The fallen snow covered the Styrian landscape, through which I went by train today to get to the EYA in Graz. I may have chosen the wrong shoes and I have put on a very thin coat. As I am originally from Upper Styria, I have never really been to Graz in December, so I falsely didn’t expect snow in the Styrian capital city. I spent the two-hour trip thinking about innovations. I could not think of a thing or an organization that hasn’t been turned into reality yet. So where do innovative people get their ideas from? By what do they get inspired? Are they aiming at an innovation or just an improvement?
When I arrived at the Hotel Europa, I met Thomas, a fellow member of Kenne deine Rechte. He provided me with some information about the first two days of the festival and I was curious to see what the people were doing or presenting.
We started with a workshop. All the people got together in groups and gathered around twelve tables, discussing the topic of the day, “Micro-networks”. A moderator presented eight questions concerning the importance of Micro-networks and what is important if we are members of those. The groups had 15 minutes to discuss their thoughts, ideas and expectations on each question and record them on paper. We changed the constellation of the groups by switching tables and getting to know new people. It was all about Micro-networking: How do we benefit from a network? What leads to disasters? How shall we end a network? What people do you need in a network?
Just before lunch, we finished off with a presentation of the results and answers.
By then I had already got an idea of the relevance of networks – but I was still very excited to see the presentations in the afternoon. I spent lunch time talking to some people about social and cultural exchanges, and of course about their ideas.
The presentations started at 3:30 pm. Every local or international group had a poster board displaying the basic idea of their project. To give an example (especially interesting for “Kenne Deine Rechte” and human rights), a group from Germany developed a simple application which helps immigrants and refugees to integrate themselves in a new environment. “Integreat” lists doctors, pharmacies, and other facilities in their surrounding area and answers questions about family, work and education. I spent the afternoon walking through the room, inspecting 17 different inventions and getting inspiration. It is important to me to help children dealing with the internet in a proper way. It is important to help people with restricted mobility. It is important to find answers to the questions, turning words into deeds. To determine a winner project in a fair way, the local groups could vote for the international groups and vice versa.
I had to leave the event at 5 pm, so unfortunately I couldn’t see which project won the competition. But the winner doesn’t really matter to me. Every group is unique and has great ideas which aren’t really comparable – but they can all be turned into reality.