Kisses left, kisses right in Spain, sincere hugs in Brussels, MenschBank is welcomed in Europe. And we feel quite home and happy – especially because of FutureLab Europe.
When I (Martin Schneider) came to Brussels in January 2017 with 17 young people from 12 countries in Europe I didn’t expect to leave marks on the European stage. We are united by the passion to serve Europe with our ideas and projects – together. We are initiating improvement in civil society at the age of 18 to 29.
We all have been so grateful to see each other again and really excited about where our projects had lead us. Have been 8 months enough of time? Would all the money of our funding foundations be sufficient? Did we met our expectations or even go beyond?
The first project is ‚Futures of Europe‘. Its team members create an online platform and workshops in Cologne and Copenhagen to listen to European citizens to give them an opportunity to picture their dreams of an unified Europe. All their collected ideas are so incredible valuable and novel to the diversity of Europe policy makers should carefully listen to as well.
Or there is ‚YourThought.eu‘ – All different and all together, which is an online dialog with people all over Europe about which identity we all wish to have as an European citizen, which was visualized in a workshop in Kiev in such a vast richness of details that even highly diverse people could find themselves in it. In my opinion this work contains a great foundation to embrace a common European culture.
Personally impressed I was with ‚Skill Up!‘ –Social Entrepreneur Workshops to empower immigrants and refugees. This team invited immigrants and refugees and young social entrepreneurs to come together in Norway and Greek to establish a basis for newcomers of other countries to get into labor market. When they just showed a video about both workshops and the overwhelmed and happy smile, the iron will to really get active and the gratefulness of participants to contribute to their new home countries I was so moved that I almost started crying.
This I couldn’t stop during the performance of our last project‚Letters to Europe – Female Refugees Telling Their Stories ‘. They did not just collect 14 different female refugee stories from all over Europe and put them into a 500 copies book which is almost already given away. But they also created a theater play based on 2 refugees and their stories, which already got demands by Belgium, Germany, Norway, Spain and others. When we got the chance to talk to both artists about their emotionally charged stories I was not the only one crying.
And what is about our project ‚Bridges – Puentes – Brücken‘? This was introducing a really surprising result. Because compared to the fulfilled expectations and going even beyond of the other projects ours just produced a remarkable insight about social change and engagement generally. Here you can read more about it.
Even though we really enjoyed not just what we had achieved but also the great time we shared with each other it was quite an intense, consumptive and exciting time. In the end we have been driven just by our own motivation to enrich civil society of Europe and used a huge amount of our personal time beside working to contribute to this goal even without payment. We are really grateful we got supported by the foundations association NEF who is covering our expenses. Without them none of our results would have become reality. So this is a very good example to support young citizens to get engaged in shaping Europe.
We are almost done and totally happy about. After we had celebrated we just wanted to do one more thing: Go ahead! What would be necessary to continue our projects in 2018? Well motivation and engagement of young people is not really missing but we are lacking necessary resources. Most of us who got so passionately involved just reminded on something quite important: We have to cover our living costs to really go ahead without struggles.
To go ahead with those projects and to establish a lasting impact we want to invite people, companies, foundations, NGOs and other institutions to unconditionally supply necessary resources. Especially when we talk about young and innovative projects gifted money which is not bound on conditions can exhaust those great ideas completely – which also is the idea of MenschBank gift-investments. We young people have proved what we are able to achieve with little money. Now let us find out what will be possible if money really flows.
Listen to the people and take them serious when it comes to what they actually need is something European politicians can take by heart even more than they are already doing.
Now I want to thank the team around Claire Dhéret and Tania Marocchi a lot for their professional organization, there imperturbable patience, their never exhausted engagement and their kind warmth always taking care of our needs. I am still moved by you and very honored I got this chance.
For another round of FutureLab Europe already 150 young Europeans applied. Not all of them well get participants. And just because we love cooperation over competition we develop a program to support those who have not been chosen to implement their ideas and projects in Europe as well. Because with MenschBank everyone contributing to the common good is getting a second chance.