال

Two dozen professional volunteers guided and pulled off this successful project…

Talks at AltCity

Stephen Dockery wrote in the Lebanese Daily Star on July 11, 2012 under “Crowd-sourced blog tries to cut through sectarian media”:

BEIRUT: A video shows a girl sitting and reading a school history textbook, but as she flips through page after page, all are blank. Instead of the typical heavily sanitized government history books on Lebanon, the pages are filled with nothing. (History stories to be written by the youth of Lebanon?)

Christine Abi Rached aimed to make this video as a starting point to ask people how they would like to see their country’s history told.

The video is presented on an experimental blog intending to wade through the country’s sectarian media landscape and as part of a larger project to bring divided communities together.

The news and public forum blog “Khabrieh,” (local short story), launched in a two-day trial over the weekend, serves as a curator of articles, photos and messages for anyone between age 18 and 30 who had something to say.

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily, a doctoral student in London Art Univ. said: “Instead of a third-party telling us about what’s in the country, why don’t we open a channel to let people tell us about what’s happening...What we really wanted to do is rather than tell people and deliver sound bites, we wanted to give them little experiences of the bigger picture…”  Joanna is helping cultivate ideas that bring the country’s divided society together.

After going live during a community building project in cities of Jbeil (Kesruwan district) and Baakline (the Chouf), the blog curators posted messages from interested locals and others.

The results were probing and indicative that a portion of the population is dissatisfied with society’s status quo, but are unsure where to go next.

“How do we live with Lebanese?” asked one essay.

“The Road to Conflict Transformation,” was the title of another.

Some posts asked simple questions about why citizens can’t receive basic services:

“We are Lebanese youth from Baakline, and we have a problem with electricity in our village. Public power only comes 2 hours per day,” read one post.

A black and white photo by 19-year-old Jade Ev Nasser shows a man perched on the seashore.

The blog is part of a package of community building projects that a group of volunteers created while working with Joanna. The projects were presented together during events in Jbeil and Baakline.

Other projects included trilingual karaoke, sectarian role-playing and marriage information games to shed light on the social and legal barriers separating people in the country.

In the areas where the activities were run, visitors could participate in each project that tried to get them to think about pressing topics in the country.

Joanna said:“ We are hopeful the youth will start reflecting on their own situation without waiting for anyone telling them what was right or wrong….”

Joanna hopes her work will serve as a starting point for her volunteers to show that their new ideas can be successful, and the projects will turn into long-term ventures to work toward the main goal “to help young people in Lebanon integrate better along social, religious and demographic divides.”

Jean-Eudes MIAILHES wrote in L’Orient Le Jour on July 10 under: “Appel de la jeunesse libanaise : le marché de l’imagination, une initiative citoyenne porteuse ?”  

Quelque 30 jeunes ont contribué à des ateliers sur le Liban et ses failles.
Quelque 30 jeunes ont contribué à des ateliers sur le Liban et ses failles.
“Sous le signe de l’intégration et de la mobilité, les municipalités de Byblos et de Baakline ont accueilli le week-end dernier le marché de l’imagination (Imagination Market).
Ce marché, qui n’a rien à voir avec la vente de fruits et légumes ou autres mets comestibles, propose aux Libanais des ateliers sur le Liban et ses défaillances autour des thèmes du mariage mixte, de la relation entre le politique et l’amitié, des régions et de la mobilité, des médias et de leur influence, du langage et des préjugés.
Répartis sur cinq pôles, les bénévoles ont animé pendant ces deux jours des ateliers interactifs sur ces thèmes.
Né à l’automne 2008, ce projet s’inscrit dans le cadre du doctorat de Joanna Choukeir à l’Université des Arts de Londres. Suite à une phase de recherche durant laquelle elle a interrogé 56 Libanais originaires de diverses régions, la jeune doctorante a constaté que les cinq problèmes susmentionnés atomisent la société libanaise pour la rendre inerte.
Joanna said: « Au Liban, on parle beaucoup de problèmes, mais on ne peut rien faire. Les Libanais, s’ils ont un peu d’imagination, peuvent changer, trouver des solutions ».  Dès lors, elle a décidé de s’investir et de créer « un espace de cocréation », Imagination Studio, dans lequel collaborent quelque 30 bénévoles.
Cet espace, explique leur site officiel, a pour objectif de « soutenir la jeunesse libanaise de diverses régions, avec différentes expériences, à travers différentes disciplines et par différents réseaux, et imaginer ensemble l’inimaginable pour un Liban plus intégré et moins divisé ». Et d’ajouter que « notre but est d’impliquer davantage la jeunesse avec les autres en dehors de leur groupe social à l’école, à l’université, au travail, à la maison et au sein de leur communauté ».
Pour Habib, ami de Joanna et bénévole, la mobilité est ici un véritable défi. Il estime que « les préjugés des autres gens, des autres religions » ont des conséquences néfastes sur l’intégration au Liban. Conquis par le projet, il a alors décidé de s’impliquer dans ce domaine. C’est avec amusement qu’il confronte les Libanais à leur géographie.
À terme, cette initiative citoyenne devrait de nouveau se reproduire, puisque, selon les dires de Joanna, « d’autres municipalités ont été intéressées » par le projet” End of article in Orient Le Jour

Note 1: You may access the blog of Joanna Choukeir Hojeilyposted toIMAGINATION MARKET – سوق الخيال (July 7-8) Jbeil and Baakline




September 2021

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