"If you don't have a strategy, you are part of someone else's strategy” -Alvin Toffler in Beautiful Trouble
At COY I am seeing the intersection of many issues in our world all coming together. I see that we are moving towards lasting solutions which address root causes, which change systems fundamentally. We are working towards systemic change, not just addressing climate change in isolation from everything else. As Xiuhtezcatl said in his talk, climate change is not an environmental issue. It is a human issue and a planetary crisis which affects everything and everyone. So we must work at all levels for change: personal, cultural, and political.
I’m inspired to see the intersection of art, performance, spirituality, and building alternatives at COY today. Our friend Ryan Camero shared his zine on the intersection of climate change, fracking, immigrant and racial justice, and the water crisis in California. Through beautiful illustrations he shares what is happening in his community. Today there was also a hands-on solar panel making workshop at. People were using soldering irons, learning to wire circuit boards. We talk a lot about solar energy in the climate movement. It is good to actually know how to build one. Young people are creating do-it-yourself kits where you can order parts and build your own custom energy source!
At the Conference of the Youth the main focus is on climate organizing and strategy, but there is also space for personal transformation and reflection. The introspection area features The Climate Ribbon collective arts ritual. You can learn more about them here. Also today I connected with Oldoez from Eco Brahma Kumaris, a spiritual group promoting peace and climate justice. They set up a meditation area at COY and lead meditations 3 times a day. I asked her about the link between climate change and meditation. She told me:
Through meditation, we become aware of ourselves. We have forgotten ourselves and the elements of nature, and are unconscious of our impacts on the earth. Through meditation we can become aware of our actions and empower ourselves to change our behaviors. This is the link to climate change - it can help people change
We sat for a 15 minute meditation. I left feeling clear, refreshed and centered. I see spaces like this as crucial for our movement to help us all wake up in many ways: personally, spiritually, politically, and aware to the ecology of our bodies and the earth.
For me the day had a strong focus on strategy. I met again with the Long Term Goal working group, promoting a path to zero carbon emissions globally by the year 2050. This is a target we must hit to avoid runaway climate change. We brainstormed many creative actions and ideas to put pressure on the negotiators to hit this target. More to come on this soon!
Several of our delegation also attended the North America breakout session. Over 50 youth from Mexico, the US and Canada sat together for a potent conversation. We talked about our identity as North American youth, pathways to renewable energy and how we can leverage our position to influence thetalks, while also not taking up undue space and finding ways to partner with people from less privileged regions. I went to the breakout group on identity, we spoke about the construction of “american” culture and the forgetting of our culture and ancestral roots and ways of living. We explored the complexities of our stories, and how we can know ourselves fully to be strong and empowered organizers. I appreciated having this personal and meaningful conversation amidst so many strategy and organizing sessions.
At the end of the day we led a Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth youth leadership training. We started by having people move their bodies around the space and connecting with other, sharing passions, hopes and fears for this global moment. About 45 people came to hear our stories and learn about Earth Guardians theory of change and organizing principles. Each member from our delegation shared their passion and wisdom with the group and we also heard from many others about opportunities to collaborate. Organizers from the global Climate Strike shared about how to get involved in Paris and around the world. You can learn more about the climate strike and join in here, it takes place Monday Nov. 30th.
This session focused on how to stay engaged with the climate movement after these few weeks of intense action. No matter what happens here, wewill live the rest of our lives together on this changing planet. We need each other and we need to continue to organize for a just, functional and ecologically sound society for our whole lives. As Jaiia said, we need to harness the energy and connections from global gatherings like this into long term, ongoing action in our communities. It needs to keep going.
Stories create our world. Consciously and unconsciously, the cultural worlviews and stories we are swimming in influence our thoughts and actions and institutions. At Conference of Youth, the youth movement iswriting and living a different story than the one we’v been taught: one of cooperation, regeneration and justice. For our planet and for everyone. The good news here is everyone is invited to step into this story, the sooner the better!
"Your task as the young is to reinvent the universe, the universe made out of stories -- to change the stories, to tell them, to bury them, and to give birth to them." Rebecca Solnit