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Bolygó – a Community Space for Youth in Hungary

As a young person, I see and feel every day that we are surrounded by environmental problems, yet I feel that I am alone among the ecological problems that affect everyone. Every difficulty or crisis affecting nature and society can be solved together, by joint action and cooperation, and for this we need communities that explore the roots of the problems from a scientific point of view, and that are open for everyone.

I found Bolygó community space with these thoughts in my head. At Bolygó the answers to the environmental and social problems of the 21st century are sought through the discovery of the root causes of the issues. Here, with the help of recognized specialists in a wide range of sciences, you can get to understand the human-caused environmental and social problems, and with the help of the enthusiastic staff members, you can not only make conscious changes in your everyday life, but you can also act for a better future. For me, Bolygó is an ideal space for action!

I participated in a podcast production training jointly organized by Greenpeace and Bolygó. The purpose of the training was to give young people a voice in environmental protection. The podcast is an excellent genre for exploring and discussing questions and answers, and due to the informal nature of the genre it is possible to talk about an almost inexhaustible range of topics related to environmental protection. Every minute of the training was practice-oriented, and together with the other participants we solved the tasks, which weren’t really tasks, rather we worked for a common goal together, which resulted in an interview and a podcast at the end of the training.

We were able to learn from Hungary’s professionally recognized media personalities in a friendly atmosphere, learning a lot of useful tips. At Bolygó, it was easy to get to know each other and learn the theoretical and practical foundations of podcast making, because in addition to the inspiring space (chill corner and tea making), we found helpful wings with the enthusiastic people working here. I was a little nervous about what to expect about the training, but the nervousness turned into excitement right from the beginning! Joint planning and thinking, good vibes, meaningful breaks and professional technical conditions characterized the two-day training.

We even had the opportunity to express and clash opinions that are usually hidden deeper in the person, which for me was a unique experience. I think that the message and purpose of Bolygó is authentic and future oriented. I think it is one of the best places if you want to do something for the environment and your fellow humans!

Bolygó will open the door for you if you are still sitting in the room of climate anxiety! I wholeheartedly recommend the programs and courses organized by them to all young people!

Written by David Schmidt, a young member of Bolygó, Budapest Hungary

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Open Getar River in Yerevan!

“I’m trying to find myself, and I realized that one of the ways to do that is to understand the place where I live and the issues it faces. Activism around issues of Getar River helped me a lot in this regard,” says Anna Karapetyan.

On April 25th, 2024, visual artist Anna-Lea Kopperi together with the members of the Alternative Youth Center held an environmental art happening titled Open Getar River!. The participants walked along the visible and invisible Getar River, inviting the residents of Yerevan to think about the importance of having a river flowing through their city and drawing their attention to the problems of pollution of the river.

Anna is one of the young people who participated in this project, contributing from organizational work to implementation. She was born and grew up in Yerevan but had not heard about Getar’s problems before. Getar, one of the two rivers flowing through Yerevan, was being polluted and litterred for decades. In the 2000s, instead of cleaning it of sewage and garbage, the government decided to close it in tunnels and cover it with asphalted streets and parking lots. The parts of the river that are still open, are badly polluted. This is an important environmental problem not only for the residents living in the areas adjacent to Getar but for all the citizens of Yerevan.

During the walking action, young people wore cloth hats in the shape of fish and held in their hands fishes made of white cloth. This symbol was chosen as a tribute to the fact that years ago the river was full of fish while now rats dominate its ecosystem. For Anna, walking in masks was the most powerful aspect of the action; it kind of emphasized that it doesn’t matter who we are – what’s important is to raise the issue.

“My parents were born in Yerevan, too, but they did not know about Getar’s issues. By participating in this project, I showed my parents what an important idea I was fighting for. I learned a lot and can better inform my friends and relatives now,” Anna notes. “Anyone living in Yerevan should know about the Getar River, as it is one of the most significant elements of our city. And we need to turn it back to a clean and openly flowing river.”

Written by Alisa Harutyunyan, a young member of Alternative Youth Center in Yerevan, Armenia

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From a Photography Workshop to Exciting Professional Photography Gigs

Hi, my name is Mbali Radebe, and I consider myself a change maker, poet, content creator, radio presenter, and aspiring project manager. 

I joined Ubuntu Hub in September 2022, and the project has had a significant impact on my growth, both in my interpersonal skills and in my career. As an aspiring project manager, I had the opportunity to collaborate with innovative and brilliant minds towards a common goal. I learned more about the importance of environmental care and mutual support, experienced the power of learning by doing, and, most importantly, had the chance to bring my ideas to life.

One of the standout moments during my time at Ubuntu Hub was the photography workshop held at Braamfontein with “We Are,” featuring Lee-Roy Jason, one of South Africa’s top photographers, as one of the speakers. Following this workshop, Lee-Roy Jason welcomed me as a member of his photography team. This led to photography opportunities on major stages, capturing household names in the South African entertainment industry, and securing collaborations with renowned brands.

Another profoundly impactful event at Ubuntu Hub was “Make Something Week,” held in Braamfontein with a surprise trip to Tembisa. This week-long initiative taught me that anything is possible through collaboration, a willingness to learn and teach, and by gathering the right resources. I gained insights into upcycling and the consequences of consumerism. Being part of the team that orchestrated the entire process, from planning to execution, was an enriching experience, and our team spirit remained strong throughout.

Written by Mbali Radebe

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Harnessing Youth Innovation at Ubuntu Hub: Driving Climate Advocacy on Earth Day

As we mark another Earth Day, the urgency of addressing climate change has never been clearer. From rising temperatures to extreme weather events, the impacts of climate change are being felt around the world. In this pivotal moment, it is essential to harness the creativity and innovation of young people to drive climate advocacy and propel meaningful action. In this blog, we will explore the role of youth innovation and creativity at Ubuntu Hub in promoting climate advocacy, and how their fresh perspectives can inspire transformative change.

Young people possess a unique ability to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, and envision a better future. Their fresh creative perspectives, coupled with their proficiency in technology and social media, make them powerful agents of change in the fight against climate change. By harnessing their creativity and innovation through art, we can unlock new solutions to address the complex challenges posed by climate change and accelerate progress towards a more sustainable world.

Art has long been a powerful tool for raising awareness and inspiring action on social and environmental issues. Through visual arts, music, poetry, and other forms of creative expression, young artists at Ubuntu Hub are shining a spotlight on the impacts of climate change and calling for urgent action. Whether it is through powerful murals, thought-provoking poems, or stirring music performances, art can convey the urgency of the climate crisis in ways that resonate deeply with people of all ages.

Moreover, education is key to empowering young people to become effective advocates for climate action. By integrating climate ideologies, sustainability, and environmental justice into Ubuntu Hub programs, we equip youth with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to understand the complexities of climate change and engage in meaningful advocacy efforts. Hands-on learning experiences, training programs, and workshops, and youth-led initiatives are invaluable in nurturing the next generation of climate leaders.

As we celebrate Earth Day and reflect on the state of our planet, let us harness the power of youth innovation and creativity to drive climate advocacy and accelerate progress towards a sustainable future. By empowering young people to use their voices, talents, and ideas to advocate for climate action, we can inspire transformative change and build a more resilient world for generations to come. Together, let us stand with youth around the world and commit to taking bold and decisive action to address the climate crisis.

Happy Earth Day!

By Kutloano Ramotshela

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Planet vs Plastics: Earth Day 2024

Why do we need to talk about plastics?

Plastics pervades our existence! From habitats to bodies, driven by profit, disproportionately impacting poor nations through waste colonialism. Plastic production is in fact a human rights violation since the people and the most marginalized communities who have contributed the least to the escalating planetary crisis are affected the most.

Did you know that over 99% of plastics are made of fossil fuels? Petrochemical companies promote plastics as cheap, but their true cost includes biodiversity loss, human health risks, and climate impact.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has started to negotiate on a legally binding plastic treaty that will include the whole life-cycle of plastic. However we demand that this treaty involves the most marginalized communities in the decision making process, to ensure that their health and safety are prioritized over plastic pollution.

So the simple answer to why we need to talk about plastic is: it can never be a part of a sustainable and just development. Companies try to greenwash by stating that plastic and planetary wellbeing can be combined – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

We demand policies that prioritize the health and safety of communities and wellbeing of the planet and future generations over the profit of petrochemical companies.

Support the planet in the battle against plastics by signing this petition for a strong Global Plastics Treaty!

And – go out on the streets and organize yourself because we are the change!

Video created by Planet One Youth

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MAKE SMTHNG: A Tool to Achieve Zero Waste

Each generation has the duty to take positive action to address existing challenges. Mother Earth is suffering from biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, air and water pollution, soil degradation, deforestation, as well as an increased production of waste. Unfortunately, not everyone across the globe faces these problems equally. Among the sustainable proposed solutions, MAKE SMTHNG emerges as a tool to achieve Zero Waste. However, can MAKE SMTHNG work effectively for developing countries?

Mboa Hub with its team during Make SMTHNG Week in November, 2023

MAKE SMTHNG is a worldwide festival where everyone, everywhere repairs, shares, and reuses instead of consuming, as a way to counteract hyper-consumerism. It aims to develop creativity, empower people to reuse more, and encourage conscious consumption. The ultimate idea here is to promote financial stability for those who are extravagant buyers.

In a developing country like Cameroon, few people can afford the luxury of excessive consumption. At this level, MAKE SMTHNG may not seem relevant. However, if the focus is shifted to specific types of waste, such as plastic or organic waste, then MAKE SMTHNG will take on its full meaning, especially as a tool to achieve Zero Waste.

This is exactly what happened at the University of Yaoundé 2- Soa years ago, where I discovered MAKE SMTHNG for the first time under the auspices of Planet One. Together with Greenpeace Africa volunteers, we celebrated MAKE SMTHNG WEEK. Young students and volunteers expressed their innovative skills by creating flower jars, jewelry, drums, decorative arts, and many others. Inspired by this experience, I decided to share these innovative activities with secondary school students through the organization of an inter-school competition, where winners were awarded prizes.

For the celebration of International Zero Waste 2024, I intend to draw inspiration from MAKE SMTHNG tactics to reduce waste production in my community and in Cameroon as a whole, through innovation and education.

Written by Mache Dolorès, Mboa Hub, Yaoundé, Cameroon

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Reclaiming Our Future

A few youths climbed over a fence and pulled up a ladder. The sunbeams hit the blue sky, and the wind was still. One after another, they climbed onto a big oil truck and pulled out a large banner that read, “Oil and fossil fuel are killing current and future generations.”

Olga, a youth climate activist, began her engagement in the newly built movement called “Reclaim the Future.” The purpose behind the movement is to use peaceful civil disobedience and direct action to highlight the urgent triple planetary crisis. Reclaim the Future describes itself as a movement by young people, for young people—a radical community committed to taking care of each other and peacefully standing against the industries that threaten our chances for life: the fossil fuel industries.

The driving force behind Olga’s engagement, as she herself notes, is “Since the situation is so urgent, we need to use all possible tools to prevent a disaster, and I wanted to try to make as much difference as possible.” Reclaim the Future stands out from other climate youth movements in Sweden since we direct our actions primarily at the fossil fuel industry, but also because we have as a foundational pillar to take care of each other.

Many climate justice activists today risk burnout, and therefore, we need to take care not only of the earth but also ourselves. Olga has learned throughout the years that the fight for climate justice is not a short sprint but rather a long marathon—a commitment that requires both sustainability and community. We cannot burn ourselves at both ends as our politicians do by not acting while the earth is covered in flames. We need to rest simply to navigate this crisis, and no one should feel guilty about that—because when one person rests, there are others out there who can take over. Community is central to building resilience for us as a movement and individuals, and it is also a central part of building holistic well-being for all living things, including the earth.

Momentum in Stockholm has enabled us to create just that—a welcoming and safe space for our community to flourish. We have painted banners ahead of actions, made community meals, held workshops about climate justice and wellbeing, played board games, and simply rested. The most valuable contribution that Momentum has provided our movement with is the fact that it’s a space where our activism is not challenged or questioned; rather, it is encouraged and celebrated. 

Olga’s first impression when stepping into Momentum was, “This is a place that exists for us and exists here to support us.” Olga also said that if someone wants to become active, it is nice to have a safe space to introduce them to, like Momentum. You don’t have to do things yourself; there is a community of people welcoming you. We are stronger together, and we also have a lot of fun. Activism is about fighting a lot, but it’s also about enjoying and celebrating the small wins. The only way to keep doing this for as long as it’s needed is by surrounding yourself with people who support each other and are willing to think outside the frames of the current system. Momentum helps us envision another future, where we are not fighting a war against earth and humanity, but rather living in peace.

Hours often pass by when sitting upon the oil tanks, but once again, you are capable of doing that thanks to your community. The fight will need to go on, but we know that it will be worth it in the end. And after actions, we know that we can go back to Momentum, reload our batteries, and breathe out.

Story provided by Momentum, Stockholm, Sweden

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My Path to Artistic Advocacy

My journey started when I was introduced to Ubunifu Hub by a friend through our youth group, “Hatua kwa Hatua”. Little did I know that it would become the guiding light for my journey. The passionate trainers at the hub opened my eyes to the critical issue of climate change advocacy, igniting a curiosity within me that I never knew existed.

As I delved into this new knowledge, I discovered a creative pathway that merged my passion for art with my newfound understanding of climate change. The resources available at the hub allowed me to evolve and enhance my artistic skills, propelling me to new heights of creativity and expression.

One of the pivotal moments in my journey was the opportunity to participate in the ‘I Hummingbird Effect’ campaign led by Tracy Makheti. I created a captivating puzzle art piece and an impactful painting. These works not only showcased my talent but also sparked positive conversations and dialogues on the pressing issue of climate change. Through the campaign, I gained the confidence to continue my journey as an artivist.

The impact of my art extended beyond local borders when I was given the opportunity to travel to Sweden for a youth exchange program. There, I not only gained invaluable knowledge but also shared my artistic gifts with fellow youth from other Planet One hubs, fostering growth in my career as a self-taught artist. Throughout this transformative journey, the team at Ubunifu Hub has been my unwavering support system, providing a nurturing space where creativity flourishes. Their guidance has not only shaped my artistic endeavors but has also empowered me to become a better advocate for change.

I want to express my deep gratitude to Ubunifu Hub for being my stepping stone to my purpose. Your dedication to teaching and advocacy has been instrumental in shaping my journey as an artistic SDG activist. Through your guidance, I have found my voice and passion for climate stories, and I have been able to network with like-minded individuals who have further impacted my life.

Denzel’s beautiful artworks

Your commitment to nurturing talent and giving support has inspired me to educate my community through edu murals that emphasize the importance of climate advocacy and mitigation. The skills and knowledge I have gained from you have empowered me to make a meaningful difference in the world around me.

Thank you for the profound impact you have had on my life. Your unwavering support, constructive feedback, and belief in my potential have helped me grow not only as an artist but as a person. Your mentorship has instilled in me a sense of confidence, creativity, and a lifelong love for learning.

Denzel’s beautiful artworks

I am truly grateful for the countless hours you have dedicated to teaching and guiding me. Your patience, kindness, and genuine care for your students have left an indelible mark on my heart. Thank you for being an exceptional teacher, a mentor, and a friend.

Today, I stand as a testament to the transformative power of art and advocacy, all thanks to the profound impact of patience, hope, and hard work.

Denzel Juma, Young Member, Ubunifu Hub, Nairobi, Kenya

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Finding Community and Empowerment: My Journey with Bolygó

I have always been interested in environmental issues, but I’ve never had a community where I could freely share my thoughts, connect with people, brainstorm ideas and projects, and participate in initiatives.

During Covid, my motivation hit an all-time low. I felt stuck, and I even stopped trying to discuss green issues with the people around me.

In the summer of 2023, I met Bolygó at a festival, and after that, I started participating in some events. What I love about Bolygó is that I found a community where I don’t feel alone, where I feel inspired to think about new ideas and projects. Before, I always felt that unless I’m an expert in something, I can’t raise my voice, have a debate, or act upon a certain topic. At Bolygó, I found a community that welcomes different points of view, provides space to share thoughts and accept our differences, and I feel really empowered by that.

I joined the Bolygó Club training program to gain deeper knowledge and also participated in the youth exchange program organized by Planet One in Stockholm, which was truly an out-of-this-world experience. I felt that everyone had so much trust in me on these programs, which encouraged me to believe in myself and believe that I can take action.

During the exchange program, I got to know a Hungarian FFF member, and she told me a lot about their operation and the projects they do. I became really interested and decided to join them to organize an exhibition at Bolygó about how cities are so disconnected from nature. Since then, I’ve been actively involved in planning and realizing the project. I also got to know Mesi during the exchange program, and we’re organizing an art therapy workshop for climate anxiety together at Bolygó in April.

Lili Szabó, active Bolygó member & attendee, Budapest, Hungary

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Rising to the Challenge: Women Leading the Fight for Climate Justice

On this International Women’s Day, as we celebrate the achievements and resilience of women worldwide, it is crucial to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and the vital role they play in the fight for climate justice. From the frontlines of environmental degradation to the halls of policymaking, women are leading the charge for a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Young women of Mboa Hub (our Cameroonian makerspace) during Make SMTHNG Week in Yaoundé, 2023

Think about it: when floods come or crops fail, who’s left picking up the broken pieces? Often, it’s women, juggling the weight of their families’ survival on their shoulders. Women bear the brunt of the effects of climate change, facing increased risks of displacement, food insecurity, and adverse health outcomes. In many communities, women are responsible for securing water, food, and fuel for their families, making them particularly vulnerable to shifts in weather patterns and natural disasters. Moreover, gender inequalities limit women’s access to resources and decision-making power, further exacerbating their vulnerability to climate impacts.

Staff and participant at Bolygó (our Hungarian makerspace) during the re-opening in Budapest, 2023

Empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do. It’s a strategic imperative in the fight against climate change. Studies have shown that when women are involved in decision-making processes and have access to resources, they are more likely to prioritize sustainable practices and resilience-building measures. By empowering women to participate fully in climate action, we can unlock their potential as agents of change and accelerate progress towards a more sustainable future.

Macramet workshop with the young girls and members of Alternative (our Armenian makerspace), Yerevan, 2023

At Planet One, we are committed to empowering young women in the fight for climate justice. Through our programs and initiatives, we provide them with the tools, resources, and support they need to become effective leaders and advocates for the environment. From training programs that build technical skills to advocacy campaigns that amplify their voices, we are working to ensure that they have a seat at the table in the global conversation on climate change.

Make SMTHNG Week at Ubunifu Hub (our Kenyan makerspace) in Nairobi, 2023

Our commitment to empowering young women goes beyond our programs and initiatives. It is ingrained in the fabric of our organization, from the leadership team to the local coordinators working on the ground. We celebrate the women who drive our mission forward, from the dedicated women in the global team who play a vital role in shaping our organization’s vision and impact to the passionate local coordinators and youth leads raising awareness in their communities.

The young South African activist at the Ubuntu Hub, our makerspace in Johannesburg, 2023

Reflecting on their impact, Rose Muganda, the local coordinator in Nairobi’s Ubunifu Hub, said, “I would like to extend a special appreciation to our team of young women climate trainers/facilitators in our maker spaces, for guiding and inspiring their peers on the intersection of gender and climate action. Your leadership lights the way for others, proving that mentorship and collaboration are building blocks of an inclusive and sustainable future. Thank you for being role models and catalysts for positive change.”

Rose Muganda, The Local Coordinator of Ubunifu Hub, our Kenyan makerspace in Nairobi, 2023

In addition to our efforts, we also recognize and celebrate the contributions of women climate activists around the world. In Europe, one name that stands out is Greta Thunberg. At just 18 years old, Greta has become a global icon of climate activism, sparking a worldwide movement with her passionate calls for urgent action to address the climate crisis. Greta is not alone. Take Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist who, through her organization, the Rise Up Movement, is empowering young people to take action on climate change and advocating for the voices of marginalized communities to be heard in global climate negotiations.

Greta Thunberg during Fridays for Future march, 2023

Perhaps most inspiring are the young female climate activists in our maker spaces who are leading the charge for a better future. Through Planet One, we have had the privilege of working with countless young women who are passionate about making a difference in their communities and beyond. From organizing climate strikes to advocating for policy change, these young women are the driving force behind our collective efforts to combat climate change and create a more just and sustainable world.

“I feel climate justice is strongly connected to womens’ rights and every other discrimination existing in our world. Since everybody wants to reach their goal alone, it’s easy to see others as enemies. But after you realize you can only work together for the better, you will find other unique creatures as well. And after that things like the gender or color of your skin is not going to count.”, says Lili Szabó,  one of the regular attendees at the Hungarian Planet One makerspace in Budapest, Bolygó.

“As a female activist, Mboa Hub has been supportive in facilitating the networking with other female activists in Cameroon. The climate crisis affects women drastically and it is important to highlight their perspective especially on how they cope with the crisis”, says Dolorès Mache, the youth team lead of Mboa Hub in Cameroon.

Sofia Gustafsson, the Project Manager of Planet One in Nairobi, Kenya, 2023

Sofia Gustafsson, the Planet One global project manager, expressed, “I firmly believe in the power of young women to drive meaningful change in our world. It’s a privilege to witness the incredible impact and initiatives that have blossomed within our maker spaces. Seeing the passion and dedication of these young women inspires me every day. I’m excited to see even more young women join the movement and continue to lead us toward a brighter, more sustainable future.”

Anna Olinhejn, Youth Team Lead of Momentum, our Swedish makerspace in Stockholm, 2023

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us recommit ourselves to empowering women in the fight for climate justice. Together, we can harness the power of women’s leadership to confront the climate crisis and build a brighter future for generations to come.

Sherie Gakii, Planet One