Thilo Buchholz holding a speech in front of FYEG banner

The event that made me a FYEGer

FYEG: A youth association!

Youth associations are about committing, learning, and trying to give your best at something whereas at the same time, and this is where the difference to usual employment lies, your life is not dependent on your performance in the association. It’s what makes them so great. It goes without saying that this also makes youth associations more susceptible to position-hunters and receding commitment. But I cannot imagine what my life would look like without these safe spaces.

One of the safe spaces in which I committed myself to something, learned, and tried to give my best were the elections to the Executive Committee (EC) of the Federation of the Young European Greens (FYEG). Reflecting on my knowledge, skills, and searching for the place where my commitment could be most effective in the near future, I decided that the FYEG EC could be this place. With the support and the approval of friends and Member Organisations of FYEG (hellooooo DWARS 🇳🇱, Grüne Jugend 🇩🇪, Red Equo Joven 🇪🇸 , & Junge Grüne Schweiz / Jeunes Vertes Suisse 🇨🇭, how crazy are you?!? ❤️) I wanted to give it a shot.

What I did

So, I went, put myself out, talked to a lot of people, and ended up not getting elected. Does that mean my journey to Istanbul and all the effort put into creating a video, contacting people, preparing speeches, reading through documents and waiting hours and hours at one border checkpoint after another on my way to Istanbul were pointless? Ab-so-lute-ly not. I got

  • the full benefits you always get when participating in such conventions (people who become new friends, motivation and inspiration, experience in resolution drafting and negotiation, lots of partying and joyful happiness, and sleep deprivation),
  • and of course the full benefits of travelling somewhere new (cultural awareness, growth of perspectives, beautiful nature, amazing food, adrenaline-kick, relaxation, lots of partying and joyful happiness, money wasted on not-departing buses),
  • and in addition I also got the full package of a candidate’s experience.

The experience of being a candidate

Snapshot from the FYEG General Assembly 2019 in Istanbul

That meant: Developing a feeling for the delegations and their delegates. Gaining a deeper insight in Member Organisations in pre-Istanbul-talks. Having honest exchanges on my strengths and weaknesses during the assembly. Being put into a tense limbo by potential voters (read: everybody) while aiming to relax and have casual conversations. Presenting yourself to a group of voters knowing you’re the outside candidate with the odd profile. I pulled all that through while still deeply enjoying the experience of the General Assembly and having a blast, and I’m very happy that this was possible for me in this way.

What came out of it

And then, you either get elected or you don’t. That’s the point in elections! And I would’ve preferred not getting elected over getting elected “just because I’m the only candidate for a position which needs to get filled” a thousand times. In fact, I can be happy and proud of my association to have all these other extremely competent and motivated people leading and coordinating it in the Executive Committee – so absolutely no hard feelings from my side! Just wishes for lots of success and lots of courage – be brave, inspired, and inspiring!

I can be thankful for my privilege. For all of the privileges I already have in my life, but here specifically for the privilege to have been allowed and supported to attend this General Assembly, for the privilege to make the experience of running as a candidate, for the privilege to be a guest to Turkey, and be welcomed to Istanbul and to the camp in the Kaz/Ida mountains (#KazDağlarıHepimizin).

Picture of the demonstration against a gold mine in the Kaz mountains
Demonstration against deforestation and mining in the Kaz Mountains, Turkey

Running had some disadvantages though: Whenever I appear on a FYEG event or General Assembly again, I can’t claim to have the innocence of an activist from only the very basic level of the Member Organisations. And I surely won’t have the comfort of speaking in front of many strangers, but instead I will be scrutinized by people I’ve already grown to hold dear to my heart. I’m not only a green young European activist, a DWARS member, or a Grüne Jugend member anymore, but I’ve become a FYEGer.

I said in my speech that I believe we’ll save the world together. And that there’s lots to do. Well, surprise, but that didn’t change! And luckily, we can also save the world even if we’re not all in the Executive Committee. So, let’s use the Green Wave to build a Green World, Haydi gidelim!

Towards a New Culture of Sharing.

When it comes to the usage of connected platforms on the internet, most prominently social media networks, a continuous debate between proponents and adversaries has grown and existed about as long as the platforms themselves. I’ve been on both sides of this debate. It was not until the end of high school when I would start using Facebook or WhatsApp, it was not until some months into organisational responsibility in a university context that they would form part of my daily life.

The comfortableness and the struggle

I’ve grown to use them daily, to some extent nearly hourly. Quite frankly, they were and are useful if you count their networking potential too: Assume I hadn’t connected with as many acquaintances on these platforms, I guarantee I would’ve forgotten about names, stories, existences of people, even about some of the people who are reading this text right now. Establishing a link when we got to know each other, and keeping it up through sharing content on these platforms became a central cultural activity.

It’s a nice cultural activity! In principle, at least. But then there’s the sheer difficulty for any information on the internet to be forgotten. The knowledge that the companies preserve and archive (meta)data, and keep them as long as they please. And exhibit them to the world as long as you don’t intervene. They don’t even hide this eternal character of the storage of data, they rather try to make profit from it through offering memories, creating artificial anniversaries and bringing up whatever has happened in your life before (at any given opportunity). Ever tried downloading your Facebook data? You’ll be surprised what you’ll find. Does it mean you should stop using it? Enough people argue that, and rightfully so. But maybe there’s another way.

Principles for a New Culture of Sharing for Social Media Networks

The path I will follow is attempting to utilize social media networks in my interest instead of assuming the behaviour these platforms designed me to employ. In easier words: Reclaiming social media networks as our tools instead of letting them use us. I arrived at three fundamental principles upon which I develop what I call a New Culture of Sharing for Social Media Networks:

  1. The usage of platforms in absolute awareness of all tools at the user’s disposal, if possible and beneficial against the pre-determined design.
  2. Respect for a limited timeframe in which the cultural activity of sharing content and information is performed.
  3. The global re-emancipation of the user over their data in form of active ownership and controlled self-presentation.

And here’s what I will do: I will delete all content in my Facebook and Instagram timeline every week-/-month, save currently highly relevant information for understanding my context.

Social networks should be networks, and not archives. Vivid, dynamic, and after a week everybody has probably already seen everything anyway. And if somebody missed out on something – well then it happened. Maybe, it’s also a path out of the like-crisis. Out of the constant self-comparison and self-optimization in the pursuit of social validation: If I don’t know how many people reacted to the content I produced before, I don’t have the pressure and urge to adapt and be influenced by this for the content I share now.

Applicability and boundaries: Other networks

What about Twitter and LinkedIn then? I (for now) won’t apply the same policy to those two networks. That’s because they serve different purposes (at least to me) than being a social network, but in two completely different ways: To me Twitter is a political network, LinkedIn a professional network.

On Twitter, a lot of discussions between many people take place. It is in my interest as well as in the interest of the general public that these discussions can be understood and reconstructed properly. The awareness and respect for the timeframe is always already given through the very momentous platform design. Twitter is not my way of interacting with friends or new acquaintances, it’s not a cultural leisure time social activity, but more of an activist outreach and discussion tool. Do I need to apply my New Culture of Sharing for Social Media Networks to Twitter then? I don’t think so.

My attitude towards LinkedIn however can be described much briefer: As it is serves as a portfolio for possible employers, I’ll manipulate it at any given time either way, thus, there’s no sense in pretending to follow a seven-day-deletion-policy.

A useful step?

So, did it hurt deleting the photos, the videos and petitions on human rights violations, and the proof of my activity in the world for the past years? Definitely. And yes, of course it’s nice to scroll through your timeline and stumble across the picture from the last vacation with your friends somewhere on a beach. But the new cool person from yesterday’s houseparty doesn’t necessarily need to know which rock you were sitting on in 2014.

I transferred what seemed relevant to me on this website. And last time I checked, that picture from the beach was also very well stored in a folder on my laptop. Alas, I cannot eradicate all metadata collected on and around me, or have full control on the data I generate – but it’s a start in pushing against the system that never forgets. And maybe the full switch to the fediverse will follow in a few weeks!

Thilo Buchholz & Antoine Tifine at the DWARS Congres 2019.

Wat DWARS en Grüne Jugend van elkaar kunnen leren / Was die Grüne Jugend und DWARS voneinander lernen können

🇳🇱

Ik was in de vorige maand voor mijn eerst op een DWARS Congres. Terwijl het bijna letterlijk voor mijn deur in een fijne evenement locatie plaats vond en meer iets van “Gala” dan van “Jeugdgroepkamertje” is me hier iets opgevallen: Coöperatie tussen de verschillende groene jeugdorganisaties gebeurt misschien op een Europees niveau in FYEG (f-yech voor de Nederlanders, F-wyy-ee-geee voor de Duitsers), maar dan niet tussen de organisaties bij zulk evenementen als Congressen zelf.

🇩🇪

Letzten Monat war ich zum ersten Mal auf dem DWARS Congres, dem Buko der niederländischen Grünen Jugend. Während er direkt vor meine Haustür stattfand und mehr nach einer Gala als nach Schulaula und Jugendgruppenraum anmutete, habe ich bemerkt: Die verschiedenen grünen Jugendorganisatien kooperieren gut auf einer europäischen Ebene in FYEG. Aber zwischen den Organisationen bei genau solchen Events und Kongressen wird es mau.

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Candidacy for the Executive Committee of FYEG

Dear people! Vrienden! Grüne! Europeans! Amoureux de la terre! 🌍💚🇪🇺

Because I don’t want you to all fall asleep on your summer vacation and because we all want to have summer vacations in a few years without being grilled alive, I’ve got an announcement to make!

I am running for a position. I want to become a part of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Young European Greens – FYEG. You can find more details on that as well as on the candidacies of other amazing people here: https://fyeg.org/GA19/candidacies

I’m sending the warmest heartfelt regards to all of you from Brussels! See you around the continent! 🚲🚉

What one year as President of JEF Maastricht taught me

I had the trust and honour of being the President of JEF Maastricht, a local chapter of a European youth NGO focusing on the promotion of European citizenship and participation of young people in European politics. I learned a lot of things during my year in which I presided the association. 9 of my learning experiences are written down here, and I hope that they can be of use for enthusiastic minds who are about to embark on their own journey within JEF or another youth organisation.

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Ende Gelände 2019.

Das ist ein
Beitrag nach einem Tag Braunkohlerevier. Nach einem Tag mit dem Fahrrad über Landstraßen,
Wege an Landstraßen, Feldwege, Schotterwege, Dörfer, Landstriche, Fahrradschutzstreifen
fahren. Nach mehrstündigem Warten an Bahnhöfen auf verspätete Züge die mich
wieder zurückbringen können.

Ich war am Sonntag in den Revieren. Den laufenden. Den bereits vollständig ausgebeuteten. Und ich habe bei meinen Anblicken einen deftigen Schlag in die Magengrube gespürt.

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Good morning European democracy!

This article was published on 23 May 2019 as op-ed in the Special Edition of The Observant on the European Parliament Elections 2019.


Dear European Union, I know you’re a bit sleepy and think we can all relax after the elections, but now it’s time to wake up. The fact that the turnout of the European Parliament elections will be far below 100% in the EU’s countries won’t surprise any of us. We knew it would happen that way. And we knew that we couldn’t send the turnout skyrocketing.

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Young Europeans Lab: Check!

about last weekend!
The Young Europeans Lab: Your Idea to Change Europe took place. What it showed to me, once again:

1) We are all political actors, whether we like it or not 😉
2) People whom we tend to call politicians are also really reachable if you only want to reach them!
3) Youth commitment rocks! 💪🇪🇺️💚

Only question remaining: Why don’t other parties and parliamentary groups rapidly start hosting such idea labs and direct consultations of young citizens from all across Europe? 😉