Slow Food Youth Network: A New Way of Campaigning

Slow Food Youth in Macedonia exists for two years now. Macedonia is a small country on the Balkan Peninsula on the crossroad between Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania. It is a country with beautiful nature and many sunny days in the year. Our soil is good to produce almost everything, from kiwi at the south, grapes and tobacco in our biggest valley in the central part to beans at the north. But the new agriculture system is actually destroying our biodiversity with the GMO coming in through small doors. Our new government policy is that we can import GM food for animals. That is why SFY decided that it is time for action so we started our campaign “STOP GMO”.
Meet Katarina Radevska from SFYN Macedonia

“STOP GMO” campaign
It is very difficult to start something when most of the people in your community don`t even know about the existence of this kind of food. So the first thing we did was organizing an open workshop on a public space called “STOP GMO WITH ART” in an art colony where many young artists, students at the Art Academy painted how they understand this type of food. First thing we had to do was finding the perfect location and then get an approval from the local community. After we got the approval we started with organizing. Our web designer made a leaflet especially for the event with the basic data about GMO. We also made badges with the logo of the campaign and got the painting colors we needed. After getting contact with the press we were ready to start. The workshop was also open for anybody who wanted to contribute with their art piece. There was also a SFY stand where the bystanders could get information from the leaflets that we had or from our food technician engineer, young activist in the organization. The crowd was very interested about what we have to say and we got their support to continue with what we started. It was also very good that the National Television showed interest for the event so it was broadcast nationally. The first step went really well, we reached our goal to open the eyes of the people about their choice on what kind of food they want to eat.
Our main goal is to change the law for food security for animals that our parliament voted for. Therefore we started a petition. We need 10 000 signatures to get the parliament voting on this law again. That is why one day of the week we are at the City Square collecting votes from the citizens. Another day of the week, usually Saturday, we are in front of some of the green markets that we have, getting in touch with the local producers and how this affects on them. They are also helping us with our petition.
At the exhibition that we organized with the art pieces from the event at the art colony, we had bigger interest from the crowd then before. We even got an offer to sell one of the paintings! The important thing is that we reached the consumers, so we got an idea to organize a protest.
The idea for the protest was born when we realized that we need a revolution to get to our main goal. We already lifted up the consciousness of the people, now we need our government to really hear us and take us seriously. That is why we will make a symbolic protest where the activists will wear animal deformed costumes telling that they need clean, organic food to eat. The petition will be active as well.

The Food Caravan
All of these activities that I told about are held in our capital city, Skopje. We want to spread the campaign throw the whole territory so we got the idea to make a Food Caravan. The caravan will travel through our country where we will be able to explore and get in touch directly with the farmers and face with their problems and get their opinion about GMO. The petition will be active as well, of course. Our trip will be recorded so it will be possible to make a documentary about the Caravan and it can be streamed on some of the events that Slow Food makes.
I think that it will be really good if it is possible to make collaboration between the organizations. My idea was to make a Balkan trip, something like the Food Caravan. All the Balkan countries are very similar, the culture, the language, the cuisine, so it can be interesting to research what the differences are between them. Traveling through the villages you can get in direct touch with the traditions and discover where your roots come from. EAT-IN events can be organized on the way, on some public space with the products that we get from the producers on our traveling. In this way the word of Slow Food will be spread and in an informal and fun way we can get new members and activists.
It is also a good idea to make volunteering exchange on some projects that we have. Like this we will be able to share our experiences and ideas that we have face to face, without any media on the way. We will get to know each other better, maybe become friends and this is what is necessary to grow our network bigger and better. I think maybe Youth in Action can help us in realizing this dream.
What do you all think?