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Interview with Semion about the earthbeat Luxembourg tour with the CreatiVelos

Reading time: 9 min.
05. Sep 2023

In continuation of the earthbeat Luxembourg tour, we delve into the heart of the CreatiVelo project through an insightful conversation with Semion. If you recall our previous blog post about the Earthbeat Luxembourg Tour, you’ll recognize the incredible impact of our CreatiVelos – solar-charged e-bikes designed to foster creativity while spreading awareness about environmental causes. Let’s dive deeper into the story as Semion shares his experiences and thoughts about the tour, its goals, and its evolution since its inception.

Whether you’re following along through this written interview or prefer watching the video, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of how CreatiVelos and the Earthbeat Tour are transforming Luxembourg’s sustainable landscape.

The video interview

The transcribed Interview with Semion Smolenskiy

Jonathan: Hello, Semion. Why don’t you introduce yourself very briefly?

Semion: My name is Semion. I am 19 years old and I have just finished school in Luxembourg, in environmental sciences in Ettelbrück and have done different projects there. A bicycle project, through which I also got to know youth4planet. There we have also made our journey together, with the CreatiVelo to the COP26. We organised the first stage with the school, where we then drove the first stage. We were proud that we were able to drive the first stage and afterwards we exchanged ideas for a longer time and often did projects together. Over the two years and now after finishing my school, I decided to spend a year here with youth4planet.

Two years ago there was the COP26 earthbeat tour and now we are planning a CreatiVelo tour here through Luxembourg, where I am kind of the main planner and also rebuild the CreatiVelos a little bit. And the goal is actually, to target different environmental projects, like other NGOs as well as sustainability projects, but also, for example, other student projects that are welcoming us. And it is always about making a little movie about it, and then to promote it in the media, so that people will know more about it, so that they actually can become aware: Where can you get involved in Luxembourg? What is there in Luxembourg? Where are the people who are interested in the same things as I am? And yes, and so all of that is wrapped up in little videos to sort of bring the engagement and environmental knowledge to people.

Jonathan: Ah yes, and the videos, you make yourself …? You then drive from place to place and give small workshops?

Semion: Yes, so we are just in the beginning phase, where we are testing everything out a bit, for example, at the beginning of the tour, Julien from the Lycée Robert Schuman was also taking part. He is, after all, let’s say “president” of the climate action Team at the school. And he was with us for the first two weeks, and we also cycled to various NGOs. So, we always did it in an interview format, where we filmed things like: “We’re arriving now”, and then we briefly introduced the essential projects and usually, we filmed it ourselves and also edited the videos ourselves. But for instance, when we go to different schools – there’s the possibility to collaborate with André and Julia (y4p) so they can give workshops and we assist and film the whole thing. And yes, the key aspect is also to enable people to learn more about how to better position themselves in the media.

Jonathan: So, the goal is to promote the CreatiVelo and youth4planet in Luxembourg more widely, right?

Semion: Not only. So, The CreatiVelo is essentially an artistic space, a place to absorb sustainable stories and then spread them in other places. It’s essentially a story transporter. The aim is to connect everyone more efficiently, so everyone can contribute more, knowing where they can get involved, where they can do something they’re passionate about. To better interlink everything and amplify it.

Jonathan: So, how does that work in practice? You go to a place, conduct an interview or collect a film made by young people, children, or students – then you go to another place and present that?

Semion: For instance, if it’s your first time starting, let’s say, a “water” project: You might not have similar films to show yet. But you can still present the general idea or maybe another fun film to showcase what we do. And that’s the thing, when you target a specific project, you can display similar existing content, to inspire oneself. For instance, when approaching community-supported agriculture projects, you’ll find… there are various different ones, but each has its own innovative style that could help others.

Another scenario is when you’re at events, like the “Climate Expo Luxembourg”, you can essentially show all the films you’ve created over time, and there you have a larger audience to interact with, who want to participate and have their own stories to tell or take something away from the videos. Then there’s also the situation where you’re just passing through somewhere and someone asks “hey – what’s that?” Then you can again show everything that excites the person, and mainly explain what you’re currently doing. And yes, my goal is to showcase similar videos for similar projects. But an event, of course, provides a wider selection of videos.

The Creativelo at the Terraviva scouts camp

Jonathan: Currently, are you, or are you all in a testing phase? Are you doing it mostly alone or with Julien?

Semion: There’s a lot of parallel tasks to handle. And you really want to somehow… Actually, the goal is to create a project with the bicycle that is continuous. You shouldn’t have to travel hundreds of kilometers; it should be regionally oriented. Often, we search the world over to find something interesting or innovative. And the other thing going on is the redesign of the CreatiVelos. So that, on the one hand, the things inside are better organised, so that, for example, you can turn the screen on faster, or start the electronics better, so you don’t have to worry about something breaking or such.

And the other thing is, if you want to borrow the bike, you need a concept and a booklet where you explain in detail how to use it. How do we use it? How far does the bike go? How long can I keep a screen on with the solar? That’s why, yes, it’s currently operating on three tracks: the Tour, CreatiVelo and a concept for lending it. Additionally, new CreatiVelos will be added later and there’s a lot to juggle. And eventually, you also have to edit the videos.

Jonathan: Quite a lot. It’s almost like a proper study!

Semion: Exactly. Yes, this is essentially a preliminary report. For instance, if you think – yes, I’m going to this event and so many people will come, but then you only reach so many. But you only realize that after these weeks and once it’s all finished, it gets a bit calmer and more coordinated.

The CreatiVelo even fits in the “MBox“

Jonathan: But you’ve been on tour multiple times and have had some experiences?

Semion: What’s interesting to note about the bicycle – or about the concept of bicycles in general: When you compare it with a car, then a car is a closed capsule where you sit alone listening to music perhaps, isolated from the outside and not talking to anyone. – unless you’re on the phone. You don’t meet people with a car… But with a bicycle, it’s completely different. You don’t have that capsule, except maybe a small roof like on the CreatiVelo. But you can talk to people beside you and they can talk to you. And that’s a huge advantage.

The other thing is, the CreatiVelo has a unique design, with things written on it, it’s a one-of-a-kind bicycle here in Luxembourg. And so, there are people who ask questions as it passes by and might even approach you. And these are often the most interesting people you can meet, the ones you wouldn’t meet when driving a car. For instance, recently, at the beginning (of the tour) the first time we went into the city: It was raining and we wanted to interview some cyclists and such. “What motivates you to cycle?” Initially, we had just a cardboard sign, which we had written on and stood by a bridge where most cyclists pass. But not many stopped. Probably because of the rain. Yes, then we decided to move to another spot, and as we were cycling in the rain, someone else approached us – now WE were the ones being approached.

And that was possible because we were flexible. And we could be approached and then we got stuck there and had an exchange with this person for over an hour. And it was an older individual who then told us their story about why they started cycling. The person is actually from Luxembourg but spent half their life in the USA, and shared with us their entire life story, which was very much about sustainability. You also meet people on your way to meet other people, which means you’re always interacting, always exchanging. For example, you might say, you’re cycling from A to B to conduct interviews, and you’re losing a lot of time getting from A to B. With a car, you’d be faster.

Yes, that’s true, you’re slower… But so much happens on the journey, and you’re being approached. You come across other people who are interesting as well. You don’t get that with a car. So, this is the big advantage of the bicycle.

Jonathan: The journey is the destination.

Semion: Yes, with the CreatiVelo, that’s really the case.

The bicycle is well-received by most people. Of course, there are always people who are a bit skeptical, but that’s the case with everything. The great thing is, before the bike is even in action it already connects people. Sometimes, when there’s a big hill that the bicycle can’t climb, there are people alongside – people always come by and want to help push it up. No matter what happens, people are helpful when it comes to the bicycle. Also, in Luxembourg, car drivers don’t really like cyclists, because they are slow. But when the CreatiVelo is on the road they are not so rushed, which is interesting to see. It raises questions: What’s the story behind it? It makes cycling somehow more pleasant.

„The great thing is, before the bike is even in action it already connects people.“


Jonathan: Okay, so you haven’t been honked at?

Semion: No, only in a positive way.

Jonathan: Just to say hello maybe.

Semion: Yes, exactly.

Jonathan: And you’ve been active for youth4planet for a year now. So, does that mean the project will also last a year?

Semion: So, the CreatiVelo will remain and within the year it evolves… …Luxembourg evolves as well – and new people come along, new projects, new students. And you can also film the progress of projects. That means: this year serves, so to speak, to create a concept for the CreatiVelo, to facilitate an exchange, to engage in a dialogue. And the following years would then be a continuation. Then, of course, other people will have to carry it on. So, this year is the starting point, of the earthbeat Luxembourg tour.

Jonathan: Okay, and that means the concept can also be wonderfully exported. So, if someone wants to do it here where I am right now, in Switzerland, it would also work here.

Semion: Yes, absolutely. For instance, we now have two other places where CreatiVelos are used. Once, I believe, near Koblenz in Sinzig, there’s also a CreatiVelo. And their main goal will be to film professions, manual trades, to bring the craft closer to students. The CreatiVelo always serves to soak up stories, whether they are general stories or, for instance, craft trades that are now a bit forgotten, to re-inspire people for the craftsmanship.

And what’s also starting in September is this university competition in India, where people at five universities build CreatiVelos from scratch and then launch a campaign about some sustainable topic, e.g., air pollution or organic farming or fair-trade clothes, second-hand clothes… We actually have three initial projects, taking place in Europe and Asia. And then it’s about evaluation over time, about what was created.

Jonathan: A lot is happening… Yes, maybe just to conclude: So, what personally excites you about the project or what motivates you?

Semion: The goal is, not to leave people alone and my hope is that with this starting project we manage to inspire new people to get involved. But also support those who are already involved and want to get involved, so they don’t feel alone anymore. Bring them together. And that’s my main goal. Because it’s very sad when someone who commits to something great, devotes their free time to it and then fails because there’s no “microphone” to defend their vision.

Conversation at CreatiVelo with the President of the “Collège Médical” – Pit Buchler – Neurologist
Last Edited: 05. Sep 2023

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