So my exploration of the possible alternative futures emerging from youth living in this crisis across Europe begins with a journey overseas.
For the next three months I will be living in a city within Portugal, Spain and Greece respectively. The aim in each city will be to map the network of groups and individuals, communities and movements within the city, to see how they are connected, to understand their context and to find the spaces where dissent and creation are surfacing.
I am hoping to gather and collect people’s stories, experiences and struggles. To find out about their life situation and how the crisis is affecting them, how they are coping, how their relationship to work and the world is changing, and ultimately what space for change they can see.
The reason I have chosen Portugal, Spain and Greece as the places to begin my research, is because it is here where the crisis has hit the hardest, where youth unemployment is the highest, where people are experiencing the most brutal side of capitalism. I personally think that as we can no longer continue to live in a system based upon infinite growth, as we exist on a planet with finite resources, and therefore that this is only the beginning of a crisis that will get much worse, across all of Europe. For me this means it is very important to be learning from others experiences, to better inform ourselves to cope with what is coming, and further to create positive new ways solutions out of it.
I was recently at a talk put on by Occupied London, a collective that have created a blog to give updates on the Greek crisis, from the people involved on resistance in the streets, in English. One story and message from the talk stands out strongly in my mind. A man who had just been in Greece for the past few months was talking about community’s resistance to their electricity being cut off in the middle of a freezing winter when they couldn’t pay their bills. It had started with a letter to the mayor, and quickly progressed to an occupation of the companies headquarters as well as people blockading homes to stop cuts offs, and skills shares on how to self connect to the grid. In this instance the community had come together to ensure their basic needs came before the profit of the company. However in other areas, this had led to stealing and fighting, to divides between the haves and the have nots and to a weakening of the movement through betrayals from members of the community to the company. It is important to remember he said, that in times of crisis it can go either way, communities can be brought together, connections strengthened, their power realised, positive solutions emerge. Or it can tear them apart, lead to competition, violence, destruction and fear. It is important you learn from us, so you can decide and help shape which of the two realities you want to see emerge from your crisis.
This is why I am making the first steps of my research, my investigation, my action within these countries. To learn from people’s successes and failures, from their trials and tribulations, to see how to best facilitate emergence of new and positive solutions to youth unemployment in the UK, before the right take over with their destructive and competitive rhetoric and fear mongering.
I am excited about the lessons to be learned, the people I will meet, the stories of inspiration and despair, the possibility of sharing and bringing back what I have learnt to conversations and projects in the UK, and the possibility of becoming part of a new network of European youth that are acting in solidarity with one another to create the future we know is possible.
I will be updating this regularly with stories, experiences, reflections and analysis along the way.Please share your thoughts and feeling on them as and when.