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Young Minds in Gdansk, Poland: Exploring the Future of Social Participation

by the City of Gdansk

Read the news in Polish here

On February 11th, a Future Scenario Workshop took place at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, focusing on the involvement of youth and young adults in democratic processes. Thirteen people, aged 15 to 26, attended the workshop, most of whom were either studying in secondary schools or permanently living in Gdansk. The event aimed to examine and present young people's attitudes towards the future of democracy, social participation and co-decision, and the city and society in the future.

Participants shared their visions for the future, using LEGO and handicraft materials


The first part of the workshop was dedicated to determining the current state of affairs, and an open discussion was held to share experiences related to democracy. Most of the attendees cited social, civic, and volunteering activities as examples of participation, with ¾ of the group having their first experiences related to such activities. Furthermore, most participants mentioned their parents or educators as inspirations for engaging in pro-social/civic activities.

The second part of the meeting focused on envisioning the future. Participants were divided into two groups, and using LEGO bricks and the collage technique, they presented their projections of democracy, participation, the city, and society in the future. The proposed creative workshop techniques were conducive to the emergence of unique and often philosophical or futuristic visions of the future.

In the third part of the workshop, participants were asked about the actions required to bring about or prevent the visions of the future that were presented in the previous exercise. They were also asked whether they saw any signs of changes in their environment that heralded a new approach to participation in democratic processes. Unfortunately, the closing discussion was quite pessimistic, as young people admitted that they did not see any possibility of being agents of change. According to them, society has little influence on decision-making.

 

Other scenario workshops at the local level have taken places in Helsink (Finland), Reggio Emilia (Italy), and Voru (Estonia). A pan-European workshop will be held in Berlin in May 2023, where policy-makers, citizens, academics, practitioners, and the EUarenas Community of Practice will unite to co-envision the future of democracy in Europe. Watch this space!

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