After lunch the coordinators focused on the volunteers themselves, using activities such as role playing to serve as training for future activism.
“We're going to train people to talk about themselves, which entails figuring out and doing some introspection on why they came to this training in the first place, why they are curious about activism,” said Christine Wallace, Greenpeace's Tampa Bay coordinator and lead trainer, on the days events. “We're going to give people some time and some skills to be able to talk to other people about themselves and then motivate and inspire them. We'll also be training on one on one meetings with people and using questions that elicit responses to really connect about the things that matter and form bonds with them around environmental issues. Then we're going to have training on leadership, on what makes a good leader.”
Wallace's involvement with activism began after the BP oil spill. Working independently she traveled the country and organized opposition against BP's use of the dispersant Corexit, which is banned in 19 countries and four times more toxic than oil, to deal with the spill. After the Fukushima meltdown, she became more involved with nuclear causes, through which she met Greenpeace members and eventually started working with the organization itself.
The training attracted volunteers from a diverse set of backgrounds, from students to paying members to retirees. As they dined on a vegan lunch of a sweet potato stew, everyone buzzed about what they had seen and the potential of Greenpeace in Tampa Bay.
“I've come here to broaden my horizons,” said Fred Jones, a 72-year-old scuba diving enthusiast. “Even if I can only stand at a table and give flyers, I want to be a part of it.”
“I want Greenpeace to be involved in any type of environmental causes in Florida,” said Alex Beatty, who carried with him a copy of the Tampa Tribune from April 15, 2007, which contained an article on the possibility of offshore oil drilling in the Tampa Bay area. That article inspired him to become more active in groups like Greenpeace.
“I'm here to do whatever they need me for,” said Beatty. “If they want me to pass out flyers that's fine. If they need me to go out in a boat, I can have that by tomorrow. I'm ready for action.”
“I support Greenpeace because they get things done. I see my donations in action,” said Cindy Culler, who has been donating to the organization for 25 years. “I'll always remember the first flyer that I had ever seen from them. It said 'Once you become a witness to any wrongdoing you are liable to do something about it.' It's so true. While people think their voice doesn’t matter, when it's combined with thousands of others, great things can be accomplished.”
The training continues through Sunday evening, with the focus of tomorrow on using social media to build support. Greenpeace in Tampa Bay looks to utilize the training during their participation in the upcoming Hands Across the Sand on May 18 and the March Against Monsanto on May 25.