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Daily Reports from COP22

The following reports were written by the Sustaining All Life report team as COP22 progressed from November 10 to November 16, 2016. [See also previous two articles.] On the report team were Susanne Langer (from Copenhagen, Denmark) and Mary Toutonghi (from Seattle, Washington, USA).

AN OVERVIEW 

Every night or morning we look at our schedule and plan our teams for each event. While the leaders and organizers have been assigned ahead of time, we also need people to support the event, for example, to do listening projects that will encourage interest.

Before an event we set up our literature, decorate the space, and talk to people as they come and go. When we meet people interested in RC, we ask them to fill out a card with their information.

We are building relationships with people all day long and modeling language liberation. Many of the people coming to our events are ordinary Moroccans. Some of them we have met outside of the COP. A woman who works at our hotel rode through Marrakech on the back of a motorcycle to get to one of our events.

Because of our attention, caring, and brilliant theory, many people are interested in joining RC. Many know immediately what we are talking about, and some have counseled us. It is hopeful to remember that our theory and practice are natural for all humans.

We are working hard, but the rewards are great. Last night we spent hours appreciating each other and then had a party with treats, music, and dancing. This project is a model of how to get things done and at the same time stay connected, joyful, and thoughtful.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10

About thirty people attended our “Youth Caucus.” They were enthusiastic about being with other young people. The booth was crowded, but more and more people wanted to attend. They shared their discouragement about politicians and talked about how they wanted youth to be listened to. They were relieved to have a space to have feelings and also to listen. Several commented that there weren’t many spaces where they could connect in this way. Someone said that it was good to get to follow the mind of the person they were listening to. A Moroccan woman spoke about how she normally talked and cried with God and how this was similar but with a person.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11

This was a great day! About forty young people came to our youth forum, “Young People Leading on Climate Change, Now and into the Future.” They included a large group of students, age six to twelve, who had read our signs, in Arabic and English, about youth being at the forefront of the climate movement. We started with a big dance party in which everyone added a move. People were joyful and bold, and almost all of them wanted to speak.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12 

It is magic to be here. The COP is well organized; we have easy access to the different NGOs and activities. There is a spirit of openness, warmth, and welcome.

It is easy to get people interested in what we are doing. Today we held a forum for activists called “Voices of Hope and Courage,” and our beautiful booth was crowded. People made good points—for example, that change will come from what we the people do together and not from more talk from politicians and officials.

Not many other groups talk about how racism is dominant in the destruction of the environment. When we talk about it, people get interested. They come back again and again to our crowded meetings.

We had an enthusiastic response to our Arab/Muslim caucus, especially from the young people and young adults. People applauded after several of our talks. One person cried during much of the meeting and afterward. A young Muslim woman said that it was the most memorable part of COP22 for her.

It has been amazing connecting with people, many of whom are young leaders of national organizations in their countries. Some of them are from places where RC has few, if any, active contacts.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13 

Today we had a workshop for our own Sustaining All Life group. Barbara Love and Teresa Enrico (the leaders of our delegation) helped us identify U.S. patterns that can show among us—for example, patterns of urgency that get in the way of closeness, connection, and love. There was no blame or dramatizing. Mistakes and challenges are unavoidable, and they are good for learning. We also planned the afternoon reception, met in work groups to plan for Monday and Tuesday, and had a little session (six minutes each can work wonders). We are probably the best organized group in the world!

In the afternoon we put on the reception, for people whom we had met throughout the week. They were from many places. From the rooftop venue we could see the mountains on the horizon and a beautiful sunset. The food was delicious and beautiful. Barbara presented who we were and the focus of our work. People introduced themselves in a mini-session, then to the whole group, and talked about their work on climate change. We had a game and mini-sessions. Barbara did a powerful demonstration with a woman who helped children of people who had been held in slavery. Many of the participants cried. The hotel management said that they hadn’t witnessed anything as inclusive or moving.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14

An “Indigenous Voices Forum”: Only one person was there at the beginning, but then the space filled up. Some people sang instead of speaking; they used songs for building unity and connection and celebrating that we were together. Our delegation joined in the singing and celebration. The music and dance helped. It was good to think flexibly and follow the participants’ lead.

A workshop “Eliminating the Effects of Racism on Our Work to Sustain All Life”: Barbara gave an overview of Sustaining All Life and what we know in RC about healing. She talked about the impact of racism on people’s lives and the connection between racism and the environment. She emphasized the disproportionate impact on People of the Global Majority and developing countries. Nazish Riaz (from Bedford, Massachusetts, USA) talked about war, racism, and the climate. Niti Dandekar (from Pune, India) talked about land. Rudy Nickens (from St. Louis, Missouri, USA) talked about the concentration of environmental destruction in urban environments where many People of the Global Majority live, and how we often aren’t aware of it. He also talked about how racism makes us feel powerless to act and how we can use RC to reclaim our power. We did mini-sessions in which people could talk about how racism had affected their personal lives. Almost every person got a chance to tell a story.

A workshop “Young People at the Forefront of the Climate Movement”: Liam Geary Baulch (from London, England) spoke about young people’s oppression and how it relates to the climate movement. Most of the participants were from a Peruvian international school. A few were from Morocco and other parts of Africa. People were excited to learn about young people’s oppression, especially about school being oppressive.

An introduction to Sustaining All Life: At the beginning there were two people; then the group grew to sixteen. Almost everyone was Indigenous. Juan Manuel Feito Guerrero (from Bilbao, Bizkaia, Euskal Herria-Basque Country) talked about capitalism and how it pushes Indigenous people to the side. This resonated with the participants. He also talked about how using RC is a contradiction to capitalism and how powerful we are when we support each other.

A women’s support group for our delegation: Susanne Langer (from Copenhagen, Denmark) led the group. She reported on a conference organized by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network at which she had learned that twenty million of the twenty-five million climate refugees were women. She said that women had been the leading force in ending climate change and needed to be included in the decision making. She also talked about how white women must not escape into the comfort accessible in the economic North and leave Global Majority and Indigenous women to take on the battles. We did a mini-session on being “female first” and then broke up by class and race and worked on being “women warriors.”

A men’s support group for our delegation: Five men attended. It was good to be together. We put attention on what it’s like to notice the customs, norms, and rituals related to gender in Morocco; on backing the women’s leadership of Sustaining All Life; and on thinking about each other.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15

A “Youth Caucus”: There were fifteen young people. People are starting to come to multiple Sustaining All Life events, and they stay for the whole time and have good attention.

A forum “Moroccans and Climate Change”: We wanted to put attention on local community building. People were excited to have an event for the people who lived here. The class was in English and French, neither of which were the first language of anyone in the group. Susanne explained how this was the result of imperialism and colonialism.

A forum “Climate Change: Its Impact on Developing Nations and Oppressed Communities”: People lined up to speak throughout the event and before it even started. Someone said that it was the best thing ever, because “people were speaking the language of human connection.”

An Indigenous workshop “Sustaining Indigenous Life Worldwide”: In the words of Hemaima Wiremu (from Otaki, Aotearoa/New Zealand), “We set up a small area with posters in English, French, and Arabic that asked Indigenous women, ‘Where have you found hope?’ We listened to three young Maori women talk about the work they were doing as part of a youth delegation called the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change. They spoke about their Native brothers and sisters from the United States who would normally have been there with them but were at Standing Rock in North Dakota (USA). They talked about their activist network in the South Pacific Islands and how they were missing home. We also listened for almost two hours to two Muslim women from the United Kingdom who were part of a young Muslim organization that was working with other Muslims on living more sustainable lives and was teaching non-Muslims about the teachings in the Koran, to help dispel negative stereotypes. All the women we listened to were excited by the Sustaining All Life project. They said that the ideas fit closely with their own, and they were enthusiastic about using listening to address climate change and help end oppression and divisions among humans.”

A women’s caucus: Many women who had been to other Sustaining All Life activities had happy expectations of the caucus. Afterward they said it was amazing and that they’d never had such an experience before.

A men’s caucus: At first there was no male to interpret, so everyone worked together to translate from Arabic to English. Rudy and Liam had decided to start with “men are good,” but the first man who spoke mentioned sexism right away. The men kept referring back to something Rudy had said about how men should be together.

(Present Time 186, January 2017)


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00