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Mindchangers as main feature of the HOPE festival

On 13-15 October 2023, Mindchangers took part in the sustainable HOPE festival, hosted in the superb Gare Maritime building of the Tour & Taxis site in Brussels. It was a unique opportunity to showcase to a wide audience this European initiative carried out by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles in Belgium, and the many projects it supports.

In spite of the Gare Maritime’s somewhat subdued atmosphere, the Mindchangers stand was buzzing with activity throughout the three days of the HOPE festival. All through the weekend, some forty members of the various teams from Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and the partner associations took it in turns to provide visitors with information and awareness-raising activities at this event dedicated to sustainable development, making it one the liveliest stands at the festival.

“All in all, we are very satisfied with how the weekend went,” says Béatrice Minh, the Mindchangers coordinator in Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles who manned the Mindchangers stand throughout the event. “We had three main objectives in partnering with HOPE. We wanted to highlight our Mindchangers granted youth projects, raise public awareness of climate, migration and the Sustainable Development Goals, and encourage synergies between the various non-profit organisations present at the festival. Those goals were fully reached, thanks in particular to the interactive awareness-raising workshops run by the project leaders and their youths. These activities have led to constructive exchanges, not only with the participants but also between associations.”


“A great opportunity to show how far we’ve come”

Among the associations which received a Mindchangers grant in 2023, Gratte was present on the first day of the festival to raise awareness with ‘Dans la peau de…’, a role-playing exercise dealing with discrimination and inequality. A workshop in which Samuel and Gaëlle, both 25, took part with great interest and enthusiasm. “It felt really good to be actively involved while receiving information, rather than just getting it passively”, said the young woman.

In addition to the workshop itself, the non-profit organisation also took the opportunity to present its Mindchangers-funded project, ‘Greening Gratte’, which aims to bring together able-bodied and mentally handicapped young people around activities linked to sustainable development and during an eco-responsible residential stay.

“We embarked on this ecological journey almost two years ago, and HOPE was a great opportunity to show just how far we’ve come,” explains Aurélie Desprez, who is in charge of education at Gratte. Also present at the Mindchangers stand was Parckfarm, an organisation located on the Tour & Taxis site. They ran a workshop on local and sustainable food as part of a special partnership aimed at creating synergies with neighbourhood non-profit organisations working on the same themes as Mindchangers. “We were invited by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles to come and present our work at the festival”, says Alessio Porcelli, coordinator of this ‘sociable farm’, which has made social cohesion and sustainability its leitmotifs. “Without Mindchangers, we probably wouldn’t have been able to be here [at the festival], partly because it was difficult to ensure a permanent presence throughout the event, and also because the participation fees were too high for us.” Last but not least, Graines de soi was also on present to run ‘One Life?!’, a workshop in line with their mission to support teenagers and young adults who wish to define or redefine their path in life. Thanks to Mindchangers, the association was able to bring forth ‘Feu sur la banquise!’, consisting in a series of podcasts produced by some fifteen young people and exploring the different possibilities of shaping one’s life in a society undergoing profound change.


Visibility, dissemination and long-term prospects

The HOPE festival also marked the start of a farewell tour for the Mindchangers project. However, a number of events and activities will be taking place over the coming months. “All our granted projects will come to an end by the end of the year”, explains Béatrice Minh. “And on February 20, we will be organizing an official closing event for the subgranting activity, as part of the upcoming Belgian presidency of the Council of the UE.” At the same time, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles will be working to promote, disseminate and pass on the lessons learned throughout the project, notably by updating the practical guide published at the beginning of the year for local authorities and civil society organisations. Mindchangers will then take its final bow in autumn 2024.