Fridays-for-future festival: a sense of we against the climate crisis

In the vacations you can not dance the school ? And so the climate movement fridays for future is doing the opposite to attract attention: while other old-timers are enjoying their vacation, they are working on the future of their protest.

How to proceed, now that climate change is widely discussed, but beyond political declarations of intent, no success has been achieved yet? How to ensure that protesters do not run out of steam when media interest wanes? Need to become more radical in forms of action or form stronger alliances with established organizations?

Decisions on these or other questions are not explicitly made, the organizers of the summer congress in dortmund emphasize again and again. Instead, it’s a matter of networking, informing, exchanging and strengthening. More than 1,500 young people between the ages of 10 and 28 have registered for this meeting with working groups and a lot of summer camp us-ness.

47 rough tents have been erected on the edge of a spacious park in dortmund. On another corner there are colorful tents like on a festival-land ? Only with less gauze. In the coarse kitchen under the open sky, helpers chop onions, and vegan chili simmers in huge pots behind the kitchen. Actually, the organizers had promised the hungry that everything would go faster this time than at the first dinner. But patience is needed in the lines at the food counter. And so they sing, chant their protest slogans against coal companies and SUV drivers or play cards.

Those who are full usually have something useful to do: two schools on the edge of the park become learning centers during the congress despite the vacation period. The participants should be given a practical and methodical grounding in nature. There are panel discussions, networking meetings and well over 200 working groups.

How to build a climate-neutral loudspeaker truck for the demo from a shopping cart and a few wooden beams is demonstrated by some activists in the schoolyard. More than 30 young people are hanging on the lips of passionate forester and author peter wohlleben, who is reporting on the forest in the climate crisis. A few classrooms away, online video producer christoph krachten explains the basics of successful youtube work.

"But most of it probably happens on the side," says jakob blasel. The high school graduate is part of the many-headed organizational team that has been preparing the congress for months. Originally, the meeting was supposed to bring the movement through the feared summer lull. "To be honest, four months ago I thought the movement would be dead after the summer vacations," he says.

Now he and his comrades-in-arms are hopeful that it will be possible to achieve the 20. September to bring more people than ever onto the streets. On the day that the climate cabinet is also due to present its findings in berlin, the movement has called for a general strike. The protest will no longer be carried by the young people alone. This time, adults should also assume their responsibility, the activists declare.

According to protest researchers, fridays for future is about to make some important decisions: if the movement were to exhaust itself in the friday strike ritual, then "everyone involved would be in danger of becoming bored – the media included," according to sociologist dieter rucht. The movement must also take a position beyond climate policy issues, he thinks – even if that harbors conflict potential. He also sees a need for improvement in other areas: even after several months of existence, decision-making processes and responsibilities within the movement are "diffuse and non-transparent".

When confronted with such criticism, the activists are unperturbed. They are convinced that the loose structure has been preserved so far, and that the issue can no longer be broken down. And what about the critics who complain that fridays for future, with its well-educated, friendly young people, often from academic households, only represents an elite??

"That’s a justified observation, but not a justified accusation," says blasel. They acted after all. And while some ignored it, some even despised it, many others were enthusiastic. The movement is sure of broad support, reports organizer helena marschall. This was also shown by the preparation. Wherever they presented themselves and their cause, there were offers of help: a large part of the food was donated, as were the wood chips for the composting toilet. "We experience class solidarity everywhere". This friday, as usual, they want to go out on the streets of dortmund, to drive others along and to convince them.