Four years ago, The Great Adventure Project

We do not get the idea of a global movement on the radicalism of love in a few months. Today, I wanted to share with you one important milestone on this journey.

The Great Adventure Project is a reflection that we initiated with Paul Hearn. At that time, we were working together at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Both of us continued to develop it. He did it with the EU Academy project, and me with Together-Ensemble, with my dear Obhi Chatterjee and other amazing colleagues, like Raquel Correia, Erick Lignon and Miruna Stamate.

This article below is a good backgrounder on the Dream, which obviously evolved, but I thought its content would be powerful for our draft manifesto.

Everyday Ideas Worth Implementing

There is a world beyond expert discussions, high art, science, policy debates, competition, ego, negotiation, macroeconomic data, power brokering, numbers, trends, predictions and the generalised self-interest of society’s elites.

Outside our world of dry policy making, high stakes, competing interests and privilege, there is another world, more real than the world of the EU Institutions to the vast majority of European citizens. 

It is a world in which human beings face ordinary challenges, sometimes with extraordinary results.

A world far removed from the deliberations of politics or policy.

It is a world of down to earth ideas close to the point of impact, common sense, authenticity, fueled by dreams of a better world and incredulity that it always seems somehow out of reach.

Occasionally in this world something useful to all of us emerges, not because those behind it need to shine or want to be pushed into the limelight, but because individuals and collectives persist in the face of adversity, refuse to give in, and find their own way to make a contribution in their own silent way.

Community and civic innovators, organisers, inventors, artists, community entrepreneurs, journalists, teachers, tradesmen, local counsellors, activists, makers, cooperatives, commons movements, technology geeks, small business owners, ordinary people, dreamers inhabit this far away world. Bus drivers, plumbers, migrants, house wives or house husbands, young citizens, retired or elderly people. Their dreams make up the European dream.

Their dreams are as important as your or my dreams. Perhaps more so, since they are locally rooted and carried locally, and have a direct meaning and impact in everyday lives. They make local lives worth living. These humble acts, humble dreams of ordinary people make a better world worth creating. Alongside these innovators are many others who may never ever get the chance to dream, caught up in the precariousness of everyday life. For these dreams will remain just that, unrealised dreams, simple brilliant human projects that go unspoken, unnoticed, unheard.

Where do these ideas, expressed and unexpressed, go?

Why not, like philosopher Theodore Zeldin, imagine this world, this Europe, as it might be?

In Zeldinworld, hotels, community centres, churches, parks, trains and buses, theatres, town halls become mini-laboratories where staff and guests freely mingle with — and learn from — each other, sharing dreams together, building the next steps.

Supermarkets become social centres where shoppers debate, strike deals, find jobs, find companionship and maybe even love.  Insurance brokers and bankers help young dreamers to create opportunities rather than concentrating on helping the old to mitigate risks. The Nobel Committee awards a Prize not for high art or high science, but for civic acts, for humble acts that make a difference.

Zeldin proposes a world in which individual dreams and ideas meet a world of opportunity, connection, leverage  – our world – but a world humble enough not to wish to corrupt, manipulate or control, but to set free, to embrace them and help to flourish.

What about us? Did we lose our capacity to dream? What happens to societies that cannot dream, and cannot turn simple good projects into reality? Like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, Zeldin believes that “everything that is essential is invisible to the eye”. Our project is about rendering the invisible visible, giving a voice to the voiceless, allowing beauty to triumph over tragedy, celebrating simple projects, humility, building a Europe of 500 million dreamers, a world of 7 billion dreamers and giving those who have started something the toolkit to overcome their challenges, learn to collaborate with others, and the opportunity to take their ideas forward.

Methodology (10 Point Plan)

01. Develop a methodology to identify the humble, the voiceless, to find people who have started something worthwhile that fits within European values* and ideals.

02. Listen to their stories, and learn.

03. Develop an approach/platform which focuses on amplifying their ideas, not ours.

04. Offer our assets, e.g. Europa website/conferences/resources as a celebration of everyday achievements, as a people’s platform or create a new asset – Europa Everyday.

05. Identify and engage currently invisible networks/platforms for maximum leverage at the grass roots level.

06. Focus on authenticity, keep it uncorrupt – this is not about throwing money at a problem, it is about finding back/touching the European soul.

07. Reinvent ourselves as facilitator not controller, not self-interest promoter. Find ways to have that difficult conversation with ourselves.

08. Promote a Europe of everyone. Scale back our own focus to our core business, and let others lead where they can. Realise that we are not indispensable.

09. Come back home. Enjoy leveraging the crowd, not the elite. Learn and practice humility.

10. European Adventurer –  Develop a toolkit (approach, training, platform) for (European) Adventurers – A navigator/celebration of people and their projects based on topics etc.

* European Values (as a Reminder): Respect for human dignity and human rights; Freedom; Democracy; Equality; The rule of law

Our inspirations

  • Obama Foundation Fellowships

Barack, you are so cool. Again you beat us to it.

  • Theodore Zeldin

– “Finding unsuspected links between dissimilar individuals, between apparently incompatible opinions, and between the past and present is one of the first steps on the path to hidden pleasures,”

– “Truth is becoming increasingly dazzling, and indeed almost blinding, as hundreds of different disciplines each cast a different light upon it.”

– “To ignore what cannot be measured in precise numbers is like counting the stems in a bouquet of flowers while ignoring the indescribable beauty and perfume of each bud.”

  • Yann-Arthus Bertrand

7 Billion Others – Testimonies –

Human The Movie –

  • BBC 100 Women

Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on

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