A special young ambassadors programme will be running throughout EUROCITIES 2018 Edinburgh, giving young people an active voice in discussions and the chance to share their perspectives. Here we get to know Karl Mattias Sepp from Tallinn, Artyom Lipin from Riga and Emma Procee from Groningen, finding out what they want to learn from the experience, how they want to see democracy in Europe strengthened and what they love best about their cities.
Tell us about yourself
Karl Mattias: I’m a positive yet sometimes skeptical young man who is always keen for new experiences and finding possibilities to learn.
Artyom: I am teacher, but my hobbies are much bigger than that. I attend theater studio, play guitar, write songs, make videos, organise exchanges, etc...
Emma: I am graduated in sociology of health, care and wellbeing at the university of Groningen. I did an internship at a health insurance policy and now I work as a trainee for the municipality of Groningen as a community coordinator. In my personal life I love to play volleyball and to travel the world.
Why did you want to be a young ambassador for your city?
KM: I want to speak for young people from my city, because I think some problems are universal and not exclusive to Tallinn. That really ties to the next question, because I expect to gain new insight to different solutions that concern young people all over Europe.
A: I think that there is a lot, what youth can do to improve lives in the cities. Unfortunately, now usually youth has no saying in what is happening. I hope it can be changed via this project.
E: In March this year I started my traineeship, so I know some things about my department/municipality, but I’m not fully established. I see this as an advantage, because my scope is not fixed but flexible. I think I also represent our young city, average age of 36,4, better than my older colleagues. I expect to learn from the other young ambassadors and from the experts.
What message would you send to the president of EUROCITIES and mayor of Ghent, Daniel Termont?
KM: I hope we get to have great discussions about politics, ambitions and fears.
A: My only wish is that this project would have some real impact on cities politics. If there is possibility to assure this, it would be great.
E: Thank you, for the opportunity to give young people a voice. It’s, especially in our young municipality, important to listen to the (young) habitants of our city. We are making steps in this, but it’s a challenge: so it’s a good thing to make these steps in all of Europe together!
What one thing do you really like about your city?
KM: I really like the fact that Tallinn can be cosmopolitan and rural at the same time. You can enjoy the best of both worlds.
A: I suppose, I will not be original. I love people of Riga, I love the feel, the atmosphere of Rīga, which can be described as warm tea that warms up whole body.
E: I lived in a small city below Groningen for all my life. Since I can ride a bike, I really love to go to Groningen on my bike, see all the different people (students, ‘stadjers’ (habitants of Groningen) and tourists) enjoying our great city. It doesn’t matter at what time or if it’s cold or hot, it’s always ‘gezellig’ (Dutch word without good translation, something like cosy/sociable). People who are doing (grocery) shopping, drink and eat something or are going out.
What three items would you take to a desert island?
KM: A water filter, a swiss knife and a book: how to survive on a deserted island for dummies.
A: Water and food supply. A knife. A lot of paper and pen.
E: A good friend. Dutch cheese. A board/card game.
What three things would you do if you were mayor of your city for a day?
KM: Create paying positions for Youth Council, different boards where young people are in. Provide excellent mental health services to everybody. Invest massively into infrastructure that could be used recreationally and for housing
A: More jobs for homeless people. Cleaner streets, probably it could be job for homeless people. More “green” areas.
E: Make steps in making an undivided city, where everyone can live at a normal standard. Organize a big and free festival where people can unite. Make sure that the local politics and the city hall come across more easily (such as language, dress code, etc.)
How would you complete this sentence: ‘My Europe in 2030 will…'?
KM: …be integrated to the degree that people wouldn’t have prejudices about different cultures, religions, sexualities, genders etc.
A: …be free of xenophobia, open to new experience and new people.
E: ...be less divided and more united but preserve the culture and habits of the different countries.