Our Transition team had been very busy running around in Paris for almost a week covering various official and fringe events of COP21. In spite of the constant running around, I accepted an invitation from Olivier, a member of the Transition Initiative Levallois en Transition (a neighborhood in the outskirts of Paris) to talk about Transition to a group of high school students. I did not regret it.
We agreed to meet in front of the high school – Lycée Leonard Da Vinci, in Levallois – early in the morning. The Lycée is a huge building, very different from schools I have seen till now – being big did not help me to find the agreed meeting place as I passed in front of it 3 times without stopping… (see picture at the bottom of this post). I was the first to arrive but soon we were all there, super happy to see each other: Olivier, Karina and Pascalle from Levallois en Transition and Etienne from the French National Hub of Transition.
I was warmly welcomed and briefed by the Director of the school, assisted by Olivier: young people attending this presentation were around 16-18 years old, selected among hundreds of students, in the context of the schools project looking at the subject of COP21 in their second language – English. Originally, the plan was to take the students to COP21 events but as all school visits were cancelled due to the Paris attacks, this presentation was then seen by the school director as a way to bring a COP21 event to the students. The School director presented us Gabriel, passionate about permaculture, a student who was there from the moment we got in the room, well before the time to start. It struck me the passion I felt in the way the school director and Olivier spoke. It struck me the emotion I felt in listening to Gabriel. I was starting the day really inspired.
The room filled up almost entirely. Olivier, Etienne and I stood together, representing Transition in its 3 levels of scale – local, national and International – to welcome participants. This is how we started the event. Then, I spoke about transition in general; I spoke about COP21; I shared the some of the 21 Transition Stories; participants were invited to discuss several subjects in groups of 2 or 3 and they were invited to share thoughts with us (spoken or in written if they felt shy); participants addressed questions to the 3 of us – some, really interesting and not necessarily easy to answer.
The energy was great during those 2 hours we spent together. It is not always easy to feel connected with such a big group of people, in this age range, in a conference-like set up, but I really did. I even think I needed it at that point, and I feel thankful to all of them for that.
It was great to be part of the Transition team formed just then. As we headed out the school, I felt inspired to hear Olivier, the director of the school and Etienne discussed how the school and the local initiative will pursue their collaboration. I am curious to see what comes out of this…