Fighting On All Fronts in Romania
HOW DO YOU BRING ABOUT CHANGE? Do you do it through art, or technology, or words? Do you go protest on the streets? For people like Florin Bădiță, there’s no need to choose. A self-described problem solver, Florin is a man of many hats, but his efforts all lead to one goal: to use whatever means he has to make Romania a better place.
He explains his approach with an example: “My activist self wanted to gather data about spendings on Christmas decorations from all the cities in Romania,” he explains. “My geek self gathered all the email addresses for every city and sent 326 “Freedom of Information” requests for the data, and created a program where I could keep track of who replied and when. My artist self wanted to display the data so that people could see the results visualized.”
One of Florin’s most notorious projects—which won him the title of “European Personality of the Year" and put him on Forbes’ “30 under 30 Europe” list—is Corruption Kills, which he started after a fire burned down a nightclub in Bucharest. The fire killed 64 people and sparked massive anti-corruption protests that eventually forced prime-minister Victor Ponta to resign.
“The goal of the movement was to inform people about the danger of corruption and how it can impact everybody,” says Florin. The Corruption Kills Facebook page now has 126,000 likes and is regularly updated with news about corruption in Romania.
These days, Florin is involved in a number of different projects, including Activist House, a public space that organizes trainings and hosts debates and campaigns; Civic TV, an upcoming multimedia platform that broadcasts civil initiatives; Civistarter, an incubator that helps young people get involved in social issues; and finally, the European Activists Conference, an event for activists from across the EU and neighboring regions, who strive towards a better future for Europe.
What can we do to be more involved in local as well as European issues that affect our daily lives? According to Florin, it’s not rocket science. Civic change is a marathon, not a sprint. “Go vote! Inform yourself about the options you have,” he enthuses. “Each of us should do their own part. For example, learn who is representing you in the European Parliament and go meet this person, or at least just send them an email.”
But wait, what if someone wants to get even more involved? “Donate your time, expertise or money to the people that are doing the work,” he advises. “Send a message asking them: ‘Hey, how can I help?’"
And finally, he says, “Remember that learning is a lifelong process, so always keep improving yourself.”
This article appears in Are We Europe #4: This Is Not An Elections Issue