‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ asks a travelling group of young people from East and West Europe
02 July 2007
The UK centre for Initiatives of Change (IofC), at 24 Greencoat Place in London, was the venue for a multi-faith, multi-generational community event entitled ‘Where do we go from here?’, held on 16 June. It was led by a team of young people from East and West Europe called Action for Europe (AFE).
Michael Murphy was there.
AFE was created and co-ordinated by previous participants of the IofC programme Action for Life (AFL). This began six years ago in South East Asia. It had been conceived by a former Taiwanese school teacher, to mobilise a new generation of social change-makers equipped with integrity, faith and commitment. The last nine-month AFL programme brought together 45 people from 26 countries to live and work together in promoting healing and transformation within the 18 countries they visited and, by process, within themselves.
AFL aimed to be a global initiative of change, and the arrival of the Action for Europe team marked the global vision of the AFL programme becoming a reality.
Motivated by a saying of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’, AFE targetted the Ukraine, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Latvia, and the UK as the countries to be visited on this pioneering three-month journey. Speaking with members of the team, I discovered that months of planning, teamwork, problem solving and personal challenge, together with faithfulness and commitment, were the ingredients required for such a European adventure.
Participants in the day’s event were warmly welcomed to Greencoat Place by Howard Grace, a former school teacher representing IofC, UK, who introduced the AFE team.
They began with an entertaining drama sketch about the daily task of deciding what shoes to wear when considering the question ‘Where do we go from here?’ The sketch demonstrated how differently individuals make decisions, whether in the ordinary task of selecting foot-wear or deciding what direction to lead one's life. It was explained that the footwear we choose can be selected purposefully, fashionably or randomly; but sometimes the shoes just don’t fit, no matter how practical or pleasing to the senses. Going bare foot, comically demonstrated, is always an option and carrying as many shoes as one can, to avoid making a decision, is not without difficulty.
In the afternoon, participants were invited to break into discussion groups based on a variety of different topics suggested by the AFE team. There was a mutual inquiry between Christian and Zoroastrian faiths, emerging from a group discussing Holy books; a conversation about the personal qualities needed for leadership; and what we can learn from history. A group shared personal insights into how and where they get their inspiration, with practical stories of how inspiration has been financed. A group discussed the role of IofC in Europe and whether debating this had brought the discussion group closer together. An open space was also provided for individuals who preferred to have no structure for their conversation to allow it to flow freely from one subject to the next.
Throughout the day, subtitled ‘From the personal to the global’, participants were encouraged to discover initiatives of change in their own lives and were invited to learn more about IofC. This resulted in several enrolling in the Tools for Change summer conference at IofC’s international conference centre at Caux, Switzerland, in early August.
Joe Swann, a charity worker and co-organizer of the IofC Caux business conference, guided us through the events of the day and brought it to a close.