Jeepers, things at the Greenpeace office have been in non-stop high gear for a while now, and I’m in that horrible place where my to-do list is expanding out beyond the boundaries of available time. And that’s INCLUDING the twice a week in the office until midnight routine, which ain’t gonna happen this week.
Between the (somewhat) unexpected Seymour Hersh revelations about US nuclear attack plans for Iran that kicked our Nukes-out-of-NATO campaign into high gear, the McDonald’s Monkey-Murdering-McNuggets story, a new site build for our Disarmament campaign, ongoing Oceans work and more than the usual number of trains to be kept running for more than the usual number of people, the competition for the front page of the Greenpeace website has been fierce, the deadlines have been rolling in one on top of another, and things (and your humble diarist) get a bit tetchy when the pace starts exceeding the speed limit — and that’s an Autobahn-generous number at the best of times.
I’m soooooooooooooo ready for a holiday. Easter, bring it on!!!
But today is a big day for my eldest sprout, Doon, who will be going on his first canvassing expedition. Those damn World Wildlife Fund people have infiltrated his school with an outstanding kid’s campaign to save the sharks (jealous of their website, moi?) and we figured a prime location for him to pick up his quota of fifteen 3 euro donations would be the Greenpeace Office.
I gave a talk yesterday to 14 US university students who were here with the Greenpeace activist training programme. Brought them down into the basement to set the scene for what a Greenpeace office looked like in the early 80s, and talked about canvassing, and what great activist training that is. You have two minutes, max, to state your objective and win your audience over before that door closes on you. (An eternity, now that I think about it, compared to the grab window on the web.)
It was great to see signs of intelligent life, and active radicalism, among American University students, and one of them came up to me afterwords and said it was the first time he’d had a “passing the torch” speech and that he’d found that inspiring — so many of the “older people” (ouch) that he knew who had been active in their youth were now bitter and dismissive of those efforts. The latter is hard to hear, but the former warmed the cockles.
It’s so hard in this job to keep the long view — remembering that the activism that is happening now, the action that needs to be out the door, the messaging that needs to be relevant to a particular audience, also has a role in the future of activism as a whole. And that when we forget to speak to youth, and to kids, we’re doing a disservice to those who will follow.
WWF (or World Nature Fund, as they are known here in Holland) REALLY knows how to organize kids. I’ve always loved their Panda Passport system, and I’m thoroughly impressed with this shark campaign. Seems like every kid at Doon’s school knows the sharks are in danger and the range of games and easy learning materials at their site is very cool. I’m glad they’re thinking about that stuff.