Report on the Evaluation Meetings

Surely you will agree with us, we are facing a crucial period in humankind’s existence and radical turns are probably needed, including more grass root activism and volunteering for a shift in our approach to people, nature and values. SCI has proven a valuable contribution and its volunteers make issues matter. As much as we strive for impressive deeds our  common activism and shared visions also need a good monitoring and thorough evaluation in order to make a real impact.

The start of the annual SCI autumn this year has seen two major evaluation events within the pilot year of the 'Create a Climate for Peace' Campaign.

1. NSPM

This year’s North South Platform meeting of SCI, hosted by OWA Poland was enriched with a joint session on evaluating the past events and identify the needs and wishes of the present branches and partners for the continuation of the 'Create a Climate for Peace' Campaign. The meeting gave specific focus on the global efforts run under the project 'Young Citizens Building Global Communities'. The project was kicked off with a preparatory meeting back in February, in the office in Antwerp, with representatives from all the regional globally involved. The coming months were filled with communication and virtual work, before the international youth leader training took place in Lagos, Nigeria, hosted in cooperation of the International Secretariat and our local SCI group: VWAN Nigeria, facilitated by an international team of trainers (VWAN Nigeria, SCI Germany and one trainer from the SCI Pool of trainers).  The training consisted of three thematic pillars: workcamp coordination skills, networking globally and climate justice as part of our workcamps. Throughout the summer several workcamps worldwide were organized labeled under the campaign, coordinated by the participants of the youth leader training in Nigeria. The NSPM was the concluding meeting for evaluation and future planning, to which many of the partners involved throughout the year could be invited and contribute lively.

 

Two members of the Coordination Team facilitated the exchange, with a first mind-shaking exercise through which the delegates needed to understand the full range of harmful impacts of man-made climate change, and we reminded ourselves that in most cases we cannot clearly distinguish between social, financial, ecological and other causes . See some examples of the situations presented >>

Later on we looked at the campaign activities of 2014 in specific under the Youth in the World program: 'Young Citizens Building Global Communities' in four categories to structure the feedback:

a.) How far did the campaign contribute to the strength of SCI as a global movement?
The campaign has proven to be of interest and in the branches and partners that did join our events a kind of 'focal', respectively 'reference' body (group or person) has been put in charge or created to follow the campaign related things as to connect it from the global scale to the national level (and local community sphere). Participants shared an increase of awareness and innovation in knowledge and argumentation leading from the global activities and communications provided, whereas intensity of the implication depended very much on the capacity of the branches, partners, groups and individuals involved.

b.) Did we achieve a greater awareness and consciousness of our very own values as peace organization throughout the campaign involvement?
The overall feedback confirmed that the campaign activities focused on the improvement of study parts in workcamps as the main tool to strengthen the transmission of SCI values. Future visions aimed at incorporating more experts and local activists as 'voices of the root cause' and improve further the quality and quantity of our study parts, that is throughout seen as a genuine added value for education and 'change making incubators' within our voluntary projects. Need for an enhancement of our knowledge sharing instruments has been confirmed, a good start is made.

c.) Have we managed to mainstream the topic climate justice within the organization in our pilot year?
Seeds have been planted and the reasons to tackle the issue as a peace organization are better understood and accepted, whereas the overall knowledge within the movement is still in need of improvement and enhancement, locally also a thematic focus could be set to avoid the seemingly overwhelming broad scope of the topic climate justice.

d.) How did we manage to efficiently utilize internal and external communication tools and means?
The means of communication (social media, reporting, video, photos, etc.) applied have been highly contributing to kick off the campaign, create visibility within the movement, and a strong wish to push the campaign beyond the borders of the SCI movement has been expressed. Structural and consistent support is on the top spot of the branches’  ‘wish-list’ to further facilitate local and regional nurturing of the campaign in the future.

2. EEM

The meeting that just happened a week later, parallel to the SCI Exchange Evaluation Meeting, hosted by our partner GENCTUR in Turkey focused on the project line with a more specific European scope: 'Non-violence needs Nature – Let’s face the challenge!' Which started early March 2014 with an international preparatory meeting of the core implementation team in Kuterevo, Croatia. The first educational activity was hosted in Italy a volunteer coordinators training, which aimed to link practice and theory to prepare future camp coordinators and multipliers. The group was hosted in 'La Città dell’Utopia' and indulged in several workshops with the non-formal educational approached but also went on to practice outreach activism (guerilla gardening, soap making workshop, etc.).  The training faced a similar challenge as the later one to take place in Lagos, Nigeria, a diverse group of participants with a wide range of previous involvement as volunteers in the network and a huge difference in skills and knowledge on the topic of climate change post high expectations, which the team of three trainers needed to address within a limited amount of time.  We clearly faced enthusiasm and will to engage and focus more specific on the campaign topic and create a better understanding for the link between peace and climate justice, and the week came alive based on the openness to exchange knowledge, elaborate ideas and learn through practicing new activities focusing on climate justice, spirituality, re-connection to nature, communal living and empathy based volunteering activism within our organisations and peaceful coordination of workcamps.

This project was as well accompanied by 3 ideal workcamps across Europe (Sweden, Ireland and Kosovo) to facilitate the mainstreaming of climate justice within the setting of the workcamp, the travel arrangements, the work and study parts.  To intensely evaluate these 3 workcamps and all related activities we met in Turkey. Focus was set on the 3 ideal workcamps which supposed to function as a pilot project and feed the campaign with major inputs on how far we can reach climate justice in our workcamps (looking at study part, work part, travels, communal living – see for the guidelines) and what we can take up to further mainstream the topic within the network. We also took the possibility to invite the delegates of the Exchange Evaluation Meeting of SCI to a joint, inspirational session. The meeting was joined by volunteers that coordinated the ideal workcamps, our Long-term Volunteer from the International Secretariat and members of the Coordination Team.

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Some highlights from the workcamp feedbacks, we would like to share with you here:

Remarkable is the fact that all participants except one travelled via land to the workcamp that was hosted by VSI Ireland. Indeed we have to carefully reflect the time and economic constraints but the symbolic step is hopefully leading to more followers (the topic was also reflected on during the workcamp itself during a study part on 'travels and its impacts').
All three workcamps experienced a close cooperation with the hosting communities/ projects, whereas the biggest challenges were faced in Kosovo, which chose a new hosting community but managed to facilitate a good partnership for future common projects.

All three workcamps made an effort to organize an outreach action within the community (composting toilet in Cloughjordan  Community, Ireland, street action on milk production in Visby, Sweden and exhibition/ screening in Pristina , Kosovo), with different experiences.  As long as we see an interest and knowledge to create such an outreach action within the time of the workcamps, we perceived this as a creative tool to reach beyond the workcamp group, hosting community within the frame of the project also in future, but a thorough preparation and focus is needed to develop and prepare such an event. And a challenging question remains: Volunteers have experienced alternative habits in a living community, faced challenges in impacted communities and learned new ways of thinking and doing, but how it will be feasible, sustainable possible to adapt these new ideas to the daily life (e.g. rural vs. urban lifestyle, time and economic constraints remain, external social pressure high, etc.).

A lot of discussions and practices were waged around daily habits: food, living, working and travelling and we see a better impact as long as all the alternatives are reflected in a discussion or study part, as to fill the mere habit on the workcamp with a reflective learning process in form of a discussion/workshop that can give a broader frame to the proposed and applied habits and create therefore a longstanding impact among the participants, reaching beyond the time of the workcamp, and shifting values after practicing new habits.
The touching emotions, historical links, empowerment and inspiring events will be covered in a video which are looking forward to be created with the support of our Long-term Volunteers and be shared at the end of the year with the movement.

The campaign for sure will keep rolling in 2015, we have shared theoretical future plans and possibilities to join us, with the delegates and we need all efforts to future nourish the awareness of the topic and everybody’s notion, and radical change is needed NOW.

If you can already think of small activities, you would like to organize under the campaign, we have still an open call running for the new GAIA Microgrant Program, that provides easy accessible funds for small scale, ad-hoc actions worldwide with diverse character that need to be implemented by 31st of March 2015.

In one of the coming Friday Updates we will also inform you more detailed about the future project envisioned and the ways you can contribute to it, as a single activists, your branch’s volunteer or as a branch and partner, keep your eyes open and follow us closely.

Think if you have time left not to act, otherwise join us, as we are The Change!

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