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“We are nature and nature is us. It is a shame humanity forgot it a long time ago.“
“I am a 17-year-old boy, and I am an environmental activist since I was 12 years old,” explains Aran Consentino. It all started in middle school when the young boy was collecting signatures to introduce recycling in his school. “At the age of 14, I started fighting together with a spontaneous committee of citizens to save the torrent of my valley from its destruction. This stream is one of the last uncontaminated streams of Italy. It used to be full of native crayfish, a species protected by the European Union.”
In January 2019, Aran Consentino entered the national coordination of the Fridays For Future. On February 8th, he founded the Fridays fur Future local group in Udine, a commune in north-eastern Italy. “From that time every Friday after school, I went to the streets to go on strike.”
What made you so keen to be an activist compared to other people? What was the triggering event? What is your background, and in what way does it help you as an activist?
My family and the environment where I live contributed to the fact that I developed a sensitivity towards environmental issues. My grandfather, who is now 84 years old, was colonel of the Alpine troops and he somehow passed on to me his love for the mountains and nature.
I have always lived amid nature.
More precisely, in the Natisone Valleys, in Italy on the Slovenian border. I think this place has influenced me profoundly in a positive way. Thanks to the battle of the river I also met many people, from whom I learned a lot.
What characterizes your activism?
We must act with real willpower. I believe the real strength lies in people, people have power, but most do not know it. In the case of the torrent of my valley, after two years of real struggle for a cause, we managed to bring home a great victory. When you believe in what you do, you keep on going until you reached your objective. A person’s willpower never goes out of fashion. Over time, people understand your commitment and begin to consider. The most potent weapon of activism is the strength to never give up. In today’s world, we need more concrete actions and less kind words.
What do you think of non-violent protest?
Non-violent protest is a right way to protest without harming anyone. If you get angry, you play along with the great lords of power. We must fight, without violence, but with dedication. We are nature and nature is us. It is a shame humanity forgot it a long time ago. We must fight peacefully, but we must make ourselves heard. One of the few solutions is peaceful civil disobedience. Now more than ever a real revolution in the economic, political and social fields must take place if we want to save our only home.
What are the most inspiring books and film that you would recommend to make people more combative and optimistic?
There are so many ways to learn and be inspired. One of them is to read true stories. One book that particularly inspired me is The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods, by Julia Butterfly Hill. It’s the story of a girl who lived on an ancient redwood tree to protect the forest. Watching movies also helps expand your mind.
I highly recommend watching Studio Ghibli’s films, a famous Japanese studio that produces animated films. Many of these movies talk about the relationship between man and nature. The director Hayao Miyazaki is a true lover of nature and almost every Sunday he cleans up the river that flows near his house.
How do you see the future?
Now I don’t see a happy future. But I hope that people will be able to win it over the interests of fossil fuels. Nothing is impossible; any cause and struggle can be achieved if there is a will for it. If you think something is impossible, then you have already lost. Meanwhile, we should live in the present and act now.
What would be the shifting point that would push the state of the affairs forward concerning the fight for reducing humankind’s carbon footprint?
A turning point would be to progress towards a circular economy, based on repair and not on disposability. Additionally, supermarkets should provide local products. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables would be the best thing as well as trying to eat less meat, now mostly full of antibiotics. It is for the whole society to change before it is too late.
Interview by Diego Evrard-Broquet
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