I started this project out of personal interest: I like knowing who my neighbours are. Especially when they are members of the same club, a union that wants to have more and more impact on my personal life.
I feel European, a feeling I attribute to shared history and values. I acknowledge what European unification has given us: peace and prosperity. Of course I agree that there is room for improvement in Brussels, and I have certainly not interviewed only Europhiles, but I am puzzled by the negative perception of Europe, which is stronger in the Netherlands than in most other EU countries. I think that my country, the Netherlands, could benefit from being less provincial, less concerned about strictly local matters, and a little more willing to throw open the shutters. But that’s just my opinion.
A brief summary of my own background: I live in Amsterdam and Berlin, am 45 years old, a trained lawyer, former social entrepreneur (I sold my company, Robin Good, in 2007) and now a journalist and writer. My first novel, The Parvenu, was published in 2011, and translated into English. My latest book, published in 2013, is a non-fiction guide to creating your ideal work. I also write for several Dutch newspapers and magazines (Financieele Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad, Volkskrant).
Youropeans is a project after my own heart, one that combines elements I consider to be essential to my work: creativity, social awareness, entrepreneurship and pleasure. My former company, Robin Good, combined all of these elements. You might describe me as a social entrepreneurial journalist. Or something along those lines.
I hope that my project will grow out to be more than a book and a site: it would be great if Europeans would become Youropeans, if they would join the project, add their stories, and would actually meet other Youropeans. The place to do so online is the Facebook page, Youropeans, click here.
My Dutch-language personal site, also showing some of my previous publications (novel, columns, articles in newspapers etc), is at www.markschalekamp.com.
Amsterdam/Berlin, June 2013