Take 20 newly educated climate ambassadors; put them together in a room with a laptop, a data show and a white board, and within minutes you will have a highly engaged discussion going on! This was what happened Friday 3rd June 2011 when we gathered 20 of our national climate ambassadors at MS ActionAid’s facilities in Amman to share achievements and experiences from the first month of their lives as climate ambassadors. Several of the ambassadors had been very active and they were more than eager to tell about their accomplishments. Among the activities they had conducted were environmental lectures at schools, plant-a-tree events and a theatre play about youth leadership and environment. The young Jordanians are so creative!
Several times during the meeting I was thinking that our presence as facilitators was superfluous – the national climate ambassadors were conducting the meeting just great without us! They were sharing experiences and giving each other tips and advices on how to overcome the challenges they are facing as ambassadors for the environment. Moreover, they were very eager in getting engaged with campaign activities – and I am really looking forward to see what they have of brilliant ideas! The best part of the day was experiencing the spirit of the group – they are really supporting each other and doing a great job in their society. So come along and take part in the wave of active environmental citizenship!
First of all group work is about understanding that a group is like a living organism. An organism which consists of different organs – let’s call them group members – which perform different functions. If one of the organs is not working or completely missing, the organism will be ill and in worst cases die. This of course places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the organs. Responsibility to take the initiative to suggest assignments, responsibility to take assignments, and responsibility to let others get assignments. This requires a clear vision of the function and responsibilities in the organism. Ideally all organs are functioning flawlessly all the time, but with organs as with group members, this is not always the case. This means that another organ must take over the functions of the ill or absent organ for a while, like a standby assistant ready to take over in a crucial moment. This again requires an open and flexible structure of the organism. To avoid that the body – let’s call it the project – goes on hold in the absence or illness of an organ, the organs must continuously stay in close touch about the progress and functioning of the body and keep each other updated about status on different assignments. This requires a lot of work and a lot of time. And it requires a lot of work with the organism. There must be time to discuss the health of the organism and here openness is key; worries and frustrations must be put forward and openly debated. This can of course lead to conflict and crisis within the organism, but as we all know: crisis s just another word for opportunity. Opportunity to change and to perform better in the future.
I thank you for this opportunity to occupy your minds for a while and wish you a dynamic and fruitful group work!