Many of the delegates wore traditional clothing (like Casey Camp Horinek, pictured, a leader of the Ponca nation in Oklahoma, who created all the beautiful clothes she wore). Others wore colorful African prints and head wraps, while most of the women wore "business casual" or even dress up clothes. I saw only one message t-shirt the entire three days ("Democracy is not a spectator sport"). Quite a change from the old days of radical gatherings -- which this definitely was, if "radical" means going to the root of the problem.
Attire aside, what all these women had in common was an incredible array of successful or still pending struggles to preserve their own communities while linking them to the fight against climate change. (Also, some losses.) The women introduced themselves -- scientists, business women, government officials and non-profit leaders -- and said what they'd like to see come out of the summit. One that stuck in my mind was Colleen Ross, a farmer and organizer from Canada, who said, "What I want to get out of this conference is not just a talkathon, that we just don't academonize -- I call it -- what we need to do here. What we need to do is rise up. We need a resistance movement."
I did a 6-minute summary feature for Free Speech Radio News and two interviews for Between the Lines -- one with Jacquie Patterson from the NAACP who's in charge of environmental justice programs, talking about how to bring together the folks fighting environmental racism with the mostly white climate change campaigners in the U.S. It was eye-opening for me. The other was with a woman from the Maldives, who described climate change on her low-lying island chain, and the role of democracy in combating it.
I also just submitted a half-hour show for WINGS (Women's International News Gathering Service) that'll be out in a week or so, at www.wings.org. It includes six minutes of Casey Camp calling the four directions one morning, which I found inspiring.
Despite the exciting goings-on indoors, I was dismayed that every room I was in (including the bedroom at the hotel) had no windows. The weather was gorgeous all weekend, and I had to run outside periodically to connect with the earth and the air (if not the fire and the water). Alas, the building was in the middle of nowhere and mostly surrounded by parking lots.
Anyway, by Monday, the delegates had agreed on a draft Climate Action Agenda that will be finalized by January and shared with leaders and grassroots activists around the world. They also took immediate action by going on the record on several issues, including opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and urging the president of Ecuador to not exploit fossil fuels in the Amazon, despite failing to get international financial support in exchange for keeping the oil in the soil. Go to www.iweci.org for bios of all the delegates and info on the action agenda.