oikos International Chapter Conference Graz 2022

From 21 to 24 April, our Community had the pleasure to be hosted by the Graz chapter of oikos for this year’s edition of the International Chapter Conference(ICC), which took place in the Austrian city. Over the course of four days the sessions would cover a wide range of topics focusing on bringing changes to systems around us. Deeply rooted throughout this year’s ICC was belief that small people could make a change and hope of coming together to collaborate and drive the change. There were plenty of opportunities to learn, challenge our perspectives and ideas, exchange and connect with active members and alumni from the international oikos Community. In this article, we look back to the Conference and take away the most important parts of it.

The day one of the ICC was traditionally centered around oikos International. On this day we had the opportunity to present to our Community, as well as external – local and international students taking part at the conference. The Conference opened up with a few words from oikos Co-presidents Sophie Charrois and Darija Miletic, welcoming everyone and presenting the agenda for the day. It was truly a large Community gathering, with plenty of chapters represented by both – members attending the full conference along with those partaking in the LEAP YOUth onsite Kick-off Meeting which had also taken place in Graz in the three days leading up to the conference.

Sustainable Finance was the center point of one of the workshops

Naturally, the oikos International day of each conference is the place for networking and connecting with fellow oikees, exchanging about each other’s ideas and projects, sharing inspiring stories and building up the community feeling. It is also an important platform for oikos International to present our initiatives and opportunities in which oikos chapter members can take part, along with tools and developments we specially designed for the chapters. We had a diverse audience of oikees, coming from different chapters and with varying amounts of experience. Whether they’re long-time members or had just joined their local chapter, each of them could take back home new learnings to apply in local projects and activities.

Day two of the ICC kicked off with a scavenger hunt in the morning. The four-hour walk around the city of Graz, finding local sustainable businesses and getting to know the city a bit better were so captivating that even the rainy weather couldn’t wash away the good mood and energy among participants. A well planned route with an incredible selection of stores had seen oikees pay a visit and learn about natural cosmetics, fair fashion, social workshop, secondhand, bike rental and zero-waste groceries. There were plenty of things to take away from all of the stores, but the highlight for most was printing their own oikos shirt to take home as a souvenir.

Apflbutzn zero-waste market was one of the stops in the scavenger hunt

After the exciting morning, we came together for an opening ceremony which took place later in the day, with the hosts from oikos Graz officially kicking off the main part of the Conference. The ceremony was honored by a speech from a Graz city official as the city provided support to the organizing team, along with a speech of an alumni member – the founder of the local chapter Clemens Mader, which marked the 20-year anniversary of oikos Graz. Clemens took us on a journey back in time and showed us how things were back in the day and how the chapter, but also the international network has changed and evolved over the last two decades.

Following the ceremony, Ana Pribil addressed the all-important connection between the climate crisis and our psychology in a workshop around Climate Anxiety. This aspect of the climate crisis that is not explored too often was very eye opening, creating discussions among participants and reflecting on our own habits.

Day three of the Conference was all about our surroundings, opening up with a set of 8 workshops on a variety of topics which participants got to choose from. With plenty of interaction and addressing interesting points, the workshops provided a great energy to start the day with.

Later that day we were joined by Weitzer Wood Solutions which presented the growing importance of wood and it’s many applications in the modern world. Being in Graz, in Styria – often called the Green Heart of Austria, it had a special place in the agenda as a local product, but also as a means of offsetting the carbon footprint through a more wide spread of wood in construction. With a motto Wood is high-tech, wood is lightweight, the session explored the innovative side to constructing with wood, especially in the car industry, along with its benefits in regards to reducing emissions, energy efficiency and reducing costs.

There were 8 different workshop topics for participants to choose from

Following this sessions, participants split into groups for the World Cafe where they could sit down for a coffee and discuss on a few selected topics related to sustainability. At the same time, an Alumni Homecoming took place as a venue for active oikees to get to network and exchange experiences with alumni from Graz and a few other chapters. This space was very insightful for our International Team as we got an overview of the organizational challenges and experiences faced in the past, but also as a way of contributing to out own HOMEcoming project.

We finished off the day with an evening of oikos Talk, with a panel discussion on the topic Policy making, or policy faking? Which featured Kornelia Vogl, the SDG Ambassador for Graz, Jakob Schwarz, a Green Party MP in Austria and Dr. Ralph Aschemann, University of Graz. The discussion was very engaging, with many participants joining in with questions and pointing out some critical issues and challenges from perspectives of different backgrounds.

The audience was very eager to join the discussion with the panelists

On the final day we got to see another interesting panel discussion with Gerald Babel-Sutter, Urban Future; Hannah Wundsam, AustranStartups’ Phil Wilfinger, Fridays for Future Austria and Vanessa Roi, Das Liebig. All four of these System changers shared their individual stories about how they’ve identified certain issues and shaped their work in a way to tackle them and contribute in part to driving the change in the world around them. Coming from four different backgrounds, they gave us insights into their world and experiences which drove the discussion further with the engagement of the audience.

In the following session, we were graced with the opportunity to hear Rob Hopkins – something of a ‘celebrity’ in the world of climate activism. Rob joined us online via video call, but his motivation and energy translated so well into the Conference venue that it was easy to forget he was hundreds of miles away. Together with Rob, we reimagined the future in which, despite the setbacks there is still hope to make the change to live in a more sustainable world. The session left us inspired and it set up the mood for the closing activity of the day and the entire conference – planting together in a local university community garden.

Planting in the Community Garden was the perfect way to wrap up the Conference

No doubt the Conference left a long lasting impression on all of us. It was the biggest gathering of the oikos Community since 2019 and we were happy to see changemakers coming together and engaging from even the most distant corners of our network. There’s plenty of praise to give to the organizing team of oikos Graz who have put an incredible amount of effort over the past months to create a captivating program, find amazing venues and feature many inspiring speakers.

On behalf of oikos International we would like to give our gratitude to the team and extend it to all the members of our Community who made the experience ever more fulfilling with their presence!

Author image

oikos International

posted May 9, 2022

This might be for you.

oikos Conference 2021 Experience

The oikos Conference 2021 recently wrapped up in St Gallen and it was the biggest gathering of oikos Community this year.

Over the course of four days the oikos Community gathered in St. Gallen along with partner networks, local and international students from different backgrounds. We were happy to see some familiar faces, but also some new ones. Members of many oikos chapters joined in – Barcelona, Bayreuth, Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Graz, Hamburg, Tuebingen and Prague helped create the warm community feel throughout the event. On top of that we were joined by students from Rethinking Economics networks in Brazil, Netherlands, Norway and Spain, along with other local and international student associations.

The sessions throughout the conference featured many interesting and high-profile speakers from around the world. From politicians to activists, professors and entrepreneurs joining in live in Switzerland or tuning in through Zoom from a different continent – they offered interesting insights and showed some very diverse perspectives. Along with traditional panels and workshop, participants joined the emotional and thought-provoking Warm Data Labs, which not only let them exchange on the subject in different context, but also help create a deeper connection and new friendships.

Kicking off the Conference, we started the day 1 with the first Warm Data Lab as the opening activity. It was a great introduction of what to expect of the days ahead – learning something new about ourselves, others and the world around us while making some new friends. Later in the day, the participants split into a few groups for workshops organized by oikos International and Rethinking Economics. Some of these took on interesting topics like the decolonizing economics and sustainable finance workshops, while the leadership workshop brought a bit of LEAP experience to St. Gallen.

Day 2 started off with a session on water – dwelling into its availability for everyone and fighting for it as a human right. The traditional oikos Impact Fair followed, where some of the oikos International initiatives and programs like the Positive Impact Rating and Transforming Education Initiative were presented, along with projects from some of the participating oikos chapters. After two hours of casual exchange and discussions came the big moment – the launch of oiKosmos. The new community platform was finally presented to the oikos Community after months of hard work and officially launched at the spot. It was followed by a panel featuring Martin Kolman of the University of St. Gallen and Joris Tieleman of Rethinking Economics Netherlands discussing the purpose of economy. We wrapped up the day with another panel, this time on green politics, featuring European politicians and South American activist from the Fridays for Future movement.

The next day was rich in panels with many panelists joining in, both in-person and through video, offering a trully diverse multitude of perspectives from various fields of expertise and different parts of the world. The three panels were thorough, addressing the current situation, discussing potential solutions and sharing visions of a better future. And not only did the panelists get to speak their minds – the audience was well engaged, with students eager to ask intriguing and well-thought-off questions with every chance they get. However, with the time limit, some of them remained not asked, which simply meant taking the discussion outside, to the hallway, which was filled with a murmur on burning topics between the sessions. After the somewhat intense day of panels, it felt the well timed Warm Data Lab closed the activities for the day, with real deep and meaningful conversations taking place.

The final day of the Conference was much lighter, though still engaging, tackling interesting questions and challenges from the perspectives of politics, economy and environment.

We would like to thank the amazing oikos Conference team of oikos St.Gallen for their great effort in making the conference a reality. All the work the team had put into the Conference was evident by the consistent quality and professionalism throughout the four days. We’d also like to extend our gratitude to oikos chapters and partners which enriched the conference experience with their presense.

To get a peek into the oikos Conference experience, have a look at these amazing pictures from the event below.

Author image

oikos International

posted November 2, 2021

This might be for you.

oiKosmos Launch

On Friday, October 22 the oiKosmos was officially launched at the oikos Conference in St. Gallen.

After months of hard work on creating a single platform for all things oikos, Jonas Charrois, the IT Manager of oikos International and a part of the team working on the project presented it to the community. oiKosmos is a new oikos Community platform for all oikos chapters, alumni members and friends of oikos.

The platform consists of three elements – Miro, Discord and Google. Through Miro, we have created a big online hub with all the lates information from around the oikos world – from the upcoming community events, to opportunities and tools for students from the oikos network. As the usage and popularity of Discord at universities and beyond has grown lately, we wanted to incorporate it into our intra-network communication, allowing for a wide array of possibilities to exchange with others and stay up to date with what is happening in the oikos Community. Lastly with integrating Google Workspace into our work, we have opened new possibilities for chapter members in form of various toolkits and resources our community members can use for their own activities.

Learn more about the oiKosmos in the video below!

Author image

oikos International

posted October 23, 2021

This might be for you.