Thursday, 4 a.m. It’s time get up to catch a train towards the forests of Småland and Vaggeryd. The local school, Fenix Kunskapscentrum, are holding a World Conference, with students from exchange schools all over the world attending: Spain, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Kenya and Japan!
Wake-Up Call were asked to hold an inspirational speech at the start of the conference, and we also invited our friends Kerstin and Olivia from Reconsider to hold idea workshops.
The dancing students from Kenya were a hard act to follow. I started talking about how social movements are necessary to drive change in societies. We have seen really strong examples from Northern Africa this spring, and I’ll share a little story around that.
In January at my school I was involved in a student conference of Alliance for Global Sustainability, a collaboration between Chalmers, MIT, University of Tokyo and ETH Zürich. We had a student from Egypt, Nawal, attending the conference. Timewise, it coincided with the beginning of the uprisings in Cairo. Halfway through the week, the Swedish Foreign Ministry advised tourists not to go there because of the situation. And then on Sunday the conference was over and we said goodbye. It was such a strange thing to imagine her situation of going home, and not knowing what kind of society home is or what it will be, there’s just an urge for change. We got word she arrived home safely, and then we all know what happened. Mubarak had to step aside and let the people build something new.
The students in Vaggeryd have more stable homes to return to, be it in Spain or Byarum right outside town. But there is some unease in the system that we built for ourselves. Macro-economists failed to predict the stock market crash of 2008, and the euro is shaky at best and is heading towards some kind of brick wall. Just looking out the window, we realize that the economic system is not out there as a physical presence, a law of nature that cannot change. It is a tool that we built for ourselves, that has served well in the development during the last centuries. But it’s time to take a thorough look at it, see if all parts of our system is in line with reaching our goal of a sustainable world in a couple of decades. Maybe it is time to kill some of our old darlings, and let something new be built.