By Nathan Thanki
Earth in brackets, as a team or as an online presence, does not exist in a void. We actually exist inside the very warm embrace of College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine. A small, young school (350 students, 40 odd faculty, founded 1969) that offers one (or infinite, depending on who you ask) major: human ecology. Right now is not the time to enter the labyrinth of explaining human ecology. I’ll save that for my junior year. Nor is it the time to openly advertise COA; for that you may visit coa.edu. The purpose of this blog is to update you wonderful readers on what the next year, and specifically the next nine weeks, has in store for [Earth].
With a lot of energy and attention around this project after Durban—despite the bitter disappointments suffered—and with the storm brewing over Rio+20, now would be the time to really take our little endeavour to another level. So we applied and were accepted to COA’s sustainable business programme—giving us the much needed time, resources and funds to make the most of all that energy.
Our hope is to reach more people. We know you’re out there—rabble-rousers, change-makers, informed radicals, human ecologists. The language of power that exists in the UN is deliberately obtuse, to prevent our meaningful involvement. We think can translate that language enough to inform. Our hope is to be a dissenting voice, a force for positive change that highlights injustices and their solutions; our hope is to empower and embolden youth activism.
Some of what we are going to do over the next term is long overdue and relatively uncomplicated (I say that now). This entire website could do with a facelift, a reorganizing. As our content grows, better categorization is needed. To be a resource for others at COA and further afield, earthinbrackets.org has to become more user friendly; easier to navigate and interact with. To this end, your thoughts and feedback would be much appreciated. Also, not everybody enjoys reading, surprising as that may be. We’re hoping to incorporate different modes of expression: to that end, keep your eyes open for a feature length documentary about our time at the climate negotiations in Durban, as well as video updates from Bonn and Rio. Getting the word out there will take some work on advertisements, and building up some promotional and educational material (check out our ‘what is climate justice’ primer booklet/pdf).
Then again, some of what we hope to achieve is a lot more long-term and harder to accomplish quickly. The challenge of sustainability looms large for our project as it does for the human civilization project. We need to ensure that the enthusiasm for [Earth] remains and a good way to do that is to strengthen ties to the curriculum. Contribute to the project as part of class! The harder part of sustainability is the financial side. How can we maintain a presence at the UN circus as it travels around the world bringing empty promises and great fanfare? It takes money. So far things have more or less worked out thanks to the generosity of COA (and the Davis family especially, who many of us owe a lot to) but we cannot rely on the existing channels indefinitely. ‘Networking’ is a term that makes me cringe, but we’ll be doing a lot of that too. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved, so we’re eager to build new bridges and strengthen existing connections among youth activists. Ours is a collaborative worldview, not a competitive one.
With all this in mind, don’t be surprised to see some changes to the site, to see more of us or hear from us. And don’t hesitate to get in touch with comments or ideas. You can email me directly – firstname.lastname@example.org. Easy as you go.