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DEMOCRACY AND INCLUSION

CLIMATE + CHANGE THROUGH DEMOCRACY AND INCLUSION: Colleagues from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece and Italy undertake a journey to understand ecological and climate change questions. They first dedicated its activities to trainers for adult education. They now include adult citizens living at the fringe of European capitals and of its society, too. Why? Overcoming the ecological crisis with its various aspects needs social justice and democracy so that all citizens may accept the change and give it its shape. This requires a real inclusion.

We (will) give here impressions from transnational encounters in Rome, Athens, Sofia and Berlin as well as the produced results. The focus of the workshops are green urban development and waste reduction (Rome), CO2 and the – public – transport system (Athens), water (Sofia) and energy resp. access to resources (Berlin). The common exchanges result in an exhibition and a theatre performance to be published in Berlin in September 2023.

One result is already produced: an online course on various topics related to climate change and ecological challenges. See HERE.

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Pollution by transport

Transnational encounter in Athens/Greece, September 2022

A colourful group of 17 people from Sofia, Berlin, Rome and Athens came together. They were volunteers, have fled to Europe from Afghanistan or Syria and/or are otherwise unable to travel because of a small purse.

The focus was on the consumption of CO2 through various modes of transport. For this purpose, the Greek colleagues distributed an overview with pictures of the underground, tram, bus, long-distance trains, airport, ship harbour and motorway. The question was: What is financed by companies, what is financed by the state? Does this influence the quality of the service? What options are there for reducing CO2?

The result was striking: in Greece, the intervention of the “Troika” in 2015 privatised most of the previously state-run infrastructure. The German FRAPORT runs the lucrative airports, the Piraeus port is 67% owned by a Chinese company, the management of motorways and national roads is in private hands. In contrast, Athens’ public transport is financed by the city. In terms of quality, no conclusions can be drawn about ownership. However, political control of the reduction of CO2 is made more difficult when a state cedes control to private parties, as the logic of profit maximisation is paramount with them.

The air pollution from cars was remarkable for the guests, as were the mini-oases and “pocket parks” to improve the air. They captured their impressions in photos and videos – and learned to work with a padlet on this occasion.

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Greening the city

Transnational encounter in Rome/Italy, June 2022

At the beginning of the workshop, the group came together through exercises on gestures and voices from independent theatre work. Together, the participants developed small choreographies on the theme of “energy“. In this way, the overall theme of climate+change was linked to the focal points of the encounter in Rome: Waste and “green” urban development.

In the area around the Via del Trullo on the periphery in the southwest of the city, the participants explored the works of art with Mario, the artist, poet and original inhabitant of the neighbourhood, which are the result of once illegal actions to beautify the neighbourhood. Various other initiatives by residents made clear how self-organisation can promote solidarity and, for example, transform a courtyard society into a veritable bio-sociotope. In discussions with architects and in the open field, the focus was also on how residents can make abandoned land fertile. “Urban gardening” is the key word, apparently all over Europe.

A few kilometres further and also in contrast to the cultural metropolis of the city centre, the group visited the “snake building” in Rome-Corviale. They gained impressions of a place that holds many potentials and yet still struggles with the sins of technocratic-fixated thinking. “I felt younger. That’s the solution – meeting different people.” “We do ours. We are Rome. Not them in the city.” Voices of two residents.

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Step by step

It’s great to see something being created together. Our online course (MOOC) on topics related to climate change gets more and more content and the texts are easy to read. Online exchange with the colleagues in Bulgaria, Greece and Italy on further contributions, the didactic parts, the introductory videos. The modules will be published in December 2021.

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POL, theatre, video and beyond

Climate change is a word that is now on everyone’s lips. It provokes emotions and is hardly missing from any political statement. This can create a paradox: a word becomes an empty phrase. This is one of the reasons why Christoph Mayer’s lively transmission of knowledge, called a lecture, was so well received at our workshop from 24th to 28th September 2021. It was about the characteristics of global warming, the burning of fossil fuels as a central cause for it, the often underestimated methane as well as the political possibilities to deal with all the problems – in principle.

For five days, the colleagues from Sofia, Athens, Rome and Berlin tested adult education methods to make the topic of climate change in all its complexity the subject of their work. Together, they overcame the (inner) burden of producing videos for our online course, tried out forum theatre, discussed the Popular Opinion Leader method, playfully explored the pros and cons of climate protection policy, and explored in an authentic place how people can unite and do something for the city’s climate and their own salad plate. For example, through urban gardening. At the same time, the shared inspirations and didactic approaches stimulated many new questions. That’s education…

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Playing the Change

Climate change on stage: Short video of Forum theatre scenes developed during our workshop in Berlin from 24th to 28th September 2021. A topic as abstract as climate change needs a concrete conflict in order to realise it theatrically and to link it to the citizens’ lives. The group had agreed on two. One was the treatment of flood victims and the violence that can come from bureaucracy. The other was the conflict between dredger drivers and climate activists.

Forum theatre has the charm that people from the audience can play along and give the scene a new direction. And what is possible on stage, namely to try out different ways of playing with reality, can also be done in ‘real life’. To change social reality with theatre was the goal of Augusto Boal, the inventor of Forum theatre. This can visibly also go hand in hand with joy. The conversations after the performances were also intense and moving.

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Change the change, but how?

Project meeting in Rome Corviale 29th to 31st July 2021: In addition to further planning of the project activities, the meeting offered the opportunity to gain on-site impressions of the activities of the partner organisation Corviale Domani. To begin with, the colleagues explored “the snake“, a building one kilometre long on the periphery of Rome/Italy. What began in the 1970s as an ambitious project for social housing, remained unfinished. The astonishing silence in the building seemed like a symbol of this. But the unfinished holds potential. A master plan for a “green transformation” of the district is currently being developed under the leadership of Corviale Domani. It was presented to the group. The Italian colleagues also introduced in the content of their second contribution to the online course: Circular Economy in Disadvantaged Urban Areas. A very intensive and content-rich meeting.

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Wildfires in Greece

Excursion and photografic reportage

Wildfires have been part of the ecosystems forever. However, increasing heat, changing rain patterns and other climate-related changes have vastly increased the likelihood that fires will start more often and burn more intensely and widely than they have in the past.

According to data from the European Commission, in recent years, wildfires have had a huge impact on Europe’s natural capital, economy and citizens. In the South of Europe (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France), every year 500.000 acres are burnt in average every year. In 2019 and 2020, the season of wildfires was extended, starting earlier or lasting longer than expected, while the number of fires and burnt areas exceeded the average of the last twelve years in record time. Together with the increase in the number of days per year with high to extremely high risk of wildfire, it is estimated that the impact of extreme fires on large areas is likely to increase in the future, with long-term consequences.

In Greece, in the last years the number of wildfires has increased by 160% and the size of the burnt areas has increased by 300%. In the 19th of May 2021, in Geraneia Ori in Western Attica (65 kms from Athens) burnt 52.000 acres of forest. It was the most destructive, in relation with the size of the burnt area, wildfire of the last years and the only major wildfire that happened in Greece in a May.

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Perceptions of climate change in Greece

During the workshop in Athens, colleagues from the partner organisation Action Synergy gave input on perceptions of climate change among the Greek citizens. It was remarkable that the natural disasters (forest fires, floods) of the past years led to a change in awareness. A presentation of climate protection initiatives in Greece also provided material for discussion. We hereby make both inputs available: Perceptions, initiatives.

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Climate Change and Natural Desasters

Global warming and energy production are two key words that come up when talking about climate change issues. This was also the case during the workshop of colleagues from all partner organisations, which took place in Athens from 5th to 10th July 2021. The focus was on the exchange of methods to make aspects of climate change a topic in adult education. The participants got to know techniques of the photographic reportage using the example of the destruction of nature by wild fires in Greece (this year already in May). They went ‘into the field’, took pictures and learned tips and tricks for post-production. How can I arouse curiosity? How can I tell a story with a picture? And at what point does image editing simply serve the purpose of manipulation? “Moving, inspiring and motivating,” was the feedback of one participant.