Review and prospects in the European groups.
As we announced when the Good Practice Guide was published in 2010 – the first of the post-Brussels 2009 Regional Assembly of Emmaus Europe achievements – we are reviewing the progress of the work on the directory of environmental practices, which aims to inspire each other and pool and above all share our expertise. The work has continued apace.
The survey work has increased our knowledge of the environmental initiatives and processes of reflection in the Emmaus groups in Europe. This snapshot of the European Movement will increase our mutual knowledge of everyone’s practices and will reinforce the exchanges of environmental experience and projects in the Movement. It will also help to boost the debate and concrete knowledge of the issue of degrowth in the Emmaus Europe groups.
It does not aim to be exhaustive or to showcase one group more than another. The aim was to review what is already being done in order to give all the groups the information they need to step up their practices in this area and to encourage the Movement to reflect on environment-related issues.
The sub-section also contains a questionnaire about environmental practices. The questionnaire can be completed by a telephone interview, a meeting or a visit to your group.
These forms of contact can be a chance for the group to reflect together about the questionnaire by submitting it for discussion to all the group’s members and using it to contribute to this European expertise-sharing initiative.
We look forward to receiving your comments and to discussing these issues with you!
Documents to download:
For over 60 the concept of “helping to help those who suffer most” has been put into practice through this recovery, dismantling and repair work which gives the unwanted goods a new lease of life, while those involved in this work find that it marks the beginning of their own “reconstruction”, as repairing goods helps them to repair themselves. Times and fashions change and we have switched from being ragpickers (rag picking is known as biffe in French) to sustainable development stakeholders who work in recycling and reuse.
Just like in the rest of society, the issue of energy use in the Emmaus groups is often only tackled from an economic perspective and is just seen as a means of running the group’s activity. However, the growing scarcity of natural resources (energy and other resources), which feed industry and our entire lifestyle, will put an end to the period of abundance during which the energy issue did not need to be raised, as energy was considered to be infinitely available.
Decisions taken prior to construction work will therefore be key to the life – and end of life cycle – of the building and in the building. Increasing numbers of European Emmaus groups are looking into
building accommodation and other types of buildings. The movement boasts wide-ranging experience in this area.
“Today, over 1 billion people do not have access to drinking water and over 2.4 billion do not have adequate sanitation.” (WHO, 2004) Emmaus is looking at water usage because many groups in Europe and around the world strongly defend the belief that water is public property and must be kept as such, and that everyone should be guaranteed equal access to it.
Enjoying a good quality of life and living independently are issues that have a direct impact on the daily lives of the Emmaus groups. Bringing our day-today practices into line with our discourse on solidarity and the fight against the root causes of extreme poverty is a form of commitment. Using and promoting healthy good quality food can be an objective for the Emmaus groups.
Although this issue affects the very core of Emmaus’ work and identity, it also concerns society as a whole. Can we continue travelling frequently without taking into consideration the impact of our journeys and the reasons for them? Should we travel a distance of a few hundred miles by aeroplane for a meeting that will only last a few days or even a few hours?
As the members of a political movement and in the name of the strong values that they defend,
the Emmaus groups are becoming involved in local, national and European politics in order to champion these ideals and fight for rights and justice for all.
“Will this race, before it finally becomes ‘too late’, become aware and learn how to deprive themselves and how to be more generous, and be able to truly identify with those who suffer most, and willingly give enough, while running the risk of perishing together, to actually lay the foundations together for salvation?”(Abbé Pierre)
A large number of people are involved in Emmaus and they hold responsibilities and roles that are highly interdependent within each group, meaning that there is therefore a need to think about collective decision-making.
Becoming aware of environmental issues is contingent upon developing a political project on these self-same issues. We must ensure that our practices and discourse are coherent in order to then be able to challenge society about these issues. The environmental crisis concerns Emmaus but first and foremost it affects the whole world, and local initiatives should be part of an overall process of reflection on society and the system within which it develops.
What does environment mean for us, in Emmaus?
The issue of funding environmental initiatives in Emmaus groups is frequently highlighted as being a stumbling block. Being environmentally friendly seems to be an expensive business and often only appears in the form of investment or additional expenditure. However, most initiatives are not costly
and even enable groups to subsequently make savings, which balance out initial investment. Environmental investment actually epitomizes the idea of voluntary simplicity.