Last weekend, like many people, I spent a lot of time on my computer engaged in a Zoom meeting. 60 people came together to meet, discuss, collaborate and learn in order to organise to support the demand for a Green New Deal.
We have spent the past three months trying to find and recruit people from across the country who would be interested in joining us in this fight and attending a training weekend for organisers. Our hope is to reach beyond the ‘typical’ environmental campaign and ensure that our movement would be diverse and localised. To take the Green New Deal from concept to reality it is imperative that people can understand what it would mean in their community, region or workplace. We have to ensure that we have people from across the country, in big cities, small towns and the countryside, who can co-create the campaign and who bring input and experience we would otherwise be missing.
Our original plan was to host this training at a location in the Northern Midlands, so that it was reasonably accessible for people to travel to wherever they were located. We found a great venue and booked the fantastic National Food Service to provide the catering. Our young friends at the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) were going to host a conference there a month ahead of us so they would be able to let us know how the venue was. Unfortunately they had to cancel their conference at the last minute as an ironic result of the heavy flooding the UK experienced over Winter.
Eventually we managed to find a great cohort of people who applied to attend our organiser training. And that’s when Covid-19 gradually grew from being a background worry to becoming a global pandemic that has paused our day to day lives in the UK. Are these climate conferences cursed we asked ourselves? We realised we would no longer be able to host the training at the location and after some deliberation decided to try to host the conference online.
This meant adjusting the content and the method of training, and asking people to commit to spending hours with us online at a time when people are going through all sorts of worry and uncertainty. I am delighted that the majority of our volunteers took the decision to stick with it and join us. This weekend we had 60 people from across the UK, from Edinburgh to Exeter, Great Yarmouth to Greater Manchester, and even a couple of people from Mainland Europe join us for a really fantastic conference. We had Youth Strikers and Retirees, people of all sorts of political affiliation and none, trade unionists and social justice campaigners. People emerged with a sense that there is something we can do, and a determination to help in any way they can, by organising in their communities to help make the Green New Deal the new common sense. We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who share our vision for a better future and a more sustainable world, that does not leave people behind. If you share this vision contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with a local hub supporter and connect you with others in your area.