A holistic approach to activist training and education.
This Training of Trainers aims to support LGBTQI+ activists who want to grow as activist-trainers or want to step into trainer roles and use holistic methods of education and facilitation for activists and change makers. This course is an introduction to facilitation and training skills.
Ulex Project courses and events use an Integral Activist Training approach. Recognising the interconnected nature of the personal, the interpersonal and the political, our trainings empower integrated transformation in all three spheres. This training of trainers will share what we’ve learnt about this kind of approach over the last 10 years, so you can apply it to your work.
Change is multi-layered. The social field, our organisational cultures, and the individuals within them arise in mutual dependence upon each other. Integral Activist Training supports integrated transformation on all of these levels.
Integral Activist Training is holistic, transformative, participatory and embodies solidarity.
Photo Credit: Agata Kubis
Protest against the Referendum to ban same-sex marriage in the Constitution in front of the Romanian Government
© photo by Anna Stekolenko
Protestors in Belgrade, November 2019
A holistic approach is a systems approach. It recognises that the personal is nested within the inter-personal, that the inter-personal is nested within the socio-political, and that the socio-political is nested within the ecological. Each of these dimensions has its own systemic structure and yet also needs to be understood as part of larger systemic wholes. Learning and effective practices for transformation need to attend to each of these layers and to the connections between them.
A holistic approach to learning addresses the whole person – the rational, the feeling, the sensing, and the relational dimension of who we are.
Our approach engages the intellect and helps us to explore the views we hold and how they shape our experience. It encourages clarity of thought and analysis. But unless we also engage the emotional dimension we ignore the key drivers of action and miss opportunities for deep transformation. Emotional literacy is basic to both self-awareness and working well with others. Learning how to channel anger and to develop our capacity for empathy and care are essential to good leadership and effective collaboration. Engagement with feelings is a key skill for building the resilience needed to stay engaged for the long run.
Increasingly, contemporary training methodologies integrate aspects of embodied learning. We carry our habits in the body, holding memories and patterned responses. It is through the body and the senses that we directly engage with the world. Body-centred or somatic approaches awaken the senses, draw on the wisdom of our felt senses and help us integrate our learning in powerful ways.
Lastly, we recognise that who we are is to a large extent relational. Learning about ourselves is learning about how we relate, and learning about how we relate is learning about ourselves. Much of the most transformative learning happens between us. It emerges in the field we create through our interactions – in synergies and moments where the whole reveals itself as more than the sum of its parts. To be effective in social change we need to understand these kinds of relational phenomena, how we participate in them and how they influence us.
TRANSFORMATIVE AND PARTICIPATORY
Integral Activist Training should be empowering and transformative. Our approach draws on the practices of participatory and popular education, to which we add methods of experiential and immersive learning. To paraphrase Paulo Freire: Education is a practice of freedom. It is a means by which we deal critically and creatively with reality. It is a way of discovering how to participate in the transformation of our world. It should lead to action, especially collective action. Learning of this kind helps us to change our lives according to our own ideas.
Our trainings enhance the capacity for self-critical reflection and help us to stay alive to on-going learning through balancing action and reflection. This is most effective when it is pursued in solidarity with others, when we recognise the struggles we share, and gain empowerment through our collective activities. We can discover the transformative power of working with others and recognise the mutually reinforcing relationship between building collective agency and personal empowerment – learning to keep these complementary through the balance of autonomy and cooperation.
Within our groups we are likely to reproduce mechanisms of oppression, albeit unintentionally. Our activism and organising work sits within a global and historical system of interlinking forms of oppression that shape the material, relational, and psychological conditions that influence every one of us.
Learning processes that embody solidarity bring in awareness of differences of experience related to these forms of oppression and support embracing complexity without trying to homogenise different opinions, experiences or cultural differences.
This kind of approach should support the development of skills needed for transversal/intersectional movement building and support exploration of the way we embody our values between us in our work to restore collective agency. It supports development of forms of political organising that can support pluralistic and yet transversal movements which deeply value what we have in common without denying how different we are.
Embodying solidarity means learning how to skillfully navigate power dynamics in groups and learning spaces, as well as aiming at healing division and restoring connection as a key to both personal and collective empowerment. It also seeks to make it accessible for a wide range of people to take part and make their views heard and to draw resilience and power from diversity of experiences, views, identities, and organising cultures.
What are the aims of the course?
The workshop will help participants to develop basic and initial skills in:
This workshop is an introductory training of trainers, focusing on the basic level skills needed to bring in Integral Activist Training approach to facilitation and educational spaces. Attending the course might not mean you will be ready to hold and facilitate learning spaces confidently at the end of it.
Who is it aimed at?
Those involved in socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues, who identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community and want to develop capacity as trainers.
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.
The course will be delivered in accessible, international English.
The team will consist of LGBTQI+ facilitators from different activist backgrounds.
This training is offered in the solidarity economy. You do not need to be able to contribute financially to attend. We are also looking for funding to be able to offer travel bursaries for those who might need it.
Team to be confirmed.
skills, insights, and practices for creating transformative teams and effective collaborations
new stories to change the world
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.