Youth and Culture Center (YCC). Building a better a community

Youth and Culture Center (YCC). Building a better a community

YCC is a municipal center that acts as an incubator for interaction and development aiming to engage the local population in municipal and community life

YCC is a municipal center that acts as an incubator for interaction and development aiming to:

  • Create a space for dialogue, which seeks to increase communication among all segments of society.
  • Promote a sense of participatory democracy and citizenship through meetings and exchanges.
  • Familiarize the public with new technologies by providing training and access to the Internet, social media and regular and open source software.
  • Promote culture and art as catalysts for universal communication.
  • Provide a space for reading and support active involvement in the learning process by encouraging the formation of research groups eager for knowledge and learning.
  • Supporting creative industries by empowering and promoting young artists and talents by building their capacity and offering them a venue to produce themselves and interact with the public.
  • Offer a free space of dialogue for civil society organizations.
  • Promote the dialogue of cultures by producing culturally diverse events and raising the population's cultural awareness.

The ultimate and principal goal of the center is to engage the local population in municipal and community life. Zouk Mikaël was the first city in Lebanon to call for and implement a participatory democracy program (including residents and "zoukis"). Such public initiatives bring the population closer to the decision makers and thus the later can start making decisions that meet the needs of the population.

Starting situation

The Youth and Culture Center is a revolutionary initiative in the Lebanese context for no other municipality or local authority took the initiative to engage with its youth community through municipal institutions.

The city's overseas activities in the frame of its membership in the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and twinship with the city of Rueil-Malmaison, France and the city of EU, France, had the exposure to international practices, namely in Europe, and took it upon itself to bring this experience into Lebanon. Needless to say that the funding, resources, policies and laws available in Europe foster such initiatives and make their implementation achievable, while the available grounds and laws in Lebanon have kept municipalities away from such adventurous attempts.

The greatest risk in such initiatives is to first provide the necessary funding to run the facility after its construction, especially that the facility is intended to provide a service to the population that is based on creativity, expertise, and establishing and maintaining relations with regional and international actors.

Description

YCC is a municipal center that acts as an incubator for interaction and development aiming to:

  • Create a space for dialogue, which seeks to increase communication among all segments of society.
  • Promote a sense of participatory democracy and citizenship through meetings and exchanges.
  • Familiarize the public with new technologies by providing training and access to the Internet, social media and regular and open source software.
  • Promote culture and art as catalysts for universal communication.
  • Provide a space for reading and support active involvement in the learning process by encouraging the formation of research groups eager for knowledge and learning.
  • Supporting creative industries by empowering and promoting young artists and talents by building their capacity and offering them a venue to produce themselves and interact with the public.
  • Offer a free space of dialogue for civil society organizations.
  • Promote the dialogue of cultures by producing culturally diverse events and raising the population's cultural awareness.

The ultimate and principal goal of the center is to engage the local population in municipal and community life. Zouk Mikaël was the first city in Lebanon to call for and implement a participatory democracy program (including residents and "zoukis"). Such public initiatives bring the population closer to the decision makers and thus the later can start making decisions that meet the needs of the population.

Activities

With the inauguration of YCC in 2009, the main challenge was to go beyond the founding of another municipal facility and rather make of it a vibrant destination for youth who seek support and orientation on the educational and professional levels.

It was hard at the beginning to convince all the existing youth groups of the utility of the center, and that we are not in competition with them, rather, we are there to support them and empower them with the means that are at our disposal as a municipal institution.

This year, we managed to set the grounds for a big youth activity that gathers all the youth groups in Zouk Mikaël, a first that shows the trust the youth have in us to be the patron of their unity and collaboration.

In addition to this we are being approached by women who are requesting additional capacity building trainings (computer, small businesses, handcrafts, language, …) as a result of our very popular basis computer training program launched with Microsoft and Lebanon Development Union.

YCC is now a destination for youth seeking employment. They enrol in our internship programs that increase their knowledge, skills and one the ground experience. We hope to broaden this possibility by signing agreements with employment agencies.

The impact of YCC's mission is to increase trust of the population in the municipality and the power of the public service of a local government.

YCC's building success should be an incentive for other local governments in Lebanon to demand the Lebanese central government to issue Youth policies and strengthen the local governments' authorities by empowering them with new laws and additional funding.

Methodology

YCC has managed to co-organize most of its events and activities in collaboration with several embassies and NGOs and with the help of hundreds of volunteers which saved a lot of resources et set a trend of civic engagement and participation at the municipal and public levels.

Public Private Partnership

In an attempt to trend Public Private Partnerships, YCC initiated an agreement with the University of the Holy Spirit – Kaslik (in process of signing) through which, there will be an exchange of expertise, internship programs and use of venues facilities. This agreement will be beneficial to both parties and will open new horizons for students and youth and give them on-the-ground working experience and a chance to be sensible to the community's needs. YCC will notably benefit as an internship and capacity building venue whereby it can benefit from the senior students skills and expand the scope of its activities.

Independent internship programs

There is an increase in demands for jobs, while the Lebanese market is small and thus highly competitive. And so, YCC offers an opportunity for internship (mainly in management, media relations, audio-visual and other creative industries, event organizing, social work, and education) for youth.

Open source and social media

As the funding was scares, YCC team resorted to the use of social media platforms to advertise its activities and programs. This was probably a first in Lebanon at the municipal level. YCC team built a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel and two WordPress blogs used as the main tools of interaction with the audience. YCC also uses mobile media in advertising and is continuously training its director and program coordinator on new media innovations and tools.

Contact

Mrs. Eliane Fersan. Director Youth and Culture Center

ellefersan@gmail.com

www.ycczoukmikael.com

Date: 2014-05-22

State: Finished

Country: Lebanon

Category: Employment and Economic Development, Tourism and culture, Social Cohesion