Youth Cultural Innovation Forum

Youth Cultural Innovation Forumin osallistujia olohuoneessa valmistelemassa videointia.

‘- Resilience, stress resilience, creativity and innovation.

This is what Marciana Pantiru answered us when we asked her what they had learned from the project. Marciana is the project manager for the Youth Cultural Innovation Forum, which was a collaboration between Stiftelsen Väddö och Södertörns Folkhögskolor (SE), Emergence School of Leadership (NO) and Copenhagen Global Shapers Hub (DK).

These three organizations came together with an idea of building a network of young and creative people, who wanted to build up their political and social engagement.

In their application, they described their plans as:

[a project that] will bring together forty young participants, to learn from each other, embrace diversity and create a common understanding in tackling global challenges. The desired outcome is to build a Nordic network of future innovators and changemakers.

Discusson on innovation turned into a project plan

We sat down for an online chat with Marciana, in April 2021, a couple of months after the project came to an end. We asked her if she could tell us what the initial purpose of the project was, and if she could share with us the thoughts her team had before they decided to apply for funding.

Marciana said that they began by thinking about the word innovation, what it meant for them and what kind of message they wanted to share with their recipients. The goals were set, but the project still lacked a mechanism that could convert the idea into a real project. At this point, the actual discussion began and eventually it turned into an application for funding at the Norden 0-30 grant programme.

The project was granted funding in April 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. The team had designed a plan to bring together young people from the Nordic countries and invited them to come to Sweden in June of 2020. As the pandemic situation worsened, the team began designing a new plan where the participants would meet online. The planning was made in parallel with the original plan, and by monitoring the situation and wondering what possibilities remained at their disposal.

Uncertainty transformed into determination

– “Uncertain. Very uncertain.”

This is how Marciana describes the time right after they were granted funding. The team realized that their options were limited: either they had to do the project on site in Sweden, or to bring it online. As the travel restrictions affected more and more people, they decided to opt for the latter. In November 2020, the organizer decided to bring the project online. New challenges came to life, such as those related to the attention span and participation rate of the attendants and the quality of the final project.

Despite the cumulation of problems and insecurities, uncertainty can also bring the best out of people and situations sometimes, and so it happened. The keyword of the event was “innovation”, and so collaborators, facilitators and project managers teamed up and designed a 9-days long webinar with lectures and many community talks. The team and participant had the chance to work on different themes, such as the implementation of the Susttainable Development Goal’s and the respect for diversity, ultimately achieving their goals.

In this case, the institution really taught their audience what resilience and “do-ocacry” mean, and why these two are such important values.

An innovative experience

In their website, the authors describe “do-ocacry” as

“a proactive mindset that enables change to happen and instills a sense of powerfulness that should answer to the questions: 
Why should we always wait for the right moment to start making something? Why not start exploring our opportunities now? “

And indeed, they did not wait long, before giving the possibility to forty talented people to learn, express themselves and build up valuable networks for the future, maybe a future in which we will be able to move with ease again.

When we asked what innovation meant to Marciana, she answered that for her a “complete experience” is an innovative experience. We can conclude that through such a transformation and adaptiveness, both organizers and recipients have learnt valuable lessons and matured skills that can go beyond this single edition of the Youth Cultural Innovation Forum.  The organization, delivery and outcome overall offered challenges and opportunities, and each person involved had the possibility to grow and learn.

Elisabetta Turaglio & Alfiero Zanotto

Nordic Culture Point / Nordisk kulturkontakt