Catalysing Active Critical Citizenship: Tools for Organisers and Activists

3 to 11 November 2018

This training is for organisers, coordinators, facilitators, and activists, who want to build and deepen their skills for empowering active and critical citizenship. The course offers the opportunities to explore a range of theories, models, and practices that can be used to help individuals, communities and organisations find the inspiration, courage and understanding they need to take back control of their own lives.

It will bring people together from around Europe to explore how we can build vibrant, fierce, sustainable and creative social movements. The LABO team will share some of the tools, frameworks and practices that have been meaningful for them, as activists, organisers, and trainers – both from a professional and personal perspective. Expect reflection, sharing, action, (re-)connection, challenge and creativity!

The tools and approaches shared in this course will help organisers and activists support people to think more critically about their role in shaping society. They will enable you to bring communities together in inquiring and empowering dialogue with each other. They will give you more confidence to assist others to find the inspiration and courage to step up as active and critical citizens. These are crucial skills at a time when progressive values need to be defended and extended through vigorous engagement.

“The most radical thing any of us can do is to be fully present to what is happening in the world” – Joanna Macy, environmental activist, writer, scholar.  

New technologies enable us to be more informed than ever about world events and personal tragedies. At the same time we can be conscious of our own complicity – the ways we benefit and participate in the systems causing inequality – and meaningful change can often seem unrealistic in divided, polarised and alienating society.

To this LABO say: “Don’t panic – organise!”

Political frameworks, such as anti-oppression work, enable us to critically analyse these systems and reflect on our own position within them. Participatory methodologies, such as theatre of the oppressed, offer us the opportunity to ‘rehearse’ or ‘practise’ for reality. Practices for connection (such as the Work that Reconnects), invite and empower us to stay open, aware and present to injustice and systemic crises surrounding us. This can empower us to take a stand against oppression and transform ourselves from passive onlookers to active change makers. In this training we will explore, experience and apply these approaches.

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” – Audre Lorde, poet, librarian, civil rights activist.

Embodying our values and ideals is no easy task. As committed as we might be, we have grown up in a society that separates people in ‘us’ and ‘them’. During this training we will explore intersectionality as a framework to understand links between our identity and our position in society or groups. Together we will build a shared vocabulary to allow us to deconstruct the values we have been socialised in and build a new, inclusive group culture.

During this training you will:

  • Share experiences and build relationships with activists, trainers and organisers from around Europe
  • Experiment with participatory and emancipatory methodologies and take first steps towards applying them in your own context
  • Build and increase your awareness of power dynamics within groups and society and build a vocabulary that allows you to address these
  • Reflect on your position in groups and explore tools to deconstruct power dynamics  
  • Gain tools to empower people to build life-sustaining, healthy, resilient, fierce and inclusive groups
  • Explore practices which increase resilience
  • Reflect on the context of your groups at home, and explore, discuss and develop strategies to overcome challenges.

Of course there will also be time to have fun, walk by the river, be creative, move your body, read, share poems, stories or songs or just be in silence.  

Who is it for?

Activists, organisers, campaigners, trainers, educators, youth workers – and others working in the field of social change.

LABO vzw:

LABO vzw is a movement for critical citizenship*, based in Belgium. Our mission: to empower and sustain people to build vibrant, fierce, sparkly and inclusive social movements. As a volunteer-led organisation we have different working groups that each choose their own focuss. Together we form a type of ‘social laboratory’ where we can experiment with different approaches to social change.

(*) Disclaimer: When using the notions of citizenship and citizens, we do so acknowledging the limits and problems associated with the mainstream use of ‘citizenship’ as linked to a nation-state, based on borders and often excluding immigrants and marginalised groups. In our context, being ‘a citizen’ refers to being a political subject, with rights and possibilities to contribute to the communities and society one takes part in.  We use ‘citizenship’ as a term to refer to people stepping out of passivity and taking stand, becoming ‘agents’, moving from being a spectator to becoming a spect-actor.

None of the team are native English speakers and are well aware of the challenges of working around topics mostly developed in an anglo-saxon context. They adapt these ideas and methodologies to their our own context and look forward to exploring together how to adapt it to your context!

Suggested Contribution
In the solidarity economy: €300/€400/€600
(see the details of our approach to Solidarity Economics for details)

The Team

Our Name

Ulex: Latin (argelaga Catalan, gorse English) noun:

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.