Andrea's 1st anniversary - Andrea Venzon
1 year ago, minutes before the launch of Volt, I was sitting in an anonymous university cafè, nervous as I had never been before. Sitting at my table was Damian – back then a friend I convinced to help me in return for a free lunch, and now Volt’s Vice-President – while Colombe was with us over the phone – back then a human rights defender, and now Volt’s Policy Lead and even more into human rights, if possible.
The three of us planned this day for a long time. The naïve, ambitious, extremely promising idea I put together in the previous months that those two fools idealists helped me to structure, was ready to go live. “Ready”… I mean, we had a Facebook page, a website that I had taught myself to design, a few friends ready to support the launch, absolutely no budget, and a huge passion and willingness to change politics and the future of Europe. What else do you need to start a pan-European movement?
The root of the idea
“And then the Brexit happened…”. I might have repeated this sentence 500 times already, in every corner of this continent, and even beyond. However, when I get asked why on Earth did I decide to start this project, I cannot avoid to mention that warm Thursday of June. Back then, I was still working in the private sector, and I would have never thought about jumping into politics myself, at only 25 years old. However, when the results of the vote became clear, I understood that the European Union, and all the values connected to it, were in danger for the first time in my life. An open and safe society, the possibility to feel part of something bigger than my nation, and the dream of a constantly evolving continent were crumbling, and no political faction was standing up to defend them.
That same day I realized that we were at a turning point in history. Either we –meaning all the ones that were tired of witnessing their towns, countries, and continent decline – started to get active, or in a few decades there was not going to be much to defend anymore.
A national party? A European movement? This dilemma tormented me for a few weeks. On one side, as an Italian, I saw a great opportunity to create a new political force in the depressing political landscape of my country. However, I shortly realized that to really change things, to propagate a vision, and to create a real long-term project that could improve this continent for good, something bigger than a national political party was needed.
Building a European movement might not seem that innovative. Some have tried, often with poor results. However, building a European, transnational movement ready to produce local solutions in a European framework, this is truly innovative. The idea of jumping right in the local level, building teams in tens of cities, enabling people to participate and have a voice from Sicily to Brandeburg, and not only from Paris to Berlin, is a game-changer. Often, European political actors (exactly as European institutions) are miles away from citizens. This is why we built a movement made of citizens, local realities, cultural differences, real problems, shared solutions, and an incredible amount of efforts to avoid to become an “only-English-speaking-I-love-Europe” movement. Hundreds of events, 50 city teams, 15 Facebook pages, and a website soon to be in 8 languages later, we can safely say that we chose the right path.
Going back to that morning, it is now clear that the only thing that could lift up a project with no names and no funds, is the power of the idea itself and the passion of those standing behind it. I remember the exhausted faces of Colombe, Damian, and all the others that pushed the first launch (Guglielmo, Giulio, Salome, Federico(s), Filippo, Niccolò, Eugenio) after a full day of social media spamming, website fixing, applicants allocation for interviews, and many other activities that hundreds of people are now taking care of. Without a few crazy heads, Volt – back then still Vox – would have crushed in a matter of hours. Thanks to their passion and the energy of people that gave everything they could for an idea, here we stand.
Since then, it has been a wonderful ride. We had thousands of new members, hundreds of events, tens of countries joining, 4 crowdfunding campaigns, 3 pan-European gatherings, 2 websites, 1 rebranding, and an infinite amount of big & small successes that defined the identity of this movement, motivate its people, and enlarge its great potential.
From that day, many of us lost a lot of free time, hours of sleep, even some money, but none lost the passion to contribute to a vision that might change our continent, forever.
Almost 3000 members and supporters spread over 24 European countries, press coverage in the most prestigious newspapers of the continent, video-conferences every day to organize activities, and still the same young and less young faces working to improve Europe. Still no big names, no much funds, and the same irrational belief of being part of something that could lead to the biggest political revolution of this century.
After 365 days, we can all be proud of what we achieved, proud of not having changed our identity, proud of collaborating despite our cultural differences, proud of the solidarity that we show when our members have a difficult time, proud of fighting with all our energies to improve our societies.
Volt is increasingly professional, has more and more members and expertise, and a growing notoriety. We cannot foresee where all of this will go, but I can personal guarantee that I will continue to give everything I can to this project.
Here are some of the milestones that the movement has on its radar:
- Paris Retreat in May, gathering hundreds of Volters to prepare our future moves.
- Somewhere in Europe in October, launching our 2nd General Assembly and our European campaign.
- In at least 7 European countries in May 2019, running for European elections.
- A future in every corner of this continent, providing real solutions and fighting for the causes we believe into, from the smallest town, to the tallest palace in Brussels.
Join the Change. Many did already, and I cannot be more grateful for what they are pushing Volt to achieve.