I awoke to mists over the mountains and cold winds. This afternoon I would head from my Lake District home near the beautiful lake of Ullswater to a village behind Zagreb, Croatia, the site of ECOLISE’s 2019 General Assembly.
Since the GA in April last year in Luxembourg I had been working with a small ‘Tuner’s Group’ on a new Strategy for ECOLISE. There had been a very wide consultation process amongst ECOLISE’s 43 members, and our primary task at this GA, hosted by the Croatia Permaculture Association, was to get the Strategy adopted.
2018 had been a successful year for ECOLISE. GAIA Education is one of the Founding members and had worked hard with an ECOLISE Education group to formulate a new funding proposal. It was finally submitted a couple of weeks ago. ECOLISE had been successful in raising core funding to expand its staff, and had invested a lot of time and energy in the European Day for Sustainable Communities, co-hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee on September 22nd 2018. ECOLISE also had a significant presence at the COP 24 conference in Poland.
The journey from my house in the Lake District to Croatia was a long one. A drive to Penrith train station, then a train to Edinburgh, a plane to Brussels, then a Croatian Airways plane on to Zagreb. And finally a car journey to the centre where the meeting was to take place. Overall a journey time of over 13 hours.
I dread to think how much Carbon I had burnt to attend the meeting. How to justify such a trip ? ECOLISE functions through virtual meetings – it is so rare to meet colleagues face to face. Although our Croatian hosts had done everything to facilitate internet participation from those who would have difficulty attending, somehow we all miss the direct contact and wanted to be there. Maybe once a year we could justify the chance of really engaging with each other, laughing, telling stories, celebrating our contact and our network.
I arrived at Zagreb airport at 23.15. Rain was falling. A driver picked me up and drove me at breathtaking speed along the pitch black roads to my final destination: Centar Marijapoli ‘Faro’ in Križevci. I arrived at 23.55 and he ushered me through the deserted dark corridors to room no 5.There wasn’t a single soul around.
As I sat in my bed at 00.30 in the morning, after a very long journey, I wondered where I was. All would be revealed in the morning. I was very curious to see what tomorrow would bring. I was hopeful that the GA would inject new enthusiasm and energy into ECOLISE. I was due to give the setting-the-scene opening presentation at the GA. I had to be on form.
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