This is a farewell-and-thank-you note to everyone that I have worked with in YouCount over these past five years. Five years?, you say, surely the YouCount project started in 2021? Yes, it did, but like many other research projects, the planning and preparations for what was to become YouCount began long before that. To use the tree metaphor from project manager Reidun Norvoll's blog post, the YouCount seed was planted already in 2018, when we had our first workshops to start the process of figuring out what kind of tree we wanted to grow.
During this first creative phase we took turns visiting each other for workshops in Oslo, Brussels and San Sebastian. Wherever we went, whiteboards were filled with post-it notes and scribblings, all the colours of the rainbow. Then followed the slightly less colourful proposal writing phase, and a disappointing first rejection, before YouCount was given the green light by the European Commission in 2020. In February 2021, when the project was officially launched, covid had put a stop to travels and real-life meetings. For the first sixteen months we had to grow our tree indoors and make do with online interactions, before we could get together again, in Copenhagen in June 2022.
As I'm leaving VA, YouCount has sprouted into a fast-growing seedling. Come autumn it will be in full bloom as the data collection begins. Next year, fruits from the results will be ripening, ready for picking towards the end of spring, to be co-created into inclusion-stimulating innovations in living labs around Europe.
It's been a pleasure to work with YouCount's amazing
team of researchers and citizen scientists. In Sweden, I've had the privilege of working with members of the Botkyrka Youth Council, whose thoughtful reflections have been guiding our work forward. This collaboration is a true source of inspiration for me and the other adult researchers.
I want to thank all of you for the myriad of smaller and bigger things that I have learned from you in YouCount, that I will bring to my new job (at the Swedish sustainability company Consupedia). And though I'm formally leaving the consortium, I'll still consider myself as part of the wider YouCount community. This community is open to anyone who would like to be in the loop about what's going on in the project, or perhaps get involved themselves. Subscribe to the newsletter, follow YouCount in social media or get in contact with any of the project members. You count, I count – we all count.