Alva realised her dream to produce change
Alva has always been interested in and wanted to learn things by heart. Political anthems were one of the things she started to teach herself. She dreamed about being part of a big political movement, like the civil rights movement in the USA. One day she found herself in a class with a girl who was a member of the Nature and Youth Sweden organisation. This was in the autumn prior to the Copenhagen climate summit of 2009, and if you joined the organisation, you could travel down to Copenhagen for free. Alva did this, and it was there that things really started to happen. There were 100,000 demonstrators in Copenhagen, all struggling for a fair climate change agreement. The negotiations failed, however.
– In Copenhagen, I think I learned how to be really angry. I have learned a great deal more about climate issues now, but it is still the anger that stops me from giving up, says Alva.
Three years after the climate summit, Alva was in Visby during the Almedalen political week, together with some friends from Nature and Youth Sweden. It was then that the court judgement came that said that the Ojnare Forest on Gotland would be turned into a limestone quarry and that the felling of trees would start immediately.
– We started a protest camp up in the forest and then everything went extremely quickly. There were a whole load of people who’d been struggling to save the forest for years. When the court judgement came, many were completely devastated. We had to step in when they were feeling so low. After a while we were able to continue the struggle together. Then we stopped the forestry machines and appealed the whole thing to the Supreme Court. Which was successful. Most of the forest is still standing.
What advice would you give other young people who want to get involved but who don’t know how to get started?
– Find an association or group of good people that you want to become involved with. Everything will feel a lot easier when you can discuss, laugh and cry about things with others. Getting involved can be tough. Often you are challenging the powers that be in one way or another. It is easy to feel alone in the struggle if you don’t have a group of people to fall back on. I would also advise people to join groups that are specifically youth associations – not having to battle to get on in an adult organisation is a step in the right direction.
What have you learned from your political involvement?
– It has taught me almost everything I know. I didn’t grow up near a big forest out in the country, but in a block of flats outside Stockholm. So I didn’t know too much about the environment to begin with. But while I was in Copenhagen, something caught fire inside me, and it’s been burning ever since.
Would you like to know more about the organisation Nature and Youth Sweden? Check out their website by clicking the link below!
Text: Lucella Bergström