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Strengthen the role of traditional Syrian & Turkish crafts and its developing in achieving integration and civil peace in the border cities

This is exactly what the arts do. It is simple and very effective in spreading love and building bridges.

Photo of Ata Akil

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Since the beginning of the war in Syria, more than three and a half million Syrians had fled the cycle of ongoing conflict toward Turkey, most of them had concentrated in the border cities. The impact of this large number of the Syrians in those cities compared to the size of the city led to several tension events, despite the efforts of the Turkish state to reduce tension between the two sides. Not only the civilians who were victims of the violence that continued for years, but also the list of victims increased to include the cultural aspect of the country. Main goal of the project is Enhancing opportunities for Syrian-Turkish rapprochement between civilians in cities where large numbers of Syrians have been mobilized, and promote integration and co-existence through traditional Syrian craftsmanship in cooperation with Syrian artisans with the advantage that Turkish culture is so close to the Syrian culture. This will contribute to the exclusion of the sense of Turkish people that the homeless are just receivers of aid and that they are taking the capabilities of their country. In addition, it strengthens the psychological situation of the displaced, that they are capable of production and they have got a great historical and cultural heritage.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Turkey was one of the largest share countries that had received the most displaced Syrian people with a number exceeds three and a half million. Most of them had concentrated in the border cities such as Antakya, Gaziantep and some major cities such as Istanbul. The city of Gaziantep is the second largest city after the city of Istanbul in terms of the number of Syrians present in the city with about a half million.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

One of the most important roles that the arts can play in this world is to inspire marginalized individuals and groups to express themselves in the public sphere. And it's that idea that is at the heart of a new report just released by The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, titled 'Living Together: Fostering Cultural Pluralism through the Arts'. According to this idea we work on building a cultural bridges between Syrians and Turkish that helping refugees adjust to the new environment.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

The long years of war in Syria had led to a whole generation whom are completely ignorant of his cultural identity. The difference in language was another obstacle because most of the main materials used in these professions were not known in the Turkish market for craftsmen. The difficulty of working for many Syrian artisans who entered Turkish territory illegally has contributed significantly to this decline also, due to the lack of a legal framework that allows Syrians in some cities to perform their jobs. There are many groups of women who have lost their husbands or children who have lost their parents or adults who have suffered various disabilities because of the war In Syria. Most of them suffer from poor physical condition due to multiple difficulties related to language and the difficulty of work and integration with society. The project contributes through the training workshops in raising the level of empowerment and sustainability between different age groups.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Syrian culture is characterized by its proximity to Turkish culture. They lived in the same geographical area under one rule during the days of the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, the art of decoration is not far from the Turkish culture, so that Turkey is a school of decoration. Through the first exhibition of this craft in the city of Gaziantep, we found the desire and passion of the Turkish public with the products of the craft offered. We believe that this acceptance will have an impact in making the desired change. In addition, from our good relations and contacts with many cultural bodies open to accept refugees in the city, we found the welcome idea and willingness to provide what is needed to help proceed with this project.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Traditional crafts are defined as those industries with a historical extension, that transform raw material into a product that reflect a heritage. Traditional crafts are a manifestation of civilization and its primary means of expressing the culture and originality of society. Damascus is the oldest inhabited capital in history and has a great history and cultural heritage. In addition, the history of the Ajami Damascene handicraft dates back more than 1400 years during the reign of the Umayyad state. In addition, it has been listed on the UNESCO Heritage List. Many Turks believe the opposite of these facts, and that the people who have resorted to their country lacks the material and civilized potential. Through the project and cooperation between the Syrian artists and the Turkish cultural bodies, the picture will be clarified by monitoring the activities and publishing them through audio and visual materials and publishing them through the means of social communication.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The city lies on the borderline bordering Syrian territory with the historic city of Aleppo.Gaziantep is the second largest city after Istanbul in terms of the number of Syrians in the city by about half a million. The impact of so many Syrians in the city compared to the size of the city has led to many events of tension. However, the efforts of the municipality, cultural gatherings and students contribute greatly to the openness of the guests. The historical and historical character of the city plays an important role in achieving this rapprochement because of the proximity of the Syrian and Turkish cultures.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

I attended several training workshops on craft during my undergraduate studies at the Syrian Artisans and Artists in Damascus. I participated in several group exhibitions through a number of works. I had got a financial grant from Goethe-Institute in Istanbul and Spaces of Culture Team (Kultur Icin Alan) for a project to revive the craft and spread its work in Turkey. The project included training and rehabilitation for several Syrians and Turkish. I held the first exhibition for this handicraft in Turkey on 15/10/2018. I was appointed by Istanbul Cultural Culture as a cultural director representing Gaziantep City to attend a cultural gathering bringing together many artists and workers in the field of culture from Turkey and Europe and training for cultural directors.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

• Gaziantep Municipality - Gaziantep. • Kirkayak Kultur - Gaziantep. • Kultur icin alan – Istanbul. • Retaj-Gaziantep. • Yasser Ghazal - Roqoosh-Gaziantep. • Syrian Handicraft Artist – Alia Nuaimi • Ghazwan Al-Saka – Photographer & Producer.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

Retaj

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We're a Palestinian Syrian Family settled in Gaziantep Turkey since 2015 and working on a historical and an old Syrian craft which date back more than 1400 years. The craft which well known outside Syria by the name "Ajami Handicraft" is present in the historical Syrian and Damascene rooms and present also in most of the international museums like The Metropolitan in The United States of America and the Islamic art museum in Germany. We worked on a project to re-initiate it through training workshops and we were able to win a small fund for this project from Goethe Institute in Istanbul to present the craft to the Turkish society especially the craft is so close to the Turkish culture. Although we know that it is difficult for any organization to response positively in the case of individuals, but as a Palestinian family suffered from being refugees twice, a family spent its whole life as a refugee, we still prove that in spite all of difficulties we always have the ability to change.

Website URL:

https://www.facebook.com/retajarts https://instagram.com/retajarts https://twitter.com/retajarts YouTube channel: retaj art

Type of submitter

  • We are individuals who are part of an informal group or collective

Organization Headquarters: Country

Turkey

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Gaziantep
View more

Attachments (2)

Syrian Ajami Handicraft.pdf

Full Description of the Historical Syrian Damascene (Ajami Handicraft).

Strenghtn the role of Traditional Syrian Handicrafts.pdf

Full Description of the circumstances that led to the idea of the project.

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Our Workshop
Team

Hey!
Our solution is also rooted in craft and design!
I believe that time spent together Making and Sharing is a very very effective way to create strong connections between people from vastly different backgrounds.
Also, we need to retain the wide variety of craft skills!!

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Hi Our Workshop
One hundred percent, When talking about traditional crafts in general, you find that the craftsmen who work with these crafts adhere to the traditional character, believing that any attempt to develop these crafts will be deprived of traditional character. I think that the usefulness of such workshops lies in the possibility of introducing new ideas concerning these crafts, the presence of artists and craftsmen from different environments will expand the horizons possible and may achieve a balance between the development of these crafts on the one hand, and preserve their traditional character on the other hand.

Spam
Photo of Our Workshop
Team

Absolutely

I would love to work with traditional craftspeople from Turkey!! I have applied to run projects at the Istanbul Bienalle twice - based on investigating local crafts in the streets there... Never managed to get chosen though.

Best regards,
Heath Nash (Our Workshop Founder)

Spam
Photo of Zulfiqar Deo
Team

Ata Akil Thanks for posting your project. We support artisans in the Swat Valley engage with the global fashion community. Business financing for refugee entrepreneurs  has more info about our approach. Be great to have your thoughts.

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Dear Zulfiqar Deo

Thank you so much for your great idea and hope really that we can cooperate.

Indeed, despite all the initiatives that address refugee issues, we rarely find institutions that provide financial support to finance their microenterprises that may contribute to creating and promoting integration opportunities. Personally, you have applied for funding for a project that revives a traditional craft dating back more than 1400 years, and I have have contacted with many cultural bodies but to no avail, which makes you feel really frustrated. We are talking about rare handicrafts listed on the UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List of Intangible Heritage.
When we look at the Syrian issue, for example, most of the existing traditional crafts that have roots in the Syrian heritage, either workshops were destroyed by war, or their craftsmen migrated to different parts of the world after losing their workshops and tools.
So I find this initiative very important for refugees with crafts.

Spam
Photo of Zulfiqar Deo
Team

Ata Akil I agree. I think the importance of arts and crafts to identity is a key theme and human need. In War, the culture and civilisation is destroyed because it breaks down the identity of the people they are looking to overcome. Its great to see what you are doing and look forward to seeing how we can support each other.

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Thank you so much
This will be really good and a great honor, looking forward to find ways to support each other

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Thank you so much
This will be really good and a great honor, looking forward to find ways to support each other

Spam
Photo of Sevde Şengün
Team

Hello Ata Akil 
Great to have you share your idea for the challenge.Your work is wonderful! You're a great artisan. I really like that your idea focuses on cultural heritage. I agree that culture is one of the most powerful elements that bring people together. Antep is a city with a really strong cultural heritage, and the activities you collaborate look very enjoyable.
Could you elaborate on the idea you proposed?
Are you still working with "Kültür İçin Alan" or any of the teams and institutions you're talking about ? Maybe cooperation could be useful to project the process?

OpenIDEO Istanbul Chapter is currently working on a fusion platform project where Syrians and Turks will meet on a cultural ground. There is also a team in Ankara that can contribute to the progress of your idea. If you need such support from Turkey, please feel free to reach out to me.

Lastly, curious if Isaac Jumba  do you have any thoughts?

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Hello Sevde Şengün

First, I have no words to describe how grateful I am to your words. Thank you very much for your amazing words.
With regard to the idea of ​​challenge, I would be very happy to explain it in details during this conversation, but let me first answer your questions.
At the moment, I do not work with Spaces of Culture. It was a project that I had the opportunity to apply with them last year, but we have good relationships and communication. In addition, I have contacts with Kirkiyak Culture Foundation in Gaziantep and some Syrian civil society organizations in the city which may help to achieve our hopes.
Of course, I would be very happy to cooperate with you, faithfully this is the main objective of the project .. gathering the Turks and Syrians through a cultural project that invests in the historical and heritage dimensions of the Syrian handicrafts and its integration into Turkey as Syrian culture is so close to Turkish culture.
I have already invited you to be one of the team ..

Thank you so much again and looking forward to hearing from you.

Spam
Photo of Abo Khader Aqiel
Team

Hello Sevde

Your questions may be about any improvements in my idea recently. In this regard I would like to introduce you to some practical steps that I have made before putting my idea into the Openideo community.
The beginning of why I focus on a traditional historical craft as a solution to the problem. ‘Ajami is one of the best-known Syrian handcrafts today with a history that goes back at least until the Mamluk era (13th/14th C.). As an integral part of traditional Syrian houses of the upper class in Ottoman times, rooms cladded with this art of painted wood panels were intended for the reception of guests.
Today, traditional handcraft production, such as the art of ‘Ajami, is on the verge of extinction as much of the knowledge about this craft is already forgotten. It is only through the continuous dedication of specialized artists like this craft may still be enjoyed and practiced by future generations.
It is not only about the arts in general, it is the history and geography that once gathered the people of this region, and we seek to strengthen this culture again.

Through my work in humanitarian organizations for more than 4 years, I know what it is needed to do community projects. Through my work with cultural organizations in Istanbul as Spaces of Cultural, and Istanbul Foundation of Cultural and Arts, there was a challenge: how to convince civil society organizations working on humanitarian issues to adopt cultural projects.
I worked on this in Gaziantep, where I was able to cooperate with Bunyan, a Syrian organization working on relief, where we presented a project to UNESCO on reviving traditional Syrian crafts and some Turkish crafts with training workshops. This was done after the meeting with the Municipality of Gaziantep and their commitment to cooperate fully in this framework. We are waiting for approval of the project in December this year.

Spam
Photo of Sevde Şengün
Team

Thank you for your answers and explanation Ata Akil they're descriptive. You know, the challenge's idea phase will be closing on 17th August. Before its done could you clarify what are the results of the project so far in your Prototype phase? Also you can create a possible user and share with us ,
i.e. "journey map of Syrian/Palestinian refugees who you want to involve your project" which is very important to integrate into this platform as you progress in the challenge!

While you working on your idea this tool kit might be helpful , check out the Prototyping toolkit here:
https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5a147545b687370001bfd10c/5d1669546ad3cba5e81bf634_Prototyping%20Toolkit_BB2019.pdf

I would suggest also to have a look at our challenge evaluation criteria again for checking: https://ideo.to/NQ6TlJ

Excited to see the idea grow

Spam
Photo of Yemen Without Conflict & ICRD
Team

Hi Ata Akil,

I want to say your proposal is a great idea. Creating an admiration and understanding of others' cultures certainly creates harmonious and more understanding communities. I believe you have a strong potential to leverage and empower the community's strengths, but I was curious how you planned to do so. How will your training workshops allow Syrian refugees and Turkish people to put their differences aside? I would love to hear more about the prototypes already in place so I can understand the impact so far.

I thank you for presenting such an inventive idea and wish you luck on your endeavors!

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Dear Muaadh Abdo Saeed Ahmed

Thank you so much for your nice words, last year I had the opportunity to work with many cultural bodies in both Istanbul and Gaziantep through cultural programs bringing together Syrians and Turks. . all programs focused on finding ways or solutions to make these bridges.I might agree with you that it is so difficult to do so in such cities where there are a large number of refugees.and this is why all those programs focused on the border cities. how arts could be of great help as a model ? Arts Remove and discard differences and create a desirable diversity for the public, a language that understood and loved by everyone. In addition we will benefit from the design workshops bodies to find all the possible ways then working as a team to to apply the most close solutions.In addition, I think the likeness between the Syrian and Turkish culture well help also.

Spam
Photo of Michele Pistone
Team

Hi Ata Akil 

Thanks for your work on this project. The tensions between refugees and members of receiving countries is a real challenge and I am glad that you are creating a model for ways to address it. How many people have you been able to involve in the prototype and what has been the reaction from the community?

I am currently developing an online educational program to train immigrant advocates. Each unit includes an image. When I saw your artwork it sparked an idea. If you think it would be appropriate, I would love to feature photos of the artwork in my program. I Of course, we would attribute it to you and your project. Let me know if you would be interested in exploring this possibility. Here is more about my program, immigrantadvocate.villanova.edu.

Here is a link to my OpenIDEO idea, https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/training-immigrant-advocates-so-immigrants-don-t-confront-the-immigration-system-without-an-advocate

Warm regards,
Michele Pistone

Spam
Photo of Ata Akil
Team

Hello Michele Piston

First, thank you so much for your kind words and for your communication, it's great the things you do, and so is your idea.

I started implementing my idea in the neighborhood where I live, as I am the only refugee who lives in the building. Everyone loved this work and encouraged it, and gave a good idea and a good impression about the refugees in contrast to what is going on.
This encouraged me to expand my network of relations with the neighborhood and the cultural bodies in the city.

One of the most important results of this expansion is that I received a grant from one of the cultural organizations in Istanbul to publish these works and to present them to the Turkish people. These events included an art exhibition for works performed in the city and a cultural forum that brings together Syrian and Turkish artists alike.

So this really works ... It can even be developed more through a network of relationships that I could build ,and training workshops that can be done to bring both Syrians and Turks together.

You do not need to do complicated things to achieve peace and happiness, just make people love what you do. This is exactly what the arts do. Beauty lies in the details, in simple things that people love. It is simple and very effective in spreading love and building bridges of communication and brotherhood between peoples

Regarding your request, I am so happy that you loved my works and it will be my pleasure to share any of them to the public.

Thank you so much again and have a good day

Regards