During the 1980s, Poland had perhaps the strongest civil society in the world. The Solidarity trade union movement, created in August 1980, eventually counted 10 million members, a quarter of Poland’s population. And when the government cracked down on Solidarity, declaring Martial Law in December 1981, the opposition was strong enough to survive underground under… Continue reading Poland’s Uncivil Society
When I met the biologist Gyongyi Mangel in 1990, her enthusiasm was contagious. So much was going on in Hungarian civil society that it was hard to keep track of all the new initiatives. She was passionate about connecting issues — feminism and ecology, food and health, or transportation and sustainability – and it was… Continue reading Hungary’s Green Wave Crashes
Hungary has a rich tradition of environmental activism, from the anti-dam campaigns of the 1980s to the nature conservation efforts of the post-Communist period. It has also seen the rise and fall of a number of Green parties, including the most recent, Politics Can Be Different (LMP). In the run-up to the most recent parliamentary… Continue reading Rebuilding Hungary’s Green Politics
It was one of the worst environmental disasters in Europe. In October 2010, near the town of Ajka in northern Hungary, a reservoir wall containing the industrial sludge pond of an alumina plant collapsed and more than a million cubic meters of toxic red mud swept across the countryside, through several villages, and into the… Continue reading On Red Mud and Other Messes
It says a lot about Hungary in the 1980s that the movement that represented the biggest challenge to the Communist authorities was an environmental one. In Romania, dissidents focused on a tyrant. In Poland, striking Solidarity activists protested against working conditions and in support of labor rights. And in Hungary, the rallying point of the… Continue reading The Dam
Video games usually provide you with multiple lives. If you step on a landmine or get hit by an assassin, you get another chance. Even if such virtual reincarnation is not built into the rules of the game, you can always reboot and start over again. You can try again hundreds of times until you… Continue reading Earth: Game Over?
The environmental movement has long stressed the importance of personal responsibility. What we do as individuals might seem trivial when set against the huge complex systems that regulate the earth. But if enough individuals change their habits, it can make a difference. And so we do what we can: turn down our thermostats, install insulation,… Continue reading Participatory Environmentalism
The first Ecotopia took place in 1989 in Germany, in a field not far from Cologne in West Germany. Three hundred and fifty people lived in tents for three weeks. They ate organic food. They discussed environmental issues and movement politics. They sang, put on ecoplays, and used a special currency (the ECO) to buy… Continue reading Ecotopia