Paris, France, October 2020 – One of the main activities of the LOUD project (“Local Young Leaders for Inclusion”), which Efus is leading with the aim of fostering inclusive environments for young people in order to prevent them from drifting into intolerance and extremist behaviours, is to have groups of young people in the nine partner cities design and produce alternative narrative campaigns, mostly online.
In order to provide local actors with tools to tackle discrimination, intolerance and extremism at the local level, Efus delivered between March and June a series of four training webinars on how to prepare, design and disseminate an alternative narrative campaign. The webinars were open to all local actors interested in developing such campaigns.
We have asked representatives of three of the municipalities that took part in this training to give us their feedback.
Düsseldorf (DE): “Young people must be encouraged to think critically and trained accordingly”
“Discourses on discrimination and extremism are important instruments for promoting democracy. Young people and adults must be encouraged to think critically and open-mindedly and must be trained accordingly. Indeed, there are no simple answers to complex issues and we should avoid one-dimensional classifications into “good and evil” or “black and white.”
From experience, we know that it makes sense to bring young people in contact with these topics through schools and leisure facilities where they can discuss them both with teachers and with classmates and friends. The campaigns created with Efus through LOUD can serve as an introduction to a conversation, especially because they are made by young people for young people.
In addition to such campaigns, the youth council when it exists, which politically represents the interests of young people in a city, can put the topics of discrimination and extremism on their agenda and raise awareness in a peer-to-peer approach.”
L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (ES): “Thinking big and out of the box is useful in all types of youth work”
“We were particularly interested in three issues raised during these webinars, namely the importance of knowing the specific context in which the campaign designed by young local residents will be broadcast, the need to work on it in a structured way, and the importance of clearly defining what we want to change and therefore on what call to action.
We also appreciated the advice of assessing the reality in which young participants live and the need of being aware of data, information and possible obstacles, but at the same time the need and the opportunity to think out of the box, be creative and think big. This is a fascinating guideline that applies to all kinds of youth work and implies tapping into their capacity as agents for change.
Local and regional authorities need to engage in promoting alternative discourse projects because there is a need to design and build more liveable urban environments, and a liveable city is an inclusive city. Our approach is in line with that of Efus in that we consider that addressing discrimination requires going to the roots of conflicts and inequalities and taking into account what we might consider as micro-aggressions. Young people can play an important role in this because they have a lot to share. We can support them in making good use of their experience, knowledge and skills to make their voice heard.”
Leuven (BE): “Teaching methods to young people so they can make their voice heard”
“It is important to introduce young people to methods they can use to make their voice heard and ensure their story reach their targeted audience. We are mindful of the presence of discrimination and polarisation in our society, as attested by the rise of extreme-right parties not only in Belgium but also throughout Europe. We at the Leuven City Council feel that our society is not sufficiently aware of these phenomena.
The webinars showed us the importance of carefully determining our target audience prior to choosing the most appropriate dissemination medium. In particular, the pros and cons of the various social media channels were very helpful.”