Tools for effective and sustainable activism
This 4 month long online training aims to offer a range of tools, collective and personal, which can make our activism more effective and sustainable. These methods can help us avoid burnout and stay in it for the long haul, adding continuity to our movement building. They can be used to ensure the collective and organisational dimensions of our activism exemplify the values we’re struggling for. A ‘regenerative’ approach goes beyond sustainability to explore how we can organise in ways that actually renew or revitalize our own resources and those of our groups – this can help us stay inspired, nourished, & more creative in our tactical approach.
This workshop is specifically designed to respond to the needs, issues and challenges of LGBTQI+ activists in Central-Eastern Europe.
Photo Credit: Agata Kubis
Our movements are under enormous pressure at the moment.
The LGBTQI+ community is a target for the rising far-right. Nationalist populist movements are using anti-LGBTQI+ narratives as a weapon in their culture war. These narratives, in turn, become hate crimes, repressive laws, and breed intolerance. This makes the environment that LGBTQI+ organisations in Eastern Europe and post-soviet countries work in increasingly hostile and prejudiced. We are working daily with high levels of stress, media attacks, and repression driven by state and non-state actors. For activists, this political repression combines with exposure to constant discrimination and aggressions in personal lives.
At the same time we are living in a global pandemic, hitting the LGBTQI+ community really strongly – access to healthcare, domestic violence, state repression and economic precarity are all increased and more acutely experienced.
Being able to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of everyday life alongside working for a social change might be challenging, demanding and draining. Especially now.
The internet is overloaded with information on how to take care of ourselves. A wide range of tools for wellness and resilience building, apps monitoring mood and sleep quality, online workshops for mindfulness and more are available in abundance! The world moved online and the amount of offers is overwhelming.
We want to create a space that feels different and is able to address the challenges we face as a movement in a more sustainable, realistic and in-depth way.
For over a decade, Ulex trainers have been working on psycho-social resilience training for activists. In recent years we have been developing a curriculum aimed specifically at the LGBTQI+ community, alongside supporting social movements in Eastern & Central Europe. We’ve designed this programme based on many conversations and interviews with numerous organisations in the region.
We will come together for a focused, closed group process lasting 4 months.
The aims of the training are to:
• Equip participants with basic knowledge and tools around personal, group and movement resilience
• Offer a nourishing and supportive space to explore one’s own resilience
• Build meaningful relationships among participants
• Enable participants to implement changes in the groups and networks they are working with
The topics we will focus on are:
• Relationship building and sustaining
• Burnout basics, prevention and how to work with it
• Repression and suppression analysis, prevention, risk assessments
• Trauma basics and community based healing tools, first responses
• Emotional literacy
• Navigating power in our groups and in our movements
• Conflict transformation and communication cultures
• Ecology of Social Movements
What will it look like?
• Online meetings 3 times per month : We will work in a small group – up to 20 people, using participatory learning methods and somatic approaches. Every month we will meet for 3 sessions – 2 full group sessions and a focused small group session. In between the meetings participants will engage with materials and exercises.
• Individual sessions : Additionally each participant will be offered 5 hours of one-on-one support in the form of mentoring/coaching/implementation support sessions during the course or up to 3 months after the course completion.
• The main working language will be English.
• We will use an online learning platform to share materials and support the learning journey.
Who is it for?
• People involved in LGBTQI+ and feminist activism*, who identify as LGBTQI+ and coming from and working in Eastern Europe, Western Balkans and other post-soviet countries.
• Those in positions to pass on the knowledge gained at the course to benefit their communities.
• Those motivated and ready to commit to participation in the whole programme – engagement with learning and tasks outside of the online sessions, as well as attendance at the online group sessions.
• People with working level of English.
• We welcome applications from pairs or groups of people if that will support you in implementation of learning after the course.
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.
6th of April opening session: Container building and taking care of relationships
16th of April – Action Learning Cycle and setting up small peer-to-peer learning groups
20th of April – Burnout basics
4th of May – Repression and suppression
18th of May – Emotional literacy
1st of June – Trauma basics and first trauma support responses
15th of June – Power in our groups and power in our movements
29th of June – Conflict and communication
13th of July – Movement Building and alliances: Ecology of Social Movements
27th of July – closing and next steps planning session
+ Action Learning Sets organised in small groups, approximately once a month
Timings always: 17:30 – 20:00 CET
Additional modules – organised based on interest and availability
• Digital security basic, Risk management strategies, Working with our bodies
• Application form available here
• The training is free of charge but there will be an application process
• Application deadline is March 22nd
• You will hear from us by the 26th of March if you were accepted for the training.
Read more about the training schedule and dates, and complete the application form.
• For more information contact Ilaj: email@example.com
Ilaj is an experienced trainer, mostly holding space for collective exploration of the topics of burnout, weathering repression, navigating trauma and cultivating solidarity in social movements. Ilaj is project lead for Ulex’s LGBTQI+ psycho-social resilience and holistic security programme. Before committing full time to Ulex, Ilaj was involved in various grassroots social movements, mostly in Eastern and Southern Europe. Ilaj is also a feminist self defence and assertiveness trainer and they are passionate about working with body awareness as a radical means of deconstructing internalized systems of oppression. Ilaj is a member of the Ulex core team.
Mo currently lives in Berlin and Warsaw, working in the European Youth for Action (EYFA) network, supporting social and environmental struggles from EYFA’s office. Mo is an experienced trainer, a member of the SPINA trainer’s for social change collective, delivering numerous workshops, facilitating group processes and helping groups in need to figure out unhelpful dynamics, informal power relationships and conflicts they are facing. Recently Mo has published a book about gender bending, as the Polish Academy wasn’t ready to accept it as Mo’s PHD dissertation.
transversal and transnational movement building
an integrated approach to psycho-social, physical, and digital security
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.