16 – 19 November 2017 – Els
The first Day of the second Action Leader Training. How beautiful the Waldviertel is! We, the planning team took off early in the morning to prepare the rooms at our acommodation in Els. We learned alot organizing all this: How can we cope with the variety of participants? What small things do we have to think about that might be essential? What is our goal for this weekend? Excited we waited for the participants, not knowing if they´ll like what we prepared for them.
Afternoon. The time has come. The first Generation Earth members arrive in Els. We prepared food, long time no see, so we had a lot to tell. Steady we started our first day. Warm up exercises for the group and getting to know our new member. Elena. We were all happy to see our group grow. A walk through Els showed the environment to the participants and gave them time for self-reflection. Coming back to the house planning team member Valentin had transformed the first level of the building into an obstacle course, which we had to overcome blindfolded with the help of the others. It helped building up trust and reminded us of the strong connection we had last training.
A gathering in the evening was arranged. What changed for us since the last training? How was the time without Generation Earth? What are our expectations for the next days?
We all knew the next days were going to be intense. Alot to think about, to work on and to change was coming towards us.
Friday. What a day. In the morning our specialist on the theory of social change, Iris, unfortunately missed her connecting train and couldn’t make it in time for her lecture. Nate however came to help us out by starting his workshop on how to properly organize a GE project. We all got our GE handbooks and went through them. Nate shared some very interesting and helping insights with us. We also got to ask a lot of questions which Nate and the Action Leaders answered.
Learning all this about managing, Nate tested our achieved skills with a problem solving challenge: Egg drop. We were split up into groups, each got an egg, tape, newspaper and carton. We had to build an egg protection device, dropped the eggs from the 1st floor, and hoped our eggs would survive. All but one egg “survived” the drop. The whole challenge was similar to a small project, the “drop” was synonymous for the actual event of whatever project we would organize.
At around noon, Iris arrived. She gave an around 30-minute lecture on theory of social change. After that we were split up into teams of two and each got to present one theory, how change can be made. We then had a discussion on the different theories. After lunch we had the second half of Nate’s workshop. We talked about possible projects and the steps that needed to be taken before we can actually start to plan a project.
In the evening, some people went outside to get some fresh air, while the planning team organized the movie evening. Elena and Gina got the living room ready, decorating it with candles, matrasses and pillows. Everybody enjoyed just laying together, watching a movie. The movie “Tomorrow” was very interesting too.
On Saturday we went deeper into the topic of managing our project. Which resources do we as Generation Earth, but also as a part of WWF have? What projects are within the bounds of possibilities, and which are not?
There are many ways of funding a project. Some budget of course is offered by WWF and GE, but for a bigger project we´ll have to aim higher. Many organisations offer funds for youth projects, even the EU is a possible sponsor. We only need some good ideas – that won´t be a problem.
Using Generation Earth’s or WWF’s logo is a strong message and we´ll have to act responsibly choosing our partners. It felt interesting to see how our projects evolve. The question marks which floated over all of our heads got smaller and smaller. Our projects are about to get going.
After this straight-forward input the next big schedule point was coming up: Alternative Economic Systems. The workshop was hosted by two experts which were invited to help. Ernest Aigner from WU and Julia Weber from our partner Oikos. A very interesting, but also important topic. What are the alternatives to our capitalist and neoliberal economy? Are there any sustainable alternatives?
We worked our way through different concepts of sustainable economies and analysed what is going wrong in our actual system. The monetarization of almost everything is a huge problem. You can make companies pay if they deforest a rainforest, but you´ll never get back the biodiversity and the photosynthesis capacity which it holds.
The workshop made my view on economies a lot more clear than it was before. I knew there’s a lot going wrong in our actual system, I even doubt that there’s any possible form of sustainable life in our actual system. Sounds depressing, but the good thing is now we know that there are alternatives, possible alternatives, alternatives which are already implemented in some parts of the world. Finding a solution is not impossible if we work together.
Uff. Tired. Next thing: Torch walk and a campfire to finish the day in a relaxed way. Some went to bed early, some felt comfortable sitting until late hours in our living room. Tomorrow will be departure day. Good night.
Departure day. Sadly. But our location, Els, hands us a goodbye present. Huge snowflakes dripple on our heads when we looked out of the window.
After breakfast we focused on our main topic of this weekend. The upcoming action projects, which will be happening in 2018. Some have concrete projects in mind, others are still dreaming about how they want to implement change. The topics are already set: Tackling climate change and unsustainable food will be the goal of a few. Others want to work in schools and give young students and children an insight on what problems our generation will have to cope with. Even a co-operation with Grenzenlos, a platform for intercultural connection and understanding, is about to get going. Motivated young people all around the place.
At the first training weekend connecting to nature was a major part of the programme. But since we had so many workshops and wanted to get our projects going we kind of forgot about that. Luckily programme oordinator Nate always knows how to get people in touch witch nature. Doen’t matter if it’s a story, a small exercise or something peotic, after it we always know why we are standing here with Generation Earth. This time we collected leaves, flowers and everything else we could find in the woods and created pictures on the forest’s ground. This is called „Land Art“. An art form where people create pictures and leave them wherever they created them. It might happen that some bypassers find the pictures, maybe they start smiling, maybe not. Maybe noone ever finds them, but the most important thing was the creation anyways.
In the afternoon we got ready to leave. We, the planning team of the weekend could finally relax and proudly look back on the passed days. Time to go home. Looking forward to the next weekend and our heads full of ideas concerning our projects we got on the bus.
Farewell Els, maybe we´ll come back one day…