On the 9th February, I attended Bristol’s Festival of Transformation, an all-day conference-type event that focused on the issues we’re facing globally - with an emphasis on the Christian teachings and how these intersect. After a five hour train trip and an overnight stay in a hostel, I rocked up to Bristol City Hall, refreshed and renewed and ready to learn.
The hall is a pretty magnificent building - all high ceilings and carved stone walls and slender pillars. The lobby was full to bursting of organisations promoting their work - from companies offering loans to people in developing countries, to those installing wells and instructing on how to maintain them, to others that run workshops celebrating the value of women in societies where women are seen as nothing more than wives and baby-makers. I had some interesting discussions and my eyes were opened to the opportunities that are out there - some of these NGOs were looking for interns and volunteers to support them in their work.
The talks were focused on the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals); how they fit into Christian teaching and why and how we should all be doing things to strive to achieve them in our lives. One of the activities involved selecting the SDG that spoke most to us, that was our ‘calling’, and migrating to the panel that was labelled with it. Once there, we chatted to others who had also chosen it, sharing why that SDG is an important part of our lives and what actions we’re taking to make it happen.
I had some really great conversations over the day, probing deeper into the reasons why other people were thinking that climate action is important, discussing solutions to the problems. I was super struck by how inclusive everyone was. I made lots of new pals. My highlight was a workshop that involved rotating in groups around tables, each of which labelling a category of daily life (toiletries, for example), prompting us to list the things fitting into that which typically use plastic, coming together to suggest alternatives. I used the opportunity to rave about reusable menstrual products (which, by the way, are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING for you, the environment, and your wallet if you’re a menstruator) and this tied in nicely to my BGF local project. It was so lovely to see so many people positive about ditching plastic, receptive to the steps we can all take to reduce our use.
I’m not a Christian, but I come from a Christian background, and this helped me further understand the angle these people were coming from. I found it interesting to listen to people discussing our climate and environmental issues from a non-secular point of view. Religious groups have a huge following, with millions of members that are influenced by them, and therefore it is crucial that they feel able to relate to the way these issues are approached, that they can identify their religious beliefs in the reasons to be active in combatting the issues we’re facing. We need to continue with open conversations. And we need to listen.
Bright Green Future is a FREE year-long environmental training programme for 14-17 year olds which aims to give you the tools, knowledge and skills to make change and empower you to do the things that really matter. Through Bright Green Future you can learn about the most effective ways to fight climate change, gain confidence and meet loads of like-minded young people.
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