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Young people for a paradigm change

I absolutely did not know what to expect when, with the other girls in civil service with me at CISV (a FOCSIV member organization based in Turin), we took the road to Bracciano (never heard of it before) and we ventured to the Scout Base camp where the initiative “Young people for the paradigm shift towards an Integral Ecology” organized by FOCSIV would have taken place. During the long journey we asked each other about our expectations and it turned out that none of us had a precise idea of what we were going to do…However, the program seemed interesting, the topics which were to be covered and the prospect of being together with other young people was tempting! “We’ll see about  that!”

A pouring rain sadly accompanied us the entire time we spent in Bracciano: from September 22nd to 27th it never stopped raining. However, not even for a moment, the legendary organizers Andrea, Claudia and Giorgio were discouraged! Since our arrival, the evening before the official start of the camp, they welcomed us smiling (under the flood) and assigned a small wooden cottage where we camped tired but motivated to start the experience. 

Starting the next morning, with the arrival of the rest of the youth group from all over Italy, the countless “icebreakers” activities began, followed by the first interventions of the guests/experts invited by FOCSIV. Ecologists, physicists, lawyers, sociologists, activists, ice cream artesans…several personalities and professionals shared with us theirstories related to their experiences and/or new knowledge to better understand the complexity of the world and the implications of the serious climate and environmental crisis we are facing. Personally, I really found praiseworthy the diverse selection of content and guests : each interventiongave me something different and stimulated me, even when I had discordant reactions; I guess that this was the intent of the organizers.

Another very successful element of the camp was certainly the group of participants itself. It seems obvious to say, but it is not always the case: in a short-time time we built a great atmosphere to debate and to exchange with each other, without forgetting to spend some good moments all togetherin the (unfortunately rare) breaks. Everyone , more or less consciously, was at that camp for a precise reason, namely the deep interest in the topic of climate change and a feeling of perceived urgency. We all felt involved and somehow responsible. This allowed the establishment of highly participatory and deep debates, despite the fact that we were all young, mostly university students and from different backgrounds. 

The topics covered by external guests were many: from the struggle of civil society to counteract the excessive capitations from Lake Bracciano to critical consumption and Solidarity Purchasing Groups (GAS), from extractivism in Latin America, to activism in movements such as Extinction Rebellion and Fridays For Future. Each of these allowed us to reflect at different levels, from global to local, on what our concrete contribution could be to face this crisis. We brainstormed and exchanged starting from concrete ideas, so that we could return home not only full of frustration and disillusionment, but also rich in good ideas and useful practices.

The entire camp was a clear living example of sustainability and respect for nature and humans. We all adopted a vegetarian diet for the entire duration of the camp and our “cooking team” (a round of applause to them!) managed to warm us up with succulent soups and to spoil us with wonderful cakes for all tastes! We always got around on foot (weather permitting) and travelled by train, so as not to impact in any way our beloved environment. 

Back to the starting point: I did not know what to expect from this camp, but what I found I liked very much. I felt like I was coming home and closing a circle. In these months of social distancing and lack of prospects, this experiencewas able to recharge me with positive energy. In the last few years, I have been asking myself what my role could be in fighting self-destruction and an economic model that doesn’t work for anyone, and I have responded by gradually making a series of virtuous personal choices: banning plastic bottles, solid shampoo, recycling, cycling, public transport, conscious consumption… 

Such behaviours make a real impact only if they are shared by many people, and hopefully soon by everyone around the world. Opportunities like this make you feel less alone. They allow you to increase more and more the degree of awareness and confrontation on these complex issues. Each one of us is a brick and the house we want to build is gigantic, but 25 bricks can lay a foundation. 

By Anna Filippucci

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