This was my first ever Power Shift, and People & Planet's first ever online Power Shift. Needless to say, in the run up to Power Shift I felt excited, but also nervous and apprehensive. My mind, rather unhelpfully, filled itself with anxieties about not knowing anyone, but also the worries that come with the uncharted new landscape that the Coronavirus pandemic had created. But in the end, it turns out the worried questions about being camera shy or not wanting to speak on video need not have bothered me. I'm sure the wonderful organisers of Power Shift had similar and inevitably greater worries than mine about the transition of Power Shift from an event grounded very much in the real, physical world to the online, virtual reality that was now necessary.
Having overcome my nerves, partly thanks to the brilliantly friendly and accommodating way that Power Shift was organised, making it accessible for even those as worrisome as myself, I threw myself into the whole experience. I immediately found that I had made the right decision to ignore any part of myself that told me I shouldn't bother, that I should just forget the whole thing and watch Netflix instead.
Thankfully, I managed to ignore that particular impulse and was richly rewarded by the online experience that Power Shift provided. The social aspect: the community and friends created, brought the much needed and appreciated social interaction that I had craved during the lockdown. Then of course there was workshops, training and vast stack of resources that accompanied each one. The trainings and workshops that were delivered were simultaneously fun, informative, and interesting, not to mention providing invaluable guidance and knowledge to someone wanting to make the world a better place.
I can happily say, now I have experienced Power Shift and had the time to reflect, that I had a wonderful time, and that the fact that it was online made it different rather than lesser. Personally, my experience of Power Shift renewed my energy and optimism for activism and built my resilience for activism. It also reflects positively for the resilience of the community of people who know there is a better world and want to continue striving towards it.
I could go on for pages detailing each workshop and how much I gained from each one; instead, I have written a poem that I feel aptly captures the whole experience:
Where there was a field of tents,
now gather a gallery of faces on a screen.
Open air and grass beneath our feet replaced by bedroom walls and headsets.
But there is still a gathering;
not of bodies, but still of minds and souls.
Values, hopes and dreams forging a future, a new beginning.
Your voice may be muted on a call,
but your spirit and hunger for justice cannot be silenced.
Keep following those morals, that integrity that makes us strong and these problematic systems will fall.
There may be no one around for snacks to be shared with,
but that certainly doesn't mean you are alone.
These are uncertain times and it's okay to be scared;
but together we can shift the power.
Then eventually, maybe we will see the future we hope to have sown.