Spring Meeting 2016, Lille/ France – Where sustainability meets entrepreneurial spirit
Once a year, oikees from all over the world come together to take part at the oikos Spring Meeting. This year’s gathering, from 17th to 19th March, focused on “Creating an Entrepreneurial Mindset” and the president of our chapter in Graz, Alexandra and Isabella used this opportunity to meet like-minded people from all over the world to exchange ideas and develop new skills.
We arrived on a sunny afternoon in Lille, a beautiful city in the far north of France with almost 230,000 inhabitants near the border to Belgium. After the check-in we had some time to meet other oikos members, before heading to the city centre. There we enjoyed a traditional dinner, met the rest of the participants and explored how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in France. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Lille, take it. This student city with its narrow streets and French charm is definitely worth a trip.
The next morning started off with some ice breaker games and the official programme – two lectures, a workshop and a learning circle. First, the director of the Belgian NGO Regionaal Landschap Kempen, a Green Nobel Prize Winner, talked about how he developed a sustainable tourism business model in a former industrialised area. His model offered an alternative to the former coal production industry and created new jobs. His main message was – think globally, act locally and change personally. The second speaker, a CSR and communication director at McCain Foods told us about his exciting career path and the daily challenges of his job when convincing not only external, but also internal stakeholders about his CSR vision. In the afternoon, workshops could be chosen individually. For example about the difficulty of social businesses, or values of a social entrepreneurship. Also the learning circles covered a variety of topics – from energy, fashion, entrepreneurship to finance and economics.
The long but interesting day ended with delicious food at the hostel, some Indian dancing and networking.
On the third day oikos Lille prepared a hold-up and a project fair. For the hold-up we worked together with the French NGO boom to find possible solutions on following problem: How can transparency of subsidies in the fishing sector be increased? At the moment they suspected that many unsustainable fisheries are subsidised by the French government and in order to receive this information we were supposed to find possible solutions. A very challenging, but interesting task.
Later the day we got the possibility to experience what the other oikos chapters’ projects are about and gained new ideas for our chapter in Graz. Very popular and an innovative and fun way to learn about the other cultures was the sweet exchange. Last but not least a pitch contest followed, where we had to find ideas on how to improve a city’s social or environmental situation.
Time flies when you are having fun – after three days full of new insights and friends we ended the Spring Meeting 2016 with a goodbye dinner and went exploring Lille’s nightlife.
Till the next time!