Meet three more of the young ambassadors from across Europe who will be attending EUROCITIES 2018 Edinburgh, listening, learning and having their say. Here Pedro Roque Domingues from Lisbon, Colyn Heinze from Stuttgart and Marialena Bamiedaki from Heraklion introduce themselves and reveal what they care about, from affordable housing to education for all and a greener, more inclusive Europe.
Tell us about yourself
Pedro: I’m an architecture student worried about things bigger than myself. As I am Portuguese I think about those who crossed the globe searching for the unknown and feel the need to keep discovering new borders in order to grow as a person and as a citizen. Having said this, there’s no better home than Lisbon!
Colyn: I am currently studying Public Management with the state of Baden-Württemberg as my dual partner. I am also secretary general of the Young European Federalists of Baden-Württemberg and active in a political party. I also work for a nightclub in the city centre. Privately I'm quite a cineaste and am interested in parties, politics and history.
Marialena: I hold a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and specialised in special educational needs and teaching disabled people at medical school within the developmental paediatrics department of the University of Athens. I am also studying for a master’s in Hospitality and Tourist Management at the Technological Educational Institute of Crete. My vision is to create educational services that promote a holistic education for all.
Why did you want to be a young ambassador for your city?
P: I believe one can’t criticise responsibly without fully knowing the world around us. I also believe we should take advantage of our open borders in order to discover new approaches and solutions for common issues. Lisbon has always been my home town and I strongly believe it is my responsibility to help build a stronger and more evolved city. EUROCITIES seems to be an outstanding forum to do so!
C: Especially in view of the current political developments in countries all over the world, it is more important than ever to work in the European and international context. A conference like this offers a great opportunity to develop this work further with external input and to pass on our own approaches. It is a great chance to connect with government officials and active young people all over Europe.
M: My interest in becoming a young ambassador for my city derives first from my passionate devotion to and love for my city and, most importantly, because I would like to give prominence to all aspects of our local history. I would also like to foster public awareness and a sense of community and collective responsibility among Europe’s youth around a common future as we are all citizens of a single multicultural Europe.
What message would you send to the president of EUROCITIES and mayor of Ghent, Daniel Termont?
P: Our cities and our world are constantly suffering from misinformation and a lack of solidarity amongst our citizens. I believe that the key to solving these, and a few more, problems is my generation. Trust in the wisdom of those who still believe in change. Allow yourself to be influenced by new ways of thinking and communicating. Fundamentally, let us be part of a brighter future for all of us!
C: Many thanks for the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh as a young ambassador! I am looking forward to discussing the creative opportunities facing European cities with many experts. I am particularly interested in the various approaches to enhancing nightlife.
M: I would like to congratulate and thank you for giving Europe’s youth the opportunity to get involved in the annual conference and to be equipped with the tools needed to make its voice heard. I really want to contribute to the integration of a single Europe and to the promotion of a positive ethos that enables all cities to work together for a better world.
What one thing do you really like about your city?
P: The best thing about Lisbon is it’s river. There is only one better thing than the feeling of sailing towards the unknown: coming back. From the river we see Saint Jorge’s castle, the old hills filled with a beautiful color pallet and the sun disappearing only to keep living in every light throughout the night.
C: I love Stuttgart! It’s my birthplace, where I grew up and still my favourite city to live in. There are two things I love most. First the mix between the urban core, called 'Kessel', and the always-reachable nature. You can go from the night club to the forest in 10 minutes with public transport. My second favourite thing is the Swabian food – from Spätzle over Zwiebelrostbraten to Maultauschen – I just can’t get enough!
M: Undoubtedly Knossos, the famous Minoan palace uncovered by English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, is the highlight of Crete and it lies in Heraklion. It is the monumental symbol and the core of the highly sophisticated Minoan civilization. It has been restored in parts to help visualise what life was like more than 3,000 years ago. Also, don’t miss the chance to celebrate the August full moon when there are a variety of events like night-time tours and concerts.
What three items would you take to a desert island?
P: A Swiss knife, José Saramago’s 'Essay on Lucidity' and, if I’m allowed, a boat.
C: A laptop with the best of international cinema and rap music, some classic landscape paintings from the Netherlands and a subscription to my local newspaper.
M: A machete, a signal mirror and a family photo.
What three things would you do if you were mayor of your city for a day?
P: If I were mayor of Lisbon for a day I would start by redefining communication strategies in order to make them more suited to my generation. I don’t agree with people who say this generation is less interested than previous ones, I simply believe public institutions have yet to find better ways of reaching it. I would also approach higher education institutions and encourage them to apply the produced knowledge in specific executive and strategic decisions. Finally, I think affordable housing for younger generations is absolutely vital strategically.
C: We have a huge problem with affordable housing. I would make more space available to the municipal housing company and improve coordination in the region. I would give the youth council more power and budget. Youth participation is one way of making a city politically sustainable. I would also introduce the office of a night mayor whose purpose would be to mediate between local residents, nightlife players and the administration.
M: I would boost efforts towards delivering education for all and especially for those coming from suffering countries. I would foster environmental awareness because as a young person I see daily that our planet is suffering from the misuse and abuse of natural resources which leads to an imbalance in nature. I would foster innovation in urban mobility as this is key to more citizen-friendly cities and an important driver of growth and progress.
How would you complete this sentence: ‘My Europe in 2030 will…'?
P: …be greener, more tolerant and more inclusive while maintaining its wonderful diversity.
C: ...be able to build a convincing cultural narrative once again because, unfortunately, the promise of peace and the Schengen freedoms have become a matter of course for many people. In addition, Europe must at least assume social responsibility - for example through a social union.
M: ...be an ideal place to live. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. So let’s start with ourselves, think and imagine a clean environment, a better world and healthy people.