Final Days and Snowstorms

On Wednesday, Renee Willoughby and I served as the lead ushers at the REDD+ Gala at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, an awards ceremony honoring various environmental and political leaders for their work in the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) Program (We did not actually get a chance to watch the ceremony, however, so we could better fulfill our volunteering obligations). Among the persons honored at the ceremony included our own University of Michigan Delegation member Gabriel Thoumi, the presidents of Papua New Guinea, Guyana, and Gabon, along with the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council Francis Beinecke, Rainforest Alliance Senior Vice President Richard Donovan, Bonobo Conservation Initative President Sally Coxe, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall designer Maya Lin, and many more. It was an honor to be among such people who are working to save millions of acres of forests around the world through various projects.

Before the ceremony and continuing throughout the night and the following day, around three inches of snow fell in Copenhagen with more in some areas by the coast, delaying train schedules. I thought it was metaphoric that as I was walking out of the Royal Theatre at midnight to catch one of the last trains home, the snow was untouched and gave me the feeling that the following day, when more of the world´s important leaders would arrive to the Bella Center, there would be clean slate. However, by the next morning when they would begin to gather, the snow had become blackened by cars, snowplows, road salt and de-icing compounds, making what had looked promising in the beginning turn to a mess.

On a different note, we learned last night the police in the town seem to have been given almost Martial Law-esque orders to arrest anyone who even looks remotely suspicious.  Multiple conversations with people on the bus have supported this, with one teenager saying he was detained and essentially strip searched likely because he was wearing all black outerwear with his hood up due to the cold.

— Adam Ellsworth

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