Grasshopper no 1, Winter '93
In the case of local environmental groups, this basic instinct sometimes seems to fail. Lack of cooperation with other groups causes problems, often shortens their life-span and hampers their efficiency.
No contact with others makes one feel lonely. It also may make one think that nobody cares what she or he may be doing. It causes disencouragament and finally drives many people, who would otherwise be active, to leave the environmental movement. Without communication, efforts of the groups result in marginal achievements and their very existence turns out to be nonsense.
No communication causes lack of information and knowledge which are both necessary to fight environmental pollution. Local groups often do not know who to warn about the arising dangers and who to ask for help in case of troubles.
It is true that problems in communication between groups may at first look overwhelming. For example it is often known where contact addresses can be obtained or sometimes it may be difficult to get connected on the telephone because of technical problems. There is no time to visit the other groups and worse of all there is not enough money. I do believe, however, that this inconveniences are not the most important. The most difficult thing is to break the psychological barriers, the biggest one being the unwillingness to communicate.
What is the reason for not wanting to communicate?
The local environmental groups are sometimes very ambitious and think that looking for help would deprive them of dignity. Many groups believe that they can solve their problems on their own. It is nice if they succeed, but sometimes it is too late to discover they were wrong.
Sometimes the cooperation is impossible due to the arrogance of a group or its unwillingness to share its success with others.
Another obstacle, possible essential, is the fact that the members of one group do not know the other group's members. It is not easy to get quickly acquainted with a stranger. The obstacle is accompanied by the limed possibilities of establishing personal contracts.
Another hindrance is the shortage of regional or national environmental pressure groups, the contracts between the ones that exist is hampered by there not being enough environmental periodicals in circulation.
However there are numerous ways to improve communication between the groups. I want to draw your attention to the communication network.
A communication network is a network of informal contacts between people and groups willing to exchange information and knowledge. Although the names suggests a rather modern phenomenon, in fact it based on old principles. A network may only be maintained if participants are willing to exchange the knowledge and information they have,
The running of a network does not depend on the existence of one individual or group. Networks are not hierarchically structured. Communication networks are ideal for such as the Greens because they do not afflict individual liberties.
The communication network functions in a very simple way. If anyone needs some information, he/she gets in touch with the person who may have the information needed or know who may have it. The person who wants a piece of information is then like a spider in an information cobweb. He/she sets it in motion and the then receives the data. Thanks to use of communication network, one may better fulfill his/her tasks and maintain the network.
During the meeting in the village of Michniowiec, we established a communication network. We would like to create both formal and informal links between our groups. We will try to enliven the network and we exchange information and knowledge.
So far, we don't know each over very well. The informal links between us should be stronger. Our mailing list should be longer and longer. We can organize more meetings during which we may create new contacts and strengthen the existing ones.
We must seek our own means of communication. One of them is this bulletin.
The next possibility is looking for better technological solutions. However, when it comes to computer modems, faxes and so on, I am affraid that we must be realistic. Our financial situation doesn't allow us to buy such technology. Communication using such technology is likely to fail anyway, because of the poor telecommunication links in Eastern Europe, therefore I would have doubts about the economic sense of buying modem equipment. Much more practical solution would be a private postal system whereby letters are handed by people who regulary visit the countries and places where the letters are addressed to.
Being able to finance an effective network is beyond our means. Each group should realise that it needs at least enough money to maintain contact with the other groups.
The last remark regarding the maintenance of the communication network: modesty helps to prevent conflicts when cooperating with other groups.
Thanks to a faster exchange of information and knowledge between the groups, it will be possible to put more pressure on the politer. The knowledge level within the green movement should rise and greater solidarity between the groups should be formed.
Each user takes advantage of the common communication network, and which meets the aim itself, the environment will benefit as a result.
Ernst Jan Stroes