On the second working day of our training in Berlin, we expanded our reflexions on sustainability by adding the notion of impact. Sustainability is namely a very interesting, but equally broad topic. In order to be applied, it demands considerable awareness and significant actions from a number of relevant stakeholders. We wanted to explore how IVS organisations can contribute to this goal, either with campaigns, awareness raising, grouping on an international level… What is the impact they could have on local communities, volunteers, political bodies, etc.
From the beginning, the training in Berlin was envisaged as a interactive event, where theory will be interwoven with practice and where outside activities would complement the ones taking place indoors. The day started with a cooperative activity, namely “the potato race”. Participants were divided in several groups where every group made a commitment related to the topic of sustainability (not buying new clothes for 2 months, being vegan for 2 weeks, etc.) The groups that didn’t win the race had to put their commitments into practice. In the spirit of the training, however, the winning group agreed to join this concrete “action” as well.
“The potato race”
After putting the notion of impact in a certain geographical/social/economical context, the afternoon began with two study visits to VJF projects in Berlin. The participants were divided in two groups – one going to a distinctive recycling facility and the other to a specific environmental-oriented school.
The group that visited the recycling facility learned a lot from the interns and volunteers working at the place. The idea from the facility originated from the USA. Namely, it is supposed to offer a possibility for people to bring raw materials or broken/unneeded/obsolete things that would otherwise be thrown away. The facility then either repairs the objects or offers them as raw materials for people who come to buy them at low prices, mostly for artistic purposes. In this way, the things that were meant to be garbage become reused as art.
The recycling facility “Kunst-stoffe”
At the end of the theoretical part of the visit, participants had a chance to create small artwork themselves, using otherwise unnecessary materials such as tires and cardboards. Wallets, rings, tiaras, toys… These were just some of the ideas our participants had during their practical work and a vivid example of many possibilities available for personal contribution to the area of recycling and garbage disposal.
Practical contributions to sustainability
Finishing their separate visits, the two groups reunited in central Berlin. At the famous Alexanderplatz, our hosts from VJF took us for a brief city tour around the German capital. The tour was very informative and gave us a completely new view of the history, society and architecture of the city.
“Thank you for the gifts!” – eco-friendly bags from our hosts from VJF
The final picture was taken at Potsdamer Platz, in front of one of the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall. Participants coming from 14 countries and 4 different continents – united at the structure that was once a symbol of separation – is probably the best sign that IVS impact exists and transcends any linguistic, cultural and geographical distance.
Participants of the “Vision to Action” Training on Impact and Sustainability in front of the Berlin Wall
(photos credits : CCIVS)