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Edgeryders: how sharing and collaboration can build a vision for the European young generation

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, January 10 2012

Edgeryders, a project of the Council of Europe and the European Commission

In times of crisis the younger generation seems to be the one that is and will be most affected and without any clue on how to face unprecedented challenges.

European youngsters seem to have one more problem, as they belong to countries that differ by culture and language and face their everyday challenge in contexts that are hardly comparable. But there young people are also Europeans, part of one "entity"that often seems vague in its definition and functioning.

The Council of Europe and the European Commission are then trying to help by creating a think tank on youth’s transition to an independent active life. They’re doing in an unusual way, though, with a small but interesting project: transition experts are in fact young people themselves, collaborating and sharing experiences in a growing online community called Edgeryders.

As you can read on their blog, Edgeryders is “diverse, constructive interaction channel between European young people and our democratic institutions, and designed along the principle of Internet-enabled massive open collaboration”.
The efforts are led by economist  and open government expert Alberto Cottica (a PdF friend and a speaker at our PdF Europe conferences). You can learn more about the project in this short video:

On Edgeryders' blog, Cottica explains more about the project and its meaning:

A whole generation of Europeans may not be achieving its full potential. Young people tend to be excluded from labour markets; let down by an education system that seems not to be able to help them achieve full autonomy; estranged from traditional political participation channels; too often marginalised and stigmatised into a social problem themselves.
Yet, this same generation displays brilliant examples of creativity, social innovativeness, attitude for collaboration and sharing and generosity. By making use of these abilities, many young people are building new ways to make the transition from adolescence to a full-fledged adult life; they are effectively building the world we all will live in tomorrow. Its goal is to produce a shared vision of how Europe’s young citizens could claim a stronger influence on our common future – and a larger share of the social responsibility that goes with it.

Is it about occupying squares and protesting against the system? Not only that: as Douglas Rushkoff wrote, the real occupation takes place in terms of value change, and this is what the Edgeryders community is trying to achieve, by creating a participatory environment organized around the “we”.

Relevant themes will be explored through campaigns that will be launched as Edgeryders grows and progresses (the community has 350 members so far).
The third campaign is called "We, the people":

[...] we will spend the following three weeks looking closely at what young Europeans are doing to reinvent democracy: from increasingly unpopular participation channels such as voting to straightforward means to affect change – street protests and the recent Occupy or The Indignados movements.
An important game changer lies in the power of technology, which has changed the way we connect to one another to build networks and seems to bring individuals closer to the political realm. 

Participants will share their stories and experiences (you will find some examples already) and discuss them with the other members of the community.
The "We, the people" campaign is made of four missions:

1. Reactivating democratic institutions 

2. Taking to the street 

3. Hacking for change 

4. Spotlight: open government

When a member participates in a mission, s/he gains also reputation points and badges. But there are no prizes: the reputation of the "players"  helps the newcomers to connect with people willing to help them. A game that makes everybody win.
The results of the project will be presented to the European Commission and the Council of Europe’s member states in a conference to take place in May 2012.