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A Young Person at the Climate Conference in Bonn

English translation of the preceding article:

I was a member of the Sustaining All Life (SAL) delegation at the United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany, last November. There was no other organization with a team like ours. When something seemed impossible, we did it first and discharged later.

We were constantly busy with listening projects, telling people about RC and SAL, and inviting people to our forums and workshops. I told countless people about our project, and because our theory is so fundamental, many people understood it right away.

I talked about the importance of discharge and listening to each other and said that SAL had developed tools for this that were useful for activists. I also said that we paid special attention to oppressions, which everybody has trouble thinking about because of old hurts. 

Being asked, “How are you?” or “What is it like to be here as a young person?” or “Do you experience racism at this conference?” made a big difference to people. I think that even when we were just standing somewhere—for example, with a sign to invite people to a forum—our smiles did a lot of good.

Many of the topics of our workshops weren’t addressed anywhere else or weren’t even mentioned. And our forums gave people the chance to tell important stories that would have remained invisible otherwise.

Our official programme started with a forum and a workshop for young people. At those events I said that the diversity of languages there and at the conference as a whole was a big wealth. I also said that young people were not being taken seriously and that this was a form of oppression. And I said that when we hear confusing messages for a long time, they get stuck in our minds and then we ourselves feel like our thinking isn’t important.

We had a daily support group for young people that was a chance for young people to be together for a while, without adults, and to have fun and listen to each other. Every time was different, but the fundamentals were the same: We did a name round, had a mini-session, often had people take turns in the group, played a game, and shared some theory about listening, discharge, and young people’s oppression. At the end we invited people to the other events we were leading that day.

I was the only young person in the SAL delegation, and I constantly made the decision to trust the adults in the delegation—an interesting challenge. It was good to have a young person in the delegation. At our workshop and forum for young people I could talk about young people’s oppression, and because of my age it was easier for me to connect with many young people at the conference.

We did a lot of work to be visible on Twitter and Facebook. I took thousands of photos and selected and edited them on-site so the social-media team could use them right away.

We also live streamed our forums. Because we hadn’t decided to do this until we were already at the conference, we had to arrange everything on-site. And at every forum we found a way to upgrade the quality of the stream. It was a good example of our flexibility and ingenuity.

At one point at the conference, representatives of the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry held a panel on the importance of fossil fuels and nuclear power. A group of young people from the United States organised a protest. When the panel had been going for a couple of minutes, about two thirds of the room stood up and sang for fifteen minutes, bringing the panel to a complete halt. After that they walked out and left an almost empty room. Outside the room they held their own panel.

I met a young man from Brazil who did amazing work. He couldn’t come to any of our events, but I managed to listen to him at important times. A couple of days after the conference he sent me a message saying that meeting me had been the best thing that had happened to him at the conference.

I grew up in RC, and when I was younger I had some bad experiences trying to explain RC to people. During the conference I told many people about RC, and when I got home I told a lot of my friends about it. So far, all reactions have been positive, and at least one person has wanted to learn more.

Rob Venderbos

Wergea, Friesland, the Netherlands

 

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion listfor leaders in the care of the environment

(Present Time 191, April 2018)


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00