During the three academic years I spent in Maastricht, I can safely say that the one single thing that occupied most of my worries, time, effort and passion was the organization of the annual community event WE festival. A team of great individuals, inspired by the desire to do something more meaningful than smoking weed in a basement; to learn what Problem Based Learning tutorials at Maastricht University cannot conceive. Each year WE creates a platform connecting artists, locations and participants in an entire week of CRAZY, amazing… Workshops, concerts, atelier, jam sessions, dinners, conferences, parties, exhibitions … Every year the program is completely different, but always in the spirit of sustainable living and community spirit; only with the morning yoga, meditation sessions and the kickoff vegan bbq remaining as a tradition in every edition!
Each year, the festival grows in ambition, its width covering more and more fields of art and philosophy, its popularity attracting international musicians and motivated volunteers.
I personally got the chance to experience this during my years in Maastricht. When I joined the organization founded by the Student Workforce for Sustainability and Development in 2010, it was crumbling into pieces. Back then in 2013, most of the members of the organization where squatting the Hotel de Ossekoop, which required them a lot of attention and preoccupation, as the later events proved. WE festival 2013 was the last event that the awesome sqat hosted before being teared down by the Municipality. Most of its evicted inhabitants, such as Arjen, Luis, Joanna, Andre, Jagoda had to move on, leaving the 2014 edition to be organized by the small team of confused second years with no clue how to do the job which had so wonderfully been improvised under their inexperienced eyes. A long process of redefinition and self-reflection started among my young crew of friends, it was just David, Aggy, Alina, Nina, Rafal and I, but we soon involved many more students. That was the year that WE really kicked OFF! Our lack of practical knowledge was filtered out by our enthusiasm and team spirit, WE were determined to make an awesome, original and unforgettable edition, and that is exactly what we did.
I stopped attempting to do promotion and took up a whole new task of recruiting volunteers. Up untill then, most working shifts during the WE festival had been covered by the very people who spent month organizing it all… that year, with the help of Izzy and Lizzy, we coordinated about 60 welunteers to help out on the days of the Festival, allowing the members of the team to bring through their own projects, or just relax and enjoy! With the WE HELP team I organized second-hand fashion shows to promote sustainable consumerism through swapping clothes and shopping in the Kringloops (thrift shops) of Maastricht.
While Nina was the engine and soul of WE ’14, Alia is the awesome spirit that made WE ‘15 possible, of course with the support of a growing team of tireless and frantic friends and skilled labor!!
I found that with each new edition, the organization became more and more stressful and complicated, increasing with the size of our ambitions. The team is parallelly growing stronger and wiser thanks to the collective memory that is embedded, and thanks to the amazing friendship that is born when working hard for a common mission, while each having their own view and task. Out course, there is still a lot to discover, the WE
WE festival could not happen without support of countless organizations. Working closely to them, WE create unique moments and magical vibes. Find below a list of my favourite WE collaborators, click on the name to read about the space and people, the concept and mission and then… pay a visit!
These and other locations are explored by the WE TEAM to invent a magic week of wonders, open to any kind of participants from A to Z: activists, alcoholics, anticonformists, artists, artisans, amateurs, bakers, beerdrinkings, clowns, creators, coffeeaddicts, djs, dreamers, environmentalists, elderly, expats, explorers, freaks, gays, hippies, hipsters, jugglers, krakers, idealists, laughers, locals, musicians, nerds, obstinates, painters, photographers, poets, queers, rastafarians, readers, refugees, sculptors, singers, students, stoners, teadrinkers, transexuals, vegans, vegetarians, wonderers, zionists …