The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of European Alternatives took place on August 27, from 09:30 to 13:00 in Berlin. The meeting was the occasion for the 5 candidates to present themselves and explain why they would like to join the board of European Alternatives. You can ask any questions directly to the candidates before voting on our Facebook page or by sending an e-mail to Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org, who will forward them.
Members of European Alternatives will vote from Friday September 2, midnight to Sunday September 11, midnight to elect the two new board members. The voting will be online and password protected. For questions about the voting process please email Martin Pairet: email@example.com
CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD
Dear members and friends of European Alternatives,
My name is Rasha Shaaban. I was born in Alexandria (Egypt) but I am currently living and working in Gothenburg (Sweden). I grew up in a big city which has a long history of cosmopolitanism. I did my Bachelor studies in English literature and then joined the multi-cultural team at the Anna Lindh Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. After eight years of working on the promotion of intercultural dialogue in the Euro-Med region and the empowerment of civil society on both shores of the Mediterranean, I decided to study leadership for sustainability at Malmo University to deepen my knowledge and build the skills of a transformational leadership and ethical organisational management.
I am currently working at the National Museum of World Cultures as coordinator of the Anna Lindh Foundation civil society network in Sweden. My work includes mainly the coordination of the biggest network of Swedish organisations (governmental and non-governmental) on intercultural dialogue. I am in charge of organising national and regional events to promote intercultural dialogue around different topics.
From January to November 2015, I worked with the biggest NGO in peace building and conflict transformation, Search for Common Ground, as MENA Coordinator of the Common Ground Institute (CGI). My main responsibilities included the development of CGI’s medium-long term vision and strategy in MENA region; ensure the implementation of CGI’s activities; and conducting trainings on dialogue facilitation and design for civil society members in both Tunisia and Egypt (pilot phase). Before joining SFCG, I worked as the Head of Programs at the Cairo-based non-profit organisation the Regional Centre for Mediation and Dialogue. I supervised several projects on activism including one on self-criticism and learning for Egyptian political parties after the 2011 Uprising and 2013 Coup.
Since the beginning of 2015, I have been in charge of the transnational project called “WoMidan” (WoMen of the Square) which aims at empowering women activism for social change. With more than 30 participants from Egypt, Tunisia, Italy, France, Greece, Ukraine, and Sweden, we produced the WoMidan Declaration advocating for empowering women activists across the Mediterranean. I organised dialogue meetings between young activists and Swedish politicians (including the Feminist party) as well as hosted a public debate on empowering women activism and a film screening.
It is such a great honour for me to submit my candidature to be a member of the European Alternatives Board. I started the collaboration with European Alternatives since 2011 with IndignAction seminar on activism in Luxembourg. And, I took part in one of their activism exchange projects entitled “Stop Youth Precarity, Act Democratically” in Paris in 2013. And, we are currently collaborating for the WoMidan transnational project and recently co-submitted a bid for Creative Europe programme.
I would like to join the board of European Alternatives as I strongly believe in the organisation’s vision and I am a strong advocate of its mission. I can act as an advisor on Scandinavian (particularly Swedish) socio-political affairs. In addition, I can share my expertise and knowledge of the MENA region and provide EA with access to my large network in the Euro-Med region.
And, before I forget, I have a big passion for music which pushed me to learn and become a professional DJ (RUSH). Now, I hope you can vote for me.
Peace and Love!
Dear European Alternatives Members,
I am interested in becoming your Board member. In this letter, I hope to demonstrate how much I could bring to this position. I hold a PhD in Development Studies from the University of Sussex, UK, and I am currently post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies of Southeastern Europe, University of Rijeka. Prior to obtaining my PhD, I had extensive research and professional experience in the Balkans and developing countries with organisations such as UNICEF, the British Council and BBC Media Action among others. Currently, as a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) I work on developing policies and recommendations for the EU integration of the Western Balkans. In Serbia, I was one of the founding member of Charity Association ‘Panonia’ in Novi Sad and ‘House of Tolerance’ in Belgrade. Both organisations were working on supporting vulnerable and excluded people and advocating the rights of the minority groups. I am also one of the founders of EXIT Festival in Serbia, as one of the most successful examples of grass root youth activism that used music to bring down boundaries between people and states that were engaged in a bloody war.
With my professional experience and activism, as a Board member I would be able to engage with several themes European Alternatives is working on. First, drawing on my experience of working in independent media and media for development I would work on the media pluralism theme, particularly media freedom that has been steadily declining in number of European countries in the recent years. I believe that we lack information on how is this affecting society and research on theses issues in combination with use of innovative methods and technology could provide a solid platform for activities and donor support. Second, migration is one of the three academic topics that I work on and we need to better document the nature of the changing circumstances in Europe resulting from the large influx of refugees in recent years. Issues of exclusion, new boundaries and lack of tolerance need to be overcome, primarily by improving understanding of each other and creating spaces where different groups can interact without prejudice. I believe that politicians and formal institutions should be actively engaged in this process. Finally, gender equality is a theme that requires constant engagement and novel approaches to achieve this. European Alternatives, in my view, has a great potential to become more active in this field, particularly in making sure that women’s voice is stronger heard, which would also lead to strengthening protection of girls and women from violence.
On a practical level I have programme and project management experience, including budgets and financial management, reporting to donors and managing multiple partnerships. I also worked as a fundraiser for number of years for media organisations and CSOs, from conceptualising projects, preparing concept notes and full proposal, experiences that you are looking for. I would be able to strengthen research capacity of European Alternatives and mechanisms to connect this with activism and policy change.
The reason why I would like to engage with European Alternatives is your varied approach and broad platform for advancing citizen action. My own personal and professional views and interest are very much in line with your organisation’s values and it would be a great honour to serve as a Board member.
The difference between the “Aircraft carrier three” and the Ventotente young men — and woman — is impressive. The Ventotene young had only the power of their ideas and nothing else: no power, no money, no influence, no connections, not even their personal freedom. The leaders of the three major founding countries of the EU are powerful — they have their budgets, their armies, their state apparatuses and even their aircraft carriers — but when asked about what “relaunching the European project” meant, Matteo Renzi the Italian PM, Angela Merkel the German chancellor and François Hollande the French president had nothing to say.
The reason why I write this to the members of European Alternatives is because I recognise in the mission that you have given yourselves and the work that you do the best example of the transformative potential of good ideas combined with the political perseverance to aggregate people to fight those ideas and make them real. In short, you know what to say when it comes to relaunching the European project.
I have first become acquainted with European Alternatives while a Member of the European Parliament during the 2009-2014 mandate. I recognised in European Alternatives a proximity with my own background as part of a cosmopolitan, libertarian and ecologically-minded progressivism. I felt a kinship for European Alternative’s experimentalism, its willingness to go beyond false dichotomies, its aptitude to promote both representative and participative (and deliberative) democracy. Finally, it struck me how European Alternatives managed to build the arc from theory to practice, from principles to policy ideas. Not many of our leftist-to-progressive outfits can do that: some are too inclined to proclamatory content to be effective, the others are too steeped in policy wonkery to be mobilising. I think the blend in European Alternatives is very close to ideal.
European Alternatives is maybe one of the few organisations that articulates well what seems to me the biggest challenge of our times: bringing forward the ideals of cosmopolitanism, global citizenship and transnational democracy. This is more needed with each passing day, as we see a return to nationalism, compartmentalised notions of state sovereignty and “faking back control”. We need to reclaim the original political sense of cosmopolitanism and turn it into a defence of transnational democracy that can rise up to the challenge of responding to multi-crises that affect us in their environmental, democratic, social and rights-based aspects.
This is why I am excited to present myself as a candidate to the board of European Alternatives. I will be anxious to start working with some of the people in Europe that have identified our problems best and that have produced some of the best ideas on how to go about addressing them. We all know that the mission ahead is long and difficult — and may sometimes feel lonely and unforgiving. That’s why we need to be more gregarious and fraternal in order to be bolder, more imaginative and optimistic.
Let’s get on to work then. Be assured that, whether you choose me to be one of your next trustees or not, I will always be available to join with European Alternatives in the defence of our common and very palpable ideals.
Dear European Alternatives Members,
I welcome the invitation by the European Alternative to consider the application for a position at the Board of European Alternatives based on my strong belief on its inspiring mission to “promote democracy, equality, culture beyond the national borders of states”. I would like to contribute to this mission with my professional experience and that of a long time activist in the civil society.
I came to civil society from media and journalism. Graduated in Political Sciences and Journalism at University of Tirana and qualified in UK, USA and Germany after the Fall of the communist dictatorship, I joined Deutsche Welle, the International Media of Germany, as its correspondent in Tirana. My profession and my everyday work have strongly contributed to be very sensitive on democracy, equality, freedom of press and to combat to protect them as an intrinsic necessity. This led me naturally to civil society activism in Albania in human rights groups, focused on the women rights and gender equality. My profession brought me to study Turkish in Istanbul and Greek in Athens, to work in Cologne and Brussels and to be lucky enough to understand that the transnational solidarity and understanding are there and if you are an activist of civil society or just an active citizen you have just to appreciate them and be inventive to generate them for a common good.
I understood it when together with a group of educated women in Tirana we found up in 1992, Refleksione Women’s Association, one of the first NGO in Post- communist Albania. As member of its Board of Directors and later its President I contributed in the networking with Regional and European Forums and Networks which have the same mission and credo..what a solidarity in assisting us in our early steps in democracy. On Refleksione “Curriculum Vitae” there are important achievements regarding women rights and gender equality. Refleksione opened new paths implementing innovative actions to improve the government response and responsibilities to the violence against women and economic and political empowerment of women. I am proud of my modest contribution.
And now I have the strong will and inspiration to make available for European Alternative my professional experience in media and that of activist in civil society of Albania – in this particular time for my country in its path towards EU accession, for Western Balkans and Europe as well- submitting my candidacy for a position in the Board of EA.
Dear friends of European Alternatives
I am Guppi, Lead Organiser for NEON Europe (New Economy Organisers Network), a project working in association with the New Economics Foundation. I’ve been campaigning for over a decade, from international trade, global health inequalities and climate change, to trying to take down the financial system whilst running the Robin Hood Tax campaign for Oxfam Great Britain. I have been working internationally throughout this time, having had the joy and challenges of delivering projects in Kenya, India, Georgia, the US and across Europe. I was bought to activism whilst trying to grab the attention of a one (then) very handsome Chris Martin of Coldplay, by writing the words “FAIRTRADE” across my chest in body paint, only to realise it had been burnt on temporarily by the sun (see photo)! I proceeded to educate myself about fair trade having little knowledge of what I was actually writing about, only to realise the international trade laws were INSANE! And that led me to my first bit of activism as fair trade co-ordinator for a national student campaigning network.
My application to the board has come as a bit of a shock, even to myself – but after a year of getting to know and love European Alternatives and most recently connecting and collaborating with the team – I am excited by the opportunity!
It was after the week at the Campus of European Alternatives that my commitment to running as a board member was cemented. Here are a few short reasons why:
– I’m inspired by the last week at the Campus of European Alternatives in thinking about supporting each others work through meaningful collaboration and I believe that formally supporting European Alternatives and its members in its work as a member of the board will be a great step for both our organisations. I, in my capacity as Lead Organiser for NEON Europe (New Economy Organisers Network), hold an analysis and set of skills that will strengthen the will help EA to navigate the challenging and complex world of systemic change.
– My engagements with EA over the past 6 months have been incredibly positive. I have been supported in many ways through your outreach, time and commitment to sharing with NEON and openness with your work and project ideas – and I am excited to be able to contribute and return that support
– I am convinced that my presence on the board will help EA in achieving its vision of economic and political change within Europe, I will bring a perspective that is rooted in a marginilised lived experience as a woman of colour – and help shape and redefine the approach that the team and the other board members take in embodying the change which we want to see in the world. I am happy to see this opportunity offered by other board members who you can select today.
I also bring 10 years of experience working with non-profits on the European and international level and here’s what I’d likte to bring
– I will bring an expertise in network structures and functions to support building movements at a pan-European level
– I write, a lot (in the past for Guardian, New Statesman, Open Democracy) and am happy to use my time and insights to build the profile of the organisation
– A technical expertise in economic analysis that is supported by our partner organisation New Economics Foundation
– A practice of holding groups through transformational processes, understanding the importance of leading and facilitating skills whilst working with these diverse groups
– A skill in strategic analytical approaches to campaigns and project design that I have learnt through ten years of campaigning at an International and European level
– Academic research skills and critical analysis of research
– Fundraising and outreach to groups that European Alternatives can be supported by being in partnership with
Most of all I will bring a legitimacy to the team if they are truly willing to commit to opening their membership to a more diverse group of activists and political campaigners – and look forward to supporting the network manager and other members of the team to go through this process.
Guppi also presented herself at the Annual General Meeting of European Alternatives. You can watch her presentation here: