After a hearty breakfast with saved bananas, we departed from the Umwelthaus in Münster. Cycling along the lake Aasee and the surrounding rural landscape of the Münsterland was very calming and offered room to contemplate, for massage lines and creative picture poses during our breaks.
Our destination for the day was Bochum, a city strongly connected to the past extraction of black coal in this area of Germany. Münster, a town historically characterized by trade and surrounded by agriculture thus stood in stark contrast to Bochum, also expressed through the change from a rural to an urban landscape.
Getting closer to Bochum I felt a light tension rising within me. Knowing that the cultural identity of the inhabitants of this area was still strongly connected to coal mining, I felt like a malign organism entering a space of confrontation. I was unsure how we would be perceived by the local population.
These thoughts were frequently interrupted by sudden rain showers and urgent bike repairs. These forced breaks always pose a challenge in our bike ride, as they can break a good cycling rhythm and shorten our time with the local hosts or the time we need ourselves. Nonetheless I feel these little accidents are an important and necessary lesson and a chance to grow as a group. In the same way, I feel that climate change will confront us with challenges we will might not be prepared for and when we have to collectively find a solution to move forward.
We braved the bike repairs and the rain and arrived happy at the social center in Bochum, where local activists welcomed us warmly with a wonderful dinner. We used the rest of the evening to put up the True Cost of Coal Banner and use it to spark an insightful conversation with our hosts and some visitors about the local culture and coal, politics and ways to go forward.