Featured People: CitizensLab Members

Our colleagues Alice Priori and Lisa Schulze at CitizensLab have prepared a series of Facebook posts presenting the new members of the CitizensLab network, which ECF is a partner of. We compiled all these short presentations in this featured people. We're also very happy to see that members from our own programmes like the Idea Camp and Tandem, have also been selected. 

CitizensLab creates the opportunity for local actors of change to create a new European network. The aim is to strengthen and connect active citizens from all sectors that are passionate about their local community. They engage in finding innovative solutions to challenges in their neighbourhoods – be it as volunteers or in their jobs. The first two CitizensLab meetings will take place in Berlin (23 - 26 June 2016) and Brussels (March 2017). The kick-off meeting in Berlin will lay the foundation of a network where active citizens can come together and connect. They will exchange knowledge and learn from their peers to strengthen the quality and impact of their local work. This European network can also serve to increase the influence on decision-making processes and policies on different levels.

Let's start with Alice and Lisa, from CitizensLab: 

"My name is Alice, I'm Italian, my husband is German and we moved to Berlin one year ago after we spent almost 4 years working and living in Palestine. I´ve two little daughters and troublemakers that keep me busy when I´m not at the office! I´m also a dancer and I love contemporary and contact dance, and tango..I´ve been working mainly in topics related to youth and citizen participation processes and decision-making on the local level. I studied Anthropology and I´m passionate to learn and speak any possible language and to experience diverse cultural forms of living and interacting with each other. I´m now responsible for the CitizensLab network at MitOst and I´m so happy and curious to meet all the wonderful people who are coming to Berlin in June 23-26!"

"Hello - I’m Lisa! I am an original Berliner and love to explore the city, discover urban interventions and be surprised by the city’s hidden beauties especially in the outskirts. During university (cultural studies, especially literature) I also got a taste of some Central European cities, spending hours in coffee houses and strolling the streets."

"I'm Tiago. I'm an urban planner, cultural manager and actor/performer, an odd combination of skills and competences gathered along a sinuous but extremely rich path. I'm curious by nature so I'm constantly seeking for knowledge within a broad range of subjects. I'm an observer and a listener. I love the arts and culture in general, nature and the ocean in particular, and the simple pleasures of life. I like to create, read, research, travel, knowing people and other cultures, develop projects, cook, eat and drink."

Check out 4iS - the Platform for Social Innovation he is involved with.

"I'm Ildikó from Budapest, Hungary. I’m a social politician and psychodrama therapist as my graduation. I have been working as trainer and organizational development expert for 25 years. In the past 12 years I have spent many days with community organizing as well as community development and my attention turned to social entrepreneurship as one of the only exit for people living in poor rural area, very often they are Romas. I love my twin daughters, love to talk and be with them as well as travel, read and play handball, I used to be professional in this sport. I am very excited about intercultural issues, like how different people from different cultures can work together, so I am pleased to join you."

Check out the foundation Ildikó is active in: Cromo Alapítvány - Cromo Foundation

"I am a passionate urban change maker. Actually, I worked as event manager for cultural and social events until I got in touch with sustainable trade fairs. I recognised that there is a huge gap between what citizens know about sustainability, how small companies are supported in sustainable development and how local economy, citizens and NGOs unite for local empowerment. So I decided to build a local community for sustainable development with tools and programmes to support a better life."

Check out Lust auf besser leben (passion to live better).

"Hi my name is Gerry and I’m born and bred in Liverpool UK and am old enough to remember the Beatles! I really enjoy working with people who live in the apartments of the city centre and waterfront and trying to raise the profile of quality of life issues. City centre living is fairly new for cities outside London and so is quite challenging for the pioneers!I have worked in South America with very marginalised communities and that experience changed my life. I take every opportunity to practice my Spanish with tourists who come to visit the city! I love good food, craft beer, spending time with friends, going to the cinema and taking part in cultural events. I am passionate about Liverpool the city and Liverpool the football team!"

Check out Engage Liverpool where Gerry is active, and also the ECF R&D granted idea: Liverpool Air Project (also read this interview we did with Idea Maker and R&D grantee Matthew Fox about the project).

"I love question marks rather than fullstops, i believe in if rather then simple present, i am intrigued by thresholds and collect doorsteps: love irony but hate ironing as a personal fight against flatness: for this future facing attitude of making unforeseeable connections and meanings, provoking short-circuits sometimes, i committed my work to arts and creative production. At CAOS and Ternifestival we produce arts and experiences able of engage people emotionally, create new understanding and make transformations happen." 

More on CAOS - Centro arti opificio siri.

"Hi! I’m Angeliki from Athens, Greece. I studied linguistics and modern Greek literature in Athens and Paris, and I currently freelance, providing content management services for print and electronic publications. I live with my husband and our six-year-old daughter in the very same neighborhood I was born and raised in. Since 2011, I’ve been an active member of Kalliga Square Citizens Association, a group of committed volunteers, working persistently to improve the quality of life in a rather challenging district of Athens. When I first heard about CitizensLab I thought «What a great idea!». Getting familiar with its people, content and goals, I’m convinced that it will be of great value to its members and the groups they represent. Looking forward to meeting you all, guys!"

More about the Kalliga Square Citizens Association on Ένωση Πολιτών Πλατείας Καλλιγά

Tunde Adefioye is curious about the world around him. This curiosity has taken him to different lands and allowed him to gain an insight into different worlds: from trekking along the Himalayas to surfing the waters of the Pacific Ocean. He's gained deeper perspectives on how the lives of "womyn" of colour intersect at many different cross roads. A Forrest Gump of sorts (according to some a renaissance person) who has never allowed his oppressions to define him but instead tried to redefine and overcome them. This resilience has also allowed him to create a non-profit in a land where a few years ago he did not speak the language. Now he sits at KVS as a city dramaturg at one of Belgium's revered theatres, thanks to the path breaking work he did at Urban Woorden.

Tunde is also part of one of our Tandem programmes. 

"'How can we introduce storytelling as a performance art as a tool for social expression and change? Why don’t we invite joy to our freedom of expression?' This is the question that brought me here, Citizenslab. I’ve started from the end; my passion. Because I usually don’t like to talk about myself. I’m such a curious person hooked into many areas such as storytelling, writing, photography, dancing, social sciences ,…., …, … (+++ motherhood) Not because I’m multitalented or greedy, but I feel myself more comfortable when I’m experimenting in between the lines. Eagerly waiting to meet you all in Berlin."

More on Komşu Kapisi Maçka Dayanişma Derneği.

"I have a technical background and - surprise - I like Technic, engines, gears, you name it. Also I like off-road, music, travelling. I'm fond of freedom and I do not let things as they are, when it comes to injustice or wrong settlements. That's why I chose to try to change things a little, not only to complain."

More on Civicus Romania

"I work at Radio Popolare, Milano, the most important journalists-owned Italian radio network. My boss is the public: 16.000 listeners who donate 90 euros/year to support "their" radio station. They own my desk, my computer, my chair, the building where I work: they have bought them for me. They are always welcome for a visit, and they visit often the newsroom. But they never interfere, they never give orders or censor what I write or say. Sometimes they bring presents: apple pies, chocolate, tiramisù... But the most important gift is the freedom that - together with my colleagues - I can enjoy."

More on Radio Popolare

"I am Co-founder of Eutropian, work on urban regeneration processes that use existing resources and connect community groups with public administrations and innovative businesses. Passionate for cities and the people who form them, I share my time between Rome, Vienna and Budapest, combining the best of these worlds, and trying to change the worst."

"Hello! My name is Eleni and I am a lawyer by profession. I am an elected member and President of the local board of the 6th Municipality of Athens where I have lived all my life. I am interested in politics for the benefit of all residents. Our district comprises of many cultures and I believe in cooperation and collaboration together with all residents of my district. My passion is to encourage and empower the residents to understand each other, to participate and work on solutions to their everyday problems. I am very excited to be part of the CitizensLab network because I want to assist my residents to shape the society they want to live-in."

More on City of Athens

"I am Melina, born, raised and living in Athens. I am still a student, in postgraduate level: I am doing a Master's named 'Gender, society and politics'. At the same time, I am working with an NGO called Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality and Diversity. I live with my dog and I spend most of my time either on long walks with her by my side, going around the city with my bike, travelling, or discussing with my friends over chilled beers."

More on Generation 2.0´s website


"I'm Gazsi from Budapest, a co-founder of blocal.co, the first local online social network platform in Hungary. I studied engineering and business, I worked in different industries but all the time I had the feeling that I have to make something more valuable. Before that I was involved in different projects from physical theatre through guerrilla gardening to video projects. I've seen, how big affect could we make. In 2014 we started to build up a social network for neighbours to support them building local communities with trust and help them reducing waste by sharing. I believe in the power of the communities and i know we can change our word with proactive attitude."

More on Miutcánk.hu and Blocal

"I'm Ed. I develop multi-disciplinary art projects with people at the edge of society, like drugs abusers and prisoners. In most of my projects I approach the arts also as a tool for non-formal learning. My ambition is to help my target group to develop basic skills. Co-creation and teamwork are essential elements in all my projects."

More on Chances and Changes

"The trust in the power of the “challenging environment” to be an incubator for unique social innovations that enhance the quality of human relations is the air that I breathe and the water that I swim in. I’m probably addicted to the radical thesis that the course of our human evolution depends on unleashing our creative potential as societies, organisations and individuals. And this is why now is the exact time to redefine visions of our future.And it`s urgent. I work as a “catalyst” and a „fuel” for small ideas and imaginative people with extraordinary potential for social change. I’m a strategic communicator by profession, an enabler of shared visions, lecturer, trainer, blogger and traveler. Co-founder of Ideas Factory and its director at the moment as well as Changemakers Academy, Social Innovation Challenge and Granny residence. In my pocket I always wear a red clown nose."

More on ideasfactorybg.org

"I'm Sven. I am a co founder of Open State, an organisation which pioneers, fosters, and scales the tools for a liveable society and thriving economy beyond consumerism. I´ve been working as an organisational developer, systemic process consultant and communications expert in different settings, until recently and over the course of four years at the BMW Foundation. I am a philosopher and economist by education, and later pursued a master`s programme with foci on sustainability science and social innovation. In an earlier life I worked at a bank and accidentally studied the flaws of our financial system. I also run an internet startup during high school."

More on www.roc21.openstate.cc

"I am Argyro Barata and I hold a track record of planning and coordinating cultural projects with national reach for independent artists, institutions and major Greek festivals for the last 15 years. I am passionate about upgrading the creative class, transforming the Greek cultural ecosystem and looking for new collaborative working methods. Shaping a new social mentality towards citizens' active participation to support local creativity is the reason why I founded FEAST Greece, a start-up that fosters cultural entrepreneurship and the arts with offline crowdfunding events."

More info on the website

"Back in 2010 some friends and me transformed part of an old prison in Leeuwarden into a music venue: Podium Asteriks. It’s a music location with a focus on new talent, something that was desperately missing in this city. From this location multiple festivals were created, like Welcome to The Village, a festival where young entrepreneurs and other like-minded people join forces to tackle urban issues with culture, ecology and innovation. It’s what helped build the idea to nominate Leeuwarden as European Capital of Culture 2018. Many politicians, journalists and civil servants didn’t have high hopes, but together with some like-minded journalists, entrepreneurs and creatives we saw opportunities. We really hacked this project and in 2012, we were allowed to write the first bidbook with our plans to compete for the title. With a positive outcome, because Leeuwarden won and now we are the European Capital of Culture in 2018. The programme is all about new approaches to face the urban challenges including the relationship between city and countryside, strengthening the economic climate in a sustainable way, and diversity. With a programme developed in close cooperation with citizens -more than 900 projects were subscribed-, our team is engaging them to think about the future and to think of solutions for urban challenges. I really believe in the power of art and culture as a catalyst to bring people together." 

"I'm David. I'm a restless inhabitant, architect and co-founder of Straddle3, a multidisciplinary collective mostly working with grass-roots organisations. I am also an active member of Arquitecturas Colectivas network. I love radical participation, self-building, ecology, popular culture, free software, mediterranean food and I have a particular weakness for music, being a DJ and the father of a future rock star."

More on straddle3.net 

Photo by Carolina Frusca

Photo by Carolina Frusca

"I'm Francesco Saija and I'm a Phd in Political Philosophy. My parents come from the opposite sides of Italy, Sicily and Lombardy, and, after a life split in both this place, I decided to live in the south where I run a seasonal Hotel in the Aeolian Islands. Live in the south is a precise choice: beyond the beauty you have to accept the compromises that this land brings necessarily without losing the will to engage yourself for changing the rules. I started alone with a theoretical approach that brought me the awareness to share my purpose with others. With this group, named Parliament Watch Italia, we have grown up together mostly with voluntary effort, starting from our town, willing to spread the culture of transparency and openness in local governments. Since then a lot of people gave us a hand, and we thank everyone as we thank CitizenLab for connecting us with others who share this spirit."

More on Parliament Watch Italia

"I'm Elina. I am a journalist based in Athens, but I travel a lot in Europe because I do European journalism. What does that means: I have a near pathological interest for the future of the news business and European coverage. But what I see around me is not enough; we do not learn enough about the other european societies. We do learn about their political heads but not about their societies. So I want to change that. I work with technology, I drink a lot of green tea and I like to wake up at 5.00 o'clock every morning. I miss a lot contact with nature but I have chosen to learn about this world through my work."

More on Oikomedia

Elina is also part of our Tandem Europe programme this year. 

"Hi, I am Martin, a French now living in Berlin. I have been working in international non-profits for years, supporting first the organic movement and later fundraising for campaigns on climate and social justice. I am passionate about people organising at every level to fight for their fundamental rights and to challenge systems that create inequalities, exclusion and poverty. I am particularly keen to exchange with local, national and transnational groups and learn about their ideas and their approaches to organise their community towards achieving their goals. For that, I believe in the power of both informal and formal learning and exchanging, and I am convinced that intensive discussions and debates should be mixed with activities such as walking, cooking, gardening and crafting. I am now working for European Alternatives, a transnational network of activists and citizens fighting for more democracy, equality and culture beyond nation states, and I look forward to building cooperations for mutual support at the CitizensLab."

"I'm Jekaterina. I'm a Vilnius-based urban artist, researcher and educator in Urban Studies. I am a co-founder of the NGO „Laimikis.lt“ that serves as interdisciplinary platform for participatory arts, research and non-formal learning. As an assoc.prof. at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University I teach courses in Urban Studies and together with my students I run and curate the annual week for urban interventions "priARTink" (pARTincipate!). I currently work on inclusive cultural regeneration of the wooden Šnipiškės neighbourhood. In my practice I implement arts-based research approaches and focus on the issues of urban perception, temporal urban solidarities and cooperation, usability and regeneration of public spaces." 

More on Laimikis.lt. Jekaterina is one of our Idea Camp R&D grantees.   

"I'm Magdalena. I live in Upper Silesia in Poland, in a region that has a rich, wonderful history. This is the resource me and my friends from Genius Loci Association draw from. We care about the cultural heritage and use it as a medium for bringing people together and involving them in civic engagement. I am also a trainer of civic education, a passionate organizer of human libraries, an a mom of a little daughter. I am very excited about the concept of CitizensLab, impressed by the diversity of profiles that have already been posted on FB and I am very much looking forward to meeting you in Berlin."

More on Genius Loci

"I'm Nick. I run the Creative Engagement department at Arcola Theatre, one of the UK's leading off-west end venues, housed in a converted warehouse in Dalston, East London. This means finding creative, thought provoking and new ways to use the power of theatre to influence the world around us. I run youth theatre, schools and community theatre programmes, as well as talent development strands, all of which aim to find and nurture the artists and audience of tomorrow. We believe that theatre has the power to drive radical change, and are also the world's first Carbon Neutral Theatre!"

"I'm Cristian. I have studied Philosophy and History of Art. I am interested in cultural management and implementation of the creative and cultural industries' policies. I am currently involved in an extraordinary project concerning the creative community of Alba Iulia, a very beautiful and old city of Romania. Giving this unique conjuncture, I'm trying to find ways to connect the innovative with the past. This is one of Europe's greatest ideas. Do we have the power to assume the exigency of this reality?"

"I am Lilian. I am from Germany and I am married to a Bulgarian. We have two girls (age 8 and 16) who still continue to make me see life in new ways. I like to travel and to see places for the first time. I like to meet and get to know people and I find it truly amazing in what ways we are different and what we share. I really love to be able to spend time without a fixed schedule and to “get lost” in whatever story a place or a person has to tell." 

More on www.effe-eu.org

"Hey there, I’m Linda. I’m Finnish/German and currently live in Sweden where I’m finishing my university studies. I have the skill of enjoying life; I am passionate about dancing and cooking, and curious about the people and the world around me. I have a background within peace and conflict studies, and the more I get to know about the field, the more I realise how important civil society and local communities are. They are real change makers! Looking forward to meeting you or hearing from you!"

More on FutureLab Europe

"Hello my name is Ebru. I work at Anadolu University, Performing Arts Department in Eskişehir, Turkey. Although my basic education and training is in Acting, I am an expert on “Theatre of the Oppressed Methods” (TO). During my Ph.D., I have worked with Augusto Boal, the creator of the method and learned every single method under the arsenal of Theatre of the Oppressed from A. Boal himself. Besides my teaching at the University, I use TO methods in my field work such as oppressions about women, prisoners, police, young people, child brides, relative marriages etc. I am the founding member of CTO-Turkey (Center for Theatre of the Oppressed-Turkey). Since 2010, I have been also working on art in public space with specific focus on Street Theatre. I am also founding member of EFETSA (European Federation for Education and Training in Street Arts) which was established in 2015. Theatre of the Oppressed methods have been a great tool to create dialogue in the society and to activate silenced people to have their say. Although I haven’t been able help create macro changes in my society, I have been somehow effective and successful in helping create micro changes in people individually and in the groups of people I have been working with. Looking forward to the kick of meeting in Berlin."

"I’m Pavlina – economist, Bulgarian by place of birth and citizen of the world by soul. I’m tireless to discover different people, situations, areas and places, my children, friends, everyday life. Challenging myself as well as fascinating people around me in community activities, which the surrounding world calls adventures, is what i am in love with. Vibrant village foundation is my last initiative and excitement. 30 people from different Bulgarian places and areas of expertise develop this meant to become a good practice of community interaction, which can be easily transferred to other small communities, with emphasis on those endangered by depopulation. We have the will to re-awake Bulgarian village – the “sleeping beauty" of sustainable development. It will be a great pleasure to meet you all!"