Groups of students surveyed the wishes of 450 young people in North Friesland and drew up a youth agenda. Their conclusion: time for a paintball village and a Friesland film industry.
'Officials look at things too much from their own perspective; they can't really imagine what it's like for young people', says the Velp student Doede Kooistra. 'They should do much more to get young people involved', adds one of his fellow students. They are part of a group of Velp students who got involved in the 'Go, Young Frieslanders' project ('Jonge Friezen Foarút' in the Fries language) for their Development Planning minor.
The population of North Friesland is declining, making it a so-called contracting region. Young people are leaving because they cannot find any work, for example. 'Go, Young Frieslanders' is an initiative started by regional public authorities and the Green Living Environment of Cities lectureship at Van Hall Larenstein.
The group in Velp have paid about ten visits to Friesland over the past few months. 'Oh, can't you speak Fries?', was a common first reaction. 'But the people were really enthusiastic right from the start', says Merel Enserink. And it was useful having Doede, who actually is from Friesland and could break the ice by speaking in his native tongue.
The group thought up projects that would make use of rural land in Friesland and at the same time boost the local economy. Some examples are a paintball village and a Fries film industry going under the name Frollywood. Another idea was the 'Tsjerke Toer', a tour along churches containing artists' exhibitions or stalls selling local products. 'The churches are really landmarks and the routes between them connect up the villages', explains Doede. 'You could make landscape art depicting the view from the church towers, for example showing the patterns made by mowing.'
The students presented their ideas in Leeuwarden on 20 January, during a symposium in which the youth agenda was revealed. The symposium was unusual in that the speakers were young people and students while the audience consisted of civil servants, councillors and business people. The agenda items cover areas such as living, working, mobility and safety. They will be worked out in more detail over the next year. See www.jongefriezenfoarut.nl (Dutch only).