Europie Festival-Forum Toulouse, France, 23-25 August 2013

October 11, 2013

Rosie Waygood, Sarah Dreyfus and Princess Ugaka

The festival-forum was introduced as follows:

Europie is an event that carries the message of solidarity, engagement in civil society, and youth empowerment. All over the world the youth are becoming more visible, from the Arab Spring to the Indignados movement, from Occupy Wall Street to the protests of the Chilean students. The youth have the potential to be a strong force in society. For a couple of days, we will come together in a self-managed space where workshops, theatre and debates will take place, as well as concerts, informal discussions and collective cooking.

What we expected:

We imagined Europie to be a more left-wing, activist-led gathering that was aimed at creating a more united youth movement in Europe and beyond. Although we were not sure how we would fit into this political picture, we hoped we would offer a holistic approach to problem solving and creating change.

What we discovered:

The event was less about being politically active and protesting and more about sharing innovative ideas. The strength of the gathering lay in the diversity of the organisations represented. There was ‘Inspire & Engage’, a British organisation aimed at social entrepreneurship, Les Petits Débrouillards who had an academic grounding and were espousing more accessible science lessons in French schools, and Hoolahoop Berlin who were touring Germany with a thought-provoking theatre piece on the limitations (and liberation from) our inner and outer ‘walls’. It was a fertile ground for inspiring each other and seeing how our generation was trying to impact local as well as national changes. Countries that were represented included: Romania, Bulgaria, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Italy, Slovenia, Tunisia and Nigeria.

What we, as COE representatives, contributed:

We had a chance to run a workshop that would allow us to give a taster of the Connect and Reflect models that are in the COE handbook. There was a keen interest thanks to the opportunity of introducing COE to the group of ~60 volunteers on the first day. The workshop structure included various activities: a warm-up game and some yoga to ground us in our bodies, a discussion on some thought-provoking questions to engage the mind, and a guided meditation to connect us with the spirit within ourselves and our natural surroundings. The feedback was very positive and we were glad to see that the body-mind-spirit elements had allowed the participants to re-enter the festival forum feeling revitalised, pensive and grounded.

What emerged from the Festiforum:

All in all, a harmonious, caring and integrative environment was created with nourishing food and a village of workshop tents. In the evening we had a huge circus tent that had local bands give amazing concerts, which attracted many people from Toulouse and its surrounding area. Also, thanks to an EU grant, we as volunteers who had constructed and deconstructed the site were able to participate free of charge, which made the event so accessible. The next steps are being concretised through regular Skype calls, in which volunteers and organisers are planning more events to maintain the connections and attract more people for future co-creation. If you are interested in joining any of these events, please contact us!

- Rosie & Sarah

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