Global Voices – Tomislav Jovanovski from Southeast Europe

[This text is part of a series of essays that were sent to us by young writers from across the globe on how they see Europe and its future. More essays will be published over time.]

[I want] to point out that we are [a] sustainable and natural part of EUROPE and that is [my] standing point to start with. SEE (Southeast Europe) as [a] region has political ties [with Europe] (some countries are EU/NATO member states, some are heading in that direction), as well as economic relations [that show] which countries in the world are [the] biggest importers of the goods and services that are manufactured by factories placed in SEE. [T]he answers is: [the] most developed countries [in the EU].

Furthermore, [many examples show] that we are culturally connected. All together, we can contribute to the process of EUROPEAN INTEGRATION, [to a] EUROPE based on differences, but also [to a] modern EUROPE [that sets an example by showing] how countries can [take] part [in a] reconciliation process and [be] driving force[s] of joint political and economic projects for [a] better future: [a future] where ideas, [the] movement of people, and trade (including services) are based on certain legal rules and requirements [that are] fair and equal for all, for states, for companies, for individuals…

It is fairly [clear] that [the EU’s] model of integration can be [seen] as [an] exampl[e of] where [the] SEE [is] head[ing] in [the] near and distant future (30 years?), [and how it is getting there. (Even though this model cannot just be “copy-pasted”.)] [W]ith our values ([which are] based on [our] traditional role in the past) [the] SEE can contribute to the bigger picture: [The SEE can contribute to a] EUROPE [that stretches] from [the] Atlantic (Portugal) to [the] Ural[s] and beyond. [It can help make the EU have a] greater role in the geo-spatial concept of Eurasia.

SEE has to [be] embedded [in] the democratic norms [of the] developed countries [of] the [W]est. [It has] to cooperate with its European neighbors in [the northern] and central regions of the continent. [It must] implement [the] best practices when it [comes to] human rights and gender- and minority issues. [And it has] to further improve its [ways of dealing with] reform-judicial and eco-social aspects of [the] daily li[fe] of [its] citizens. [There is a p]otential in terms of resources here, [except for when it comes to] the most precious resource: human capital. [P]eople come and go all [over] Europe. [I]t is [an] open space without borders, but SEE politicians, as well [as communities], should [generally] take in[to] consideration that if SEE wants to play [a] comprehensive and relevant role in the theatre called “EUROPE”, [they] should deliver results and display alternative[s] (economical, cultural and visionary) to [the] people that are willing to [let Europe stretch] further than SEE. [They] should foster [the] inclusion of minorities [and a] greater cooperation within the community, and [they should create] clear perspective[s] for [the] youth. [They should get young people involved in] SMEs [(small and medium-sized enterprises), which create] business opportunities and social entrepreneur[ship]. [This] is the future not only for SEE as [a] region, but [for all of] Europe.

SEE has its advantages. [It might] be threatened by certain historical legacies, but in the past [it has also] been seen as a gate toward[s the W]est ([opening up towards] external influences). A gate that [is] now open [as well as] displaced. [Through] civil societ[y], SEE has [the opportunity] to be[come a] relevant stakeholder in the process of defining EUROPE (and [the] EU as [a] supranational [institution] or [a] club of Nation member states). Furthermore, with [the] advance[d] technological evolution, [it could become a relevant stakeholder] in the project of globalization.

Is [this] difficult? No, BUT it [takes] courage and political will, as well [as] experience, charisma and [a] vision for the future: [More specifically, a vision of] our joint future.

“CULTURE IS EVERYTHING” – Gerstner

Tomislav Jovanovski from Southeast Europe

23/6 2017

[edits: Louise Roesen Abildgaard]

 

Global Voices – Anastasiya Blazhko from Ukraine

[This text is part of a series of essays that were sent to us by young writers from across the globe on how they see Europe and its future. More essays will be published over time.]

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth” -Baha’u’llah

      If [a] human being completely unfamiliar with world history looked at the way Europe is functioning today he would probably be more than a little confused. How could it happen that [in] such a small territory, so many unique, independent nationalities somehow appeared? And with worldviews and traditions that are so different from each other, how were they able to unite under one flag in the name of peace and Human Rights protection?

I grew up in the country that has the most controversial position in the European arena. Ukraine is often [referred to as] the bridge between the European world and the post-Soviet states. Our country has been trying to create a new vision of Ukraine in order to bring back the values of our European past and transform the “not-so-great” experience we had with [the] communist government. Not having a clear vision of the future we want to live in is the main problem of the people of our nation. Most of them, especially elderly people, are still living in the past, forgetting the present.

In 2014 during the Revolution of Dignity, the people of our nation finally decided whether they wanted to [be] a Western border of the post-Soviet community or [to be] one of the European nations. This year I [got] the chance to study at the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, a project that [aims] at creating a new generation of leaders who will be able to bring our country to a whole new level of development and [improve the] quality of human life. The main idea of this project is that every choice you make should be supported by the values you believe in. And I guess [that] is my main point here: We can only talk about our future in 30 years, if we believe that we will be able to get there.

I don’t believe that in our globalized world we can talk about [the] scenarios of different countries separately. For the past 50 years, thanks to the invention of television and the internet, we became so united that we [now] move forward as one organism. [This] means that it’s up to each one of us [to decide] how our countries are going to communicate in the future.

The main challenge [that the] European community [is facing] today is finding the balance between democratic and traditional values. Changes can often seem scary, especially for us Europeans, who tend to be conservative about certain things. If it is accepted by people that [global] issues are not just [a certain] “world’s” concerns anymore we will be able to move to the next step of human progress. [For some reason] the natural greediness and the non-acceptance of people with other religious beliefs [result in the creation of] a great war on our way there.

Even though Europe [as a whole] was built [upon] Christian values it can’t stay [purely] Christian anymore. We can’t just close our eyes on the events that are happening outside [of] Europe.

I dream to see [a] future [version of] Europe [which is a] union of countries that focus[ses] first of all on [the] human itself [and] that put[s] all stereotypes [in] the far background. It is easy to shut yourself in your house not seeing the fire at your neighbor’s house but we shouldn’t forget that fire tend[s] to spread really fast. Only together Europe can be strong. Our open hearts should be [the] main weapon to defeat our main enemy: Indifference.
I want to finish with a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “We hope to see a Europe where men of every country will think of being a European as of belonging to their native land, and…wherever they go in this wide domain…will truly feel, ‘Here I am at home.”

Anastasiya Blazhko from Ukraine

20/4 2017

[edits: Louise Roesen Abildgaard]

Global Voices – Sarah AL Jabri El Jahmi from Sana’a Yemen

[This text is part of a series of essays that were sent to us by young writers from across the globe on how they see Europe and its future. More essays will be published over time.]

I want to say I am very happy to write about an important subject like this, especially as an outsider.

We hear and see a lot these days about terrorism and increasing [numbers of] terrorists, also about the explosions that shake the security and stability in a lot of countries whether Arabic or foreign.

I’m not from Europe and I do not live in it but I want Europe to become within the next 30 years a unified country that includes every nationality and does not divide [anyone from anyone among] the people – a unified country against any radicalism and terrorism and [want it to] be a great example for other counties, defend the oppressed and take their rights from the unjust.

The racism rising in Europe shapes and the Arab, Muslim, Sinti/Roma and black [communities] in Europe by causing assault, violations, and hatred towards them.

I want Europe in the next 30 years [to be] empty from the racism and work on a clear strategy and cooperation strategy with Sinti/Roma and Muslims, come together with them and not intimidate people from the Islamic religion.

We also need to improve the awareness in media and [school] curricula. Racism leads to nothing except the violence and hatred. Most important of all is to build up and educate the new generation so that all the people are equal and all of them are brothers with no difference between them.

I want Europe in the next 30 years [to be a] country of justice and equality, a country that seeks to spread peace in the world, a prosperous country in every field –  a country that makes everyone who hears about it say how much they wish they were from Europe that great country.

Sarah AL Jabri El Jahmi from Sana’a Yemen
20/4/2017

[edits: Moritz Borchardt]

The future of transportation

Narrative 2 – Copenhagen Edition

At our Copenhagen workshop, global warming and pollution were brought up as some of the major issues that we have to find solutions for in the future. So one group sat down to discuss it.

While acknowledging that there are numerous sources of pollution that need to be dealt with (agriculture for one), the group decided to mainly focus on means of transportation.

One Globe

The group envisioned a future where people are even more connected than they are today, so they named their fictional newspaper “One Globe”. In the future, knowledge about sustainability should be shared more efficiently across borders. Besides, it should be even easier to travel between different countries, experience different cultures and learn from them. This is necessary in order to overcome today’s dangerous tendencies of fearing the “other”, to turn this fear into knowledge, and to create a sense of global solidarity.

But while the benefits of increased connectivity were clear to the group, there seemed to be a backside to the story: While increased connectivity might result in increased openmindedness, cultural understanding etc., wouldn’t increased travelling also surely result in more pollution?

How to be more connected while reducing pollution

Air travel has become the easiest and cheapest means of transportation within Europe – but travelling by train is less pollutive. The fictional newspaper therefore announced the happy event of the very last polluting airplane taking off! Unless that means we found a way to create non-polluting airplanes, it means aviation has been replaced by the less-polluting transportation by train.

In order for trains to become the main means of transportation in the future, the group envisioned two new inventions:

Firstly, apart from having developed less pollutive trains, we will have developed trains that can travel underground at the speed of light!

Secondly, we will have created an efficient Pan-European railway system! By implementing a system that works at the same (high) standard all over Europe, travelling becomes easier and an equal option for all Europeans.

 

 

Remembrance – in a not so distant future!

Narrative 1 – Copenhagen Edition

During our Copenhagen workshop in June, one group discussed the importance of remembrance in the future: How might we remember and learn from the terrible capacities of humankind better than we do now?

The discussions went far and above and resulted in a two-page fictional newspaper called “Diversity Daily”. The ideas for solutions that the group came up with turned out to be more graspable and realistic than what could have been expected!  “Diversity Daily” presented the following ideas:

A new way of recounting history: the untold stories

In order to avoid forgetting and neglecting parts of history, the group discussed how a new form of recounting history is needed.

One of the fictional articles announced the opening of a New Museum of European History. The national museums of all countries lay out slightly different versions of history, because the telling of history is connected to national identity. An European Museum already exists in Brussels, but the idea of the group was not to have a museum about European institutions etc. This new museum should not only convey the common European values, but instead mainly focus on the different perspectives that one can have. It should tell a story – using the latest museological inventions in visuals, interactiveness etc. – but still clearly state that it is aware of doing so. It should not attempt to convey an absolute truth.

The museum should focus on narratives and real life stories from all over Europe. The importance of this is also what the fictional article “My grandfather was a fireman during WW2” tries to point out. Maybe even a regular man doing his regular job during WW2 could reveal some interesting knowledge!

Researching and sharing knowledge

Many of the fictional articles of “Diversity Daily” underline the importance of constantly attempting to gain new knowledge as well as the importance of sharing this knowledge.

Pointing towards things that are already currently happening, the newspaper mentions several initiatives, which should be sustained and even more widespread in order to avoid forgetting/neglecting: student-teacher exchanges, new ground breaking studies and conferences for students, academics and interest groups from several European nations (e.g. meeting to discuss different cases of persecution and genocide).

In the future, new technology should support this purpose, and who knows what kind of possibilites might exist then? As an example the group presented this idea: “New Open Acess Lexicon of World History published by historians from all over Europe includes free downloadable app that tells histories of Europe’s regions – with interactive map!”

Pan-European Memory Day

The final idea of the group was this: Having a pan-European memory day for victims of persecution and genocide. The immense effect that tradition with its wide net of symbols, songs etc. can have, should not be undermined. By celebrating a onesided version of history, you end up forgetting things that do not fit into the story. But that does not mean that telling a story in general is wrong (or even avoidable). The important thing is what we choose to commemorate. Commemorating the victims of persecution and genocide collectively all over Europe might be an effective way to make people feel more connected. And of course to make them remember and learn from the horrors of history.

Futures of Europe – the International Perspective

On Saturday, July 15th, we had a Futures of Europe ‘first’, as one of our initiators, Moritz Borchardt, was able to integrate our established one-day format into the program of an international youth exchange.

The project “Show me a Future – Pop-Culture, European Values and the Future we want to Create” was originally submitted as part of his application for FutureLab Europe, so it was only fitting that the Futures of Europe format could now be used to kick-start the youth exchange.

Co-funded by the European Commission and the Thuringian Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports, and implemented for Culture Goes Europe, the exchange brought together 25 young adults from France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain for one week in Mühlhausen, Germany.

Taking place on the second day of the project, the participants first discussed the most pressing issues in Europe today, only then to be split up into three equally sized groups. In those sub-groups, they were then led by facilitators in developing their ideas for the best possible futures they had always wanted to live in.

 

Invigorated by coffee and snacks, the groups then tackled the task of creating headlines from those idealized futures and – using a variety of methods – a total of five different narratives was created, focussing on topics such as peace and security, public health, social equality, planetary exploration and the quality of life at large.

We are very happy that we could include Futures of Europe into this event and showcase its use both as stand-alone activity as shown in Cologne and Copenhagen and in concert with similarly-aimed longer-form formats.

Stay tuned for more!

Recap: Futures of Europe – The Copenhagen Perspective

The second installment of our Futures of Europe workshop is a wrap – with a wonderful, open minded, and fun session in Copenhagen, Denmark.

We spent the day with at the Litteraturhuset ved Vandkunsten, a beautiful, cozy place in the heart of the city where we were joined by locals, friends, and students to once again discuss the question “What Europe would we want to live in?”. After a short welcome and introduction, we kicked things off with sharing what Europe means to us. The results were big headlines such as:

  • Media, populism, and information
  • Cultural Diversity, from solidarity to Us vs. Them
  • Political Institutions, transparency, and trust
  • Economic integration and business opportunities
  • Free travel and movement
  • Forgetting and remembering a shared history
  • Security, conflicts, and terror
  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Collaborative projects and European undertakings, from Eurovision to the European Space Agency

How might we…?

We then picked some of them to explore further and – after more discussions – decided to frame three central questions to follow up with throughout the day:

  1. How can Europe play a role in preserving the environment?
  2. How could we use economic integration to increase solidarity in Europe?
  3. How might we remember and learn from the terrible capacities of humankind?

And as challenging as they were, we eventually dared to propose hopeful, utopian, fantastic, and desirable projects and solutions that we imagine may be answers to those questions. Just like in our first workshop, we finished our workshop with crafting „Good news from the Future“ – with three fictional newspapers from different scenarios, that report on the then-implemented projects, and initiatives. We will share a more detailed look on these narratives soon and describe how they explored the questions of diversity, sustainability, and collective remembrance.

Copenhagen marked another great step on our path to explore desirables futures for Europe and beyond. We are still collecting, editing all the other ideas and perspectives that we get sent in written form by people from all over the world (more on that soon), before we head to Brussels once again in September, to present the results and potential follow-ups of this initiative to the good folks at FutureLab Europe, who made this project possible.

Stay tuned for more updates and stories!

A future of Shared Communites and Life-Long-Learning

Narrative 4 – Cologne Workshop

In our Cologne workshop we also developed a perspective on a potential futures, that was highly focused on the relations between us – generations, neighbors, families. It doubled down on sical realities and education with two corse claims that were laid out in the form of two Headlines:

1. End of Retirement Homes

Envisioning a future of an „integrated multi-generational“ city, it spoke of the very last single compound building being torn down. Instead, the citizens of Cologne has decided to go for a holistic approach of families, where younger and older generations naturally live together. By helping in other out and working together on all things family, financials, house hold, and friendship, the citizens of this future Cologne revived the spirit of the village community – in light of a globalized and interconnected world. The new normal in the future is a shared understanding of community, where loneliness for the elderly is just as much overcome as detached search for identity and social frames is for the young generation. The city’s architecture allows for this by providing housings that cater to diverse requirements of its tenants – from private and personal spaces, to shared gardens and community rooftops!

2. End of stupidity

In the same vein but with a different focus goes the second headline of coming out of this future: The „End of Stupidity“ is a concerted effort by all EU-Cities, that implemented Life-Long-Learning Institutions for everyone. „By opening the University of La Lienvenida now every EU citizen hass access to regional Life-Long-Learning Institutions“. Putting curiosity and learning center, now only for the youth, but every phase of the human life, the EU in this future implemented free, always available education systems for all its citizens. Labor standards and social systems have been adopted to allow for this academic society to strive – and in fact in turned out, that economic returns of well-educated and reflective people well exceed those of past EU societies. The opening of the University La Bienvenida made regional education, even in the periphery, 100% complete.

Free Movement 2.0

Narrative 3 – Cologne Edition

This future scenario took the idea of free movement a proper step further. Coming from today’s observation, that free movement within the EU might be possible in theory, but few having the resources to actually move, they flipped the idea atop: The head line reads „Nuremberg is a coastal city now!“ – the idea behind it: what if moving apartments, cities, countries was 100% free? What if every citizen could choose where to live, regardless of economic constraints? If you could move everywhere you would like to like – not just for a short term holiday, but as long as you wish? The paper accordingly paints this picture, with Nuremberg as the first European city to move collectively to the sea, opening up the question of what makes for a city? It’s buildings and infrastructure – or its citizens?

As it turns out 100% free movement also has its impact on personal live – with an elderly couple that shares 60 relocations together, having not only traveled, but lived all over Europe. Again, we discussed what this would do to European identities? Imagine every European could live in all Europe, making the continent truly accessible for everyone.

Thirdly, EU funded movements made actually holidays almost obsolete. Since people could just live their lives wherever they pleased, the need for „escaping grim everyday life“ almost vanished – as clearly stated in a prominent graph. What if our live could be feeling like constantly being and living in the right place. Would the be a good or a bad thing? Would there even be abandoned regions (as the paper shows?) Would that mean another level of democracy – a literal voting with your feet? We wonder..!

Next up: Copenhagen on June 24th!

Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1897282887214637/

Our next event is in Copenhagen on June 24th, and we would love to see you there!

Are you sick of hearing about Trump, Brexit and Le Pen? Are you tired of gloomy visions about the end of democracy, “European values” or even the entire West? So are we!

We find it much more interesting to ask: How would it look if everything turned out fine after all? For us and for the world in general? How could alternatives to these dark visions look?

In this half-day workshop we explore the questions: Which future do we actually want to live in? What do we want for our family, friends, city and Europe in the future? What do we dream about when we think about the day after tomorrow?

Please come join us in developing future visions that encourage reflection and the desire to work together for a better world of tomorrow.

The event will take place in the centre of the city and there will be free snacks and drinks. There is no entrance fee.

Sign up for the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1897282887214637/