The Hague + 5  in Amsterdam

The Earth Charter International Secretariat held The Hague + 5 gathering in Amsterdam from
7-9 November to celebrate accomplishments of the Earth Charter Initiative over the past 5
years, share experiences, and launch a new phase of growth. Here are the notes from the
meeting attended by members of ECUSACI.   
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Over 400 Earth Charter people attended from around the world.  Earth Charter Communities
USA was represented by six people—Linda Osborn--Oshkosh,  Andy Robson—Oshkosh,
Chuline Carson—Atlanta, Maryann Ferenc, Rita Iacino and myself from Tampa.  I asked folks
to share their highlights and some comments follow.  For myself, it felt awfully good to have
others spreading the word about the importance of our grassroots approach in the US.  To my
wonder and amazement, when people found out more about what we were doing I was
inundated with requests from at least 9 other countries for information and guidance on EC
Community Summits and grassroots.   As always, being around people from different
cultures who are bringing the Earth Charter to life was an incredibly uplifting experience and
one that I wish all of us could share together in the future.  -  Warmy, Jan Roberts


Comments from Linda, Andy, Esther and Chuline:

How can I summarize an experience of a lifetime, one in which I got everything I needed and
more to continue this critical work with the Earth Charter? The inspiration I got from keynotes,
to presentations, to discussion groups and the many wonderful conversations over cocktail
hour or dinner, cannot possibly be summarized. If I didn't already know how imperitive it is that
we continue to move forward with our work, I came away with a revitalized committment to
STEAM forward, as we are all in agreement that we have no time to waste. Here in our country,
where I have often felt we are like little islands drifting on a vast ocean, at the EC+5 I realized
we are a cog in the wheels of awakening consciousness and I was able to see for myself that
we truly are connected to a fantastic network of world citizens, each one with an amazing and
poignant story of their own to tell about their work with the Earth Charter.
Discovering the character of many of the tireless members of the Commission and the
Steering committee lit me up, particularly when Maurice Strong, having offered one of the most
engaging and uplifting presentations of the event broke down in a tearful moment as he
talked about what kind of world we are handing to our grandchildren. Seeing Alan AtKisson,
our new Interrim Director of Strategic Re-organization (or whatever his new title is) sitting in
the hotel lounge playing his guitar while folks sang along, encouraged me that we are a
movement of progressive, multi-dimensional and multi-talented individuals who are using all
of our skills to create this new world. Seeing, touching and admiring the beautiful Ark of Hope
that Sally Linder created and watching the presentation by the local children of their artwork to
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for inclusion in the Ark, confirmed the power of art to open
doors to people's hearts. And let me tell you, if you have any question as to the integrity of the
future of this work, just know that the individuals who are working with the youth initiative are
no shrinking violets! These young people from around the world with their message of
personal responsibility and engaged action may have done more to set me on track than any
other speakers. Their courage is daunting.
Hope, encouragement, inspriration, optimism, inspired action, engaged endorsement, these
are some of the words that come to mind. And community... yes, I would say community was
the word of the week for me. Gathering with each other, whether in Amsterdam, at local
Community Summits, or at a simple gathering of a few folks in a living room somewhere on
planet Earth talking about the Earth Charter. This is where the future is happening, this is the
focus of the NOW. I have returned renewed, refreshed and filled with inspiring new ideas
about how to move this work forward, and will be doing my best to infuse the Chicago
community with my enthusiasm.
Hmmm... can my summary be complete without mentioning one more highlight? Sometimes
we have to step back from the serious work of world change and just let loose for a few
moments. So for those of you who know what a coffeehouse in Amsterdam is, imagine an
afternoon in which a handful of old lady, ex hippie chics took a step into their (25 to 35 years
ago) past and for one afternoon laughed like silly teenagers. I can't say for sure now if it was
for two hours or for ten minutes, but I know it brought just a little bit of youth back into my
blood. If you DON'T know what a coffeehouse in Amsterdam is... don't ask!!!

Linda Osborn, Chicago
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I'd say that the event was an inspiration. I brought together the big names and the grassroots
in ways that were probably not even planned. The keynote speakers were superb, and I get
the sense that all of the breakout groups were successful. I think that the idea of the Summits
was exciting to many who were hitherto unfamiliar with it and who liked the idea . I really
expect more Summits to be created overseas as a result. I found Jane Goodall's "bringing
non-human life into the meeting" to be important and brilliant, and the other main speakers
were inspiring too. I have already used Maurice Strong's idea that we need an "eco-culture,
not an ego-culture"; in fact, it has already come to mind (and voice) twice in unexpected ways
and was brilliantly à propos. I think this means that it really is a helpful and pithy phrase that
we'll all be using.

Andy Robson  Oshkosh
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To launch the third phase of the Earth Charter Initiative, this event (1) celebrated
accomplishments to date, (2) introduced infrastructural changes, (3) explored interlinkages
with global commitments to the Millennium Development Goals and the UN decades on
sustainability and a culture of peace, and (4) promoted new and existing areas for
collaboration with business, the Dutch youth networks, and the Earth Charter Youth Initiative,
among others. Event co-sponsors were the Earth Charter International Secretariat, the
Netherlands National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development
(NCDO), the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and Plan Netherlands. There were some 350
participants, including Princess Basma of Jordan, the former and current Dutch Prime
Ministers and Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands. The exhibit "Seeds of Change: The Earth
Charter and Human Potential" exhibit was displayed. Beyond the plenaries there were six
thematic sessions. The thematic session on education had more than 100 participants. Due
to the size, it was further split into school levels and nonformal education, the latter of which I
attended.

Highlights from the Nonformal Education Session:
The discussions focused on sharing experiences of working with the Earth Charter and
identifying opportunities for further use, especially in support of the UN Decade on Education
for Sustainable Development. My contributions included the following points: (1) The Earth
Charter Community Summits are a good way of bringing together people of diverse
community interests around a common concern, promoting a sense of community solidarity
through dialogue and creative interactions, and inspiring people to take up their own Earth
Charter projects; (2) The "Seeds of Change" exhibit has been a useful educational tool for
introducing all ages to sustainable development through the lens of the Earth Charter and
stimulating community dialogue for engaging people in a vision of a sustainable future for all.
The most important outcomes (to me) were interest in the Philippines for promoting Earth
Scouts not only there but potentially throughout the Asia/Pacific region and the comment that
the local community is where engaging people in sustainability (read: nonformal education) is
at.

Esther Castain
Los Angeles
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My most memorable moments were when I was dialoguing with the youth
representatives. As I listened, I realize that we sometimes,
inadvertently, overlook the past (were we not young at one time..) and the
potential contributions of our youths. Most importantly, it is imperative
that us older adults step outside of our comfort zone and do something
"cool" to engage the youths if we truly subscribe to building a
"sustainable" global community.

Chuline Carson
Atlanta


November 2005


Earth Charter Communities
USA Initiatives
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