News - May 20, 2019

We need to talk

Wageningen is a relatively small town and many people coming from cities think they’re going to get bored to death once they've moved here. However being small and not offering mundane city-like entertainment a lot of stuff happens in Wageningen. I’d dare saying too much, even.

By Donatella Gasparro

One phenomenon I observed in these almost two years here is this “association fever”. Creating groups for things. Whatever kind of thing you can imagine, there is a group of people who created a platform or a weekly meeting for it. And this keeps on happening. People keep restlessly creating groups for things. They’ll always come up with something it’s worth to create a group for.

That’s also what I thought when I first heard about WUYLF – Wageningen University Youth for Landscape Forum. I thought: nothing new. I thought: vague, what does this stand for? Then I got to know the idea a bit better and found out about the wider umbrella under which it falls: the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). Oh, cool – I thought. But vague. What does it stand for, what does this mean?

The incredibly talented and motivated group of students composing WUYLF set up a panel discussion in Impulse that was live streamed in Kyoto for the GLF. The panel discussion theme: “Youth in climate smart landscapes”. Okay, wait. What does this mean? I admit, again, I thought: bunch of buzzwords. Vague.

I was there. I listened carefully to the whole discussion. Seven panellists from (not too) different backgrounds were discussing climate change, system change, youth role, landscape thinking, co-creation of solutions.  It was vague. It was nothing new. But it was extremely necessary.

Why? Because that’s what we need now: to open up the boxes and throw our own truth at each other. We need to talk. We need to sit in circles for hours and (re)think. We need to find a common ground, those red lines that connect us and that can make us unite for change. And, as emerged from the discussion, we, “youth” have the power of freedom. The power of challenging a system in which we’re yet to be entangled. The power to make mistakes. The power to question the unquestionable.

The matter we’re dealing with is vague, because complex, because extremely interconnected. Then: welcome vagueness. As a start, as a comprehensive space with no boundaries, where thoughts can bounce and change in shape and form.  Welcome space, welcome time: space and time for sharing, building, being active in co-creating our own future.