STUDENT LIFE BLOG: Everything has changed

- in Nyheter
@Kate Monson

It was still summer (more or less) when I left Oxford on Friday for a weekend in London. But I’ve arrived back today and it is now most definitely autumn.

I even got a whiff of wood smoke on the wind as I cycled home from work this evening. And what a cycle home it was, through pouring rain and angry blustering air into an evening whose light was disappearing all too quickly. But one good thing about being currently situated over 400km south of Lund is that any weather related complaint can be quickly stamped out with a cheery reminder that it’s probably worse in Skåne – if not wetter…or windier…then certainly, absolutely and most definitely, darker.

But enough of the elements. At least for now. It’s been an exciting week or two for me and the organisation I’m interning at – a small climate change charity called COIN – as we geared up to host, and last Wednesday actually hosted, a spectacular event: the UK launch of Naomi Klein’s (‘Shock Doctrine’ and ‘No Logo’) new book, ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate’, a richly researched, powerful piece of writing that describes the war our economic model is waging against life on earth. We also welcomed British activist and legendary fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, who introduced the evening in her characteristically kooky way.

Yet beyond the ‘celebrities’ and the monumental amount of work a few dedicated individuals at COIN put into pulling the whole thing off, what I found most compelling about the evening was the chance it gave me to, in one fell swoop, cast my eyes on a significant proportion of the politically engaged, environmentally aware, activist population of Oxford.

There were some faces I already recognised from mumbled meetings in the corridor or during lunch in the communal kitchen at the office space where COIN is based, home to an array of socially-minded small businesses and organisations. And there were others that in the following days I have spotted at events across the city and around and about.

One young woman who arrived at the Naomi Klein event with a rucksack and sleeping bag on her back had, until earlier that day, been squatting a vast warehouse in central Oxford in anticipation of hosting House of the Commons, a weekend talks and workshops focused on the UK’s housing crisis. I bumped into her again the following night, over a steaming pot of lentil stew, at Three Acres and a Cow, a show hosted as part of House of the Commons (in their new venue of Cowley Road Methodist Church), which describes a fascinating history of land rights and protest in folk song and story.

Another young women, who asked Naomi Klein a detailed question about her thoughts on basic income, turned out to be the colleague of a third young woman I interviewed last Friday as part of a research project COIN are doing into communicating climate change to 18-25 year olds. And that’s just the start of it…

I’ve found it’s often the case when you move to a new place that there is one moment that can be pinpointed as the time that things changed for you; when you realise that a subtle settling has occurred. I know I’m not going to be here for all that long, but it’s nice to feel that one month in, I’ve penetrated Oxford’s surface, found faces I recognise and places that I understand. I look forward to seeing where they take me.