Greenpeace activists and volunteeers participate in the 'I Heart Arctic’ campaign from Freedom Park, BangaloreGreenpeace activists and volunteeers participate in the 'I Heart Arctic’ campaign from Freedom Park, Bangalore. © Greenpeace.

The 20th of April marked the global day of action for the ‘I Heart Arctic’ campaign. This event was quite different from the other Greenpeace events that I had participated in. This was the first event in which volunteers took control of everything while Greenpeace was assisting the volunteers from a distance, making it a wonderful learning experience for all us.

On February 9, Greenpeace activist, Brikesh Singh introduced me to the campaign and I was excited for two reasons. Firstly, this was a global campaign and I would be handling an event that would represent India on the global forum.

Secondly, we volunteers would own the event completely. This being my first such event, I was nervous and sceptical but the confidence and support that was bestowed on me by Greenpeace gave me that push to take this up. Soon after the first meeting was scheduled to form the teams and allocate tasks to each team. I was happy to see a decent number of volunteers turning up for the meeting. Introducing the volunteers with the task at hand, teams were created and their roles were determined. A timeline of tasks was drawn.

 Knowing their tasks, the teams started with their work instantly. The excitement was commendable! Every team came up with ideas for the event and soon we had a good number of roadmaps to take on. With occasional meetings to share the status of each team’s progress and to lay the way forward, we moved towards the D-day. Every such meeting infused us with a new dose of excitement and it helped us move towards our final goal.

Being the first time we were attempting to create a human banner, we were not aware of the practical problems that would arise on the final day. We decided that we should have a human banner prior to the main day so that we would have a first-hand experience in creating one. Along with Greenpeace volunteer and R.V. College of Engineering (RVCE) student Amruta BP, her friends, the environmental clubs, student coordinators and two very helpful lecturers we were able to pull off a wonderful human banner on the RVCE ground. The human banner at RVCE gave us the confidence we needed for the main day.

The day of the human banner, April 20, started very early for us. We reached Freedom Park by 7:30 am and promptly did the markings for our human banner. Soon, people started to walk in and volunteers helped in organising the participants in the heart formation. Once the human banner satisfactorily took shape, photos were taken. From organising the banner to taking the photos, it took us about 1.5 hours. But all this went so fast that in no time we were all done with the event! All participants were acknowledged with a participation certificate and refreshments and we successfully completed our message to protect the Arctic.

Bapi Mahanta is an activist and volunteer with Greenpeace India

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