Our neighbours were our friends, our support, our social circle. They were there to celebrate the good times, and soothe us in difficult times. Neighbours made up our social fabric, and were the building blocks of strong, resilient communities.
While geography, time constraints and social norms have changed, we, as individuals and communities, have never needed our neighbours more than we do now. On 25th May, Europe will celebrate European Neighbour Day, an international day of celebration where millions of people from all over Europe celebrate the people living closest to them – by organising a party, hosting a lunch, or just inviting your neighbour over for tea.
As a part of this, and as a part of its Mienskip project (the equivilant of Small Towns Big Ideas), Leeuwarden European Capital of Culture 2018 is hosting its first European Exchange Programme. Over the weekend of 26 May, representatives from each of the Small Towns Big Ideas Pilot towns – Headford, Ballygar and Athenry, will travel to Leeuwarden to join other European Capitals of Culture – past and future. The aim of the programme is to bring people who are active in their communities throughout Europe together to exchange experiences, to network and by doing so, to bring new ideas and inspirations to their own communities.
Throughout the weekend, participants will work together on all their projects, sharing their experiences and working together on solving issues, developing additional projects and working on the possibilities of developing joint projects.
The idea is that the European citizens’ day of 2018 is the beginning of a tradition, hosted every year by the European cultural capital of that year. In 2020, Galway wil host a European Exchange programme, where we can invite other European countries to visit Galway, and where we can learn from different countries and their communities, and they can learn from us. They do not want to let these guests sleep in hotels, but rather with the people, at the projects, at home. This is therefore a real exchange with our European neighbours. In terms of projects, but also private. A wonderful way to really get to know Europe!