Street Art (Manuel Faisco)

Innovation and crisis: tough times and creativity go hand in hand

Aleksandra Maldžiski

Aleksandra is from Belgrade, Serbia, currently living in Portugal. She was a school student activist and a Board member of OBESSU (Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions). During her studies of political science and journalism she did an intership at the Serbian national radio B92 on a political show co-produced by BBC. Aleksandra has been writing for the YO! Mag since 2010.


Imagine that your job is to work six days a month while having Port wine or some good coffee shipped to us from Naples.

This is the introduction to Sende, a stone village in Galicia (Spain), a co-working space for educators and entrepreneurs whose slogan is ai???create your own job at our placeai???. Sende was founded in 2014 by two young people, Maria from Spain and Edo from Serbia, as a response to the rising unemployment in their countries hit by economic crisis. ai???When I was 18, I made a decision not to believe in the Serbian party politics and its plan for youth. Thanks to the crisis youth from Serbia can be divided into two groups: the ones following the ai???regularai??i?? path of finishing high school, going to university and then waiting for a miracle to find a job (this being the majority) and the ones whoai??i??ve decided not to follow the system and to learn to adapt to new possibilities fast. I think that I belong to the second group. I joined the world of start-ups and the social entrepreneurship movement and decided to create my kind of job,ai??? says Edo, sitting in Sendeai??i??s outdoor office with nothing but a laptop and the beautiful landscape as a backdrop.

At the end of 2013, Edo moved to Galicia, together with Maria who comes from the region herself, and bought two old houses in the national park of XurAi??s. They repaired the houses and turned them into a co-working, seminar space and ai???playgroundai??i??. ai???All our creativity was put on creating great little corners and small garden offices so our visitors and co-workers (educators, entrepreneurs and artists) can completely focus on the work while having a good lifeai??? they say. Sende has already opened its doors to young people who come here to develop their own projects with no distractions except for butterflies flying around. On top of that, Maria and Edo are organising meet-ups and youth exchanges which bring people from various parts of Europe to Sende and they have plenty more of ideas waiting to come to life.

The effects of crisis are echoed about 500 km south of Sende, in SetA?bal. This Portuguese city, situated on the Atlantic coast, is the hometown of many talented young artists whose reaction to the economic situation was also to take matters into their own hands. Was it the crisis that led to creativity? According to Antonio, a film and video director, harsh circumstances did lead to innovative survival measures: ai???Those who grew up in the 80s can testify to the clash between a post new-age of believers and the cruel reality of not having the means to fulfill their dreams. And what happened? People turned to themselves basically. Young kids like me and so many of my friends had no choice but to create our own chances. We got creative… We started bands, theatre companies, design studios, film production houses. We did it all because we didnai??i??t know where to turn to.ai???

Antonio, who now has years of international experience in directing and editing music videos, short films, documentaries and TV shows is currently living in SetA?bal, the city he grew up in, and he points out that what happened there is not new at all and may be seen ai??i?? with a few differences – throughout history in other examples such as Liverpool, Manchester, post-war Berlin, Seattle, etc. ai???Not only were we living in a town that didn’t present us with enough of a cultural offer, but we also had almost no expectations of getting a job there. We knew that we had to take matters into our own hands. And more than that, we knew that our only chance to get out of here was to be as good as or even better than those doing the same things in Lisbon. We had to be better musicians, actors, photographers… We had to be exceptional. And fortunately some of us made it.ai???

Certainly, there are exceptional young people all over Europe who are finding their own creative way around the crisis; some by building start-ups, others by working as freelance artists or developing projects in their local communities. And they are doing it without any support from the government. It is surely challenging, but definitely not impossible. European youth is showing that in the dark times of the economic crisis, it has a spark that might eventually make all the difference.

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Youth unemployment is so high that a typical student fears graduating as it only means becoming a part of endless line of job seekers. ai??i?? Edo (27, Serbia), co-founder of Sende

The true crisis is not the one from 2008. The true crisis has been around for decades and has to do with a system that values profit before anything else and treats people as assets alone. ai??i?? Antonio (34, Portugal) ai??i?? video and film director

At the moment, Spain is under economical crisis where young people are the ones who are left behind without jobs. Working for yourself means that you are only doing what is necessary while staying free. ai??i?? Maria (26, Spain), co-founder of Sende

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Aleksandra Maldžiski

Aleksandra is from Belgrade, Serbia, currently living in Portugal. She was a school student activist and a Board member of OBESSU (Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions). During her studies of political science and journalism she did an intership at the Serbian national radio B92 on a political show co-produced by BBC. Aleksandra has been writing for the YO! Mag since 2010.

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