Day 2 – 17-08-11
….”and the Mystica will be starting at 8.30am sharp” said one of the plenary session speakers as Monday’s session came to a close. Aha….I thought, some kinda spiritual ceremony thing to start the day. Depending on how it works, I sometimes like those things, and sometimes not. And wasn’t I pleasantly surprised…it was a multilingual mini-theatre performance by 4 clowns on GM crops! a great way to start the day, laugh over breakfast, and see creativity being used to transmit these messages! Classic. We need more clowns and creatives;we need to have more fun while campaigning and doing. Get me to a clown workshop!
And so all 400 odd participants then got stuck into the first full-day’s work, first in a general plenary where international delegates spoke about the situations in their countries. Miriam Bassey spoke about her country Nigeria, and mentioned that recently Shell admited in court to 2 cases of pollution paying 1 billion dollars in damages (pennies for them!) in Nigeria after decades of contaminating vast tracks of land. She acknowledged the great work being done by the forum, but stressed that the problems they suffer in Africa are mostly due to European and other global north transnationals either polluting and abusing them, or then coming in and telling them how to solve their problems, be it with GMOs or other technologies. “It is good to have big dreams, but we need to wake up and act!” she said.
That’s heavy stuff to hear, but I always come away inspired and empowered to continue campaigning on these issues, because meeting these people face to face really reminds me about how real people are suffering and how I admire them for battling and struggling against all odds, not only for what they believe in, but for their lives!
We then split into out thematic groups, and within these there were subgroups too and we spent the rest of the day discussing our particular strands. I ended up in the largest group which was part of the production strand, and within that the ecological production subgroup. I had chosen this because I wanted to learn more about this, but I think in the end I probably belonged more in the consumers and markets because I know more about it. All the same, it was an interesting debate and discussion with some final suggested action points reached. Our group being the biggest, and with at least 4 languages being translated meant the going was hard at times. We got somewhat bogged down in terminology and definitions at the beginning, but finally moved on to more practical actions we could work towards together.
Couldn’t possibly write even half of what was said, but some of the final things that are materialising is a call to action on World Food Day on October 16th, with all sorts of events and actions around Europe to highlight food sovereignty issues. April 17th was also mentioned as a day of action. People called for European platforms to continue working together, more regional meetings, and databases to share info on events, initiatives and actions. French farmers called for everyone to be inspired by young people’s direct actions against GM crops, and in general it’s been beautifully refreshing to hear so many people talking about direct action to be used along side other strategies!! Are we finally breaking through to a bigger crowd?
In the evening I went along the a Reclaim the Fields meeting despite being quite tired, and hey presto I found a little more of the stuff I was looking for….permaculture, squating and direct action crew all under one roof! Reclaim the fields began in 2008 as a Via Campesina project but within a couple of meetings in differnet countries, it soon expanded and became its own project. The amount of amazing land squatting actions and planting escapades these folks told from France, to Spain, UK (Grow Heathrow) to Hungary were amazing! I felt really inspired, especially with their stories of anarchists working side by side with farmers getting their hands dirty and taking action in cities, with crowds as big as 1,000 marching with their garden tools to reclaim a piece of land. The next gathering is in Romania, and its looking real tempting. Reclaim the Fields is a non-hierarchical group thats fluid undefinedness very much reminds me of Gluasieacht’s basic ethos. They think of themselves as constellations; roughly interconnected networks and groups (which depending on how you look at the stars, you can see different shapes and patterns ), which come together to support each other as needed. So Romania is the place to be at the end of September. God Im tempted! We’ll see…..mmm
And as I’m writing this thursday about Wednesday, things are melding in my head. Reporting back to our main thematic groups and consituency groups has been long and intense, but some seriously great exchanges have been had, and once the final report is done in a few weeks, ill link it up here. We’ll also be doing one ourselves, either among the Gluheads, or hopefully with the 7 irish delegates in total.
Last night we danced our socks off to a crzy Balkan DJ who were amazing, and there’s more on tonight, so I better get me ass over there and chill after another hard day’s intensive communication, but truely satisfied at having met such great people and learning lots and being inspired about movements everywhere!