Many voices sounded in the streets across Copenhagen this past December, and they came together late in the evening on the 18th of December as COP15 came to a close.
On that night, I sat in a small Danish apartment with a few of my fellow delegates and listened to President Obama give his final words on the accord. For the first time in near two and a half weeks, the world seemed quiet. Shock, exhaustion, disappointment, confusion… his seemingly empty words hung in the air. All I could hear was the breathing of my comrades and his political statement. Not a statement of conviction, of passion, of progression, of change… a statement of politics.
I felt deceived, brokenhearted, emotional and worn out. What had we worked so hard for? What does this mean for us? For humanity? What does this mean? I felt blindsided by the auditory wrecking ball delivered by my President that thrust a gaping hole into my relentless hope for the impossible.
The world was quiet and still.
I took some time to talk with my friends and put this new reality to the back of my head. Just for a few hours, then I returned to the quiet. The quiet that had settled over Copenhagen and over the youth movement. For the first time in two weeks, I did not have 350 emails to check by the end of the day. The world slowed back down. My psyche reverted to the corner of my mind with the over-sized sofa and low-light lamp where I go to reflect when I don’t know what to think. This is where I stayed for the next few days and my long travels home.
A few weeks later and back at home, a renewed passion has reignited in my heart. I have returned home to the thought and aspiration that initially inspired me to apply for Expedition Copenhagen: local, sustainable communities.
I met hundreds of young people and thousands of people of all ages from all over the world; each of their home communities has different ways to meet the same goal as communities all over the world: local and sustainable. We need to take care of each other here, at home. We can address this global issue of climate change through local solutions. The Midwest specifically has phenomenal opportunity to become a leader domestically and internationally through clean energy development.
2010 must be a year of action. We must continue to hold our leaders at the top to the promises they campaign on, but we cannot go to the top alone. Our action, as we know, needs to happen at all levels of government and in the home of our community members.