Monday, 23 May 2011

BFOE Goes to Holland – Day 2

It was a beautiful sunny day In Wijk aan Zee as this gathering of 25 activists from Holland, the UK, Croatia and Spain gathered to share stories, ideas and expertise. Some were feeling the effects of long journeys to get there, but we were eased into the day with some lunch and then an introductory session to get to know each other.

After that we each did a presentation on how our groups are organised, what we work on and the things we're most proud of. It was fascinating to see how many different things all the groups worked on, but also how many of the same things. For example, we've just launched the close the door campaign in Birmingham, but there was a group from Holland who've already run this campaign successfully so it was good to learn about their experiences with it. Likewise, there were other groups who've done Buy Nothing Day and Car Free Day events.

What shone through was the passion that all these people have, whether working on local transport campaigns, getting FSC timber products into local building projects, campaigning against big corporations, or protecting local spaces for people against development.

After that there was an open space session when anyone could propose topics they wanted to talk about and people could go and talk about whichever one interested them most. The sessions were on the following topics; fundraising, recruiting and keeping members, campaigns ideas, online-activism and developing better international links. The discussions were all held outside in the beautiful sunshine to compensate for the fact that, although the discussions were fascinating and the learning possibilities great, the beach would have been the perfect place for many people to be.

A feedback session at the end allowed us all to focus on what we'd learnt through the day and then it was time to continue the discussions over a delicious vegetarian meal, drinks and walks over the dunes to the beach (finally).

We hope to keep up the contacts that we made through this event and keep learning from all the incredibly knowledgable and devoted people in the European network of Friends of the Earth.

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