Day 3 (Sunday 12th March): Opening Up

After another seriously good homemade breakfast by Brett, the day kicked off with another string of inspiring talks. Lucy, Erica and Becca shared with us some amazing success stories and unexpected challenges from Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. As gurus in activism, and with their experience in Fossil Free, they imparted upon us some holy wisdom about the obstacles and opportunities that were coming our way in our own campaigns. They warned us of the dangers of burnout and internal conflict within our teams, but each of them reflected on how compassion, hard work, and being open to risk-taking and making mistakes can make us a stronger movement and stronger activists in ourselves. It got us so pumped to hear about all the different and creative ways that actions have been taken to raise our voices, and how challenges have been overcome. Their successes felt like our successes, and there was a collective pride and excitement in hearing about what we are capable of achieving.

Another highlight of the day was the session on “Decolonising Solidarity”, where a bunch of us explored the prickly questions around colonialism in environmental and social activism. There were lots of difficult and often confronting questions about the potentially helpful and harmful role we might unknowingly play as activists for Fossil Free. It was amazing to be in a space where all opinions were heard without judgment. The honesty and openness of everybody there was so reassuring. It’s a little hard to put into words. The issue of colonialism is going to be one of negotiation, adaptation, and reevaluation throughout our “careers” as activists. The fact that we share a world with others who have had difference experiences, particularly intergenerational struggles against historical violence, indicates a continual need to think through these issues. But activism can’t stop just because we’re uncertain. I described everyone’s honesty as “reassuring” simply because we need to foster that openness to learn and continue learning, and accept our implication in a environmental, social, or political history. It gives me a lot of hope for the future to know that we can talk through these tricky issues in an open-minded and compassionate way.

The best fun of the day was definitely the post-dinner activities. Even though my team failed miserably in trivia, we had heaps of fun just throwing around stupid answers and over-enthusiastically celebrating the few correct answers we did have. The talent show showcased some incredible performance and poetry, but also a hilarious (yet surprisingly insightful) song performed by the organisers titled “Capitalism is Cooked”. There was also a moving farewell for Vicky, one of the long-time coordinators leaving 350, where the love and friendship that always underlies activism came to surface. Finally, we celebrated how much we had learnt so far, all the stories that were shared, and all the friends that were made over the last 48 hours, with beers, music and a lot of dancing well into the night.

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