Sign "There is no Planet B" on an FFF demo
Climate Crisis,  Thoughts

Parents for Future: Fighting the Crisis Together

Hi there… yeah, this blog is still alive! It only paused for a while. And in this first post-break post, I’ll tell you what happened and how the Parents for Future helped me get on with it.

Until February, writing was going on quite well. I had some burning issues to write about – then, I somehow got out of step. Of course, there was a lot to do beyond this blog – at work, in the family. But it was not just that, something else prevented me from writing. A kind of “crisis of sense”.

Rousing other people is harder than expected

In November 2018, Nicole and I started with enthusiasm, with the blog and in parallel on Instagram and a bit of Facebook. We wanted to rouse as many people as possible, point them to the impending climate catastrophe and encourage them to have a sustainable way of life. In short: We wanted to get them out of their comfort zone and finally move them to action. Unfortunately, this proved to be a tough business. The number of followers on Instagram rose only very slowly. The number of visitors of the blog was disappointing, too.

Nicole is certainly right when she says: All this takes time, and we have to interact more. But I was still frustrated that my articles were essentially “write-only”. In my personal environment, hardly anyone seems to be interested in the climate crisis. Most people live on as ever and do not even recognize the problem. In some moments it makes me crazy. How can you walk through the world so blindly and so irresponsibly deal with the future of our children and grandchildren? And on a large scale, it is even worse: rampant right-wing populism, lies and denials everywhere.

Students first, parents follow

I just could not explain it to myself: Our livelihood is threatened existentially, and hardly anyone seems to care and actively resist.

Then, inspired by the wonderful Greta Thunberg, the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement got bigger and bigger. Finally, young people stand up and protest loudly and emphatically against the destruction of their future.

At the first small FFF demos in Lübeck, the students were among themselves for the most part. Some scattered adults stood a little bit apart. At the global demo on March 15th, the situation was different: In the meantime the Parents for Future (P4F) had formed also in our city – a loose association of parents and other adults supporting the goals and actions of the FFF movement. We ran in a small group with our own signs, motto: “P4F – polluters to the end”. It was a great feeling to see so many people standing together to curb the climate crisis. Hooray, we were not alone with our worries and fears. Here were suddenly people who thought the same way.

FFF demo in Luebeck, Germany, supported by Parents for Future

Movement needs structure

After the global demo, the enthusiasm of the Parents for Future was huge: The grassroots movement now grew on the parents’ side, too. Meanwhile, there were more than 150 local P4F groups. Passionate discussions were carried out in various WhatsApp groups. Until something like a hangover began: As new local groups were established all over Germany (and of course internationally), the communication became more and more difficult. WhatsApp simply is not the right tool for such movements: Messages need to be routed from one group to the next, keeping everyone informed. Thus, the need for organization, structure and processes increased, and correspondingly intensive discussions took place in the groups. Many did not want to go along: they preferred just to go out on the streets and demonstrate instead of talking about organizational structures.

All this was very understandable – but on the other hand, unfortunately, quite naive. Because, of course, if you want to be perceived in public and make a difference, a movement must be well-positioned and above all speak with one voice. The same applies to the Parents for Future: The central management team and many other committed people at the local groups are working behind the scenes with great energy – website, communication platform, decision-making rules, etc. – and of course that takes some time to be good.

Align, then carry on!

And it will be fine, I’m sure of that. Because here are so many people with an incredible amount of passion, sacrificing their entire free time for their concern. And this concern is far too important to be abandoned lightly. Despite all those (normal) starting difficulties: giving up is not an option at all. Not everyone has enough patience and understanding. The Parents for Future have to accept that some people turn away because things are not going the way they imagine. Maybe they will come back when the many hours of work pay off and P4F is in a really good position. I really wish they did, because there is no more important topic for which to engage.

And my “crisis of sense”? I hereby declare it terminated. When I see how the others are involved, I do not want to fall behind them. And so I’m already planning the next blog articles. Well, and if still nobody reads them? So what – I definitely feel better when I’ve got those thoughts off my chest.

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