I had intended to spend my last morning in Copenhagen at the outdoor rally to be addressed by, among others, Desmond Tutu and Rowan Williams. However, I got sidetracked at the ClimaForum building into a dialogue involving Naresh and Sophy from the Transition movement, May East, a colleague from Findhorn and a Mexican ecologist and activist called Miguel. The dialogue, on the potential value of the transition model for communities in the global South, was televised by the ClimaForum TV crew that is to make the vast footage it is accumulating during the talks available for streaming on the Internet.
There are a lot of serendipitous meetings like this happening al over the place – and not all are left to chance. A conscious attempt, originating from various sources, is being made to encourage dialogue among people from different countries and fields of expertise who might well not otherwise meet. One of these centres of serendipity is the Purple Room at the ClimaForum. Here, the 2020 Climate Solutions team with their ‘What is Your Part of the Puzzle?’ sweatshirts is hosting a ‘meshwork’ process.
One wall of the Purple Room is covered with bits of paper describing themes and sub-themes, mapping both the challenges that face us and possible solutions to those challenges. Tables are set out, one for each of the main themes – sustainable economy, agriculture, energy and so on – and people are invited to come in and engage in discussions at the table of their choice and to write their insights on the paper tablecloths. The whole project – with an associated website and database – feels like a vast sustainability Wikipedia in the process of being created.
Another idea, dreamed up by friends from Sieben Linden ecovillage, involves a circular table with ribbons of different colours representing each of the main dimensions of the journey towards sustainability – similar to the meshwork themes. People are invited to cut lengths of ribbon in the colours of the themes in which they are engaged and to pin them to their shirt-fronts, making it easy to identify people to dialogue with around common interests.
These are two among many forms being experimented with to create groups and solutions that are greater than the sum of their parts. The theory is that between us we have the solutions. These are tools for helping us to better discover and exploit our interdependence.
Last evening in town, I was one of around twenty people invited out to Ross and Hildur Jackson’s beautiful new home just outside Copenhagen. Another chance for creative meshworking with members of several African government delegations, spiritual leaders from Estonia and native America, and ecovillagers of various hues. The mood is upbeat despite recognition that the talks in the Bella Centre appear increasingly unlikely to deliver meaningful results.
Lots of fun and stimulating conversations, lubricated deliciously by great wine and food. The Jackson’s place has something of a café culture feel about it – a place devoted to conviviality and to the fostering of new insights and friendships. This crisis is forcing us to search out beyond our habitual circles, to make new connections and to engage in new discussions. To that extent at least, it is to be welcomed and embraced.
10 December, 2009