The Ecosprinter Reviews FYEG Executive Committee Member Candidates (Part 1)

During the next FYEG General Assembly in Prague  the delegates will also decide who are  going to be the next spokespersons. As there there are always two spokes there need to be at least two candidates of different genders. This year we have the following candidates:

For EC Treasurer:

  • Jean-Michel Muhire

For EC Members:

  • Adrià Belenguer
  • Anastasiya Kastushkina
  • Fabian Wagner
  • Johannes Butscher
  • Maria Kola
  • Paula Espinoza
  • Sam Murray

The Ecosprinter would like to provide you with more information about them than you can read in their official CVs and motivation letters. By doing so we hope to make the decision who to vote for during upcoming GA easier and give the candidates more space for introduction.

We asked the candidates the same set of questions, so that you can compare them better. Here are the answers of EC Member Candidates Sam Murray, Paula Espinoza and Maria Kola:

 

 

What was your first experience related to the Green movement and why have you decided to get involved?

Sam: My first Green experience was when I was asked to do a science project in Year 9 on wind farms. My parents took me up to a wind farm on the outskirts of skipton moor and, after getting permission from a farmer with a scary looking shotgun, got to walk up amongst the turbines. I stood as a 14 year old looking up at the turbine in awe, and thought: ‘this is amazingly cool – why can’t everyone have this powering their home?!’ From that #climatemoment on I became passionate about using natural resources to power the world, because it is common sense and enables us to have a harmonious relationship with nature. I also did a rather cool music video of the turbines in action set to ‘Zephyr Song’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was a cool 14 year old!

Since then I have been heavily involved in the Green movement – as a member of the Young Greens Media Team, as Co-Chair of the Young Greens EU Referendum Subcommmittee, and member of the Young Greens National Executive Committee.

Paula: My first experience related to the Green movement was in 2006, when I participated as an activist at the local group of Greenpeace Valencia. During this time the main activities that I performance it was urban action in my city town.

On the other hand, the first experience that I had related to the political green movement was in November 2011 at the Spanish General Elections. In this elections, it was the first time that EQUO (the Spanish green party) run in the elections.

Maria: My first experience with the green movement was in 2012 in a Structure Dialogue weekend with the Young Cyprus Greens. A weekend full of discussions on how young people want to change their country. I found it very attractive so I signed up and that is how I started my green journey. At the beginning, I did not want to be politically involved but later on, I realised that a change cannot happen without politics. So in order to help the change, I decided to take action by being involved with the Greens.

 

Why did you decide to apply for the position as an Executive Committee member?

Sam: I feel I have the skills and ideas which can offer a fresh perspective to the executive. Coming from the island nation of the UK it is often hard for us to engage with campaigns happening in mainland Europe as it is expensive to travel across the channel. This is difficult for our other island nation members and those on the outer reaches of our family out to the east, the north, and south. I want to help create a way of engaging these MOs in FYEG campaigns. I want us to build a virtual solidarity platform to offer support from our family to individual causes within our nations as well. We are a family, so let’s offer each other support.

In the UK we are currently facing a debate about our membership of the EU. The Young Greens of England & Wales passionately believe we should remain a member of the EU and that we can achieve great things with our Euro green family. I want to be part of cultivating FYEG into a family of organisations that gets to know each other, shares its cultures and identities and offers solidarity as well as support.

Also, as the global greens conference is in Liverpool next year I wanted to represent my MO on FYEG to be part of that process and the FYEG offering. Being in the MO of the host nation means I can help co-ordinate our activities around the congress on the ground.

Paula: First of all, I think that FYEG is the organisation where it would be worth to be part of. Being part of FYEG motivates me and makes me persevere in politics.

I have decided to apply for the position as Executive Committee member because I really enjoy participating in FYEG’s activities. I think I have received so many inputs coming from the green moment. Moreover, I think that I have certain social organisational experience and logistic skills that can contribute effectively to FYEG.

Nowadays, I feel that I can do a great job at FYEG and I would love to contribute to this organisation by my daily work as the member of the EC .

Maria: I decided to apply for the position of an Executive Committee member because I believe I have the skills to do it. Also, it will offer me various opportunities to develop my current skills and also gain new ones. I have the experience on running projects at a local/national level for Young Cyprus Greens or the Cyprus Youth Council, and I would like to take this opportunity to take it one step further. For my organisation’s sake, in order to feel more connected with FYEG.

 

Could you choose one feature of your character that makes you a perfect candidate for a member of the Executive Committee? Why this one?

 Sam: Creative Thinking is the character feature I’d choose. I like to think about the most creative way to get a message across and am keen for us to develop out of traditional protest something extraordinary. I campaign as an artivist: I use the arts to articulate my feelings and to create accessible ways into issues for the general public. FYEG has always been innovative in its campaigning but with the introduction of artivism as a core philosophy we could do some amazing things – whether we do a requiem for the environment as Green peace have done, or we make sculptures out of recycled materials to make the mundane significant, such as our excessive uses of plastics.

Paula: Smiling and enthusiastic, I am a person with great dedication and my qualities are also being able to work independently and autonomous. I am a hardworking, responsible and I can effectively organise my time and resources. My interests for the climate change, migration policy and feminism matters could flourish and bring success to FYEG’s projects.

Maria: I would choose my dynamic organizational skills could make me be an excellent candidate for a member of the EC. That would be because for the moment I have a campaign running for my candidacy in the National Parliamentary Elections (22nd of May) and I have decided to run also for the position in the EC. It needs a lot of strength, physically and mentally to do this. Also on my everyday job I need to be organized in order to achieve daily goals or to meet my company’s project deadlines.

What was your biggest challenge as an activist and how did you manage to overcome it (if you ever did)?

Sam: At the last Young Greens of England & Wales convention the EU referendum committee, of which I co-chair, managed to make our campaign a priority for this year’s activities. This was a challenge as there were major election campaigns in Wales and London on the horizon and many members also had other causes they wanted to be priorities. Being of Hungarian heritage, with Hungarian family living in the south of England I wanted to stand up them, and for the memory of my grandfather who fled Budapest during the 1956 uprising as a refugee to ensure we offer that same sanctuary to those in need today.

We worked as a team to create a speech outlining the benefits of membership to the conference which led to unanimous support from the membership to campaign for a remain vote. We then ran several workshops about the issues with the aim to inspire and empower our members to feel part of the campaign. This led to many putting forward the campaign as a priority for the next year and after a ballot resulted in it being our main priority campaign.

Paula: I think my biggest challenge as an activist was to run in Spanish General Elections in 2015 as the member of the green party.

Maria: My biggest challenge as an activist was to manage not to cut some really old trees for a road construction project in Cyprus. We manage to have it under control for a week and one night that we were not there guarding the trees, in the middle of the night, people from the municipality cut down the trees. People were really helping with demonstrating with us, even when we did not manage to save the trees.

What was your biggest success as an activist and what was the reason why you managed to achieve it?

Sam: I was the musical director for the Cardiff Without Culture? March in Cardiff protesting the proposed council cuts to the city arts and culture budget. We gathered 1,200 people to join our jazz funeral march for culture asking them to bring empty frames to show what Cardiff would be without culture. We were inspired and enthused to see so many people come out in defence of culture from all walks of life on what we believe was the first march in the UK for this cause. Through a collective effort the march resulted in the council rolling back its budgets cuts and made them aware of our presence. The Wales Green Party was a core member of this group as well. I am proud that this success was a collective effort as only through solidarity could we make such an achievement.

Paula: My biggest success as an activist was in 2014 when I have participated in the “Transnational Caravans” project. For a week, I have completed one week travelling with a caravan around the Iberian Penisula reaching out to Europeans where their sites of struggle were, at their places of initiative. Ahead of the European Parliament elections 2014, we connect local alternative voices across the continent.

Maria: My biggest success as an activist was on the 2nd People’s Climate March (November 2015) when my team and I manage to gather many people who really cared for the purpose of the march and make it happen in Nicosia. Usually, people in Cyprus do not march for this kind of topics (environmental, social issues etc.) so we were a bit afraid of how many people we could get to help to organise the event and also to march with us. Fortunately, we manage and the event happened with respect to its purpose and also we could be proud of what we could present to the rest of the world, and replacing Cyprus reputation for not participating dynamically in this kind of events.

How do you imagine working with other Executive Committee members?

Sam: I take immense pleasure working in terms where we can share skills and knowledge to build a new exciting direction for an organisation – something I have experienced as a member of the national exec of the Young Greens of England & Wales. We have such a wealth of talent standing for election this year and it would be a privilege to serve with any of them.

One thing I am incredibly keen to do if elected is to ask all other committee members to make me a playlist of their favourite songs. Our record collections tell a story of who we are, the songs within are part of our identity and culture. I want to hear music from everyone’s personal culture so I can learn about them in a personal way.

Paula: I imagine a united and well-steered group. A group of young green activists coming from different parts of Europe that are willing to contribute to a changing paradigm in Europe.

The diversity will be our strength. Our flag will be the social justice and the conservation of the environment

Maria: I am sure that we are going to work hard and with patience, we could make it work. Usually, voluntary positions are hard to communicate but if we have a common goal it would be possible. I can imagine that under pressure someone or most of us will be hard to collaborate but that will be a challenge for al of us and we need to overcome it. Also, language barriers should not be included based on the creation of a common understanding between the EC.

What type of responsibilities would you like to carry out if you get elected?

Sam: To cultivate a family within FYEG I want to see us create opportunities to exchange cultures. I want us to platform the rich cultural traditions we have. Living in the smaller nation of Wales, a country I hope to see reach independence one day, we have to fight to preserve the language and culture. FYEG should be part of this process and celebrate our amazing differences. I also want to support opportunities for personal exchange through virtual or physical means. If elected I would like to work on campaign

celebrating the concept of European identity showing we are proud to identify ourselves as European as a smaller part of being global citizens.

We also need to carefully think how we structure our working groups and how we can utilise their potential to launch strong campaigns. I would like to sit on at least one of these groups and see how we can facilitate strong campaigns.

Paula: In case I’m elected I would love to be in contact with the different Member Organisations of FYEG.

The areas that I like the most are the ones related to climate change, migration and feminism; so that, I would like to do transnationals projects about this issues.

Maria: Firstly I would take the responsibility to mobilise my region (southern EU countries) within FYEG’s structures and projects. Also, I would like to give to this EC a more humanised communication within its MOs and try to resolve issues and be closer to our MOs in order to know their needs. By organising meetings with the regions of the MOs and by trying to make the information attractive to them it could help the communication between MOs and the EC.

What would be your biggest contributions to the organization as an EC member?

Sam: It is crucial that as an organisation we ensure there is a strong culture of equality and diversity so that we can represent the wider membership of our MOs encompassing all sexualities, creeds, ethnicities and genders. We need to be encouraging greater participation of people from BAME and LGBTIQA+ backgrounds as well as people with disabilities within FYEG on working groups and in campaigns. We also need the input of liberation groups into what we should be campaigning for, and having them lead us in those campaigns. I welcome the GA motion to stop using cis-normative language on our website and in documentation.

Access is also incredibly important. We need to ensure FYEG resources are accessible utilising subtitles in videos, allowing large print and being mindful of educational needs when creating print materials. We also need to maintain access to our activities to a wider membership ensuring those from countries with smaller MOs have just as much a stake in activities as the traditionally large groups. If elected, my biggest contribution to FYEG would be to make the organisation fully inclusive, accessible and engaging.

To cultivate a family within FYEG I want to see us create opportunities to exchange cultures. I want us to platform the rich cultural traditions we have. Living in the smaller nation of Wales, a country I hope to see reach independence one day, we have to fight to preserve the language and culture. FYEG should be part of this process and celebrate our amazing differences. I also want to support opportunities for personal exchange through virtual or physical means. If elected I would like to work on campaign

celebrating the concept of European identity showing we are proud to identify ourselves as European as a smaller part of being global citizens.

We also need to carefully think how we structure our working groups and how we can utilise their potential to launch strong campaigns. I would like to sit on at least one of these groups and see how we can facilitate strong campaigns.

Paula: My best contribution would be making known FYEG and its work, not only in my country but also in the rest Europe!

Maria: My biggest contribution to the organisation as an EC member will be my knowledge, my devotion and my time. These positions need time and hard work. I am willing to try this if FYEG’s MOs give me the opportunity to do this.

 

 

The Ecosprinter Reviews FYEG Spokesperson Candidates: http://www.ecosprinter.eu/blog/ecosprinter-spokespersons-candidates-review/

To find out more go to http://fyeg.org/GA16

Joshua Makalintal

Ecosprinter Editorial Board