On 28 and 29 July 2022, Mindchangers set up its stand at the Esperanzah! Festival. Two days under the scorching sun in the company of other associations in the ‘Village des Possibles’ to get the attention of festival-goers on topics related to climate and migration.
Staff and young volunteers worked hard at the stand, where many people came to discuss, debate and, more rarely, argue. All of them are involved in Clim’acteur, Le Climat change. Et toi?, Students Mindchangers, or Permacham: 4 of the 10 Mindchangers granted projects in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.
No, it’s not all doom and gloom!
These young people, aged 15 to 35, have found in Mindchangers a space for exchange, information and action. They like it because it announces clear and measured objectives, designed to make them feel responsible rather than guilty or scared. Camille, Roberto, Hugo and others know that they are not going to change the world. But they also know that they sometimes feel alone, despite their involvement in organisations dealing with climate or migration. Those topics are dizzying, and may even generate a type of distress that has its own term, eco-anxiety. Hence the interest in coming together to join forces while accepting one’s moments of doubt and weakness. In other words, the hummingbird effect speaks to them because every small gesture counts.
It was only natural that they should be present at Esperanzah!, a festival that reaches out to both young people and families. Moreover, it was not very complicated to make Mindchangers known as a participative project that values the skills of each individual. From the stand or while wandering around the Village, they engaged an audience who, although volatile, remained receptive enough to take part in two animations with little hesitation. One activity was about the rather “touchy” or rather “safe” words for migration – “the flow of Eritrean migrants” and “the arrival of Eritrean expatriates” do not sound the same to people’s ears… and so the debate began! The idea was not to rule on which words to use, but to realise that there are different sensitivities and to measure how much language does influence the way we see the world.
The other activity led the participants to question their habits in relation to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN Member-States in the 2030 Agenda. Through these exchanges, it became clear that many of the SDGs are not only known but also implemented by everyone at their own level. Hummingbirds are everywhere! And they are flying in all directions.
Being part of the solution
Most of the Esperanzah! audience is engaged or at least already connected to social issues such as climate and migration, leading to positive an inspiring intermingling. The young Mindchangers planted their seeds and, even though they don’t know what effect they will have, they left after two days with a wider network and galvanised by their engagement. In addition, through spontaneous discussions with festival-goers, they became aware of their arguments and tools’ limitations. They are resolved to work on them in order to continue producing multiplier effects here and there.
Mindchangers has thus opened a door for young people who are already committed to find renewed motivation and continue to inspire their peers. As for the next step, they answer with sincerity that they have no idea… while underlining their desire to see their projects continued and passed on.
 The hummingbird effect originates from an old Native American legend later on used by philosopher and writer Pierre Rabhi in order to exemplify the need to act instead of being merely witnesses. Rabhi founded the Hummingbird Mouvement (Mouvement Colibris) to promote citizen action and encourage everyone to “do their part” to initiate the ecological and societal transition.