From the 9th until the 11th of November 2018, fifty European civil society and grassroots organisations will be welcomed in Vooruit, an arts centre in Ghent, Belgium. Together they will develop radical alternatives to nationalism and neo-liberalism, two narratives that put a stranglehold on the future of Europe today.
During the alternative European summit, the participants will present their hopeful practices to each other and develop them further collectively. How do these concrete utopias seek to establish more equal and righteous relationships? For example: radical democratic, decolonised gender relations, relations of production and intercultural dialogue, as well as relations between people and the planet or between individual citizens, civil society organisations and the institutions. In this way, they will conduct ‘prefigurative politics’: which practices may foreshadow a hopeful future for Europe? And which conditions should be fulfilled to perpetuate these practices, in order to transform them into the symbolic institutions for structural societal change?
Every evening of the three-day European summit, the representatives of the hopeful discourses and practices will throw the doors of their working spaces wide open for everyone who is interested. Together they will discuss possible solutions to problems each citizen can relate to, such as the widespread housing problem, equal access to health care and the valorisation of solidarity, diversity and citizenship in education. The discussions will be interspersed with artistic interventions, as imagination is a crucial driving force of social change.
On Armistice Day, when the First World War commemoration industry will be operating at full capacity, we will focus on the future of the European project: during the final public event, we will enter into a fundamental dialogue with each other on and formulate incentives for an alternative European treaty. This ‘Treaty of Ghent’ will be finalised after the summit and then spread all over Europe by the representatives, aspiring to firmly connect diverse islands of hope into a continent with future.