Thoughts on EuroEnviro by Maxsim Dimitrov

I am going to be honest, I had no major expectations about EuroEnviro. After all if the world-renown experts have not solved the problem, how can a group of 60ish students (even some workers and Ph.D. candidates) is going to unravel the Gordian knot?
Turns out I have been looking on the issue from the wrong perspective.
Turns out that the elusive “global” drive for sustainability starts from the most basic unit – you. Rather than inspiring illusions of grandeur, the symposium focused on building a better you.
60ish people of different ideas, backgrounds, cultures, countries and continents arrived in Gothenburg to be a part of an event. And what an event it was!
All the participants were divided into 3 routes:
Politics – for those who wanted to affect things on global scale, idealists in my mind;
Business – the group I chose, focusing more on individual enterprises, start-ups and interested in the practical grip on things;
University – the other idealistic group, more focused on sharing the teaching of sustainability.
This was the most important choice in the whole event, since it dictated the vector of approach on the project that we were supposed to present in front of a jury and the people I had to team up with.
The days of workshops were intertwined with various sport and cultural activities, which the organizing team had cleverly prepared for us. Everything went buttery-smooth, without any obvious problems from a participant’s view point. Can’t really judge if this was because I was in one of the most orderly countries, or the receiving team had coordinated everything to perfection. I would like to think both were true.
This in the end led to a grand event where every team “pitched” their project to the jury. I cannot speak for others, but I was genuinely excited and slightly scared and nervous to let my team’s finished idea out into the wild (“Don’t waste it, SOIL IT”).
One of the most influential points was the process of designing our idea – as I mentioned to the other participants it went “from zero to hero”. Even if my team didn’t win in our category I felt that I understood the required process of driving a product, or in not-so-capitalist-words, an idea forward and promoting it. This for me is what the sustainability movement needs, proper promotion of its merits and benefits.
Moreover, this was my first visit to Sweden. I felt completely overwhelmed by the country – the vast green nature, the people and the culture. All of it felt different from what I knew – and in the good way.
I could write pages upon pages of daily and overall experiences, but I like to be efficient and to the point.
This even really improved my perspective on how sustainability should be tackled. The event boasted that we should be the actors and catalysts of change, and after having participated in this event I feel like one. I want to spread my experiences of this event to other people, to share what I have been part of. I deem myself lucky having taken part in this happening.

If you would like to get to know what my team worked on, you can find it here:
http://soilit.wix.com/soil-it or on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/soilitorganisation

I hope this left you without any further doubts about participation in the future event. Go out there and improve yourselves.

Written by : Maxsim Dimitrov
RESD Student (UNIBO)

Thoughts on EuroEnviro 2015 by Mariantonietta Gagliardi

My schoolmate Pushkar, who is taking care of this blog with Max and with whom I shared the possibility to take part at the international environmental symposium I am going to talk about, asked me to write down a short overview of our Swedish experience. Well, if I have to talk about my impressions, feelings and emotions about the EuroEnviro Meeting, I would have a lot to say. First of all, for me going back to Sweden awakened all the good memories I treasure from my semester spent in a nice and small Swedish town for a study period. I love Sweden and everything the country offers, including the snow and the cold eheheh!

Let’s talk about it now!

Few months ago our University suggested us to apply for a project called EuroEnviro. After that, I was having a talk with some of my classmates and we decided to send our application request. I took it as a game and I ironically thought “Yeah sure they will choose me”, but the day I received the letter of acceptance I remember I was so excited that I could not believe it. I did not have expectations at all before arriving in Göteborg (where the international meeting took place), because I really did not know what to imagine about this project, but I had the good feeling that something special would have happened. In the exact moment we landed and I saw all that green around me, that peace and calmness, I felt so good. Since we arrived at the hostel and we met the other guys taking part in the Symposium, we already started to be a friendly group. I think we were the right people in the right place at a perfect moment. The first day I did not sleep so much to catch the early flight from Bologna in time. I was super tired, but I tried to enjoy the moments as much as I could since the beginning with the welcome international dinner. The week spent there has been amazing, enriching and unforgettable. All the student members were really open-minded and skilled and we came up with a lot of meaningful ideas. Thanks to this project we have felt that nothing is impossible. All the workshops were so inspiring and the important part was that we the students, with our brains, we were working on ideas and possible solutions to achieve sustainability somehow. We were in touch with the reality and not only with boring and old-fashioned theoretical manuals. However, I really appreciated the high value the presenters of the seminars and the project coordinators have put on our personal thoughts, our insights, our motivation… simply on ourselves as individuals able to break the mould and build something innovative! We were defined as Catalysts of Change. I think everyone needs to feel motivated and if someone is capable of having an interesting project in mind, it is necessary that this idea is analyzed and maybe developed. This is what in the Italian Education System is still missing. The importance of the students. The Italian system is even now anchored to a “hierarchical” division between the professors at the top and the students at the bottom, the poor stupid ones who only have to follow the teachers’ dictatorship. For all these reasons, what I really loved of that experience (and in general of the Swedish system) is the equality principle they preserve and the total absence of hierarchical order: everyone is important, nobody is irreplaceable. I believe humans themselves with their thoughts, their strengths-weaknesses and their abilities come before every other material aspect.

At the end of this experience, each of us has felt motivated and inspired (some of the topic values highly mentioned during the “working-week”), and has found out that a concrete objective in life could be reached through our will. During the seminar about Leadership I truly enjoyed the possibility we have had to know better ourselves and the “guy next to us”. My final consideration about this Symposium Days is that I got really impressed by the power of the brain, when we let it work in the appropriate way and I collected huge amounts of optimism about the future.

Written by: Mariantonietta Gagliardi

RESD Student (UNIBO)

Impression of EuroEnviro 2015 by Simona Colaizzi

Remember I once mentioned that 6 of us went to Göteborg, Sweden. So Simona shared her experience about it. It’s really interesting. Check it out.  We really appreciate and thank her for writing a post.

It’s her second post here at Steamgreen.

My impressions about EuroEnviro2015

EuroEnviro 2015 is a symposium where sixty students from all European countries meet and share ideas and ideals, experiences and dreams. This year I was there and I would like to share with you my impressions, feeling and conclusions about this experience in Sweden during the participation of EuroEnviroment 2015. My intention here is not to give you a summary about all activities we did (see Actor of Change EuroEnviro2015) rather a quick introspection and comments following my experience in this event.

Starting from the assumption that I am a quiet girl that needs time to open up with people, in fact for me the first challenge was face with unknown people that have so many different backgrounds (cultural and study wise). The group was heterogeneous and full of surprises: all different perspectives and points of view allow to come up with a very interesting ideas. All the optimism and the positivity were palpable in the air especially during the initial days.

I also liked the interaction within people and interplay of all activity, aimed to the creation of own project by working in a group in three different arenas. I am not so used to this kind of methodology, it was very engaging and motivating, not only in the creative part but also in the didactic-academic part, although the latter part was mainly focused to generate ideas and about creativity, giving some inspired examples: according to me, the most evocative example was the Green Office, a non-profit organization run by students. Few years ago, they proposed to create a proper university department in order to become a green campus. The first office was located in Netherlands and it was composed by few students. These guys, surprisingly young – they are practically our peers – want to expand their business model around all universities in Europe and involve more and more students, teachers and institutions. I was really impressed by this project because it shows how an idea, starting in a small scale, can increasingly become a reality in a wider context. Moreover, it seems that University of Bologna is laying the groundwork for this project.

The staff of EuroEnviro was super nice and very motivated, despite they were under a huge pressure. They pushed to feel us part of a “big picture” (not at all the subtitle of the event which was “Actors of Change”) and this was exactly what they did.

To conclude, I do not know if all projects that we have elaborated will be possible and feasible but surely it was a great experience that changed a little part of us (at least of me) in order to carry on and become increasingly more sensitive. However, I cannot ignore the voice that tells me that maybe all of these ideas are only part of a beautiful word and will not lead to any conclusion (they will remain only ideas) but what I learned from this experience is that we have to be positive and I want to be optimistic. I do not want to forget this training and to use it when I least expect it. That’s why I wanted, even if briefly, to share with you my opinions because now that I am at home, back to my routine, exams and lectures, I have a great experience in my memory but above all a change in my heart. 

PS: Sorry to be late, but you know, summer exams session!

Written by Simona Colaizzi

RESD Student (Unibo)

Actors of Change – EuroEnviro (Part3)

Day 6th Arenas of Change

Here now is the important thing. We were divided in 12 teams in three different Arenas. The Arenas were University, Business and Politics. These three arenas have a great potential to change the world we live in. It was about how University, Business and Politics can do something so that people are more aware about the sustainability. I was a part of University team. This time around from Solar panel we decided to change our idea and went on to become a Consultancy team called Opti-energy. Our idea was to do analysis in the various universities so that they could become energy efficient. Apparently a university in Austin,Taxes have done something similar and they managed to save 30% of cost of electricity. Our team won among the University ideas. As I have written before all the ideas were brilliant and worth looking into.

Later on we did the Pecha Kucha night. People voluntarily gave presentation on various topics. The concept was simple. 20 Pictures, 20 seconds each. I loved the concept and later on I kind of regretted for not giving a presentation of meat industry.

Day 7th – Challenge day

So finally the challenge day arrived where we needed to ‘Pitch’ out idea. Each team gave brilliant idea within 2 minutes and it was great. It’s kind of fascinating on how people can come up with brilliant ideas on such short notice. Some more ideas included like having a mandatory Sustainable course in the university for all the students or taking away the food which supermarket throw away and make it into a food which can be sold in various Cafe or working together as community in your neighbourhood to be more sustainable. Loved the ideas. I think we all were winners for coming up with these ideas.

Day 8th – Final day

Final day was kind of emotionally heavy since some people were already starting to leave or we all were leaving the next day. The last ceremony included presenting the certificated and people shared their views about the event. We then needed to select one country to host next year’s EuroEnviro and it’s going to be Copenhagen, Denmark. I really can’t wait for it and if you are a part of sustainability or if you wish to be, you really need to attend this event. A MUST ATTEND EVENT.

So in short the event was all about coming up with sustainable ideas and working on it to make it a reality.

Actors of Change – EuroEnviro2015 (Part2)

Day 4 – Changing the mindsets

Day 4 was one of my favourite days of the program. It Included a workshop of Self Leadership, one workshop of ‘How to pitch’ and one documentary called ‘Invisible Revolutions’.

Self Leadership workshop meant to create a self motivated leadership. The instructor spoke about reflection and initiative among other things. We were asked what are our positive characteristics or what we lack to be a leadership. We were asked to talk about some points to any one participant and I felt some people were shaken emotionally when they found some common things between the people. In the end we wrote five points which we need to work on for 2015 year. It felt kind of new year resolutions that you take. I’m always up for it because I feel one should always seek to evolve oneself for further improvement. We also spoke about the awareness. We saw one short video called ‘Whodunnit’. Here is link of the video. It talks about how unaware are we when we just focus on one thing. You should totally check out this video.

Pitch workshop was really interesting. The instructors spoke on how to pitch an idea to people. The pitch should last within 2 minutes. It was really challenging because you really need to be well prepared and sharp to say the most important things at the right time. It’s a business development method called ‘Loopa’. My team which comprised of 5 people from Spain,Holland,Uganda,Mexico and India. We had to pitch in one idea but not as a Pitch yet but as a presentation. We spoke about having a solar panel at home with an app which gives you all the energy usage and where it is exactly being utilised. It felt it was a very cool idea even though not new. There were other ideas too like having ‘Re-bake’ cafe where they take the rejected Muesli and then it turned into Muffins or Cup Cakes or UniGarden where one university will have its own organic garden at the University. It will be run by University students and the vegetables will be sold to the uni Mensa or to the other people. I would say out loud that every idea was brilliant.

Invisible Revolutions is a documentary and as the name suggests there are some revolutions happening around the world where we aren’t aware of it yet. For example in a Briston a city in England has started its own currency. You can check out this documentary. It is very interesting.

Day 5 – Tools of Change

Day 5th was rather easy and relaxed. We had a choice to do either ‘Climbing’ or Acroyoga or Visit the Universeum. I decided to go for ‘Climbing’ and I’m really happy with the decision. It was in a gym and it was around 14 meters high. I really had fun and I am going to do a lot more of climbing soon. Some people went for AcroYoga and they seemed very happy about it too. I believe it was a great decision to organise something like this. Later during the afternoon we went to Universeum to attend a workshop. We again had a choice to attend either ‘Nudging’ or ‘Focus on how’ or ‘Marketing in the new era’ or ‘Teaching about sustainability’.

It was a tough decision to take since I kind of liked everything but eventually I decided to attend ‘Nudging’ workshop. As some of you know, Nudging means

It could be one way to change people’s behaviour. For example one electricity company decided to write on their electricity bill ‘Switch off the light when not in use’. They eventually saved 30% of the electricity. Such a great sustainable strategy.

Later during the evening we went to Sauna near the lake. Let’s not get into the details here.

Actors of Change – EuroEnviro2015 (Part 1)

Day1

So as promised here goes my day to day article about what happened in EuroEnviro, how it was organised and especially we all got together in this symposium. Let me tell you from the beginning that the event was absolute awesome. It was so awesome that it gave a new meaning to awesomeness.

EuroEnviro started 20 years ago in Born, Germany by a group of students. The aim was to exchange opinions with other students on environmental sciences and ecopolitical issues. It has not lasting organisation behind it. Each year it is organised by the students from one particular country. Funny thing is it has never happened in Italy. I really wonder why.

The 1st day was to introduce ourselves to the other participants. It was a long journey and we were all tired but still we were enthusiastic to meet other people. The first night we had an ‘International Dinner’. People from around the world cooked something from their country. I didn’t cook anything because carrying Indian spices meant later my clothes would have smelled like curry.

Well, in India we have curry perfume ( best selling product) but I wouldn’t know how other people would take it(that was my little take on humour and it fell apart). People put in really great effort to make food and it was great. There was some German, Persian, Italian, Swedish food. BEST FOOD EVER. It was a good and relaxed evening at the beginning of the event. We were all really curious about the event.

DAY2

Day 2 began early. One of my favourite thing to do there was to get up early and have breakfast with other people. The breakfast was well served. The funny thing for me was to see some people who would be so quite and look pissed at early morning. I’m pretty sure some people hated me for my continuous jibber jabber at the breakfast table. Day 2 was a Sunday and organisers planned to have an ‘Ice breaker’ games. First it started with treasure hunt like game ( well not exactly) where we were divided in teams and we need to click some pics of the city monuments and make it as a story. It was followed by some games in the park. We had a one hour of improvisational theatre exercises. It was very planned to go around the city so that we are aware of the city and in turn get to know more people around us.

Finally at the dinner, we were told about the event. We met one professor who spoke about the change of people’s mindset and how we are the ‘actors’ who should make the society aware about the sustainability.

Sustainability was the main topic we discussed at length. 60 students got together to come up with ideas about sustainability AND WE NAILED IT.

It was phenomenal that how some ideas were so brilliant and we actually came up with these ideas in less that 6 days. Amazing ideas happen when brilliant minds come together. I am going to discuss more that later on.

Day 3 Actors of Change

I loved the title ‘Actors of change’. It kind of gives you a certain sense of responsibility. The event began with a short video where we saw how we are at the crossroads of hope and despair,on the verge of societal collapse, or heading for a new industrial revolution. Is a ‘Change’ a problem or a solution. Who is going to take a control over it?

It was a good discussion and quite fruitful. From the beginning I could notice that people were very serious about the event and sustainability. It was then followed by an open lecture on ‘Why don’t they care?’ This lecture was meant to show us as how the sustainability is not a challenge but it is a solution. How we can address this to the other people. Honestly, I liked the concept but the way it was presented was too technical and boring. What I liked about this event was how we always were put together to discuss about the problems ( related to climate change), its possible solution and coming up with different ideas.

Later, there was an open panel discussion with people from different sphere of life. The panel include one who represents student union in Sweden, one Swedish politician, one who works in green peace, one advisor who worked closely with few governments related to sustainability and one representing a Swedish bank. They quite openly discussed various problems while facing to bring a change related to climate problems. It was very informative because we got to know how one politician faces a dilemma over to bring in a policy which will reduce carbon emission but on the other hand might reduce the employment. The bank representative spoke on how many companies are starting something related to sustainability and they need funds for that. How we need to work together in order to bring long lasting sustainability.