20 – 24 September 2017 – Rohrbach an der Gölsen
After counting the days, it finally arrived – our Action Leader Training Kickoff!
Although it was a rainy day, we could still see a lovely landscape arround us. A friendly team wearing WWF Generation Earth t-shirts welcomed us and with their bright smiles we even forgot our wet shoes.
Everyone was a bit nervous, but ready to get to know the others. After a nice welcome talk, we played a “Get to know you” bingo game and we had to find out curious facts from each other, and like honey on bread, we started to melt together.
During free time we went out to explore the forest, and were able to connect with others in a relaxed atmosphere. After feeding our bodies, we needed to feed our souls, and in another activity we exchanged significant personal objects that we had brought from home as a way to identify ourselves and exchange personal stories.
It was a great start to what’s sure to be an exciting next few days.
Our second day began early, for some with yoga, for others with a nice breakfast, followed by morning activity, a playful challenge. Speaking of challenge: We had reached the next step of our training, the group was formed, the storm is coming: Conflicts and difficulties within our new group. Nathan told every group has to overcome these problems, so we were kind of prepared. The storm hit us in a “the lost sheep” game, involving blindfolds, discussions and confidence. Maybe too much of the last one. Although we realized the skills we already had acquired, we feel there is potential.
Afterwards we crafted our norms as a community together with Christian. We came up with our ideal foundation of our team, on which we want to build this, and in the afternoon we all signed these norms – our first official agreement to each other.
That brings us to the second half of the day, the Leadership and Changemaker Workshop with Nina, Julia, Nadine and George: By intense brainstorming, we did not only look on our own role models who made a change in the world and our own moments of changing the world, but we saw that we have a lot of strengths we can rely on. Our little herd got even bigger, Bernadette, Franziska and Angelina joined us, what a nice addition!
The big conclusion came in form of “The Council”, in which everyone could express themselves openly. At the end of the day we sat together, played music and went to bed with hunger for more.
The third day started with “The morning walk with Nate”, which sounds a little bit like a good morning show. After a hearty breakfast we started our daily program with a small energizer created by Burns. When everybody was nearly awake, Nadine and Julia introduced us in their workshop called “Connect to a bigger picture”. The two girls showed us how sustainability is connected with economic, social and the environment. The next point of our day was a presentation from Nate about the WWF and Generation Earth and where this both organizations are involved in. Today’s topic was “sustainability” and it wouldn’t be a GE-day without a big group brainstorm. So we discussed three main things which were: “How did we come in this situation? How do we change the system? What is our role in this change?”
After the brainstorm we went to lunch together, but when we arrived we got randomly split in two groups. One smaller part sat on a fully set and the others on a nearly empty. When we realized that this is the actual situation on our planet. We were shocked and became very thoughtful.
Later we helped the people from “LebensGutMiteinander” in the garden. Some of us built a fence, others prepared the ground, but altogether we were full of mud. When everybody changed clothes, we continued with a presentation from the LebensGutMiteinander team, OIKOS Vienna and Grenzenlos.
After a great dinner, we had two more special presentations. One from Luzzy about Zero Waste and the second was from Stellamina about a sustainable lifestyle.
The fourth day retrospectively was a day of commitment: On this Saturday we should decide what our next steps, our next trainings should look like and when they would take place. Not an easy task, regarding that we all are very busy people. But in the end, we succeeded and we came up with the perfect plan. The organizing part was over now, the pressure gone from our brain veins.
With all the planning and structure in our minds, we thought that nothing could surprise us. But, as life goes, there happened to be a big surprise at night: A meditative journey through the dark, candle lit night. The Solo Candle Walk. It was a different experience for everyone. Some felt uncomfortable, some even panicked for a second, others felt confident and deep determination. But it was something, to say at least, that made us wonder. For some of us it felt like a big homecoming after a long day lost in the woods, the emotional structure we needed to balance out the logic structure. We stayed at the campfire and talked, played music and sang as we pleased, told stories that were beautiful, hilarious and/or frightening at the same time.
The last day of our journey has come, and the signs of farewell too. Even the rooster near the barn, in which some had been sleeping the last days, gave us his “Goodbye” by waking us up in the morning like a mad bird.
There was still stuff to do, mainly the introduction of the website by Natalie, so we could stay in contact, and the cleaning up.
It was a hectic day, because some of us had to catch a train back to their homes. But, although time was short, we still had the time to talk, to self-reflect, to think about the upcoming events with the next steps and for the stone ritual: Each of us got a stone with a spiral and an encouraging message from one random group member on it, a symbol that should give us hope and confidence until we meet again. And then we went to the train station, some of us by foot, some with the bus, and it felt like this little journey was over, but that there is still a lot to come. The end was only the beginning of something bigger.
Looking back at this week there comes the picture of a fire salamander to one’s mind, like the one some of us have seen at the very start of this journey. Like yellow spots on black salamander skin we could not be more diverse and individual mind-colored people. But despite our differences we all felt the rain has come and we had to become active. This urge made us go into the daylight, where we met and welcomed each other, praised us for our individuality, but also learnt to act together. There were obstacles and there will be a bunch of them in the future as well, sticks and stones of all kinds. But despite all that we still have us and we are not alone. We are one. A little herd of salamanders stepping through the rain as a family. And we will meet again, to save the world or at least to try. 🙂