Are We Europe? Good question. Judging by the all-too-familiar ’nil points’ for the British entry in last weekend’s Eurovision, perhaps not. However, on hearing that no one in the whole of Europe thought he was deserving of a single point, the entire stadium erupted in support of British entry, James Newman.
Despite all the politics and bad blood, there was a feeling that above all else, we all share a continent, and a love of bizarrely choreographed Euro pop. Are We Europe magazine, while lacking in dance routines and giant paper mâché moons, shares this spirit that there is more that unites us than divides us, and that there are far more interesting stories in Europe than Brexit.
Each issue of this mag uses a topic as a jumping off point, (sport, climate, religion), and brings together unusual stories and ideas to create something that feels like a collection of those great ‘long read’ articles in the Sunday papers, the ones that shine a light on an idea or a community you’d never really considered before, and that you can’t help but share with your friends, your colleagues, and your postman.
There’s a nice balance between the light-hearted and the serious. In The Sports Issue, they pair a glossary of unusual sports terms (‘chicken wing’ or ‘prince of Wales’, anyone?) with long form stories of personal experiences, cultural phenonema and philosophical ponderings. I loved the piece on the Transcontinental cycle race in the Sports issue, combining a first hand account of the gruelling four-thousand kilometre race with theories on our relationship with landscape. There’s also a great piece about line dancing in East Germany and it’s roots in post-socialist rebellion.
My favourite issue in our collection is probably ‘The Silver Lining,” AWE’s response to the pandemic. We all experienced quarantine, working from home and social distancing but the different implications and responses to these shared restrictions are often surprising and endlessly fascinating. Are We Europe’s coverage takes you to a health care worker in Lithuania, who spent much of her spare time as a fact checking ‘Elf’ on Facebook, at war with the ‘Kremlin trolls’ spreading disinformation. There are also stories of solidarity throughout the crisis, from refugee workers sewing masks, to the Dutch musicians who performed together from their balconies.
The ‘Losing Our Religion’ issue tackles the potentially sticky subject from various angles including a fascinating interview with research fellow, Ernst Van den Hemel on ‘politics, faith and identity in Europe. There’s also a reflection piece on how Russian Orthodoxy fits into modern lifestyles, the German approach to Muslim integration in schools, and Jewish identity in Europe under Benjamin Netanyahu.
At Pics & Ink, we believe that good magazines can change the world. Indie mags provide a dynamic space outside our regular news and social media channels, where lesser known stories are told and ideas can percolate. Are We Europe is a great example of this space. It made me think, made me smile and made me very much look forward to the next issue.
You can browse our collection of Are We Europe here.