November 7 – Ljubljana

First, while in Trieste, with help from both the walkers and others with us, AG produced a second mural during the walk to leave a lasting message of the pilgrimage (pictured left). Lower down a report from Ljubljana where we arrived yesterday afternoon, but as we’re now just over half-way on the pilgrimage, I am reminded of some of the factors which make such a journey significant. As on my other two walks with many of the same people, we become a family moving each day in what can be called a haphazard fashion; waking up in different places, whether a small room with beds/sleeping bags or a basketball court. Meals are makeshift and there’s no such thing as routine or a regular pattern. Why we do this begins of course with our concern about the planet’s reaction to the disasters humans are causing and we want to see changes made when world leaders convene at COP’s. For whatever reasons, we are fortunate to be able to take weeks and months out of our lives to make this journey, and I admit to overlooking how others view these walks since our focus is on day to day challenges and performing our work tasks in the process. It’s easy to overlook how others are affected by our efforts and it certainly is an integral part of the journey. During the last week especially, with many young and also older people joining us for parts of the day or even all day, it conveys their concern for the serious climate issues as equally as ours, although constrained by school or work. The hugs on parting are real and words such as brave really convey their gratitude, and words frequently said by those who aren’t able to walk with us tell us what we are doing is important to them. While they would wish to join with us, they thank us for doing this walk on their behalf, also hoping that we can help make a change

Also with Patrick’s film, being translated into each of the six languages of countries we cross, the feedback is very positive. Comments I’ve received tell me the overall sense is that it is powerful, and gives them hope. So, while I try to talk about where we’ve been, the people we meet at schools, churches or meeting rooms in the towns and cities, the small anecdotes are part of a much bigger picture as we move along. What effects the interviews, both radio, television and print have as we leave them behind us are largely unknown to us. I doubt very few people in the USA are even aware what is happening except those receiving our emails, blogs and photos on Facebook.

The final evening in Trieste was an opportunity for a large audience of over 60 people to watch Patrick’s film which was very well received, and get to know the walkers and why we were going to Poland. Sad partings the next morning after we took photos in front of the new mural by AG before stepping out of Italy about noon and meeting up with a new team (Louise and Patrizia) that would take us to Katowice, and a local Slovenian, Catia, who would be along occasionally as we passed through her country into Austria a week later.

Quite a few folks from Monfalcone and Trieste walked with us to Divaca, our first resting place in Slovenia. (Photo left)  A multipurpose sports floor meets our needs that night before, at the same complex the following morning, we split into two groups to attend classes where we talk with about 40 12 year-olds about the walk and climate change. The walk then to Pivka is one of a steep two-hour climb in good weather, followed by a descent in rain across mostly forest tracks. Before finally arriving the weather is once again kind as we meet our hosts who provide mats on the floor before serving a home-cooked meal. On the way into Pivka, we passed by a biomass plant where thousands of trees were stored for burning. [The EU considers trees cut from forests as carbon neutral and therefore ‘renewable’ on the basis that trees can be replaced despite a huge time lag. The greenhouse gas emissions are immediate however: see biomass information]

During our walk towards Ljubljana, we are interviewed for radio and television news reports, and later further interviews with Slovenian radio programs both the same day and also the following morning. In Ljubljana we first walk along the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, a 35-kilometre recreational path running along the course of the military barbed-wire fence which surrounded Ljubljana during the Second World War. Notable also is Ljubljana’s selection as the European Green Capital in 2016, and that one in 200 Slovenians is a beekeeper fighting the decline of bees worldwide with an unprecedented programme to make Ljubljana the world’s most bee-friendly capital – read.  At the Montessori school where we are to spend two nights, we are greeted warmly, and the following morning we introduce ourselves and have a film presentation with around 20 of the pupils before setting off to Ljubljana’s center for further meetings and an evening mass.