Technological failure was overcome by social success last night at a cafe in Whalley Range, when Manchester-based people tried to talk with environmental activists gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the “Rio +20 Earth Summit”.
The event – a gathering and largely unsuccessful ‘skype’ session – was organised by Southern Voices, “a network of people committed to bringing the knowledge and understanding of southern and Black people to the global issues that are central to education and to living in the world today” in association with the Creative Corner cafe, Hulme Green Party and other organisations.
Around twenty people were present, in a diversity of age, race and gender that MCFly has rarely witnessed (1). In the absence of more than a text-based conversation (the video-link never worked – despite successful tests over the previous day) a wide-ranging discussion was held.
Deyika Nzeribe of Hulme Green Party opened proceedings and tried – with other members of Southern Voices – to keep some sort of coherence to the conversations as we waited for the technology to kick in. That it never (in the hour and a half I was there) really did so did not detract from a very useful exchange of ideas and passions.
The burning question, for the current writer, is this ; “what does practical solidarity with those on the frontline of climate change actually look like?” It’s a question to which we will return, hopefully in conjunction with the hosts of this event and any readers who are similarly concerned.
(1) The mix in room was slight preponderance of People of Colour (from India, Sudan and other countries) over the Anglos (who came from such exotic places as Chorlton, Preston and Adelaide)
Interesting things other groups should pay attention to and – if they feel up to it – repeat
- The hand-out (printed on paper that had something else on the other side – re-using before recycling – huzzah!!
- The willingness to take a chance on technology
- The willingness to try to get conversations going with people on the sharp end of climate change, in the Majority World
- Having name badges.
- Having pair-wise introductions (you find out who someone is and introduce them to the group)
- Having small group discussion instead of 20 people. Large group discussion will be dominated by a few people (mea culpa)
- Having a very specific Plan B in case of technological failure.
- Perhaps structure the evening around questions that people can’t really get answers to from easy reading (e.g. if you want people to know about Climate Impacts in the South, then point them here or here.) Structure the questions around topics where answers might emerge in the discussion – e.g. “what would practical solidarity with the Majority World look like?” “How can Manchester activists learn from the struggles in the Majority World, and use that learning here in Manchester?” etc
*The title of this is a clumsy reference to this movie. (If you have to explain a joke/cultural reference, you probably shouldn’t make it…)
See also entirely predictable BBC story: Rio 20+ deal weakens on energy and water pledges by Richard Black
Photo credit: Lifted from Deyika Nzeribe’s facebook page.