What is Platform Building?
ReROOT | Arrival Infrastructure Site Platforms
“Arrival Infrastructure Site Platforms” were about developing site-specific platforms where combinations of local arrival infrastructure actors and stakeholders meet, interact and reflect on their shared and diverse positions in the arrival processes and explore potential interventions to facilitate collaboration, empower new migrants, earlier arrivals and ‘natives’, and rework their interaction in arrival infrastructures in the sites in Turkey, Germany, France, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and the UK. These platforms took various forms depending on the characteristics of each site. Creation or participation in site platforms enabled the team to experience and learn from different formats and techniques for making change in arrival situations, in order to gather insights to build into a toolkit offering guidance on platform building for practitioners.

ReROOT’s platforms try to bridge the structural gap between the worlds of theoretical science and knowledge production on one side and the everyday world of the people in arrival contexts on the other side by implementing concrete interventions and actions. Therefore, ReROOT’s platforms aim to be settings open for co-design and co-production by civil society, fostering mutual learning processes among stakeholders.
Platform Building Pilots
Platform Building Initial Insights
The platform in Istanbul-Fatih organised Wendo self-defense trainings.

The platforms pursued three main aims: empowering newcomers, changing narratives about migration and bringing actors together. However, each platform follows a site-specific combination of various aims.

Several platforms were about empowering newcomers and providing them safe spaces for exchange and mutual support. The platform in Istanbul-Fatih organised Wendo self-defense trainings where participants acquire practical tools to empower themselves against different types of violence. The Thessaloniki platform sought to collect, map and record arrival infrastructures such as spaces of organizations and solidarity groups and, at the same time, safe and dangerous areas and routes for newcomers traversing Thessaloniki. The outcome named MAP: Migrants Arrival Project was shared with other people on the move in the area. In Budapest, a project-based community-building platform was designed where Stipendium Hungaricum students could learn how to implement cooperative activities in order to strengthen their arrival infrastructures employing different community engagement methodologies, such as participatory forum theatre.

Other platforms aimed at changing the narrative about migration, putting pressure on policy-makers and raising (public) awareness for newcomers’ trajectories and situations. The platform-building process in Dortmund-Nordstadt consisted of a core event where 400 school chairs were set up aiming to raise awareness for the shortage of school places affecting mainly newcomers and bring it to the table. With regard to the Paris’ foyer Boulogne, the platform aimed to create virtual and physical spaces (a colloquium in the National Assemly, a public discussion and a website) to highlight imminent evictions and to put it into the broader context of the transformations of foyers and the institutional evictions. The platform-building process in Westland and Haspengouw co-created an exhibition showcasing both new and traditional agricultural rituals and practices from farmers in Romania and Moldova, as well as from Central and Eastern European (CEE) migrant workers in the Netherlands and Belgium with the purpose of facilitating conversations and dialogues about heritage, agriculture, and migration. With many small and two larger activities the platform building in Brussels pointed to the precarity and inequality Belgian’s reception crisis produces, on the one hand, and on the other hand they meant to offer counter-narratives to the hostile discourse the government’s political actors build (on).

Two platforms brought actors together and aimed to build a network. In Karditsa and Katerini (2K), the platform sought to initiate a dialogue between different stakeholders, addressing the labour market mismatch in the area, separately in both cities. This platform also aimed to establish a communication channel among stakeholders in both cities. The aim of the platform building in the London district Barking and Dagenham was to create a network of interested organisations providing support to migrant residents, thus, to help the support infrastructure become less fragmented as many services and organisations were not connected or aware of the resources and opportunities provided by others.
Initial Insights

The platform building in ReROOT has shown that transformative approaches such as platform building cannot be implemented by a single researcher. Instead, local allies are needed and, thus, their identification, selection and activation became a central issue in the process of platform building. The challenges of activation were very different according to the conditions of each site. Where well-developed networks existed, it was necessary to identify gaps that were not sufficiently addressed yet, which needed an in-depth knowledge of the existing landscape. In sites characterized by less developed networks or fragmented structures, it was instead needed to identify and activate actors for platform building.

The activation of allies for platform building highlighted pressures the researchers had to incorporate into platform building implementation. For instance, arrival infrastructure actors are often confronted with high workloads and over-whelmed structures. Thus, platform-building formats need to mind actors’ time pressures, accommodate their work organization and existing communication tools, and, thus, make participation for them as easy as possible (e.g. Istanbul-Fatih, Dortmund-Nordstadt, Karditsa and Katerini, Barking and Dagenham). The platform-building process further needs to address existing power relations, no matter if following or scrutinizing them.

The platform-building process requires flexibility. In Brussels, platform-building designs shifted to address the aggravating situation on the streets and in occupations. The site researcher had to constantly adapt to these changing conditions and adapt the initial plans in favour of short-term actions and formats during the platform-building process. Additionally, elections at national and local levels as well as natural catastrophes such as the earthquake in Turkey or the floods in the region of Volos (Greece) exacerbated and slowed platform-building processes. While the conceptual framework for platform building allowed adaptations and readjustments, it must also be noted that constant readjustment and, above all, the intensive preparation of ideas and formats that could not be implemented spend considerable resources. This made it challenging to test previously conceived formats in the platform-building process. However, it highlights the current dynamic with regard to migration in Europe and beyond and illustrates that it will pose challenges to Europe in the future. It also calls for solutions and approaches flexible and highly adjustable to dynamic contexts and themes.

text by Cornelia Tippel (ILS) and Dennis Zilske (Planerladen)

edited by Mary Hogan (KU Leuven)

Migrants Arrival Project (MAP):
The Thessaloniki platform sought to collect, map and record arrival infrastructures such as spaces of organizations and solidarity groups and, at the same time, safe and dangerous areas and routes for newcomers traversing Thessaloniki
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