Our first Orga meeting is over and thought we could give you an update of some of the things that we have been discussing. This is a rather long post, as we have covered several big topics. Would be amazing if you had the time to read through all of it, but if it’s too much, here’s a list of the article’s content:
– Route for 2024
– QINTAW start
– Orga Structure
– Conflict Resolution
– The Use of Alcohol and Other Substances
– Changing the Name …?
You’re probably curious where Ecotopia 2024 is going. This time it’s the Baltics! We are still yet to decide if we will include bits of Finland or Poland on our route, so shoot us with your proposals for projects and contacts in the area! (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia North-Eastern Poland and Southern Finland).
There will be a QINTAW start again!
The duration (2-4 weeks) of this part is depending on the route and projects we find to make sure everyone (QINTAW or not) will have a good (reachable) start and cool projects on the way. If you are still not familiar with the QINTAW concept, you can read about it here.
Like last year, we are few people in the orga and there aren’t so many capacities in the group. So you are still invited to join orga, takeon tasks, or help out any way you can! Please also understand if not everything is perfectly organized or released on time.
One exciting option we’ll explore this year is the “Ecotopia House”. We’ll find a place in February, March or April where people can come and go for one whole month! This means that anyone who has time (a minimum of 3 days) could arrive to the designated space and dedicate their time to organize Ecotopia. At least one of us will be there at all time doing a little bit of orga work daily. Ideally this would also be an opportunity to connect with Ecotopia outside of the summer tour. We can get peoples‘ food and some transport covered with funding if needed.
There have been situations where individuals were behaving harmful, discriminatory or overly authoritarian. Them not reacting to criticism or changing their behavior led them to being asked to leave the tour. We want to make sure the community can provide support to the person(s) being affected more than the person exposing harmful behavior. We feel like this wasn’t achieved in 2023 when it took the group too long to ask someone to go and they had already harmed several people and the whole group dynamic with it. Making Ecotopia a safer space, as well as a diverse place, is a constant work in progress and we ask participants to understand that the biketour is more than a recreational holiday.
There is a re-occurring discussion about how to resolve conflicts that have been happening on past tours. Conflicts on the tour are an inevitable part of community life, and they are a way to grow and learn together and from each other. We have been trying to think of ways to find resolution without letting them impact our group’s motivation and cohesion too much.
When the staying of one harmful-behaving person – who is NOT changing their behavior after receiving criticism – will cause other people discomfort or even make people want to leave the tour, asking this person to leave is an option that we encourage the group to take. Kicking someone out is exclusionary. Letting people stay who actively harm and discriminate against other people is even more exclusionary and harmful and will make the tour as a whole less inclusive.
This is why we ask past, present and future ecotopians to respect this decision when the group has made it. Especially if you haven’t been there for the conflict or abuse, try to understand why exclusion sometimes is necessary.
One tool we have been talking about is the Awareness Team. If you joined Ecotopia before or have read the website, you might already be familiar with the concept. This time we proposed the Awareness Team to be a task on the ROTA again where a small group of people would keep an open eye to harmful behaviors and be in charge in constantly checking the Silent Box to see if there is any help needed. Then the Awareness Team would try to find the right mediation buddy for the respective conflict. But the structure of this team is not yet decided, we are yet to discuss it further in the future.
Of course there will also still be circles for the whole group todiscuss and solve problems and to talk about emotions and conflict. We strongly encourage Ecotopia 2024 to have circles regularly and do extra emotional check-in rounds!
And once again, we ask all future participants that, before joining the tour, to carefully read the guidelines. These will also be reminded in the Welcoming upon arrival on tour.
If you have previous experience in conflict mediation and would like to help us develop better awareness tools, do get in touch!
The use of alcohol and other substances
There have been incidents around alcohol in 2022 (strong drinking culture in the group, people getting excluded for not participating) and 2023 (people getting really drunk and creating uncomfortable situations for other people).
Since we (not all of us) don’t want to and don’t really see it in our power to ban alcohol from the tour we want to emphasize the guidelines once again:
The biketour is not a substance-consumption-free space. So alcohol and other drugs can be consumed. Similar to the topic of veganism we’d like to ask all participants to consume and act responsibly and – above everything – respectfully. That means not drinking/consuming in groups without asking before. It means not pressuring people to participate, not even by “fun” and friendly comments. Please be aware that some people might be struggling (i.e. with having been addicted or having experienced abuse around drugs) and that a celebration of alcohol and other substances can make people really uncomfortable.
Let’s try to make EBT 2024 fun, safe and comfortable for everyone!
Changing the Name
A few of the biketour participants have been suggesting to change the name of “Ecotopia” to something that reflects more of the values that we try to practice. Sustainability and the environmentalist approach are still main points on our agenda, however some felt like the name “Ecotopia” can give the impression that we are only that. And since many eco-/sustainability-/climate movements in Europe are very white, ableist and cis/heteronormative, we worry that the name “Ecotopia iketour” paints that same image instead of the intersectional approach that we want to have.
Sometime in the next weeks/months a poll will be send out to ask all of you if you would or would not like a name change. Your proposals for a new name are also welcome!
Okay, that’s all for now. We hope you’re having a winter to your liking and are as excited about next year’s tour as we are!