Forest green yarn wraps three times around my wrist; the makeshift bracelet has no purpose except to remind myself of a weekend I spent at the College of Atlantic in Maine, where youth delegates from the US and Canada met in October for a strategic planning session before the UN climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar this November.
The two dozen or so of us spent the days in a cozy cabin on campus, reviewing policy points and UNFCCC structure, setting short- and long-term campaign goals and envisioning/defining a climate justice future. We Skyped with keynote speakers such as Third World Network‘s Chee Yoke Ling and 350.org‘s Bill McKibben. In the evenings we hung out at one of the host houses, drinking good beer and piling onto couches and beds to catch up with old friends and/or make new ones.
During our introductions someone asked me how I got involved in the youth climate movement – I confessed it was by accident, but that I stayed because everyone I’d met in the movement had overwhelmed me with kindness and compassion. He seemed slightly befuddled by this, which made me reconsider my answer, but the retreat only reinforced the notion: thanks to my fellow delegates I felt prepared, supported and, most of all, inspired to act for climate justice.
The weekend reminded me that, in many ways, we in the environmental movement are a family. We have busy lives and hail from all corners of the globe, but still find a way to come together for the holidays – for us, though, that means climate negotiations and conferences. We’re not bound together by blood or marriage; what unites us is our vision for a sustainable and just future. We’re so committed to this vision that we’ll literally travel around the world to ensure it.
And in a time when being an activist or environmentalist draws sharp criticism from even our closest friends and family, nothing’s more comforting than being surrounded by people who not only support your views, but will take action right alongside you.
So that’s what my yarn bracelet represents: a commitment to a sustainable future that’s more ambitious and (morally) binding than any UN text, and a reminder that my climate justice family will always be with me, standing in solidarity no matter where we are or who/what we’re up against.
I’m excited to meet and reunite with YOUNGO friends and family; hopefully we’ll make some lasting memories – and, hopefully, major strides toward a climate justice future – at COP18 and COY8 this year.