last day: re-orienting our loyalties

Today ends the retreat with a personal question: “What does Greenpeace Southeast Asia mean to you?”

To me Greenpeace Southeast Asia is everyone who has made a commitment to act upon the invitations we’ve offered them to act upon the issues that we’re working on. They are our volunteers, donors, supporters, partner organizations. Communities, Facebook fans, Twitter followers and email subscribers. They are the ones who are not here, but have done so much more (to the point of risking life, limb and liberty) than those of us who have become privileged with the opportunity of becoming a paid staff of the organization.

As the session ended I went public in committing myself to everyone there that I would do my best to stay true in being on the side of those who’ve given more than many of us has ever done in our professional engagement with Greenpeace.

Here’s to the many who are not paid.

Integration: embracing the complexity of ‘why’

Emotionally storytelling invites one to feel empathy, that is to situate ourselves in the shoes of another person. We cannot feel for another if we do not know where the other is coming from.

This is perhaps one of the most important challenges that integration faces if we are dead serious on struggling to become part of the movement to change the world, by challenging the stories that we have been led to believe by the status quo, that benefits from the present state of things.

That is why I guess activists should likewise invest in their beliefs once again, because it is in investing in the core of what drives us that we begin to realize the need to organize not only our movement but more importantly to organize a movement of leaders.

storytelling: we can do no less

Yesterday, we had an interesting time giving a workshop on organizing and mobilizing to campaign staff in our office and one of the prominent points that we discovered there is that as a campaigning organization that seeks to replicate ourselves in the people that we hope to mobilize for the environmental problems that we are addressing –we need to get better at storytelling.

In the session all the workshop facilitators tried to integrate this early on by sharing our first and/or most memorable experience of becoming involved in a campaign. There I tried to recall the campaigning work that I became involved with as a student activist and I remembered the nationwide walkout for the abolition of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program in Philippine universities. Under the program all male college are required to receive basic military training and officer training for their chosen branch of service, through the ROTC unit at the college or university, there students become subject to four semesters of drills and lectures on military tactics as part of the curriculum which is intended to basic training for college students to become prepared in the event of war where they would be activated as reserve officers in whichever branch of military their university assigned them to.