The beauty of a world citizen movement.
Gesa Maschkowski – co-founder of Transition Initiative Bonn im Wandel, researcher and Transition Trainer – reports from COP23.
The November sun was shining when more than 10,000 people – some say 25,000 – from all over the world demonstrated for climate justice in Bonn, two days before this year’s UN Climate Change Conference, COP23 started. Three thousand cyclists joined the demonstration coming from Cologne on the “highway to COP23”. They put their messages on posters, bikes, cars, statues, they shouted and sang – “Planet first!”, “Stop Pretending – Start defending”, “Leave the coal in the hole” – old and young, people with hopes, fears, anger and love, showing the beauty of creativity, cooperation and diversity within a contradictory time.
For me as Transitioner climate change is a chance to overcome the habit of fighting and competition which is deeply embedded in our society, in the economic and the educational system, and in our bodies as well.
The 25,000 who demonstrated in Bonn are a symbol for meaningful collaborative action on a global level. We are proud and grateful to host guests from all over the world, to get requests from other organizations, to meet people we have never met before and to engage for the same common goals.
There is also cooperation happening at the city administration level. The city of Bonn set up a Climate Tour with events and exhibitions during COP. They invited various civic organisations from Bonn. Our Transition Initiative is a cooperation partner in five of six events.
At the same time we are part of the frictions and contradictions of the system at local level. The opening event of the climate tour at the market place in Bonn lasted several hours. In parallel, all day Sunday shopping took place with so called climate neutral light art events, sponsored by McDonalds and other “sustainable enterprises” like Porsche. Mind Behaviour Gap made in Bonn.
"Climate change could be the first cornerstone of a planetary narrative”
Maybe we will collectively fail to meet the Paris agreements. However this story ends, this is the time to engage for a new planetary life culture. “Climate change could be the first cornerstone of a planetary narrative”, said the filmmaker Dirk Wilutzky at a crossroads conference in Königswinter near Bonn. “We have to coexist, to form a totally new image and perspective from our self, to create a new identity”.
Today, some of us went to work on this new narrative in the coal mining area of the Rheinland. More than 2,500 brave activist practiced civic disobedience by blockading with their bodies and creative action like dancing or acro yoga. It has been the biggest successful blockade since the beginning of the demonstrations in this area. Pacific Climate Warriors supported the event, they have delivered a call for climate justice on sacred “tapas” – not drowning, but fighting!
One more story from the edge of this event: A policemen yelled at a demonstrating father: “It is irresponsible to bring you child with you!” The father yelled back: “It is irresponsible to allow the mining of the coal…”
With thanks to Gesa Maschkowski – co-founder of Transition Initiative Bonn im Wandel, researcher and Transition Trainer.