a community of inquiry
This is a week-long community of inquiry for BIPoC activist trainers, hosted by BIPoC facilitators. We’ll 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, 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.
The BLM uprisings we have seen across the world this year have been amplifying the desperate need to tackle the systemic racism that is so deeply embedded in our societies. But 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 having to deal with the impacts 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 can present 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 burn out.
Creating safety for BIPoC to explore these issues can be difficult when, in those spaces, they are again marginalised as BIPoC. This can recreate and compound the traumas and harms experienced due to structural and systemic racism.
To enable conversations to go deeper and further and create more opportunity for transformative healing, it’s critically important for BIPoC people to have exclusive spaces for deep and honest open reflection; to be able to share their lived experiences of marginalisation that inhibit resilience, compound trauma, and contribute to burnout.
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, 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.
Starting from January 2021, in the 12 weeks leading up to the event, there will be a series of 6 fortnightly online gatherings for all participants to meet and learn about each other’s journey into this work (depending on securing funding). This will help to foster a greater sense of community once the participants all meet. Half of the participants will be from the UK, and half from the rest of Europe. All participant places will be fully funded, and there will be an additional travel allowance to get to the event in Spain.
“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 or 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 for 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 host a temporary ‘community of enquiry’ for the sharing of skills, knowledge and experiences amongst the participants.
– To create a space 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, 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.
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.
Team to be confirmed.
a community of practice
Skills for building collective power
Agency, theory and strategy - a deep inquiry
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.