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European media, civil society comes together in “Summer of Solidarity”

Midsummer’s day, the longest day of the year, is one of those rare holidays that you will find celebrated across all of Europe.

The dates differ slightly, it goes by tens of names, but the spirit of revelry which typically involves a mix of eating, drinking, dancing, and bonfires is shared across the entire continent.

A similar idea drove several dozen media and civil society organizations to come together in a self-proclaimed “Summer of Solidarity” (SoS). The idea is basically to launch the “first pop-up continent wide, European, collaborative, storytelling media initiative”.

Driven by a small editorial team led by Natalie Nougayrede, the former managing editor of Le Monde and a columnist at The Guardian, the team hopes to compile a body of work – primarily targeting “‘slow’ journalism that focuses on human stories and gives a voice”, according to the initiative’s new and very blue website.

Speaking at a launch call on June 20, Nougayrede noted the idea is to use to the stories to “really listen to each other” and “break bubbles”.

In the same line – one of the main goals of the initiative is connecting people to build a real pan-European network of media and help gradually build a European public space for conversations and the exchange of ideas to take place.

This already seems to be working, as the initiative has been joined by partners from across the continent, such as Tbilisi/ Brooklyn based media start-up Coda Story, German investigative network Correctiv, Poland’s Kultura Liberalna online magazine, cross-border collaboration platform Hostwriter and many others.

This should also help address one of the chronic problems of the European media/ civil society space – the existence of multiple organizations running similar projects on a sub-scale level.

Kyrill Hartog, a co-founder of Are We Europe and editor of the SoS initiative, likens the European space to a bunch of separate islands, noting that “every time you come to a conference, you find that there are many organizations doing the same thing”.

Supported by European Cultural Foundation, the Hippocrene foundation and the Robert Bosch foundation, SoS will be commissioning work from photographers, journalists, and other creators throughout the next two months (the website includes details for contributors)

These stories will be featured on the website, together with links to partner materials that match the spirit and ideals of SoS.

Mindful of the COVID-induced isolation, the SoS team has also launched an “E-road trip” initiative, helping set imaginations free and create a joint summer experience even for those locked indoors.

Juli Simond, the intiative’s project manager, summed it up: “Summer of Solidarity is an inspiring project for me as it brings together diverse perspectives and people in a time when we need it the most; if Europe can’t be together physically, then we will be together in united spirit.”

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