Richard Sagar (steering group member for YFoE and recently elected steering group member for YFoE Europe) writes about his experience of the recent YFoE Europe network gathering, which took place in Croatia from 11th- 15th April.
“Numerous Workshops, energizers, wrestling with a Norwegian, learning Croatian curse words and having the opportunity to meet some of the most committed and inspirational environmental activists across the continent. These are just some of the memories I have of the 2013 Young Friends of the Earth Annual General meeting.
The setting for the AGM was the aptly named sunny village in Jagnedovec. Located in the beautiful Croatian countryside with some of the best vegetarian and vegan food I’ve had the pleasure in tasting.
As this was my first time at the Young Friends of the Earth AGM I felt a little apprehensive of meeting so many new people from all over Europe, it became apparent that my fears were unwarranted. I was immediately made to feel welcome. Though I suspect liberal quantities of Rakijia played no small part in this.
While we had a packed agenda to get through there was plenty of time for games and socialising. Some of the most memorable experiences of the whole AGM came from the time I spent sharing jokes around a campfire.
Among the many stimulating sessions and activities that I took part in, the one that I felt was most rewarding was hearing what each group in the network had worked on in the past year. From opposing dirty energy to battling unsustainable food production, it became apparent that young people face the same challenges across the whole of Europe.
Along with members of Young Friends of the Earth Europe we were also joined by guests from three international Friends of the Earth groups- Christian from Otros Mundos/ Friends of the Mexico, Yun-Sung from the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement/Friends of the Earth South Korea and Megan from Groundwork/ Friends of the Earth South Africa. While I had always known that Friends of the Earth was a international federation, hearing first hand what their groups were engaged in, and having ample time to interact with them, really made me feel I was part of a global grassroots network engaged in the struggle for environmental justice. A talk from Jagoda Munić, chair of Friends of the Earth international, further cemented this impression in my mind.
Perhaps the most invigorating thing I took away from the whole experience was that this is just the beginning. Having been elected to the steering group I’ll have the pleasure of working with such engaged and inspirational young people in the year to come. I only hope I can ensure that the network grows from strength to strength.”