Would my contribution to Reshape be worth more than my carbon footprint?

What could be better than being accepted onto a program where you travel to eight countries in two years?! What better than a chance to travel across Europe moments before our British politicians pull the plug on our countries stability, economy and future and remove the UK from the EU?!

RESHAPE, a last goodbye to Europe before Brexit...

Accept there is a catch. There is always a catch. Although for once the catch is not funding stipulations, budget restraints or partner requirements.

This time the catch is my own moral breakdown…

The same moment I got accepted onto the Reshape program was the same moment I also accepted that we were driving this planet and the people on it to a terrifying future, in what use to be called climate change but was now being called an emergency… a crisis…

Suddenly the excitement of jet setting across Europe seemed a little less joyful.

Previously the biggest questions I asked when travelling was;

‘Hand language or check in?’
‘A bus to the airport or the train?’
‘Why do I suddenly believe in God when we hit turbulence?’

But now anxiety inducing thoughts plagued my mind;

‘Would my contribution be worth more than the carbon footprint?’
‘How could we Reshape anything in a world that was going to change so dramatically?’
‘With social fabric, societies and communities already under so much pressure wouldn’t a climate crisis be the final straw that ripped everything apart?’

And these were just the first few in a line of apocalyptic thoughts.

Overwhelmed, I decided to focus on the first one;

‘Would my contribution to Reshape be worth more than my carbon footprint?’

Presuming that I was not going to bring a level of genius to the discussion that would outweigh taking a flight, I set about researching trains and buses.

The first two trips I failed. Somewhere between excruciating prices and the multiple days it would take, made it impossible.

And then came the Flanders Arts Institute and their abilities to understand train timetables and complexed scheduling and suddenly there I was on a train (or 7) from London to Cluj.

Third time lucky… If you call 48hrs on 7 trains luck.

The journey was beautiful. Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and then Romania.

When you take a plane from one part of the world to another you don’t get to see. Up, then down.Tarmac, then clouds and then tarmac again (Unless you’re flying Ryanair and you will probably also see multiple credit card machines). You don’t get to see the sliding kaleidoscope of changes, that creep up on you unexpectedly. However it was not the contrasts that surprised me most but the profound details in the similarities.

The similar trees and plants, apartment blocks and houses, bridges and roads, the same clouds and rain, fields and sky. We have similar ATM’s and coffee shops, magazine stores and information desks, the same train stations and train stations and train stations… Things are shaped a little different and the croissant in France is of course the best. But most structures from the natural to the human-made somehow resemble each other.

We have similar problems of the far right, similar fear being stoked about refugees and immigrants, similar racism, patriarchy, brutal austerity policies, similar corruption, disparity of wealth, homelessness. We have the same overwhelming power systems that break schools, politics, libraries, public spaces and housing, universities, institutes, civil departments, hospitals, societies and communities.

We have the similar issues within arts and culture, which is why we are here.

And we have the same climate crisis. The same climate crisis that will take every other current crisis that people face and magnify it.

Getting here by train helped me to find an answer to my first big question ‘Would my contribution be worth more than the carbon footprint?’.

Now we must work to find the answers to the rest.

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