Skills and understanding for building effective collective power
We are living through a period of historical disruption. The stalled engine of neoliberal growth, an increasing sense of distributive injustice, bankrupted political leadership, and the “fierce urgency of [the ecological] now”, are the cracks in a failing system. They are also the spaces that have opened up in which our social movements can contest our future. This training explores key skills and organisational structures needed to rise to this challenge.
What is Leaderful Organising?
Leaderful organising sits within a broad theory of change that sees the building of collective power and agency as a key driver of social transformation towards greater social justice and ecological integrity. Organising is the activity of building that collective power and agency.
It aims to address the challenges involved in bringing together the best aspects of leadership with the best aspects of more horizontal ways of organising. It includes both a critique of traditional leadership and power, as well as a critique of leaderlessness and the limitations of merely horizontal forms of organising. It seeks to nurture the qualities of responsibility, initiative and accountability in individuals, while honouring the values of solidarity, inclusion, mutual empowerment and equity.
The practices of leaderfulness draw on renewed and expanded notions of leadership, such as the idea of “group-centered leadership” articulated by Ella Baker, who was critical of a leadership style which tends to centralize power, decision making and responsibility for meaningful action in a single leader. She claimed that “Strong people don’t need [a] strong leader”.
Leaderfulness goes beyond leadership as merely the quality of individuals, to engender a culture of leaderfulness in which power is distributed appropriately and all members of an organisation or network are supported to grow into leaderfulness. In addition to supporting the acquisition of leadership qualities by individuals, a leaderful culture requires structures and systems that enable the distribution of power and influence – and nurture leaderfulness in us all. These structures and systems are rooted in the values of solidarity or what the systems scientist Donella Meadows calls ‘going for the good of the whole’.
“Go to the people, learn from them. Live with them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will all say we have done it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
We will explore ideas and practices related to:
The aims of the training are:
So, the workshop will help participants to:
“Leadership is accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty.” (Marshall Ganz)
Who is it aimed at?
Anyone involved in socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues. We embrace a broad definition of activism, including: Resistance – action preventing further damage to ecosystems and social justice; Renewal – action focused on developing and creating alternatives for healthier societies and communities; and Building Resilience – action supporting increased resilience in communities to weather the uncertain times ahead.
Nontokozo says: I have always been passionate about building community, inner engineering, group dynamics, motivating and empowering others. I enjoy tackling women issues, building bridges of hope and healing between Africa & Europe and beyond, I love sharing knowledge on conscious living, advocating for climate and social justice, and regenerative education. My work includes education on diversity and racism awareness. I am a firm believer of UBUNTU an Indigenous African Knowledge System – “I am because we are”. I am committed to creating safe spaces and holistic events for individuals and group processes, to support in achieving desired goals and creating a common vision, using indigenous wisdom, processwork facilitation and other methodologies.’
Hilal Demir, a cook, an artist and a DJ at home. A nonviolent trainer, facilitator for 20 + years with lots of experience on nonviolence and related topics such as organizing, conflict management , nonviolent action, understanding power, resilience, strategy etc. She is passionate about leading informal learning experiences, community organizing, group dynamics and supporting activists and organizations to build long lasting healthy social movements for a just future. As a nonviolent queer-feminist activist she has been instrumental in creating organizations and groups in Turkey committed to spreading nonviolent culture.
An has more than a decade of experience in facilitating and training groups working on social change. Her great sources of inspiration and educational beacons in doing so are Training for Change and Process Work, in which she followed more than 200 h of training. An is driven by passion for change. She is an empathetic creative who turns ideas into action. A deep understanding of group and power dynamics underpin a motivational and process-oriented approach in teams. As a facilitator, she remains committed to creating ‘brave spaces’ where people can fully express themselves. An’s political anchor points are feminism, anti-oppression work and ecology.
Kyle Sawyer (they/he) 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.
Mika (she/they): Woven with the seeds of my white migration family stories, I joined my first grassroots group 25 years ago. Today, I am a trainer and facilitator as part of the Berlin-based collective Movement School – Bewegungsschule (https://bewegungsschule.org/). Bewegungsschule is integrating Transformative Organizing, intersectionality, Training for Change (https://www.trainingforchange.org/) methodology and Processwork. I’m an organizer for a labor union and constantly learning new things on strategizing, organizing, and movement building. I deeply believe in the power of experiential learning. I root in activism, diversity, community, heartfelt joy and connection. Currently, I am most intrigued by mycelium and what futures may arise for our movements and societies if we engage more with it. I like to think and feel small and big at the same time: how are our everyday lives entangled in what we’re trying to change?
deepening sustainable activism - tools for long term effective and regenerative organising
skills, insights, and practices for creating transformative teams and effective collaborations
developing a holistic approach to activist training and education
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.