What happened at Edgeryders mini conference?

Last week at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Edgeryders as project and think tank entered an exciting new phase: for the first time we met face to face with students, youth workers, sociologists, project managers, researchers, CoE staff members and community members. One goal was to discuss where we are with research findings and their potential to elicit better youth policy (a term some of us would like replaced since it most often means policy for youth instead of by youth, hinting at top-down approaches). In addition to the tentative summary below, browsing the #edgemeet hashtag archive you’ll find statements that IMO shall long live in Edgeryders collective imaginary.

Edgeryders implications for policy: A prototype?


With over 550 users and roughly 140 high quality stories, ours is a community of citizens experts, built on the assumption that a large crowd of people is smarter than any smaller group of smart people. Edgeryders uses an unconventional methodology that’s cheap and fast compared to traditional ethnography, plus it incorporates the digital tools youth are so fond of nowadays. Because of these and more, Edgeryders collaborative model challenges key perspectives in policy design and in Gilda Farrell's words, it can be a prototype for different kind of interactions between institutions and citizens. The issue was brought to discussion at a roundtable on how intergovernmental institutions, namely the Council of Europe, could improve interaction with citizens. Clearly, islands of innovative thinking do exist, but structural transformation will take time.

Francis Gosselin Uni Strasbourg: How do IGOs respond to social media and is there a need for IGOs to do so? - @MarukomuC
Lee Hibbard: the structures of @councilofeurope are not enough, we have to be more creative and more lateral in our thinking. -@Edgeryders
Talking expectation management and honesty: if Edgeryders doesn’t turn into miracle policies, that’s fine. If it does, marvelous! -@alberto_cottica

Meeting the researchers


Valentina and Rebecca presented their qualitative analysis of Edgeryders reality as it emerges from mission reports so far, and indeed we can speak of a reality of the platform, one which is impregnated with meanings constructed by participants. These are real people, with real aspirations and fears, and theirs are honest accounts of offline realities. In Valentina’s words, the content so far “is really pushing the boundaries of the most recent literature on youth transition”, as it brings forward key concepts:

  • WHAT Edgeryders talk about, both positive and negative issues: innovation, inspiration, motivation, expression, joy, passion, congratulation; dissapointment, dissatisfaction, failure, protest, inequalities, frustration, risk and others;
  • HOW they live or face challenges: building networks, searching for funding, accessing the Internet, social hacking, developing skills, shared ownership, contribution.


Message from the community

Each of the four Edgeryders invitees presented a key topic in youth transition, as seen through the eyes of the community: Alessia's claim was that Edgeryders challenge the traditional chain of working-to-buy-to-consume-to-die with a new magic chain that puts passion and self-motivation at the heart of work. Andrei aka @TOOLosophy provided us with a complex tour into the old and new channels of participation: on one side we’re witnessing alienation of young people from the rigid political systems, but on the other hand we see models of human agency and grassroots cooperation (the open data movements, but also acts of civil disobedience).


Tiago had a visually beautiful presentation introducing the Edgeryder Innovator Persona, who doesn’t fit the formal work requirements and who is told, when in search for funding: “I am sorry, you are too ahead of your time”. Finally, we heard Giacomo speaking about the futility of his educational experience - for not fostering networking skills or encouraging initiative, to name just a few arguments - and applauded his quest for bringing happiness into the world :). Are all Edgeryders holding such a fresh outlook on the future? We think most are. Have a look at this conversation spotting a discussion about whom Edgeryders actually represent and which young people in which Europe we portray.

For a detailed view of the miniconference programme and list of participants, as well as for any questions you may have please write to edgeryders@gmail.com. Also, below are the links to some of the fabulous presentations we heard. Finally, a huge Thank You to all participants at the Mini conference - Gilda Farrell, Sladjana Petkovic, Dunja Potocnik, Massimiliano Mascherini, Magnus Eriksson, Malcolm Cox and all the rest mentioned above. Looking forward to see you again at the big June event!!

» Massimiliano Mascherini, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions - Young people and NEETs in Europe: First findings

» Valentina Cuzzocrea & Rebecca Collins, Research team - Facilitating Youth Transition to an Active Life by Reinforcing Shared Social Responsibility

» Alessia Zabatino, Edgeryder - Making a Living: Mobility and the challenges of transforming knowledge into knowledge 

» Tiago Dias Miranda, Edgeryder - Social innovators: How to make a living by making a difference