Seventeen years ago Veronika and i had an argument. Which was more than i was capable of with anyone else around us at the time. Some background will clarify.
Between 1991 and 1997 I worked for the Czech chapter of the environmental organization Friends of the Earth, which was called Hnuti DUHA (“the rainbow movement” in English). I was working to stop the construction of nuclear power plants in eastern Europe and especially the new ones proposed be completed in southern Bohemia called Temelin. And for several summers we organized incredible actions at Temelin, actions where hundreds of activists came from across Europe and we closed down construction of the plant for some days.
To close this site, we needed to block multiple gates and we needed dozens of people at each gate we wanted to block and there were about ten different gates around the plant. As one of the more experienced activists (and one of the very few people over 30) I was chosen to be a gate leader. Except I could not speak Czech or Russian or any of the languages most likely to be in sue at my gate. So Veronika, a promising Czech activists lead the gate with me and facilitated what ever translation was needed. We were there for several days and since she was the only person I could talk with directly, we spoke a lot.
Veronika is smart. Besides being conversational in English, she was thoughtful about the world around her. She was touched by her countries revolution in 1989 and felt a responsibility to be politically active and oppose this terrible project. She was vegetarian at the time and lived a very low impact life style, as all the folks from DUHA did. It was a dark green ecological movement.
One of the things we talked about was feminism. Veronika was anti-feminism. It was destructive to the family in specific and the social order in general, she believed. We talked about it a lot. She found it strange that I identified as a feminist. I found it hard that this clever, independent, empowered young woman was rejecting it for reasons which did not completely make sense to me. We talked a lot on those three rainy nights at Temelin gate 7 and on this we never agreed.
Fast forward a dozen years. I am living comfortably at Twin Oaks and I get an email from Veronika who I have not heard from since the gates of Temelin. She talked some about how her life had changed, but what inspired her to write was that she had read some old journals of hers about our arguments so many years before and she wanted to let me know she had changed her mind and she thought I was right about feminism now. Which I had to admit was quite gratifying.
I had a salad with Veronika on my recent stop in Brno. She wants to start a community. She feels like peoples experience of life is to individualistic and too focused on making money to support life styles they are ultimately unhappy with. She has two kids and she wants a better life for them and thinks community is part of that. I hear Veronika’s story often as I travel. I am going to try to help her a bit with her dreams. Only this time we are in complete agreement.