In normal times, you’d find Greenpeace groups meeting in pubs, cafes or community centres across the country each month, discussing campaigns and making plans. But last month, groups around the country hosted their first-ever online meetings. We asked Zoe, a first-time Greenpeace volunteer from Dundee, and Jess, a returning volunteer in south London, to share their stories.
Life in lockdown
JESS: For me, the lockdown means that I don’t have work at the moment. Aside from missing my salary, I’ve been missing that feeling of belonging to a team, and that sense of purpose from working towards a bigger goal together.
ZOE: I’ve been interested in doing what I could to protect the environment for ages. Whilst there are so many horrible parts of this crisis, it does mean many of us have more time.
JESS: I had been attempting to take environmental action on an individual level before this, but I always just ended up beating myself up for not getting it quite right, rather than feeling like I was achieving anything.
ZOE: I have watched in awe over the years the many successes of Greenpeace, so when I suddenly had more time, I decided to take the plunge.
JESS: I checked, and was relieved to find that my old Greenpeace group were hosting online meetings during the lockdown. A virtual first meeting seemed like a “no-lose” situation – it took up very little time and I could join from the comfort of my sofa.
ZOE: Being a bit of a technophobe, I was initially hesitant about joining my first meeting digitally. However I realised it would be the quickest, safest and easiest way to get acquainted with the group.
ZOE: There were maybe 8-10 people there, all from different backgrounds, and it was a joy to see a group of like minded individuals sit and discuss something I am very passionate about. I was intrigued to see the dynamics of the meeting, and how the group would plan for the future.
JESS: I felt a bit nervous when I logged in to the call, but I was soon welcomed and introduced to new faces, a rarity in itself in this lockdown situation.
ZOE: When the meeting got going, Sally, the leader of the group gently encouraged me to introduce myself, and let me take a back seat from then on so I could get used to how things usually run.
What happened in the meeting
JESS: We started with a message from Greenpeace’s UK director John Sauven, and talked about some of the local initiatives that have sprung up to assist vulnerable people. We also heard about Greenpeace’s upcoming plans to respond to the health and economic crisis.
ZOE: We checked in on each other and talked about what was helping us to stay positive, as well as hearing news from around the world about green stimulus packages and what Greenpeace was doing to make sure this happens in the UK.
How it felt afterwards
JESS: I left the meeting excited by all the plans and feeling just a little bit of hope that hadn’t been there before.
ZOE: It feels like we’ve got a chance to put the world on a better path, and it’s exciting to be part of a movement that’s working to make that happen.
JESS: It was inspiring to reconnect with people, who want to address the climate crisis and this health crisis simultaneously.
ZOE: My initial worries were put at ease very early on, and I’m looking forward to thinking through the things that were discussed and bringing my own ideas to the next meeting.
Advice for new people?
JESS: If you’re feeling like you’re on the receiving end of a lot of change at the moment, perhaps it’s a good time for you to make an active change as well.
ZOE: To those who are thinking about joining an online meeting for your local Greenpeace group, I’d definitely recommend it. This crisis is calling out for people to become ambassadors for the Earth, to step up and get involved.
Most of the 55 Greenpeace local groups will be meeting online in the coming weeks. You can find a Greenpeace group meeting close to you here.
Despite Covid-19 measures, local groups will still be connecting online, hearing a presentation from a member of the Greenpeace speaker network and deciding how they can be part of the solution to this crisis and beyond.