World Team: Notes from the Base Camp

“Our Future” (COP15- A Personal Perspective)

Posted by 1worldteam on December 14, 2009

Copenhagen, Denmark Uited Nations Conference COP15

I knew I had to come to COP15,  the UN Conference in Copenhagen Denmark, but didn’t know exactly why or how, but that never stopped me.  We posted an actual counter with “The Countdown to Copenhagen” on our World Team Now’s home page, over six months ago.  When the leading environmental airlines, Scandinavian Airlines , (the official sponsor of COP15) came through with the  tickets, and since I had an assignment from Environment News Service (ENS),  got U.N. press accreditation, the dues as an actress allowed my press pass to come from my first union affiliation, AFTRA. Now there was enough support  for me to believe the rest of what I needed would come;  it always has, ( but usually not when I want it) or the way I expect it, but it comes…

When I was young I wrote a letter to the President of the United States and asked him what he was going to about the environmental problems that would affect our future.  That is why I’m truly here at COP15.  I realize that the President alone didn’t have the answer but from an innocent point of view one could believe all the World Leaders together as a team might.  This is one reason why I am here.  Yes—I could be here as a founder for our non-profit, World Team Now, or our emerging World Team project, but I’m actually on assignment for ENS’  with World -Wire which has quite an extensive distribution, and allows the freedom to work in all the other  capacities too.  But it truly comes back to that core question,  “How will humanity live in better balance with our environment?” and that is questions I’m willing to focus my life force into, as it is a question for our time, and our world now.

I am often asked where the passion for the environment and social issues began.  Perhaps before I was born, but I remember significant moments from my youth that demonstrate that the seeds were planted long before I was aware of them.  For example at boarding school, in the 4th grade– the year I had my first double digit birthday.  It was one of the days when the morning bell rang and we were informed at breakfast that the whole school would have an outing.  This time it would be to hike along the roadway for the day to clean it up.  Although this was so much fun being outside and out of the classroom- I was troubled.  I reflected on Manhattan where I was born, and how the garbage was piled high on the sidewalk, something seemed wrong about what then seemed like a junk city,  among the skyscraper buildings- where crowds of people made walls.  But I really could not understand why there was so much liter along this gorgeous Adirondack road?  How did it get there and why?  With gloves and garbage bags in hand  I asked my teacher, “Who is in the parent of the flowers, the grass and our earth?”  My teacher understood that I meant, who was in charge of this situation.  She explained, “The mayor is the boss”.  I persisted to ask,  “Who is the mayor’s boss?” My inquiry continued until the conversation escalated to, “Is it possible to write a letter to the President of the United States?”

Fortunately North Country School is the kind of place that inspires experiential learning, so  I wrote the letter.  Back then I didn’t know what a constituency was but I knew I was afraid to send the letter alone to the President so I asked a classmate to sign on with me. With the guidance of our teacher,  we could do it as an “exercise” to see if we could be heard by people who might be able to do something about our concern.   We asked the President of the United States of America; Gerald Ford, ‘What are you planning to do about the environmental issues, and all of the problems with our water, and air, with pollution?

Every day, for what seemed like forever, I awaited for a reply from the White House.  Many said that would never happen, to forget about it, “The White House doesn’t respond to this letters from kids,” they have more important things to do.  I realized the important thing was that I wrote the letter.

I don’t know why I had to write this letter, but I did.  Just like I knew I had to go to Rio for the Earth Summit Global Forum in 1992 and why I had to participate in the Earth Train for Peace project and go to yet another UN conference, this time on: Human Rights, in Vienna 1993.  It was a very simple letter; I have it still somewhere in storage.  That letter made me feel so good to write, and knowing I actually sent it someone older, with authority, who had the power to change our course, gave me a feeling like that was bigger than me.  Our environment was what our whole class had discussed and researched for a year but we just learned mostly about the problems.  By thinking that my action might help a solution for others, our animals, and trees, made my life different and that was enough.

It really caught me by surprise when the Head Master of our School, the late Harry Eldridge along with my teacher Andrea, told me I had received a letter from the President of the United States.  He then requested I read the letter to the school after lunch.  A combination of elation and fear in equal portion hit me like a wave.  Caught in the undertow of fear I surfaced to breath into my first public speaking role, and read the letter that was meet by the applauding of all my classmates, and the kids older and younger, because this was the question inside their hearts too.  Although the answer was more a “thank you letter”, and what I thought was a real signature was probably one of those stamps, I didn’t know that at the time.   I believed we might have made a difference, and at least it gave me and my friends hope for our future.  The value of that is priceless, and that hope has fueled me to be here at COP15 and write my first piece, “Youth Captures the Attention of World Leaders,” I could related to their passion about “Our Future”.


2 Responses to ““Our Future” (COP15- A Personal Perspective)”

  1. Ms. Maxx’s personal perspective is so inspirational. COP15 is in her destiny and pregnant with hope and positivity because she is there.

    I grew up on my parents farm in North Carolina where I believe that my environmental walk started. I saw the beneficial and distructive uses of pesticides all around me. The relentless life cycle of the flora and fauna on the farm made me realize that the course of life is set, however, man’s activities can interupt or enhance it. I to, like susan,must go where I am called to establish harmony with the Earth.

    • 1worldteam said

      Thank you Walter, you are one of my hero’s and your work at the United States Environmental Protection Agency benefits us all. Appreciate hearing your personal journey too, and where it all began. Maybe it will inspire others to comment, and share their experiences, about why it is important to them…Thanks!

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