It is 7pm and it starts getting dark in the village of Orbais, in Belgium. Inside the house of my parents, there is a cozy and warm atmosphere with the fire burning in the fireplace. Snacks are ready and chairs are set up in one big circle. My sister and I are so excited because tonight 15 people will come to built a common dream and a self-assessment on the issue of Global Warming!
Climate change is an issue that affects all of us. "IPCC anticipates a warming of 1.1 °C to 6.4 °C (2.0 °F to 11.5 °F) by the end of the 21st century", says Wikipedia
. What Wikipedia doesn't say is that an increase of 4° and above endangers human life on Earth. This is serious business. And this is why I personally think we should do something about climate change.
Students, housewives, members of BelCompetence, a consultant on energy use, friends, business people, all introduce themselves and share what they already do to take care of the environment. Some are vegetarian, others take cold showers, buy local products directly from farmers, only use bicycle and public transport, etc. A lot is happening already!
Then, individually participants draw their dream for their village, neighbourhood or community that lives in harmony with the environment and is competent towards global warming. In small groups of 5, everyone share his/her dream and the group draws a common dream on a flip chart. (see pictures)
Then, every group presented its dream in plenary. I wrote down all key ideas that came out of each dream on separate pieces of paper. We then put all ideas on the living room floor and tried to group similar ideas into 'clusters'. From these clusters, we tried to find the practice or strategy that is necessary to reach the dream. It is best to use a verb in the practice because it reflects an 'action' to reach the dream.
Here are the practices that we found:
1. Wake up! (educate and stimulate awareness)
2. Integrate green energy
3. Share experiences
4. Eat local and seasonal food
5. Life together
6. Travel/move around 'green'
7. Take your time/manage your time
8. Consume and exchange only what is essential
9. Value waste
10. Respect and listen to nature
Of course this is not perfect but it is a start. I invite you to do the same exercise at home with your community and improve this self-assessment. You can also try this one out and make an action plan for Community Action Day for instance.
Manue challenged the idea of a common self-assessment. She said: "Why should we develop one self-assessment that can be used anywhere? When a community build its dream and its own self-assessment, it stimulates ownership of the process." I personally think that it is useful for us facilitators to develop one self-assessment that includes all elements of the response as a reference when we facilitate this exercise in communities.
Last night was the first step for me of a long journey towards 'Living in harmony with our environment'.