a community of inquiry
This is a week-long community of inquiry for BIPoC activist trainers, hosted by BIPoC facilitators. Participants will collectively help to shape and deliver a rich and creative program for the week, based on the needs and ideas that emerge from the group itself; sharing experiences and knowledge, and modelling different ways to hold space and navigate the complexity of these experiences. Together we will explore ways to address the needs, issues and challenges that people identifying as BIPoC face in their activism, and to better support them in training spaces.
The BLM uprisings and the COVID19 pandemic that we have been collectively experiencing across the world throughout 2020 and 2021 have underlined the desperate need to tackle the systemic racism that is so deeply embedded in our societies. It’s certainly not new – racial oppression has provided pillars on which patriarchal capitalism has been able to flourish for centuries, repeating and reinforcing ever deeper layers of structural oppression.
BIPoC activists and people working for social change are all too often on the front lines of systemic and structural racial oppression on a personal level, in addition to their work in fighting for social justice. This can often be the case even within the social movements that they are part of, where systemic oppressions present in society are easily replicated, often unknowingly. This presents challenges and obstacles, based on a whole array of aspects of a person’s racial identity – from the colour of their skin to the differing norms of their cultural background – and barriers which are constantly present, and constantly felt in numerous unquantifiable ways, and which white peers don’t have to face and often don’t see. The resulting trauma can have a huge impact on personal wellbeing, contributing to high degrees of stress and burnout.
It can be particularly difficult for BIPoC to explore and unpick these issues in spaces where, again, they are marginalised as BIPoC, as it can recreate and compound the traumas and harms experienced due to structural and systemic racism.
This event is a week-long community of inquiry, specifically for BIPoC activist trainers, hosted by BIPoC facilitators, to explore more deeply these dynamics and experiences. We’ll also explore the role we, as BIPOC activist trainers, can play in transforming these dynamics, and how we can empower our contributions to our movements through strengthening our relationships and sharing skills and experience.
What will happen?
This gathering will be a week-long community of inquiry for 16 BIPoC activist trainers, hosted by BIPoC facilitators in our training centre in Catalunya, Spain. We will collectively explore ways to address the needs, issues and challenges that people identifying as BIPoC face in their activism, and to better support them in training spaces. Participants will collectively help to shape and deliver a rich and creative program for the week, based on the needs and ideas that emerge from the group; sharing experiences and knowledge, and modelling different ways to hold space and navigate the complexity of these experiences.
In order to start creating a community of practice rooted in trust, in the weeks leading up to the event, there will be two (2) two and a half hour online gatherings for all participants to meet and learn about each other’s journey into this work. This will help to foster a greater sense of community once the participants all meet in person.
Half of the participants will be from the UK, and half from the rest of Europe. All participant places will be funded, and there will be an additional travel allowance for each participant to get to the event in Spain. If you’re interested in contributing and participating in this gathering email firstname.lastname@example.org and submit this form to tell us about your experiences and needs in relation to this event.
Who is it for?
“Activist Trainer” might not be the term you identify with; maybe you’re a social change workshop facilitator, a trainer for community action, or a direct or experiential educator working with impacted communities… or any number of other descriptions. This gathering welcomes people who support social movements, as educators, facilitators, coaches or a related role – whether embedded in one organisation/movement or working across multiple organisations and movements.
This event is not an introductory train-the-trainer for those new to activist education. It is aimed at experienced trainers who are already actively engaged within their respective networks (whether paid or voluntary, solo or part of an organisation or collective) in the training and facilitating of people who are engaged in collective action – such as campaigning, community organising, civil resistance and movement building – including those whose work involves the provision of anti-oppression/anti-discrimination training.
Aims of the event
– To create a space for a temporary ‘community of enquiry’ for participants to explore and reflect more deeply on some of the key issues/challenges faced by BIPoC activists / activist educators within different contexts across Europe.
– To create a space for the sharing of skills, knowledge and experiences amongst the participants, as well as the impacts of structural / systemic racism on their work, and especially as a contributor to burnout.
– To explore ways of dealing with the traumas and harms caused by these challenges, and develop strategies for a BIPoC specific approach to resilience and regenerative activism.
– To support an exploration of the training needs specific to BIPoC activists / activist educators, as well as barriers to participation on mixed courses.
– To help create connections that can contribute to building a European-wide network of BIPoC activist trainers, and a community of practice that can continue to support each other long after the gathering.
Kyle Sawyer (he/they) is an anti-oppression facilitator and educator specializing in working with individuals and organizations on how to turn privilege into change. He is a trans, queer, mixed-race, white-passing individual. With over a decade of experience Kyle founded Building Allies in 2013 and developed the term Active-Ally, someone who witnesses injustice and responds to it in any situation. Kyle has worked with teachers, nonprofit organizations, students, therapists, social workers, community members, family members, and many others on learning how to be Active-Allies through an intersectional lens. He has received over 400 hours of training in the experiential cycle and has worked throughout the United States and abroad. Recently Kyle was invited to the ULEX Centre in Catalonia as an international facilitator to train transgender identified individuals on collaboration and teamwork. Through their work Kyle has facilitated workshops for: The Los Angeles Probation Department, Department of Mental Health, Department of Children and Family Services, The Museum of Tolerance, Capistrano Unified School District, National Center for Trans Equality, Lambda Literary Writers Retreat, UCLA, USC, Harvey Mudd University, Antioch University Los Angeles, multiple national conferences, and many more. Kyle has also worked as a facilitator for Training for Change, TransCanWork, and The Transgender Law Center. Kyle’s organization, Building Allies, is a certified Continuing Education Provider through the CAMFT organization.
Sheila has been involved in activism and campaigning for social change for about a decade, organising and facilitating with grassroots groups and NGOs, primarily in the UK climate movement. In the lead up to COP21, in 2015, she was part of forming a European network mobilising for grassroots action on climate justice. In more recent years she has been more focussed on developing anti-oppression training, to support the need for greater intersectional thinking in all movements in order to not recreate systemic racism and social inequality. After a year working in the Ulex core team, Sheila is now leading a project to build capacity to support training for BIPoC activists, and to develop a Ulex training programme exclusively for BIPoC participants.
building collective agency - theory and practice
a holistic approach
1. A thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience. Its seedpods open in contact with fire and it reshoots from charred stumps. A successionary plant that grows well under challenging conditions. It improves soil fertility through nitrogen fixing, preparing the way for renewed biodiversity.
2. A traditional choice for igniting fires. Burns hot and bright.
3. A networked project adding nutrition and fertility to European social movements through training and capacity building. It kindles the realisation of social justice, ecological intelligence, and cognitive vitality.