#nextstationeurope – Future Lab 2022

The future Europe … What could it look like? Peaceful, sustainable, and fair? And how can our ideas of the future become real in the coming years?

#nextstationeurope – Future Lab 2022

We dealt with these questions from 16.05 to 19.05.2022! We, that are 33 full-time and voluntary youngcaritas employees from different European countries, who met in Berlin for the Future Lab. During these four days, we not only discussed our visions for the future, but also took part in workshops and activities! What did we experience? Read and see for yourself!                                                                                                                                         
How we are doing and where we stand

On Monday at 12:00 o’clock we finally started. After a short round of getting to know each other, we reflected on our feelings in times of current crises. Our starting point: Tired, overloaded, powerless, and forgotten by politics – that’s how many felt during Corona. With the climate crisis and global warfare, most also felt overwhelmed and powerless. Nevertheless, positive voices also emerged: The hope of being able to change something is there!

 Presentation of the results on the topic "Current challenges"
Group work on the topic “Current challenges

We built on this by taking a closer look at the causes and consequences of various problems. My group discussed equality and especially the consolidation of stereotypes. We found it fascinating that despite social upheavals, historical ideas about norms and traditions often still prevail. The consequence of this: social pressure in form of peer pressure and the desire for acceptance. We agreed that stereotypes promote discrimination in the form of sexism and racism and encourage pigeonholing.

Presentation of a "problem tree"
Presentation of a “problem tree”

However, in sharing our previous areas of involvement and interest, we could also see that some are already standing up for equality. Lisa and Samantha, for example, are committed to inclusion and diversity, for Bernadette gender diversity is an important topic, and Amal is doing strong anti-racism work!

Off to the future!

How can we break out of our individual bubble and act in more solidarity? And how can class society be dismantled? – In the workshop “Expedition Future” we went on a journey to the year 2050 on Tuesday. Under the thematic focus “Solidarity and Individualism”, equipped with egg cartons, absorbent cotton and a lot of plasticine, we dealt with these and other questions and materialized possible solutions. We talked about communication as a basis for bringing together divergent opinions. An important insight for us was that speaking alone is not enough. What is most important is mutual respect and listening to each other!

An artifact from "Expedition Future
“Expedition Future”

The eye-catcher among the artifacts was the group that presented us a penis made of plasticine under the title “Patriarchy is a white short dick”. With this artifact, the group members drew attention to still prevailing patriarchal structures and demanded unconditional income for each, fair payment in care and as well as a globally inclusive decision-making!

Expedition future penis shaped artifact
„Patriarchy is a white short dick“

Out of the five artifacts, the “More Bridges, No Classes” artifact was chosen as the winner at the conclusion of the expedition. In the form of a bridge with a colorful foundation, this artifact stands for an empathetic and diverse society without privileges and overly strong market positions.

Winning artifact of the Expedition Future in the form of a bridge
Winning artifact

How do we want to live?

The question of our future was also on our minds during the Actionbound on Wednesday. Organized by youngcaritas Berlin, we set off in small groups on a digital treasure hunt through Prenzlauer Berg. Not only were we able to discover the neighborhood in terms of sustainability, but we also exchanged ideas ourselves and with local people about what the neighborhood could look like in the future, especially for young people.

We spent the afternoon at Futurium – the House of Futures, where we interactively explored important future topics. Did you know that our shopping goods travel an average of 45,000 kilometers? Or that a quarter of all farms in Germany were abandoned in the 2000s? Whether we will buy and consume more regionally and sustainably in the future, or whether large corporations will gain even more market power, is something we discussed on the topic of consumption.

A participant notes something before an exhibition in the Futurium
Visiting the Futurium

Women’s power

Our Future Lab was enriched by three women! First, we spoke with Anne Wagenführ, the head of the EU representation of the German Caritas Association in Brussels, about the current processes in Europe. Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kostka, the director of the Caritas Association for the Archdiocese of Berlin, introduced us to the work of the Berlin Caritas and Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa, the president of the German Caritas Association, welcomed us in the Berlin office! Especially considering the issues of equality and diversity that have been frequently raised in recent days, it was really cool to see that these three offices are held by women!

Group photo with Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kostka
Group photo with Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kostka

Get active – Common youngcaritas in Europe actions

Intensive days are behind us. Days in which we talked and discussed especially a lot about climate justice, gender diversity, but also patriarchal structures. In one of our last tasks, we therefore sat down together and worked out different actions. In addition to climate cookies – fortune cookies that should contain calls to action – we came up with ideas for greener cities and a street action to make stereotypes visible.

Participants present their action suggestion
Presentation of a project idea on social media

Earth globes, rainbows and a vagina – spray your visions!

On our last afternoon we went to the YAAM, the Young African Art Market – and there our last action was waiting for us: a graffiti workshop. On four walls we immortalized our visions of Europe – and despite the heat (and in the dust suits and masks it was really three times as hot), it was a mega action at the end, where we all had super much fun! Between globes, rainbows and peace flags, which stand for a sustainable, diverse and peaceful society, the theme of equality and the power of women also finds its way in – in the form of a purple vagina!

One of the graffitis from our workshop

Thank you Berlin! Thank you youngcaritas in Europe!    

With the finished graffitis, a big boost of motivation and many hugs we said goodbye to each other… crazy how fast the time went by! Besides our daily program, we had a great time with good conversations in the beer garden and on the Drachenberg, a trip to the Reichstag dome and always with us Manfredi’s typewriter to record our personal manifesto – #stayengaged. After the rather pessimistic starting position on Monday, exhausted and worn out from the last months and years, we recharged our batteries and motivation in the Future Lab!

Group picture in front of the Reichstag dome
Group picture in front of the Reichstag dome

Thank you to all of you who were there! Thank you for your input, your positive energy and your commitment!
Now we are taking our future into our own hands!

A report by Judith Heruc, youngcaritas Germany