At the beginning of this October, Estonia hosted a School of Sustainability Training of Trainers workshop. It was a long time since the last visit of Friends of the Earth network, and Friends of the Earth Estonia exitedly took the chance to share this moment together with other groups. The meeting took place in a remote countryside in Western Estonia, by the Baltic sea – and even chilly October winds could not keep hard-core nature lovers from wading in knee-deep freezing water, trying to capture the very last fragments of summer.
Long days of intense training gave participants a deeper understanding of popular education, putting learnt methods into practice right on spot. It was also a place to share our work and struggles, refresh contacts, tell inspiring stories, ask for advice and get more connected as a network. The sessions were carried out in smaller groups, so everybody got the chance to speak and take part. Different tools and strategies were tested, brand new sessions were designed and energizers were used to the maximum effect.
Friends of the Earth Estonia is currently focusing our efforts together with other Estonian environmental NGOs on oil shale mining, energy production and related issues. At the moment, most of the work is done in mapping the situation and building alliances with other groups, but there is going to be a bigger campaign on oil shale phase-out in the coming years. Our other projects touch the topics of pesticides, marine pollution, forest ecosystems, sustainable consumerism and human rights. There is a monthly public Green Tea Evening event organised both in Tartu and Tallinn which introduce a different topic each time, giving citizens a chance to share thoughts.
School of Sustainability project has had an enormous impact in making Friends of the Earth Estonia a stronger, more effective movement, giving us tools and knowledge to participate in the fight for better future. We are a small organisation (4 staff members, 3 of them part timers) and thanks to School of Sustainability, our ways of working have shifted towards a more involving, interactive and horizontal system. School of Sustainability has strenghtened our connection with Friends of the Earth Europe and other member groups, giving us inspiration, motivation and plenty of new ideas to share.