06. – 13 July 2016 – Berlin
At the Berlin River Camp 2016, young people from 18 different nations gathered to discuss the protection of rivers in urban areas.
The first day started actually the night before at Wien Hauptbahnhof where we (Theresa, Ari and Jana) met for the first time, full of excitement. We did some last minute shopping for the international evening before getting on the train. After a very exciting night on the train in which thieves nearly took over our cabin we arrived at Berlin Südkreuz. Since the camp shouldn’t start until the late afternoon we spent the day with a nice walk through the district and found a delicious tiny african snackbar which saved the day.
Later on we moved into our cosy little wooden cubes and got to know our group. We held a river ritual where we mixed the river water of the participating countries and attended a lecture about counter-mapping.
The second day started with a walk along the Spree accompanied by two ladies who introduced their natural swimming pool project. It was a good way to start on the topic of public bathing spots as there are no official bathing spots in Berlin. Afterwards we had a great lunch at Berlin’s first and only community garden!
Then we split up in our working groups discussing water quality and other aspects of water protection. In the evening we had a lecture about water lobbying from Balazs Horvath who works at the European Environmental Bureau.
One highlight of the week was the third day starting with two lectures in the house of democracy addressing protection of water as a commons. One presentation was about water hygiene and the other one was held by Dorothea Härlin who impressed us all with her story about getting active for water rights and inspired us especially with this quote: „Water flows everywhere, but we as activists also flow everywhere.“
We headed on to the Bundestag where the fourth river parliament took place. It was a very memorable activity since most of us hadn’t seen a place like this from the inside. Nevertheless, it was a pity that the politicians of the green party talked a lot, but didn’t say anything at all.
Those who were interested went to the historical building of the parliament and discovered Berlin from above.
At the end of the day we celebrated our cultural diversity by having an international evening with loads of delicious food from all over the world.
Day four was the day of group action and free time. The theatre group prepared for their show at the big jump which took place on isle of youth the next day. In the meantime the others brainstormed the idea of a big jump app which will probably launch in 2017. The free time was spent on visiting the wall and the Mauerpark.
Then the day we were all waiting for finally arrived and we had our big jump at the isle of youth. We were joined by some politicians and water action initiatives. People who passed by were impressed to see people swimming in a river in which it is not very common to swim, because of water pollution. Of course we spent the evening watching the final match of the European championship.
The last day was all about the group works and presenting the results to the other participants. Additionally, we had a discussion in relation to the big jump app idea. In the afternoon we brainstormed for the River Camp 2017 in Slovenia which will be all about wild rivers. Also, we supported the participants from Bosnia and Herzegowina by signing a letter to their government. Since this was our last evening we danced all night celebrating the great group, the amazing week we had and all the actions we want to take in the future. We will change it!