Real commitment to fight climate change requires an internal journey and reaching the understanding of what each of us can do with our unique way of being. Sharing experiences of activism with others can help unlocking this process and connect the dots between personal commitment and its systemic repercussions. Madalena Meneses in this blog shares her experience at the international Agora of volunteers organized by the Campaign “Change for the Planet- Care for the People” on the sidelines of the climate change conference COP 24.
Being at Katowice was a challenge: to dive into the negotiations, to follow the incredible AGORA program and to let everything and specially everyone take a place in my heart. Let’s be clear: it was a great one! Maybe that’s why I suffered a long jet lag — a concept that my friend Odile was kind enough to explain to me: the discomfort felt when the soul has not arrived yet, either because a physical journey (by transport) or because an intense inner journey. Check!
CIDSE orchestrating some details of the AGORA program- – © Madalena Meneses
Before the COP24 I was absolutely sure I wanted to be an analog photographer. But then I was so overwhelmed I was afraid photography wasn’t enough… Change is so urgent I was sunk in doubts, ashamed for spending so much water in the photo lab and feeling way too guilty for still traveling by plane. But then people illuminated me, those who are in the ecological conversion for a while… they know it’s a process. And suddenly I managed to breathe again because the only two requirements to change are wanting to change and being honest about it. Knowing so many people whose lives are already being damaged and/or whose lives are already a clear example of change not only opened my mind, but they also ripped my heart because these people who fight the most for climate justice are the most resilient and tolerant ones: and they don’t judge you, they set you free.
Reuniting all groups before the march – © Madalena Meneses
It was amazing to meet everyone: people from all over the world, from completely different origins, ages, experiences and circumstances, yet who feel, and live like me. Let me say I’m not special, we all are: to realize we all are deeply human and, therefore, eternally linked is so powerful! As if it was not enough to live under the same sky and to share the same planet … This gives us an indescribable power and creates outstanding opportunities —- like a man with pink hair and a priest walking side by side as we saw at the march (8.12).
Back at the lab I’m still trying to figure out what is my bigger mission. I am absolutely in love with the analog process: taking a picture is all about letting the light write in the film and to print an image you just let shadows reveal the light. It really helps me to understand my humanity as well. Truth is I’m still developing the pictures I took, I mean, I’m still trying to become aware of everything I need to know, to understand and to learn from this amazing experience.
© Madalena Meneses
First shot of the film. Theoretically this is not good but for me it’s amazing. Not only we can see Giorgio, the amazing ninja from CIDSE — who always takes care of everything without you even noticing, but also you really can tell that the light is in charge.
Ricardo Reis once said: «Para ser grande, sê inteiro: nada / Teu exagera ou exclui. / Sê todo em cada coisa. Põe quanto és / No mínimo que fazes. / Assim em cada lago a lua toda / Brilha, porque alta vive» — I won’t dare to translate a Fernando Pessoa’s heteronym but I really wanted to share this beautiful and powerful poem that highlights the respect we should have for ourselves.
Our guide at the Silesian Museum, in Katowice- © Madalena Meneses
That’s what I want to thank the most: the huge motivation boost I got at the AGORA and people’s light. That’s what keeps me walking for change, even if I have a long path in front of me: as an activist, as a photographer and mostly as a human being. A friend of mine (a really inspired one) once said to me that a real artist doesn’t create, she just embraces the channel she is. And that’s my biggest commitment right now.