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Jean-Jérôme Gazeau and Le Jardin Ensauleillé: cultivating new ties

Île-de-France - Sevran
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods

In the middle of the asphalt, a small shared garden brings a breath of oxygen to the residents of the priority neighbourhood of Gros Saule, in Aulnay-sous-Bois (93). Jean-Jérôme Gazeau has been accompanying the association carrying the project from the start.



With a demanding job, Jean-Jérôme Gazeau, age 39, is a busy man. Yet, this agency head with Emulithe (Eurovia), in Fosses (95), is not the last in line to offer a helping hand when needed. His door is always open to his employees: ‘When there’s a problem, we talk about it and if we can do something, we act.’ A matter of course for this man who says he’s always had ‘a social bent’ and believes that it is not always ‘simple desires that come to us' but sometimes ‘true convictions’. It must be said that, very young, Jean-Jérôme was immersed in the world of solidarity: ‘As a child, I went to breakfasts organized by associations helping the homeless. Being confronted by the reality of these struggling people leaves a trace.’.

In the empty field, a vegetable garden

In 2013, during professional contacts with the Aulnay-sous-Bois (93) city hall, he learned about the project of Danielle Boutet, president of the “Le Jardin Ensauleillé” association. The idea was to transform an abandoned area into a vegetable garden surrounded by houses and low-income flats in the Gros Saule district. Jean-Jérôme believed in the project and acted as an intermediary between Emulithe and the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité to provide the association with human and financial support via a €15,000 grant. Emulithe is doing some of the fitting out and sanitation work, while Jean-Jérôme, as sponsor, is helping the director with administrative and accounting issues.

Blooming in the city

Today, the small lush green space shines in the middle of the buildings: 46 gardeners share as many plots to grow organic fruits and vegetables. Resident of the neighbourhood for 15 years, Cosette grabs every opportunity to spend time on her ‘sliver of land’: ‘I dreamed of having some land. Now, after work, rather than staying stuck inside at home, I head to my garden.’ The neighbourhood will soon get its second wind. ‘Before, we barely said “hello”’, confirms Véronique, another gardener. ‘Now, we talk, organize barbeques. People walking by ask us questions, take an interest. And, a view overlooking flowers must relax residents.' For Jean-Jérôme as well, the experience is rewarding. On the personal level for ‘the satisfaction of having added a small stone to the social edifice of our society’ he says humbly. But also for staff motivation: ‘It is good that our company builds partnerships that aren’t purely based on commerce. Employees are glad to participate in these actions.’ Jean-Jérôme can already see himself wanting to help other associations: ‘There is more to be done in the neighbourhoods. Emulithe has forged unique ties with the Aulnay-sous-Bois city hall. I think that this project might lead to others.’ The agency head has no shortage of ideas. Now, all that remains is to plant them.

August 2014 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.