The NEMESIS project that began with a beach clean up – Baléone, France

Everything began on the shores of white sand and clear water that surround this little Mediterranean Island…

Two classes from this school in Baléone, France (11-12 year olds) began their NEMESIS project. The project, that will keep them busy all year, aims to transform their school and the local community.

As a way to encourage them to be conscious of their environment while discovering their surroundings with a different perspective, the students were sent to the beach with white overalls and big gloves to pick up rubbish.

On this sunny day, the students were feeling proud – proud to be of service to their community, and also proud to be wiser than the adults who had left their rubbish next to the bins without sorting it. Among bursts of laughter, the only competition between these students was who could pick up the most rubbish.

The students were also asked to do some research. They were asked to look for things that, if they had a magic wand, they’d like to change in and around their school.

So off they went, taking selfies along the way to show their friends afterwards, so that they could discuss their ideas after doing the research.

A collaborative effort with the whole school

Then, the eco-representatives from the older classes (14-15 year olds) came to collect the data and start a process of co-creation with OPERA.

The students worked in pairs, one boy and one girl where possible, and exchanged their ideas. They were to keep only three ideas: the best, the craziest and the most reasonable.

All of these ideas were then written on the whiteboard and each class voted on five of the best ideas. In total, ten ideas were kept, and these were posted in the school hallways in the form of referendum posters. Now, the whole school community must vote on their favourite ideas. The three elected ideas will be applied in the second phase of this NEMESIS project…



If you would like to be the next school to join the team of NEMESIS schools please fill in our  contact form or email us at

If you would like to read more about our projects click here.

Are you a social innovator who would like to collaborate with the schools in your area? Click here for more info on how to become a mentor.


Woodwork students build cat kennels for local retirement home – Lycée Professionel les Alpilles

Since September, the students of Lycée Professionel les Alpilles (Technical College) in France had been looking for a way to take part in their community as part of their social innovation project. This new NEMESIS school had also been thinking about who could benefit from their woodworking skills.

They eventually came up with an idea to build something that was suitable for their community: new cat kennels for the retirement home.

Existing cat kennels at the Crau Orpéa retirement home

Why this project?

It was meeting with the elderly residents of the Crau Orpéa retirement home that gave students the idea. The existing kennels were not in very good condition, so in order to meet the residents’ request and in some way alleviate their loneliness, the residents of the home and the students decided to work together on this project. The first visit, that happened on the 11th of January, allowed them to get to know one another and exchange ideas, and then agree on the idea for the project. All of this flourished in a space connecting two contrasting worlds: what a wonderful encounter!


The students get to work: taking measurements at the retirement home


The next step for this project: the residents of Crau Orpéa will visit the workshop in the school on the 11th of February to see how the students work with wood and give them design ideas.

We’ll find out more about this project soon…



If you would like to be the next school to join the team of NEMESIS schools please fill in our  contact form or email us at

If you would like to read more about our projects click here.

Are you a social innovator who would like to collaborate with the schools in your area? Click here for more info on how to become a mentor.


Improving the neighbourhood in a creative way – Ruffi School


Ruffi School


Marseille (France)

Social Innovation Practitioner

Les Têtes de l’art

The way cities are made deeply affects our lives: from lifestyles or aesthetic values to social bonds. It is in the neighbourhoods where the community is developed and in the streets where public life and social control is developed. Gaining the skills that these places offer, then, allows children to be integrated into the urban social life.

Neighbourhoods cannot exist as desegregate  and scattered entities. As urban activist Jane Jacob said, communities should enable “physical, social and economic sustainability continuance”.  If cities allow community life to flourish, neighbourhoods will be able to govern themselves. Jacob’s good neighbourhood is one which knows how to deal with its problems and does not let itself be overwhelmed or destroyed by its flaws.

Improving the environment in the neighbourhood

Since January, the Social Innovator Practitioner (Les Têtes de l’art), together with the children and teachers from the Ruffi School in Marseille, have been thinking about what they could all do to improve the environment in their neighbourhood.

The issue arises partly because of the geographical location of the school, which is situated in a neighbourhood that is experiencing an important process of gentrification. The streets are shared between the inhabitants and small shops in a general melting-pot atmosphere; but it’s getting usual, too, to find new business buildings that attract a whole other economic activity and working population.

Between precarious homes and tall glass buildings it seems there is no place for playgrounds, for family areas, not even a little piece of green…

Social innovation at the school: working step by step, learning to be positively critical and above all to collaborate!

Reflecting on the concept of  “social innovation”, and trying to make it their objective during the workshops in the first place, allowed them to understand how personal investment and group work can have a direct impact on their possibilities for action. Exploring how to collaborate, sharing ideas, listening and creating a trust base in order to speak freely turned out to be a very positive and healthy use of the time available.

Needless to say, time is of the essence as it was critical that all parties agree, in the shortest time possible, what are their principal objectives as a community.  This process involves recognising where mistakes have been made previously, so that innovative and creative ideas can have an opportunity to blossom. Undoubtedly, this would certainly be a significant step forward.

Open door policy in schools

At this point was generally accepted that the best way to respond to the questions was to get a good idea of the opinions of the neighbourhood. ¿What did they need? ¿Which was their perception of the public space? ¿How did they think it should/could be and why?

The students realized it was not going to easy and they wanted to execute this professionally.  Consequently, they sought the help of Boulegue TV who very kindly provided them with all the tools they needed, including some very useful strategies for the interviews.

Here you can see the result:

Their neighbourhood is full of contrast and gathered opinions reflected their diversity whilst at the same time the interviews helped them to identify some common feelings and important social needs. They were also able to establish priorities and make positive strategic choices with which to start developing a proposal that could be meaningful for most of the people. 

They also decided to involve more parents, neighbourhood associations and more students to present the results of the first investigation in the form of a video and some photos projected during a meeting we called “Café NEMESIS”.  Through the creative use of different games, and thanks to the motivation of the students and teachers, participation was excellent. Quite a success in their social context!

Two lines of action were voted:

  • To produce a different development plan for the neighbourhood.
  • To explore all the options to help make the neighbourhood much more visually attractive.

social innovation, education social innovation, education

Note from Ruffi school:

We are very grateful for the experience of genuine collaboration and, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Now that we have identified our objectives, we need to come up with innovative ways to implement them.  This means we all need to “think outside the box”: something easy to say but not so easy to put into practice!  We will keep you posted — watch this space!!

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