The Ecosprinter Reviews FYEG Executive Committee Member Candidates (Part 2)

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 Johannes Butscher  and Fabian Wagner:

 

 

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

Johannes: Working in Chile and understanding the root causes of poverty and inequality, many of which can be found in the EU (e.g. agricultural subsidies) made me join the Greens at first. It was also following the current political discourse at the time, which made me realise that I agree predominantly with the Green positions.

Fabian: Shortly after I joined the Greens in Germany in 2012 and subscribed to literally all mailing lists I could find, I got an email saying there are some last minute places free on a trip to Brussels actually aimed to bring people from Hamburg to Jan Philipp Albrecht. I’m not from Hamburg, but I still asked if I can join, as I’ve never seen the EP before and luckily they said yes. I couldn’t afford the train, but my parents were away and I knew where the keys for the car were. So I decided to go and join the tour. In Brussels I met so many amazing people! I remember that I was totally in awe about the diversity within the EP and also within our group. We had amazing discussions that broadened my horizon so much in just a couple of days, that I decided to stay and get more involved after that. This was the beginning of a love story.

 

 

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

Johannes: How can I contribute to the Green European movement and dedicate, influence and bring new ideas forward? FYEG represents a platform, a powerful federation and a very ambitious organisation to create change and empower young people in Europe. Being part of this organisation is a catalyst for change, a chance to contribute towards a vision of a fairer, Greener and smarter Europe and fight for changes that will have impacts around the globe.

Fabian: I was thinking for a long time wether I’d be the best candidate for this position. I’m passionate about fighting for Green ideas on the European level and contributing my part to shaping FYEG was a dream for a quite a while. At the same time though, I had a lot to do with my studies and work and I wanted to make sure I do have all the time it needs to seriously contribute to FYEG as an EC member. After a lot of thinking though — also and especially while on the road to Idomeni —  I came to think of this as another step in my career. I really really want to move into the Green bubble also professionally, so I decided to allocate this the time I would for other things that are important for my career. So far this meant working in Africa, Asia and Latin America for several months each year, preventing any deeper involvement with the Greens beyond a certain point mainly due to the difficult internet situation in these regions. With the time requirements cleared, there was no longer any doubt for me I wanted to apply. After all, the least this can be is a contribution to our democracy with me being another option to choose and if everything works out this is bound to be the most amazing year for me. Being a rather timid person, the encouragement from other Greens — as expressed in the support letters, feedback to #overthefortress and personal talks — helped a lot making me decide to apply — to use the skills I acquired during my work and studies to actually work on tangible solutions for our problems rather than just academically criticising things. I really hope the delegates at the GA vote for me and I can’t wait to work with the others in the new EC. 

 

 

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

Johannes: Is this were I should start to with self praise? More seriously others have described my attitude and my working style as positive and that I approach team work and difficult tasks with positivity and enthusiasm. I love working with people who believe in what they do and are dedicated and motivated not by their salary but by their conviction

Fabian: My biggest advantage is probably that I’m talkative and good in communications across differences. This is not only valuable within FYEG — given the diverse points of view of our MOs — but also externally. I would like to make #noborders my theme. This is something which we, as Greens, share with a lot of other organisations and people across the political spectrum and even with some groups who might not really see themselves as political. So I think there is a lot of potential to mobilise people around our common goal. FYEG’s voice will get so much louder and more efficient in countering the growing trend of borders in Europe — as well as other Europe-wide/global issues like education, climate change and social justice — if we partner up with other organisations. This is where I think my communication skills will be most valuable and where I can contribute a lot to FYEG.  

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

Johannes: Time. How to dedicate and distribute my time efficiently is one of my main challenges. The reality is that to make FYEG an inclusive organisation a lot has to change. I was lucky enough to reduce and adjust my working schedule because I work for an NGO that values my work for FYEG. But many other people may not be able to afford this privilege or have such an understanding employer.

Fabian: My biggest challenge was clearly during my last job. It was not technically within the Green sphere, but my values, which are clearly shaped among others by my involvement with the Greens, caused quite some opposition. I was working with people from all over Europe and the BRICS countries and some — few, but very loud — people did not like my ideas on flat hierarchies, democracy, gender balance and fairness. I wouldn’t say I tried to turn the emerging Global Citizens’ Movement I was supposed to coordinate into a Green thing, but I clearly tried to shape it based on my values. Long story short, as long as my position required me to kind of lead the organisation without having the authority to do so, I realised I couldn’t do anything against the loud, unproductive opposition. So I was happy to switch roles and focus on outcomes. The loud people are now in leading positions and it becomes ever clearer, that they are lacking a vision other than general opposition and fail to produce much needed outcomes. Meanwhile I try to be as productive as possible and demonstrate how far the organisation can come focusing on common aims of which there are so many — given the global reach of topics we work on. This is still an ongoing process, so I can’t say yet if I’ve overcome this challenge, but I sure think it is an interesting process, that taught me a lot about differences and how to deal with them.  

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

Johannes: Hm….creating a permanent space for environmental/political and anti nuclear campaign weapons campaigns etc. was one of the game changers has made a lasting impact and it is still going on today. This is one of the most tangible results where the impact is clearly measurable in different results. I achieved this because I had a vision I believed in, great office team who got behind this political vision and concept and persistence and pursue all avenues of influence towards our goal.

Fabian: There are two successes which I personally like a lot. One outside the Greens and one within. Outside the Greens I managed to write an MA thesis which from the onset was supposed to be less academic and more political. In the end, I was able to present a piece that included a lot of critique and some recommendations on how to include vulnerable people in the DR Congo better in development programmes. I’m super happy that this was actually read and discussed by people in the project I worked in and gives me the feeling I pushed the discourse in the right direction. The reason for this success was probably that I had a clear vision of what I want to do and followed my morals, without loosing a degree of flexibility that allowed me to adjust to my ever changing image of Congo’s complicated situation. Within the Greens my biggest success was probably the latest coverage of #overthefortress. A lot of people saw the vlogs we produced and again I think its the pushing of discourses in the right direction that is the crucial part here. Many people in FYEG — and outside as I recently discovered — discussed the refugee’s situation. Particularly the image we have of refugees and how it is shaped by the interaction of media and our own views. The reasons for this success are easy to find: we were a great team when we went to Idomeni! We discussed and developed ideas together making the outcome greater than anyone of us would have managed on his or her own. This is exactly the way of working I am looking forward to have in the EC if I get elected. 

How do you imagine working with other Executive Committee members?

Johannes: In a professional, friendly, positively challenging and creative manner.

Fabian: This is a very difficult one, because obviously I don’t know yet who will be in the EC in the end and each person has different ways to cooperate. Actually, I think answering this question will be one of the most interesting parts if I get elected. I met some of the other candidates during different events, but finding out how exactly we can work together will be an interesting and rewarding challenge in the beginning of the mandate. Especially because this will help me a lot in learning how to negotiate and reconcile different positions within the Greens. As I mentioned above, I think I’m a mix of talkative and quiet. I think this will help a lot in working together in a productive way.  

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

Johannes: If elected I would like to focus on the Office as a responsibility person from the EC and continue to be responsible for the MOs in the North of Europe. I would like to be part of the team that conducts an equality audit that surveys the diversity amongst participants at FYEG events. Other tasks will be defined during the new ECs task distribution session and I am open to a number of other tasks and projects which will only become clear during the ultimate task division. But I am also flexible enough to see where others have their preferences and adjust accordingly.

Fabian: I think the task that would best fit my character is the one as the contact person for the GYG. This is where I can combine my communication skills with the experience I acquired abroad. I have been involved in the working groups and the ecosprinter. So, coordinating information between the EC and either one of them would be a task I’d like a lot. But as in the last question, this depends a lot on what other EC members would like to do. I’m flexible and willing to learn, if the tasks above are claimed by someone else I’m happy to put all my energy into something else.

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

Johannes: Partisan politics which divides people into parties, colours and nationalities is not what I stand for. We are more than a youth organisations, most of which belong to a political party. We are a movement anchored in society. I hope and think that making the connection with civic society movement in actions, campaigns and protest is what I can contribute to FYEG in a specific way. My vision and hope is also to connect to more other movements like trade Unions and the real working people. The Green movement is too often seen as a middle class club which has no space for trade Unions, workers and just the people.
I also  hope that my experience working and working with questions related to HR and working in an office environment (prior and alongside my FYEG work) gives me a good understanding of some structural aspects of FYEG which can be useful.

Fabian: I’m good in connecting people. So if I get elected loads of crazy emails with loads of smilies would be going back and forth in the EC and towards the outside to make sure everybody is on the same page at all times. On a more hands-on note: as I mentioned quite often, the topics refugees and borders matter a lot to me. I’d like to use some of those smily-ridden emails to connect FYEG to other organisations to which I have good connections less by ideology, but through my old work. I’d love to get us together to make some big buzz and a strong case for an open Europe without borders. Slightly less dramatic, we discussed for quite a while in the global justice working group (on the last WG meeting in Brussels also with the peace working group) about starting a project on Western Sahara, on which FYEG already has a resolution. Despite the troubles coming with it, this is still something I’d love to see happening. The next COP in Morocco will not only be an important milestone on its own, but also a great chance to bring this project onto more practical tracks by forging connections to local activists, that will make the project more likely and more amazing. I would love to bring in my experience, especially in Africa, to make some noise around COP and connect it to the issue of Western Sahara, hopefully together with Marie. Last but not least, it would be worth to explore the possibilities of continuing the vlog reporting we did for #overthefortress during other events. Together with the Ecosprinter’s podcasts this would be a great way to increase our outreach and engage more people for Green ideas and FYEG in general.  

 

 

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

The Ecosprinter Reviews FYEG Executive Committee Member Candidates (Part 1): http://www.ecosprinter.eu/blog/the-ecosprinter-reviews-fyeg-executive-committee-member-candidates-part-1/

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

Joshua Makalintal

Ecosprinter Editorial Board