12 faces of cafebabel.com on our 12th birthday, 1 February 2013

Article published on Feb. 4, 2013
community published
Article published on Feb. 4, 2013
Happy birthday cafebabel.com! On 1 February 2013, cafebabel.com turned 12 years old. To celebrate this event, we invited 12 of our network members to speak about their experience with cafebabel.com! The teasers were first published on Facebookand are now available in full version.  1 - Simon, cafebabel.
com Athens team member, Greece

(Image: courtesy of © Simon Rousianidis)

'cafebabel.com is a hub! I was lucky enough to know the founders Giorgos & Elina, thus, it was just a matter of time to get involved! In those six years, Cafebabel Greece have been organising events, covering important issues of the daily life, project managing, travelling across Europe and making loads of new friends. I'd say I have mostly trying to be myself, while implying my vision for the EU and interacting with other like-minded people!

The best thing about cafebabel.com is itself actually! It's a pan-European 'parea' - this is the Greek word for company, friendship and gathering - enlightening in front of ones eyes the prospects of unified nations, cultures and habits!

What would be a kind-of-wish, for the next 12 years, would be to transform the magazine into an online media broadcasting agency. An open-source, grass-roots journalistic project - at least in terms of strategic thinking. So, I'd expect more 'local teams', a bigger interaction between them and a greater impact in the way the EU's operations are planned and executed. I think this is a noble cause, though achievable.'

2 - Nathalie, debate organiser, Brussels

(Image: © courtesy of Nathalie Jusseaume)

‘I was a student in European affairs and communication when I met my teacher, Mana, who is president of Babel International. My classmates and I organised a huge debate for the first time and our partner was cafebabel.com Brussels, the local team which Mana also ran at the time.

I was really curious about this association; Ii thought the concept was really good, interesting and original. Finally I could take part in the emergence of a European public space! I had to find an internship for the last year of my masters and I thought it would be great to work for cafebabel.com as an intern. Plus I love writing.

I started as an editorial coordinator and met people, talked about matters I liked with them, and ended up organising debates. In the next 12 years I hope cafebabel.com gets some recognition from the European institutions, but also for the magazine to keep on their right track - having more and more 'babel communities' in Europe. I hope that one day, when we talk in the street or wherever about cafebabel.com, people says 'Oh yeah I know it, and it's pretty cool; I'm going to get involved.’

3 - Dionne, reader, London

(Image: courtesy of © Dionne Walker/ other-ing.com )

‘I was wandering about a pan - European magazine, in the blogosphere and stalled at the crossroads of pluralism, art, peoples and tongues: cafebabel.com stood in my way! I got involved after I read quite a few great articles that coincided with my own perspective and interest of mobilising people and ideas through the interaction of text, digital & cultural geography, photography, film and equality politics. I see cafebabel.com as more than a news provider and social media platform. On top of sharing thoughts, ideas and current affair stories, it's translating the original echo of voices across Europe. For the next twelve years, my expectations are more analysis of the multiple layers of the cultural shifts taking place simultaneously at local and global levels. I would also enjoy an expansion into radio.’

4 - Cristina, former Spanish editor

(Image: © Patricia Cartes Andres)

How did you find cafebabel.com?

‘I found cafebabel.com thanks to a friend of a friend of mine, who was working as the editor of the French version. I was studying in Mexico and I decided to write an article on the climate change summit that was taking place in Rio de Janeiro.’

How did you get involved? What's been your trajectory?

‘I started as a volunteer, a journalist. Then I took part in one of the cafebabel.com 'Europe on the ground' flagship projects in Strasbourg, called ‘Green Europe’. It was there when I learned the Spanish version was hiring an editor. I didn't hesitate for a second; I submitted my application and I got the job.’

The best thing about the European magazine?

‘The right to the freedom of expression, which today seems kind of a luxury good in the media world. cafebabel.com offers accurate and reliable information, and it is a fresh magazine where there's no space for censorship —even though the truth can hurt sometimes.’

What you expect of the magazine in the next 12 years?

‘I really wish cafebabel.com keeps on growing and becomes published in more languages, as well as seeing an increase in its number of readers (currently the magazine gets around one million page views a month). I hope the freedom of expression remains this magazine's flagship.’

5 - Benjamin, writer, Austria

(Image: courtesy of © Benjamin Wolf)

'A real European media? 'Doesn't exist' - at least that's what I thought until half a year ago. That was when I came across cafebabel.com while surfing on the net. A coloured world of languages, visions, themes and articles from all over Europe opened up in front of me.

In the meantime I started translating, replied to a bunch of calls for authors and was allowed to publish my very own series about transatlantic relations. 

The best of cafebabel.com is its young authors with off-beat perspectives, the language chaos and various topics. 

In the next twelve years cafebabel.com should become a must in Europe! Many young people in German speaking countries and in Central/ Eastern Europe don't know about the magazine, yet would be thrilled to become readers or contributors. So cheers to make it become an evidence soon to ask: 'A European media?' - 'Ja klar, cafebabel.com!'

6 - Malen, former development officer, France

(Image taken at Babel Ackademy, Istanbul, 2010 © Anne-Lore Mesnage/ anneloremesnage.com)

How did you discover cafebabel.com?

I was coming back from a European Voluntary Service stint in Estonia in 2006, studying European affairs (with an Erasmus experience in the middle), and when I would read this magazine I found a source of inspiration that I couldn’t find in any other media.

How did you get involved?

I had this intuition by reading the magazine that one day that I would work for cafebabel.com - perhaps because I found myself quite in the Babelian spirit. I responded to an offer as a ‘development officer’ and I was happy when the director, Alexandre, told me ‘we want to work with you’. I packed my bag, left Marseille and arrived at cafebabel.com HQ in Paris.

The best thing about the European magazine?

What I appreciate about cafebabel.com is that there are few restrictions. There is a freedom of subject, tone and perspective, and at the same time the editorial charter seems to be respected.

I found the ‘Babel Academy’ summer universities that we did in Istanbul and Strasbourh for example most inspiring, meeting up with the rest of the network.

What do you expect of the magazine in the next 12 years?

I really hope that cafebabel.com can become participatory via its legal structure as an ‘association’. I hope the local teams in different cities stay lively and an important part of the future of the magazine. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to hold a paper version of the magazine, say a monthly edition, with a selection of the best articles. Why not a little paper compilation with the special editions to mark the magazine’s birthday? The idea has been floating since the magazine was born in 2001, but I think we’ll be done with screens in the next twelve years!

7 - Annie, former intern, Scotland

(Image: © Trevor Fountain/ texasexpat.net/gallery/)

‘I stumbled across cafebabel thanks to good ol’ uncle google a few years ago when I was looking for things to read in German and was hooked - a magazine which actually wrote about things I was interested in. Very exciting. I’ve run through most of the roles in cafebabel over the last four years. I first got involved as a translator, which led to a six-month stint in the cafebabel headquarters, where I wrote, edited and debated in a babble of languages. I also project managed a collaboration with German TV channel ZDF, which involved pretending to be a professional journalist on the streets of Paris. Since leaving, I’ve kept in contact by running the poetry blog, and writing articles about politics and fairy tales.

cafebabel.com is unique for the opportunities it offers to young people: thanks to the magazine I’ve spent amazing weekends in Copenhagen and Croatia, met fantastic people and had the chance to interview some of my favourite authors. However, the best thing about cafebabel.com is its Utopian outlook – and I hope that's something it holds onto over the next twelve years. With the petty schoolyard squabbling going on in European politics, it’s good to know that there’s a bunch of creative, quirky and off-kilter people scattered across the continent who are keeping the dream of unity in diversity alive.’

8 - Marta , translator, Poland

(Image: courtesy of © Marta Szweda)

'My collaboration with cafebabel.com began in November 2012 as I just started specialising in translation. When a friend of mine told me that she was translating for cafebabel.com, I found out that the articles published in the magazine were very interesting and in the news. Having a ‘European magazine’ where all the articles are written by young people, translated by young people and dedicated to them (though not exclusively) is something new and fresh. Another advantage is that each ‘babelian’ may present his or her opinion and it is interesting to compare the different perceptions of one and the same matter. That is why I decided to become part of this project’

9 - Eloisa, photo journalist, Italy

(Image © Luka Gorjup/ www.facebook.com/luka.gorjup, taken in Ljubljana, Slovenia, for 'MultiKulti' aka 'multiculturalism on the ground' by cafebabel.com, 2012)

How did you find cafebabel.com?

‘I discovered cafebabel.com through an interest  in European topics. I find at least three quarters of related news on the magazine - I could find my news elsewhere, but I’d rather read cafebabel.com articles because of their fresh and young approach. As it means working with young people, I have come to prefer their advice.’

How did you get involved?

‘I fell in love with the idea of being with other young people as interested in the European idea as me; I was eager to discover the hidden meaning of being European. I usually work on my own, but for once I wanted to put myself in a collective environment, so I applied for the 2012 flagship project, ‘MultiKulti aka multiculturalism on the ground.’

The best thing about the European magazine?

Everytime I get in touch with cafebabel.com is a positive experience – be it with authors, editors, or the team of the main editoriual office in Paris. But my best experience ever was being on reportage in Slovenia accompanied by journalists from Bulgaria, Germany, Brazil and Spain. We were ‘Multikulti’ Ljubljana!

What do you expect of the magazine in the next 12 years?

‘I expect that cafebabel.com will keep translating and talking about these European topics. I hope that, with the help of European funds, cafebabel.com could offer more opportunities to work and get involved to these young journalists who are not only ‘multikulti’, multilingual and multi-purpose, but really well-prepared, enthusiastic and eager to participate!’

10 - Mario, founder cafebabel.com Naples

(Image: courtesy of © Mario Paciolo)

How did you find cafebabel.com?

I was back from a trip in the Balkans. Before leaving, I was reading about the tragic nineties in these countries. After being in Sarajevo, where every street leads you past history and memories, I was really curious about the reaction of people in general when it comes to this heavy past; Orient Express Reporter, a cafebabel.com flagship project of 2010-2012, was calling me.

What is the best thing about cafebabel.com?

I started to publish some articles. Before, I used to write just from a local point of view. Blogging for cafebabel.com, I was asked to enlarge my horizon, the context of the topic, by linking my point of view with the one from other countries. I was able to detect the similarities and the differences and, above all, the purposes that Italy and Europe have in common. Then, (former Italian editor) Jacopo Franchi and myself decided to launch a city blog for Naples.

What is the best thing about cafebabel.com?

The endless series of e-mails that are necessary to start the blog; the wonderful wandering by bike that we did across Strasbourg with member of the network, during cafebabel.com’s ‘Shake Up Europe’ journalism training seminars in 2012. The most beautiful experience is sharing ideas, proposals and thoughts  with people here in Naples for the city blog. Without the enthusiasm of every single person here, we could not do that.

What do you expect of the magazine in the next twelve years?

I would like to find what I already notice in every article: a new point of view, an unexpected approach to Europe. It would be interesting too just to try to ask and involve also non-European people in order to start a larger multicultural debate.

11 - Miha and Nina, fixers, videomakers, photographers, cafebabel Barcelona

(Image: Miha Mohoric by Lucille Caballero for ‘Green Europe in Ljubljana, summer 2011’ by cafebabel.com/ lucillecaballero.com)

How did you find cafebabel.com?

Nina:  If I hadn't moved to Ljubljana, I would never have met Miha. If Miha hadn’t applied for a documentary workshop in Tirana, we would never have met Lucille, a French photographer. So, one day Lucille came to Ljubljana to work on her article for an online newspaper called cafebabel.com, and the rest is history.

Ironically Miha, you even featured on cafebabel Brussels in an interview before you got involved in Slovenia.

What's been your ensuing trajectory at cafebabel.com?

Miha: My first experience working for cafebabel.com was as a fixer for the team at Ljubljana Green Europe (one of the flagship reporting projects for 2011). Nine months later I participated myself in the Multikulti On the Ground project in Athens (one of the flagship reporting projects for 2012), as a filmmaker. I made a video report about dance popping in Athens. Most recently I have been participating as photographer for the cafebabel Barcelona blog (run by Nina Behek), where I moved for my studies. 

What is the best thing about cafebabel.com?

Miha: Definitely, the people - not only the ones I worked with, but also the people who are part of the stories which were told or shown. Also the experiences and knowledge gathered through the process, especially the one shared by fellow colleagues, is priceless. Meeting people with the same interests, hanging out, having a great time and doing something that makes all those people happy, makes the magazine what it is today.   

Nina: I ended up applying for an internship with this notorious magazine, and here I am now, writing articles, taking pictures and talking to people in different languages in Barcelona. I am doing what I really love (in a city that I don't so much, but you can’t have the cake and eat it too). I'm doing something that I didn't know at all that I could - and all this just because of this magazine. 

What do you expect of the magazine in the next twelve years? Miha: I would expect cafebabel.com to extend its projects also outside Europe, especially to third world countries. It would be nice to give more attention to the use of video in the magazine, maybe get involved into some short documentary projects or even its own online TV. Well, we will see!

Nina: This magazine already gave me something so big that I don't ask for more - it made me realise what I want to do in my life. And if some readers have found themselves or have realised something from some of the articles that cafebabel.com publishes, then the job of the magazine is accomplished. This mission of cafebabel.com will continue on,for much much longer than twelve years.

12 - Elina, Athens team founder and official member, Greece

(Image: courtesy of © Elina Makri)

How did you find cafebabel.com?

'I found cafebabel on the internet, when I returned to Athens after my studies in France and Belgium-, I realised with horror, 'Well, this is it? Now I am staying in Athens and I will do Greco-Greek things? Not a chance!' God took pity on me and one winter afternoon, I stumbled across the cafebabel.com website'

How did you get involved/ what's been your trajectory?

'In late 2006, I sent an email to the editor-in-chief stating that I would like to get involved, asking about the possibilities and so on. We founded the team with two other people, a Greek guy called Pavlos and a Spanish girl called Olga, both of whom are now in Madrid. Then Giorgos Kokkolis joined and we are inseparable. The real boost of the babelian spirit was with the 'Europe on the Ground' flagship project of 2007, when French, Spanish, German, Italian and Polish journalists joined the former development officer Nuala Morgan here in Athens, to write articles.'

The best thing about it?

'It's freshness, multinational projects and grassroots mindset!'

What you expect of the magazine in the next 12 years?

'Innovation in the media - MADE IN EUROPE. Always keeping the grassroot-informal attitude but for sophisticated and fresh approach to matters, something you do not find in other media. More media projects on the works so that can reveal the potential and the pathologies of our old continent through European eyes.'