Every year the German FOR branch (Versöhnungsbund e.V.) organizes a meeting for its members to discuss current peace issues and matters of the organizations. A vital part of this gathering is the participation of Youth, who not only take part in the debates and workshops, but also organize their own meetings and discussions.
The young IFOR members, often having attended the meeting since their early childhood as their parents are long-term peace activists in the movement, perceived the need for their own space and initiatives as they outgrew the regular program for children, but did not yet feel able to follow everything going on at the meeting. At their own initiative, supported and welcomed by older members, they created opportunities for themselves, giving input for the event and taking on responsibility for the moderation of several meeting sessions and discussions as well as the children’s program. Now there are app. 40 young people and some are involved on almost all levels within FOR Germany, even beyond their activities at the annual meeting. To facilitate the work, a Council of Youth, consisting of six members, is elected – two of them also representing youth by sharing a seat in the board of the organization. Important impulses and themes for peace work are discovered through the work and discussions of the younger generation.
In recent years the Council of Youth sent delegates to international meetings (like the EUFOR meeting in Cardiff, Wales) as representatives of FOR Germany. Additionally, they initiated their own projects, ranging from an action to support a nuclear power plant resister in Japan and a clothes exchange for environmental sustainability to their own Youth Conference in 2012.
Ideas for the future are many (flash mobs, another conference, participation in peace actions like the traditional German Easter Marches) and the interest in hands-on peace activism encouraged. Part of becoming more active is of course the wish to meet each other and have the opportunity for exchange, but also the representation of FOR Germany (and its younger generation) is a concern.
And, like the rest of IFOR, the German Youth is already excited about and planning for the Centennial 2014 in Konstanz. As their contribution they want to organize a bike tour from Köln to Konstanz, arriving in time for the celebrations at the beginning of August. The idea is not only to get there environmentally friendly, but also to have different kinds of nonviolent action along the way, raising awareness for the peace issues of the region, e.g. by organizing a protest against the weapon factories around the Bodensee.
IFOR members interested to cooperate and start their own bike tours in their home countries (or at any other point) are asked to contact the German Council of Youth directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .