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The "Summer of Solidarity" – initiative co-created by Natalie Nougayrède

“Summer of Solidarity” is a pop-up European, continent wide, collaborative, journalism and creativity initiative that collects human stories from across wider Europe in the summer of 2020. It kicked off with a launch event on 20 June and will run until 20 August. It was co-founded by Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow Natalie Nougayrède.
 

 

The Manifesto – our objectives & our hopes

This summer in Europe will be like no other. Across our contrasted continent, within our societies and also as individuals, we are experiencing something new and hard to define - a mixture of shock, trauma, uncertainty, and also of hopes, struggles, a quest for constructive paths forwards. We find ourselves in the midst of a confusing, transformative and certainly unique moment in time. 

With the pandemic came pain, fear, restrictions, and fragmentation of our space. Countries were self-isolating, they turned inwards. Now, with a phased reopening of borders, new realities are dawning on us. Our continent is confronted with an economic crisis whose scale and consequences are likely to dwarf previous ones we’ve experienced. Meanwhile, struggles and debates criss-cross the region. A fight for fairness, justice and rights seems reawakened, as people claim what’s fundamental to them and also try to make sense of what their lives have become. 

The virus has made evident the fragility of our societies and of our European solidarity at a state level. It has also made evident our connectedness, within our societies and across the continent, which now faces a huge test, economically, socially, politically - not least the Union within it. 

Everybody seems to be waiting, gathering strength for what is to come. This summer feels like a gap, but with shifts and changes all around us. Time is suspended, and yet time is speeding up. Summer is a season where everything, much of it beautiful, can be possible. This year, one positive, beautiful thing we want to do is the simple gesture of paying more attention to each other. 

We won’t be travelling much, but we can reach across the wide, diverse, human space of our continent in new ways. We can share and listen to each other’s stories, life experiences, memories, hopes. This is the time to explore what can bring us together and also what can drive us apart – within and across societies, cultures, countries.

Europe carries many stories within itself. Some of them are meant to pit people against one another. Some of them are cynical, fatalistic or threatening to fundamental principles of peace and tolerance. Our vision is to believe in common values and a shared future, it is about protecting human dignity and celebrating diversity. 

What we want to do this summer is build a large collaborative network that connects people through vivid storytelling, that sheds light on people, places and issues in ways that help see beyond silos or thought bubbles. We’ll be keen to give a voice to people not always heard, to turn to young people, and to explore off the beaten track of news coverage. Together we’ll be sharing  human stories from all across our continent: let’s try to rediscover ourselves, despite all the difficulties. 

Again, we believe solidarity starts with being open and curious about one another. That’s why, as a loose collaborative network of citizens, journalists, media start-ups, civil society organisations and cultural groups from across wider Europe, we are launching the 2020 European “Summer of Solidarity” initiative. 

“Summer of Solidarity” is an attempt to document a once-in-a-lifetime season and try to think about the future too. We want to create a space where we can meet, discover and debate, at a time when Europeans can’t travel and interact as before. We want to bring together a mosaic of human experiences  – reaching across all sorts of boundaries, close to the ground, offering a deeper, more inclusive look at our continent. 

We want to embrace Europe as a continent – a human space that is not limited to EU member countries.

‘Summer of Solidarity’ kicks off on 20 June and lasts until 20 August. 

This is a grassroots, spontaneous initiative built in just a few weeks by a group of enthusiasts and concerned citizens from across Europe from the world of journalism, culture, citizens networks, civil society. Summer of Solidarity is independent and has no affiliation with a political party or movement, nor is it part of any institution. The initiative is supported by philanthropic grants and donations. Summer of Solidarity is an attempt to take part in the emergence of a European public space, at a time when showing empathy and listening to one another feels like the right thing to do – and to enjoy.

The “Summer of Solidarity” Network