In Lebanon, young people like Charbel from
Besharreh and Sahar from Sour were very unlikely to meet, study together, work
together, live in the same neighbourhood, become friends, or even fall in love.
No longer even was it considered that this segregation between social groups was
unnatural, unusual or an issue that needed to be resolved. But in a country that
only takes a five-hour drive to cross from North to South, and with a tiny
population of four-million and a wide diversity of at least eighteen religious
sects, what justifies not meeting and interacting with someone from another
social group? The answer is Lebanon’s social, political, sectarian and
geographic rigidity. Evidence suggests that countries that proactively work
towards social integration and cohesion among their various social groups, are
more likely to improve their social and economic development.
This was where Imagination Studio came in. Imagination Studio is a design method which takes a proactive step towards social integration through co-creation and interdisciplinarity. Imagination Studio is a space supporting Lebanese youth from different regions, across different disciplines, and through different networks, to put their heads together and imagine the unimaginable for a more integrated, less divided Lebanon. Using collective experience, expertise, creativity and lateral thinking, Imaginers' conceptual ideas were transformed into informed and actionable social interventions. These are interventions that help people like Charbel from Bsharreh and Sahar from Sour meet one day, study together, work together, live in the same neighbourhood, become friends and event fall in love! Imagination Studio aims for more young people engaging with others outside their social group at school, university, work, home and in the community. The Imagination Studio community is a group of 30 young Imaginers aged 18 to 30, who have creative, social, political, activist, entrepreneurial or journalism backgrounds and interests. The 30 bright and enthusiastic Imaginers have distributed themselves into five teams, with each team focusing on one evidence-based barrier to social integration in Lebanon: sect and marriage, politics and friendship, regions and mobility, language and prejudice, and media and influence.