Thursday, December 3, 2009

Onward to Copenhagen

Hi. My name is Mary Gilbert and I'm new to blogging. I'll be in Copenhagen for the second week of negotiations, from the 13th to the 19th of December.

I was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey and New York. I now live in a suburb of Boston, called Arlington. I sing in groups. Somehow I got to be 68 this fall, which makes me a genuine Older Person. I was 30 when I attended my first Quaker Meeting, so I've been involved with Friends for 38 years. I'm married (I met my second husband at Meeting) and have a son, a daughter-in-law and a grandson. And a dog and a cat.

started going to Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) meetings just over 10 years ago, when our name was still Friends Committee on Unity with Nature (FCUN). The first fall after I joined, Ruah Swennerfelt, our general secretary, broadcast (via email) an invitation to represent FCUN at a meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the UN in New York City. Four people responded, but three backed out and I was the only one who actually got there. I only attended for 2 days, though, so I only learned that the whole UN scene is very confusing and where to find the bathrooms. Nowadays I go for the whole two weeks every May, and never get to put in my garden. I know, I know, lots of people get their gardens in April when it's chilly and damp. I'm not eager enough or well enough organized to manage it in April. But now I know not only where the bathrooms are but where the delegates' dining room is and how to find out about free food at events sponsored by governments and other entities.

So I attended the Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, and in March 2003 went to a 2-week course on water issues in northern India at Vandana Shiva's school. Then I went nowhere foreign for over 5 years, but in September of 2008 I attended a UN Department of Public Information/ Non-Governmental Organization (DPI/NGO) annual conference in Paris, and managed to attend France Yearly Meeting on the same was right before the other.

In January of this year I had similar luck. I was already scheduled to visit Friends in western Kenya when I found that there was a big UNEP meeting in Nairobi that began 2 days after my time in western Kenya ended. It was a no-brainer...I changed my return flight, found Friends to stay with, and Ruah and I threw together an application for UNEP accreditation. (I had found out about the meeting at a UNEP conference in Washington DC...again a piggyback...I was in DC for the annual meeting of Friends Committee on National Legislation...and since that UNEP meeting was a prep for the big one in Nairobi a UNEP staffer assured me that if I notified her as soon as all the application materials were in, she would see that I got a one-time badge to attend this particular meeting.) A month or so after the Nairobi meeting ended, QEW did receive UNEP accreditation, so now we can attend any UNEP function where Civil Society can be involved. In other words, I could go to Bali this February. Now if only I could find a Quaker event so as to double up....

This September I went to another DPI/NGO meeting in Mexico City, and soon I’ll be in Copenhagen. Too much travel, but what an education!

1 comment: