Guest Blog by Maurita Prato
Maurita is a former Dogwood campaigner, who put an incredible amount of work into our ‘Save Jordan River’ campaign (Now our ‘Vancouver Island is Not For Sale/Urban Sprawl’ campaign) and is responsible for laying much of the groundwork for our recent bylaw success. She’s now studying towards her Masters in Strategic Leadership for Sustainability in Sweden.
When author and well known facilitator Adam Kahane, leaned over and whispered ‘I’m Canadian too, but I’m thinking of sewing an American flag on my backpack’ I knew that Harpers dirty oil sands addiction was finally being aired out on the international stage- and its about time.
It was a strange sort of relief to hear people all over Copenhagen talking about the oil sands, and shaming Harper. On Friday, I watched a disturbing yet brilliant documentary ‘H2Oil’, telling the story of Fort Chipewyan, a small indigenous community just downstream of the oil sands, with abnormally high rates of cancer and death. It showed the shocking story of the lengths to which the Alberta and Canadian government went to try to sweep these indigenous lives under the carpet, to protect the oil sands interests. The film won’t be available on-line for a few months however http://www.thetarsandsblow.com is worth a view or two while you are waiting.
I just arrived back to Karlskrona Sweden from Copenhagen this afternoon, exhausted but inspired. I got to see long time heroine Vandana Shiva, eloquently explain how 60% of our global greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided simply by choosing to grow food organically, eat what can be grown locally and use international trade sparingly, for foods that we cannot grow in our own communities. As an ex-organic farmer, I felt tears spilling down my cheeks as Vandana spoke to us about the state of the global farmer. Farmers across the world are forced out of their traditional organic ways, and into ‘green revolution’ cash cropping. This continues to lead them into cycles of dept and poverty, malnutrition and suicide. Those who feed the world are the first to go hungry.
After connecting with a few other farmers in the room, we headed out to the centre of town, along with 100 000 others to march our way towards negotiations at the Bella Center. It was the longest, coldest and biggest march I had ever been a part of, and the diversity that was represented was a microcosm of the world of concern for our small, warming planet.
The sound wagons that drove along helped keep spirits high, as the colourful pulsing crowed meandered several kms across town. Clowns and anarchists, young and old, mainstream and radical.
It is quite the feeling to be interconnected with such a crowd, walking towards similar intention. I found myself taking on the role of observer, people watching much of the time. As we got closer to the Bella centre, new found friends and I belted out a little ditty they had just wrote. “We are all a piece of the solution, we are all a piece of the puzzle…”
I felt pretty warm in that cold Danish town. I felt pretty amazed that life had landed me there.
On the way back to the hostel at the subway station, I got talking to an older Danish man. “did you go to the protest today?” he asked, “wasn’t it dangerous? I heard on the news that 900people were arrested”. No, I said, it wasn’t dangerous; it was an honour to march with people from all over the world who really care about the future of our fragile planet. We ended up taking for 45 minutes, about climate change, global agriculture and economics, and social movements. By the end of it he smiled and genuinely thanked me for the conversation. I believe more and more that it is this tool of authentic conversation; both sharing and listening that may save the world yet.
In Paul Hawkins book, blessed unrest, he writes “If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren’t pessimistic you don’t have the correct data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a heart.” I know that it is unlikely that we are going to come out of COP 15 with safe and binding CO2 targets, but I still left Copenhagen inspired, and confirmed, with a few more good friends to connect and converse with.