And then something amazing happened.
As I tried unsuccessfully to pin down the posters and photographs on the walls of the stand using some useless sticky bits, I heard.
‘Do you want some help?’ I turned around and recognized Chiara, even though she was wearing a mask and I have never seen her outside the screen before. She was there with The Welcome, she was real and she was so friendly. She promptly produced me a box of pins and got on the steps to nail the posters to the wall. Then the staff from COP26 helped me set up the screen. Rose from Isaro and Tara from Findhorn arrived with more stories and materials for the exhibition. Jean-Matthieu and Katharina dressed the rest of the stand with their warm smiles and affable conversation.
In a minute, I wasn’t alone. And in a minute, our communities’ stories were getting a never-ceasing streaming of spectators. The hallway was buzzing with life. Lots of us were meeting each other for the first time after zoom calls and emails back in forth through the months. Plans and ideas were being discussed, sheets were filled with the names of those who wanted to know more about SCCAN and the work of our members.
Sara from Forth Valley Sensory Centre gave us a super interesting presentation on communicating climate action to people with sensory loss and Susan from Propagate Scotland introduced our visitors to a creative conversation around food production through a jigsaw from Fork to Farm Dialogues. I sat with her little girl Iona doing drawings of her chickens and then I pointed at the screen on our stand.
‘Look, Iona! You’re on TV, you’re famous!’ I said, watching her face lit up as she watched herself on a short film from Propagate Scotland where she was helping her mum make a broad bean and mint dip with vegetables from the community garden. She was so excited that she later brought her little friend Eima to watch, who was also in the film. The girls cheered at their own image, and I wondered if they remembered that day where they harvested broad beans and mint and if they would remember this day, watching themselves on a screen in a stand inside a building filled with so many people from all over the world who are genuinely doing their best for their communities.
I walked around the Big Tech and Big Business impeccably designed stands once again. They were silent, almost empty. There were no laughs, there were no children. There were no conversations. I didn’t doubt at that moment that I was on the right side. COP26 might have failed but we the people did not. Here we were weaving something powerful together, with kindness and patience and a human strategy that leaves nobody behind.
We closed our activities for We Are Net Zero Nation with a delicious project by food scientist Gihan Soliman where our visitors had the opportunity to taste several food products made with moringa, a highly nutritious plant.
In the end, Iona came back to give me a hug. I thanked her for playing with me. My broken wheelie bag was now lighter, and I also had help carrying it back. I had more conversations with attendees on the bus. Yes, we were disappointed but we were also grateful for the opportunity to meet, connect and exchange ideas.
‘Thank you! Good luck!’ we said, many times, in many languages. And we meant it.
Yes, we are weaving something powerful together. With kindness, and patience, and a human strategy that leaves nobody behind.
We are weaving community action. Together.
🌍 You can check our COP26 activities here
🌍 More COP26 stories from our friends: