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We’re here, but where are we?

May 31, 2009

Yesterday seemed like three days. At least. We rode on trains, trams, busses, planes, and walkways, consuming a healthy mix of fossil fuels. Afterward, we walked for hours along the cobblestone sidewalks and winding roads of Bonn with our rolling bags bouncing behind us in search of our hostel. Eventually, we found it.

To our excitement, we finally met some of the people that we’ve only been communicating with by e-mail. We met with activists in the Climate Action Network (CAN) who were preparing for the beginning of the conference. There, we found the Avaaz group, students from the Adopt-a-Negotiator project, and many other volunteers and NGO representatives.We only made the last 30 minutes of the CAN meeting, but even in this short amount of time, projects and creative “actions” were organized on the spot. For instance, people volunteered to fill positions as writers and editors of ECO, a newsletter that will be written and distributed by youth climate activists on a daily basis in response to delegate’s statements in the public negotiations. While political and corporate structures may have the advantage of being organized from the start, they can’t have nearly the organizational flexibility or enthusiasm of these activist groups.

At an informal gathering later in the evening, I realized the diversity and intelligence of the Avaaz team, the group that we’ll be learning from and volunteering with. There’s a chemical engineer, two photographers, a psychologist-in-training, a Fullbright scholar, and an artist who researchers spider silk with electron microscopes among others. Most are multilingual.


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