I recently had the opportunity to attend the session on Being Led by Young People with the inspirational Yumma Hussen, Mahnoor Kamran, Dev Sharma and Kwesia, City Girl in Nature. I was blown away by the energy, determination, wisdom and love for life of these young people. I could have listened for a long time more.
All kinds of people, but perhaps especially people like me who are white, middle-aged, middle-class, university-educated and with all the privileges that entails should listen to and learn from these young people. We all stand of the shoulders of those who came before us. And we need to ask – What world are going to leave for the next generations to inherit? How do we work together with respect and honesty? How can those of us with privilege and power listen, learn, ask questions, imagine, co-create, respect?
I was especially inspired by Kwesia – city girl in nature. I live in Malmö, Sweden, a very young city where almost half of the population is under 35 and it is very diverse, more than half of the population were born outside of Sweden or have at least one parent born outside of Sweden. The inhabitants of Malmö speak more than 150 different languages.
My art work is often connected to nature education, and nature education in Sweden does not represent the diversity of the youth of Malmö. I have sympathy with (young) people of colour not spending time in Skåne, the region around the city. In the 2018 election, the far-right, anti-immigration party Sweden “Democrats” became the second-biggest party in Skåne. I am not surprised that people of colour would not want to go hiking or swimming or camping in places where the locals voted for a party that thinks certain people should “go home” (where is that exactly?). Let’s hope folks vote differently in the upcoming general election in Sweden in autumn 2022.
A lot closer to home, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, maybe the city’s famous son, went very rarely to the beach in Malmö, although he grew up only 6 kilometres away. Why did he and other young people of colour in Malmö not feel welcome to enjoy this natural space that is free and accessible by public transport but not in terms of feeling welcome?
The organisers of this summit seem to be making a conscious effort to look honestly at the lack of diversity in the transition movement, and working out ways to change this. I subscribe to Rob Hopkin’s “What if” podcast and it is a joy. He invites so many different kinds of people to tell their stories that educate and inspire.
This session got me thinking about my role, my gifts, my dreams. I am going to share the recording with my transition group and also in other relevant spaces. The transition movement needs everybody, and we all need transition. I am also involved with the Degrowth movement, and it is just one of many that remind us – we need to decolonise not just our lived environment but also our imaginations.
Heartfelt thanks to Yumma, Mahnoor, Dev and Kwesia and to Transition Together.