‘Paper plates’

K L A U S – M A R T I N   E L L E R B R O C K

110F Klaus-Martin   100F Paper plates

I grew up in an environment where community workers were trained on placement and this experience had a large influence on me. During my studies I participated in community work practice projects. My professional socialisation has also been influenced by my time as a scout, where I had my first experiences of working with groups. Later, these experiences were integrated in my practical work in the technique of “Social space coordination” and I developed a project in Blumenerg, Germany.


I chose ‘Paper plates’ because …

… a group of older citizens were facilitated by a social worker and became really engaged in changing their district for the better. However, some of these nice improvements were vandalised. The older people are thinking that the young people who congregate around the subway station are responsible for this distructiveness.

So the social worker (groupworker) who started the older citizens’ group and the steet worker who is in good and regular contact with the young people meet with each of these groups to explore the ways they use and live in this joint public space. This coming together is negotiated, using different methods of a technique known as ‘social space orientation.’

Both groups meet with each other and explain their interests. In a second meeting both groups have a walk around the district and show and explain their experiences of living and being in the district so they each get to appreciate how each different group experiences this social space.

During the preparation for these encounters the young people discussed whether to keep their anonymity. In the end they agreed to meeting the older citizens showing their faces, but they wanted to hide their faces when it came to photographs. Smiley faces like Paper plates were used to do this. Thus, the young people’s privacy was respected; they understood the difference between the boundaries of their contact with the older people where they showed their faces, and the boundaries with the wider world.

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