Where: All over! Forum VIA is doing something very similar in concept to what Seek The Change is about. We were introduced through Jenny, founder of Baikal Wave in Russia and met over Skype while I was in Japan and they were about to head to Mongolia.
When: We ‘met’ on 3rd December 2014. Forum VIA was established three years ago in 2012.
Who: Matt and Valentina are a couple who worked in different parts of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria (or if that’s too long, just ‘BOKU University’), Matt in sustainability/climate change and Valentina in organic agriculture and sustainable economics. Three years ago they set up Forum Via to explore living examples of sustainability I.e. ‘vision in action’ (VIA). It was a way to combine their love of travelling, their academic expertise and their passion for seeing sustainability in action not just theory.
What: Forum Via is an incubator for new and existing visions for the future and a global platform for sustainable approaches to lifestyle, the economy and work.
At the moment the main activities centre around the project “Choose Your Own Sustainability Adventure”, in which the ‘ViA Ambassadors’ Matt and Valentina explore different countries around the world, always via overland travel so as to be as sustainable as possible. They interact with various school classes in the USA and Austria to share the challenges and solutions they are finding along the way, with those school kids helping to shape the journey and learn about sustainability issues in a much more interactive and ‘realtime’ way.
Why: ViA aims to shed light on the global challenges of our time (economic crisis, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, climate change, etc.), as well as promote a constructive and proactive approach to overcoming these challenges.
Impacts/successes: They are into their second academic year of interaction with school classes and are on their second trip – the first was through the Americas. Now this one is across and down through Asia. They just welcomed the second travelling couple of ‘ViA Ambassadors’ Hannah and Mathis, who will help spread even more visions of positive and important change around the world with young people back home. Thanks to them the “Sustainability Adventure” will be brought also to German school classes – starting with January 2015!
Further info: forum-via.org/about-us
Personal reflections: Forum ViA has its focus on youth, travel, providing inspiration and finding real life examples of good practice towards living sustainable lifestyles, all ingredients which Seek The Change shares too. It was so great to chat to these guys and bounce off each other with our hopes and experiences, and even better to remember we were connected through someone from one of the initiatives (Baikal Wave) we both came across on our travels!