For the third edition of This Is Europe, Shahidha Bari journeys to the outer perimeters of the European Union – and beyond – in search of the stories that are shaping the future of life on the continent.
In a small village in rural Saxony, proximity to the Czech and Polish borders provides an excellent starting point for the most European of educations. Primary school teacher, Kamil Prisching, brings us along for a border-hopping school day, as his young German pupils travel to their partner school in the Czech Republic, and receive a crash course education on everything from the traditional practice of sheep-rearing to robotics – all in two languages, of course.
Meanwhile, on the border of Lithuania and Belarus, an imaginative new outreach project seeks to reclaim the infrastructure of ex-Soviet art schools, and make it available to the most vulnerable children in the region – with staggering results. Dalia Semeska is the artist, critic, and teacher behind a fairytale story of creativity, community, and adventure.
Dotted across the far corners of the Northern Periphery, an energetic network of young entrepreneurs are bucking trends of depopulation in their respective rural communities – and finding companionship in each others’ stories. Three of these renegade young business owners come together to revisit the Interreg program that helped them get started.
On the second edition of This is Europe, Shahidha Bari hears from members of the Interreg community who are working together, across borders, to shape the future of the EU, and establish meaningful connections with their European neighbours.
A new tram line connects the French city of Strasbourg to Kehl, its German neighbour. Cathy Gebhart-Levy, a mobility planner for Strasbourg, takes us on a ride over the river Rhine, to explore the ways the new tram has strengthened a relationship with a long and complex history. Plus, we hear from the locals on either side of the border who have benefited from the Interreg co-funded initiative, as opportunities for employment, housing, and culture spring up beside the newly created tracks.
In some of the harder-to-reach pockets of Europe, opportunities for neighbourly connection require a little bit of imagination. Andrej Medved is the head of Šmarje, a village in rural Slovenia, where he is turning the tide on a familiar story of depopulation with bold and innovative projects that bring the opportunities of Europe directly into the heart of his small community. Shahidha hears about one of those initiatives, the Interreg funded Smart Villages, which gives rural communities access to impressive digital infrastructure, boosting the reach of local businesses.
On the coastlines of Europe, communities built around the ancient practice of fishing are adapting to new regulations and environmental targets. As a consequence, it has never been more difficult for small-scale fishing operations to meaningfully profit from their work, but one Interreg initiative is shining a light on a possible path into the future of this cherished industry. We head to a small coastal town in Spain, where one fisherman has identified an opportunity at the intersection of tradition and innovation.
Join us for a day out on a trawler, as intrepid tourists gain perspective-altering insight into a world that is all too often unseen.
In the first edition of This is Europe, Shahidha Bari hears from members of the Interreg community who are creating a greener Europe.
Shahidha hops on her bike to take a tour of Steffen Nozon’s hometown of Rostock in northern Germany. Steffen, an avid cyclist, is a mobility manager transforming his local area into green, car-free ‘living streets’. Meeting local residents on her bike ride, Shahidha also hears from Stefanie Maack, communications officer for Interreg, who explains that Rostock is just one of 10 cities working together to reimagine transport networks in their respective communities.
To meet the EU’s 2050 target of carbon neutrality, millions of homes need to be renovated to be greener, smarter and more energy efficient. Thanks to Interreg, small housing associations across the EU are working together to achieve this ambitious goal. To find out more, Shahidha speaks to Rutger Vrielink, manager of strategy and innovation at the Domijn housing association in Enschede, Netherlands.
John Drysdale is an arable farmer on the Balgonie estate in Fife, Scotland. As a self-described shooter, forester and conservationist, John has always been interested in biodiversity. Taking us on a tour of his land, John explains what motivates him to work with Interreg and 10 other farms in five countries to encourage the grey partridge to thrive – a bird which is seen as a reliable indicator of biodiversity. Working with John is Fiona Torrance, from the Game and Wildlife Trust, who has developed a novel way to count the partridges – armed with a mobile phone and a bluetooth speaker.
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