COMING OF AGE IN THE CITY. What Riga looks like to GENERATION Z kids. Pt.2!

As the atmosphere of two most nationalistic events in the calendar of patriotic Latvians fade out until next year, it seems like a good idea emotionally to publish the second edition of our Generation Z article series. The formulae of this series does not change - two Rigans, born in this city and in this century, tell about their lives and their view on Riga.
Just a quick reminder. We can't deliver every opinion of kids from different backgrounds in the city. Even if we were following all the global trends, it would simply be impossible to cover all their variations in children's worldviews. What we can do is to choose the ones interested in the city and the ones similar to kids many parents are travelling to Riga with from elsewhere. So, let this article, consisting of two new interviews, then serve as a little city guide - for those accompanied by under-age fellow travellers and those Rigans looking for new vibes for their kids. A city guide being stocked up with other versions on the reality of Riga and even abroad by GENERATION Z soon again.

PATRIKS*, 12
Although I live in Brasa neighbourhood on the famous Miera street, the place I study since 1st grade, the Riga Waldorf school**, is on the other side of the city – in Iļģuciems. It seems more modern, because there are no grade marks until the final school year, we instead collect pluses, and learning is different a bit. It might feel strange, and some of my friends sometimes laugh about it, but I believe the school is better for me and easier to understand.
I am a real sleepyhead and enjoy waking up as late as possible for school, where we go by car. After classes I go back home on my own by tram, sometimes meeting some friends along the way, playing kendama. Otherwise, there is really nothing going on around school, many of my class- and schoolmates also live across Riga, some outside in Mārupe, or even further away. For them the city, at least in Iļģuciems suburb, is not much different, maybe bigger houses and less trees, but I think that Riga still has more trees than in many other cities I’ve been, although, even more is always better.

Although it’s also on Thursdays, I usually make it on Tuesdays only and go to inline training after school. Decided to apply for them myself, been on skates for 5 years already! I used to take part in lacrosse training too. I had a friend who played there, and that’s why I started, but my team mates, despite the good time hen playing, were not cool, so I left. For now, there is also no other team in Riga to join. Maybe I could try something else soon, some other sports, that would be nice to keep myself busy. My parents are not pushing me to do anything, they ask me every time if I am interested in trying out this or that, and I decide myself.

Then I also go to the local Brain Games store and play the Keyforge card game on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings. I found out about it when looking up Magic: The Gathering, because I liked how the cards look (I enjoy going to any store in general, to look at things there and fantasize what would I do if I had any of that. Sometimes there is a chance to buy something, when saving pocket money my parents give to me every week if I behave alright).

So, when at the store, I asked about Magic: The Gathering to the seller, who showed it to me, but also introduced to Keyforge that I found interesting. Then, the other day I came back to the store to buy yo-yo that I also play often, and the seller said: “You know, we have a little weekly tournament, maybe you want to try?” OK, I said, would like to join! Then one of the main guys came and thought me the rules and gave me a free deck to play in my first tournament, and I really started to liked it.

I really enjoy going to Old Town with my friends, just hang around the narrow streets, sometimes there are events and concerts, a lot of people. It’s interesting to look around, sometimes to visit stores we like or eat somewhere like KFC. We also meet in the Central district, but then we already have a specific plan or place. Either they are spots for inline, for example, at the National Library of Latvia, or places for playing kendamas. It was introduced to me by my inline trainer Nils Jansons, who brought one along to the practice. At first, it seemed like a simple toy, like yo-yo. Then I tested one and after some ten tries got my first “BIG CUP”, and it just felt so interesting. After some time I learned other tricks that I thought are the most difficult in the world, but then another guy came to the training and showed so many new tricks that my eyes popped out! I bought my first real kendama at one inline summer camp that I really liked, and played it all the time. Then, a week after going home, I saw an add on the Internet about a new “Ke Ke Kendama” store. Went there with my friend, and there were so many people at the opening! There was also a championship where I fell out before the finals. At the time I had a kendama with a pretty worn-down spike, so the winner, who got two new kendamas as a prize, just gave one away to me. When I look back now, it seems that I was the first one to bring kendama at my school. There was a moment we had too many players, and we were almost stripped of the toys, but now there are maybe five, who play it, but really well.

If I am to suggest places to go, I would definitely try out the Barona street playground, because there are many things to do for everyone – skate, BMX, basketball, or even parkour. Then the same Old Town I already mentioned, especially the War museum that’s for free and that I find interesting, and can find out new things. One of my most favourite museums is the Riga Motor Museum, but it’s a bit outside the centre next to Biķernieki race track that I also like to visit for a walk or riding a bike. Sometimes it’s cool to go to some second hand stores, our favourite is the one called Vintage Humana, where me and my mum can find some great colourful puffer coats. Of course, sometimes there are ridiculous things on sale, but otherwise, second hand is a good thing, because, apart from throwing clothes out, you give them away to somebody else. Then less clothing is manufactured, because you can buy them a second time.

There are not that many people in Riga, and I actually like that, it also makes me feel safe! Also there are many large houses; can look at them, at all the details and think about, how they were made back then, I find it interesting.  But I think the city looks boring sometimes. Would like to see more street art like murals or graffiti, my favourite are those characters drawn by KIWIE and also the walls near Tribal shop on 62 Tallinas street. I actually do graffiti myself, not on walls, though, but on paper, still learning. We should stop thinking that street art is something bad, the city sometimes believes that, washes off many good drawings and murals. On the other hand, there was a wall uptown by the harbour with children drawings that also got painted over, but by some random guys. If there were just colourful walls around the city, I believe it would help making Riga more interesting.

What I enjoy about Riga the most is that it has everything I want and like. If there’s something I imagine to have – it’s there! But it would be great to have more new trams, the longer and lower ones. There was a moment when I actually saw two elderly men trying to step in one of the older trams and then falling backwards on street, because it was to steep and high. Also, although Riga seems generally clean, the air feels very polluted that I would like to see changed for the better. There are so many cars on streets, but also the people are to blame, for example, when smoking everywhere. I have the large Great Cemetery park nearby, at least, where to go, because it’s peaceful and there’s good air. When walking around, I often imagine many things of what I could do if I was a superhero and there were some trouble going on somewhere. My latest favourite story is when I imagine myself being Spiderman, who’s been my favourite superhero for a while now.

I listen to rap, but one of my favourite genres is also speed metal. When I watched Stranger Things that I really like, there was the brother of one girl, who listened to it, and I really enjoyed how it sounds. My dad started showing me multiple versions of rock that were not the right ones, but then we finally found it!

IZABELLA*, 15
I live with my parents and go to school in Teika suburbs. We own a half of a private house that is shared with another family. I like the cosiness of my neighbourhood - the whole area is like my private space, home is 800 m from school, there’s the Biķernieki forest nearby and it’s quiet around; one can go to any store in crocs, and feel just cool about it.
Every morning before school I do my own things and meditate. I call myself open-minded, question things, keep learning about myself, looking into myself, examine what I like, what don’t, what I want. Then I go to school, where I study in 10th grade. We have a “public relationships” specialization; it also includes business, management, psychology, philosophy, culturology. One can even make their own study start-ups. I chose this particular specialisation, because it would make me feel less like some high school meat; not just wasting three years of my life. After that comes the drama hobby group, we enact a play throughout the year; or singing in the choir.

Although the city centre is something completely different to what I like about Teika, I enjoy being in downtown almost every single day. Meet my peeps from there, do things, see performances, visit events or theatre. Keep myself busy. There is a nice spot at the Latvian National Museum of Art or behind Dailes theatre (popular among youngsters), or the Kaņepes Culture Centre - it’s another cosy place for some tea, can be peaceful and very restless at the same time, where one can meet some funky, freaky people. Sometimes it’s “Če” or “Autentika”, also two liberal places. Finally, I keep myself around “Lokāls”, too, it has a vibe freaky enough as well. I try looking for places more quiet than others, where I can enjoy being alone, or where everybody does their own thing.

Lately I have been walking around the Quiet centre and feeling another different vibe; one of my friends, she attends the Riga French Lycée nearby. I really wanted to study there as well, for two months had a dilemma. I have always enjoyed changing everything, the place and people, wanted to start from a blank page, but then realized how good is the chill feel in Teika, and that I know everything there.

I think Riga is the mirror of myself. I like when the city is ever-changing, one can walk up the Krišjāņa Barona or toward Aleksandra Čaka, or Krišjāņa Valdemāra streets, and everything seems different, so interesting and freaky. It makes me happy that Riga is awakening, people are awakening, everything is in some fluid vibe. I really like events here, the “White Night” (Baltā nakts), for example, or the Homo Novus theatre festival with its exhibition. Finally, I can simply be spending a day by the sea, walking barefoot in the sand, or at any forest. It helps me ground myself. Lately, I started visiting the library (The National Library of Latvia House – CR.). It seems so cosy and tidy, with a clean vibe. It’s weird, buy I only read my books here, the atmosphere is perfect for this; at home there is always something distracting. By the end of the day, I enjoy comparing the person that arrived at the library to whom I have become when I leave.

One thing I don’t like is that you can’t see any stars at night. Also, there could be more street art and graffiti around, more parks or greener places in the city, tidier environment in general. Personally don’t like the public transport, if there’s a chance to walk, I walk. I don’t have a lock, so I also don’t ride a bike around the city; there is the VEF bridge I always ought to cross, but its narrowness still scares me. Maybe I just need to pull myself together and ride to the centre once and for all, but I still remember how my friend’s dad got in an accident there. But, eventually, I don’t focus much on things I don’t like, and, since the things mentioned, don’t trigger me much, I feel fine about Riga.

I don’t eat products of animal origin, don’t like to put that negative energy in me. Of course, it’s in my head, but that makes me feel better, funkier, more fresh. I think I can taste everything better. I often go to “Miit café” that I really like. They’ve got a clean vibe, everything is thought-out, and, of course, the food is tasty. I also eat at “Terapija” from time to time. Sometimes there is a chance to get something at “Teikas Ezītis Miglā”, also other random places where there is a proper vegan offer, like the “Alfa” supermarket in Teika. It’s super nice that the vegan movement grows in Riga so fast.

In mid-September I managed to candidate for the high school president position. It began like a gag, but at that time I really wanted to break the school, really think it’s some kind of Matrix we live in there. But then I evaluated my plans, interests, priorities and stepped back, still keeping myself busy a the school parliament. Sadly, we cannot change many things now, like the meal offer at school, and it’s terrible. The problem is that there is the “Daily” chain at school, not our own canteen, they really have no clue about veganism, so I need to accept that. At the worst case scenario I can always pass by home, but the thing is – if I’m off to school in the morning, I try coming back only in the evening.

There are many things to think about after I began studying in high school. I am considering the student exchange programme. We already have two very sweet and interesting girls at my class this year - one is from Thailand and the other from Germany. It seems a really cool experience. I wonder if I could get to Italy next year since I have been there a lot with my parents; Italy is close to my heart. Amsterdam would be nice, too, but I would not mind any warm or funky country in general. I’m also thinking about some volunteering. Sadly one needs to be 18 years old at least to apply.

Speaking about that, I sometimes visit the Tallinas street quarter, because one can enjoy all kinds of things there. This is where one chick told me about “Sansusī” - this alternative, artsy, culture fest with performances out of Riga (while they also have a venue at the same Tallinas quarter). After that I found them, wrote a super beautiful motivation letter for volunteering, concocted things piece by piece every day, tried to put all myself in. Then there was a meeting, and after that I got in and hit the road to “Sansusī” for the first time in my life. To make it even cooler, I decided to go there on Monday, spent the whole week there, it was super funky, had many nice and woke peeps around to exchange energies with. We also made our own performances like this shadow theatre with patients from the psycho-neurological hospital located nearby; it was very beautiful and spiritual. I can say the festival brought me one of the best feelings in my life, great experience, definitely put me out of my comfort zone at times. I didn’t really feel like a 15-year-old there at all.

My parents trust me and always know where I am, really don’t have those conversations, like, oh, no, you won’t do that. I guess I’m lucky, because everything always falls in the right place for me. But I don’t call myself a daredevil, I am very responsible.





*A permission of a parent was obtained before the child was approached for an interview.

**Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. Its pedagogy strives to develop pupils' intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner. The cultivation of pupils' imagination and creativity is a central focus. Wikipedia.com.

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