The Athens Lab on Unpacking Integration was organized by Symβiosis, in cooperation with the Municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki, and a range of Civil Society organizations. The Lab took place from 15 to 17 December 2017, and focused on innovative approaches and sustainable ideas around core integration priorities: housing, education, work and civic participation.
It served as a platform to share research findings and experiences and develop new ideas, strategies and tools for reconnecting our societies and redefining the meaning and practice of “integration”. Discussions investigated whether different dimensions of integration are profoundly antagonistic, as the current voting patterns suggest, and how alternative models can be implemented in different contexts, using different networks and coalitions.
The Lab had forty participants, from approximately thirty different bodies, including Civil Society, migrant and refugee organizations, representatives from the Ombudsperson’s office, international NGOs, and municipalities departments, from Athens, Thessaloniki and Kilkis. Gender parity was achieved in terms of participant panel representatives and participation in discussions. Migrants and refugees were highly involved and often set discussion themes.
The event was held at the Impact Hub Athens – a venue designed to foster communication and innovative encounters. The first day consisted of various plenary sessions, with ample discussion time for networking and exchanging views. The second day was composed of four workshops in two parts and a final plenary. The final day included a collective activity in an urban project in Victoria Square – one of the biggest squares in Central Athens – which provided varied stimuli and a conducive environment for open and creative dialogue.