Organising and strategizing for transformative power
This training weaves together learning from our ‘Ecology of Social Movements Training’ with modules on community/political organising and the new municipalism.
We’re living at a historical point of disruption which contains both great peril and promise. The stalled engine of neoliberal growth, bankrupted political leadership, an increasing sense of distributive injustice, and the fierce urgency of the ecological now are the cracks out of which something new can emerge.
Built around the core of our Ecology of Social Movement training, this is an opportunity for experienced activists and organisers involved in movement thinking and practice from across Europe. We’ll inquire deeply into how our organisations and networks relate to the wider ecology of activism within our movements – and how these movements relate to wider struggles in the ever changing cultural, socio-political and ecological context. Participants will engage in deep analysis of their own movement practice and ecology. They will gain skills and understanding related to contemporary practices in community and political organising, as well as exploring the challenges of building transversal movements that connect diverse struggles, issues and approaches.
Facilitated by an international team of movement organisers and thinkers, we’ll learn to make our activism and organising more powerful and transformative.
Ecology of Social Movements
This core element of the training aims to help us understand the opportunities and threats of this crucial moment and to empower our efforts to contest our future. We’ll explore the life cycle of social movements and seek to learn from social movement history. We’ll survey theories of social change, identifying tensions and complementarities. We will increase our skills in strategising, planning and working for change in the complex ecologies and systems of movements and societies. And we will ask how big picture thinking can inspire and empower our work together.
The course blends a participatory inquiry methodology with the Ulex team’s framework for strategic analysis and deeper political reflection. Participants will engage in deep analysis of their own movement practice and ecology. The training will support the development of creative and strategic responses for radical social change.
This course involves deep and critical thinking, so participants should:
We will select participants to bring together a range of people from diverse movements and across Europe to share and learn from each other.
We will explore:
Key areas of study and reflection include:
Theories of Social Change
Movement Seasons and Cycles
Planning and Strategising
We won’t just explore theories. We will also ask what we do with them – personally and collectively. This course will help us to think afresh and to gain perspective. We will explore the formation of political identities – exploring how they serve us and how they hinder us. We will ask: How can we learn to strategise in a way that acknowledges the partial and provisional nature of our views and analysis? How can we develop a strategic approach that is responsive and in which on-going learning remains integral? How can we construct political identities that are genuinely empowering? And how can we develop campaigns, organisations, and movements with significant impact for systemic change?
Community Organising and Social Transformation Modules
Community organising is about building power from the ground up. It brings people together to take collective action on their shared concerns. Starting from local problems and everyday injustices, it has the potential to strengthen people’s sense of agency, build solidarity, and foster leaderful communities. We’ll explore how politicisation can build from action on local concerns to the mobilising of new constituencies seeking radical structural transformation.
While activism and community organising often share goals of social transformation, they can often apply divergent practices, strategies and analysis.
We’ve found an increasing interest in community organising methods amongst many of the activist networks we’ve been working with. They seek a more embedded approach and the tools and skills to mobilise and engage more diverse constituencies.
At the same time, we’ve also been encountering many community organisers who feel their practice falls short of the level of politicisation and mobilisation they aim towards. Often the political ‘neutrality’ the methods can involve leave community power tackling local issues, while failing to confront deeper structural injustice.
These modules will seek to bring community organising skills into a clear political framework, in a way that can enhance activist practice and extend the scope and ambition of community organising.
Community organising depends on key skills for reaching out beyond the circle of usual suspects. It offers methods for really listening for what matters and motivates people. It shares tools for connecting people and helping them organise to empower collective action. This training will share these key skills and the frameworks we can use for applying them.
We’ll combine community organising with political analysis, to bring fresh and powerful approaches to social change practice.
This course will be hosted at La Solana, a venue close to the Ulex Project centre that we are using to host rescheduled courses that were impacted by the Covid pandemic. Venue details to follow.
G has been involved in social movement organising and education since the late 1980’s. He is a highly regarded trainer and has designed several training programmes covering areas such as psychosocial resilience in activism, the ecology of social movements, socio-political organising and systems thinking, as well as wilderness immersion and nature connection work. He has developed a number of training for trainers programmes. He is known for highly innovative work blending pedagogical methodologies, which has inspired numerous training initiatives across Europe. He’s what you might call the Ulex Programme Director.
Steve has 20 years of experience working as a community, union, and political organizer in both the United States and Europe. He currently lives in Prague, and works on several trans-European and transatlantic organizing initiatives. Tracing his roots to the US labor movement, he made the transition to political organizing in 2010 when he went to work for the Working Families Party (WFP). In 2014 he moved to Europe, but he continues to support US-based organizing at the WFP, and has also taken a leadership role in developing the European Community Organizing Network, a hub for the community organizing sector in Europe. He has developed a community of practice with the organizers and movement educators of the Grassroots Policy Project, a movement support organization founded with the goal of shifting community organizing practice towards less-siloed, more transformative approaches. In this role he serves as a link between the US and European organizing sectors.
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.
Neus has been passionate about education since she was 8 years old and went dumpster diving in teachers’ recycling bins for worksheets to help other students learn at break-time. She moved from Castellon to Scotland to study Community Education, with a focus on youth work and adult education, where she co-founded The New Leaf Co-op, a successful workers’ co-op in Edinburgh. Whilst there Neus developed her understanding of how productivity meets good working conditions meets overturning the food system meets resourcing the commons with resilient and democratically managed capital. This passion now underpins her project coordination role at Ulex.
Maria worked for the Red Cross for seven years in community development, strengthening civil society, education, and food security in Latin America and Africa. Building on her studies in social psychology and international cooperation, she decided to take on a Economics for Transition Masters at Schumacher College, UK. This led her into work on organisational change and facilitation for both NGO´s and grassroots organisations. Maria specialises in systemic thinking and participatory methodologies applied to organisations, designing and facilitating training’s around organisational culture, project management, strategic planning, leadership, and skills to work in a complex, changeable and uncertain context.Maria co-founded the Eroles Project a learning for action project, and co-authored Tools for collaborative Work for Social Organizations as well as a book on “acitivism and spirituality”.
deepening sustainable activism
a community of practice
building collective agency - theory and practice
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.