The Youth Exchange “From Gray to Green” was organized in Slovenia (with support from European Union funding, Petra and her permacultural farm Veles, National Agency Movit who was always there answering our questions, Sustainable venue Metta which hosted us and of course YTS network which at the beginning connected us through the partnership and gave us the courage to dream and create).
We started to work hard from the beginning, doing many little steps as soon as we got to know that the project was approved. But even before that we connected with youth from Mallorca, Slovenia, Italy, Serbia, and Croatia (not only Youth Leaders but also participants) and researched what are their needs and wishes to learn. This project was really created by Youth for Youth. Many people have put their ideas into this project. We had many online meetings where each could contribute in their way.
Our two big aims were, to make it as sustainable as possible and as accessible to those who need this kind of experience the most. Therefore, we did not ask for any extra financial contribution from participants and we really focused on looking for participants with fewer opportunities (in the end we had 10 of them). It was not always easy. I could say that sometimes even challenging, realizing that even something simple such as energizer games are actually not inclusive at all for those who have disabilities with vision for example (what a realization of how even non-formal education techniques can be discriminatory).
Each country in advance prepared to present one of the 4 dimensions of sustainability, some did it through art, some through personal experiences, and some with old-style white posters, but each individual with own passion and motivation for the topics that were discussed. One of the main achievements was also building a raised bed for vegetables from scratch with old wood and unused materials.
This project being not only our own but being a project to which many people have contributed, reflected in really deep trust and connections between participants.
On the last day, participants also gathered knowledge from the week and dreamed about their own individual projects which they made true once they returned back home. From small actions such as starting to bake their own bread, to bigger ones such as going into local schools and teaching kids about sustainability and permaculture. We gathered online 2 months after the YE and created a space where participants could share how the projects were realized.
It was really inspiring to hear their stories.
We are also really proud that 24/25 participants came by green travel, some traveling even 4 days each way. Thanks to the green budget and extra support for food and accommodation on the way, we were happy that many could afford this and we were really encouraging them to use this budget to do it.
All best wishes from the team: Dijana, Jošt and katja