Tools for effective and sustainable activism
This workshop offers 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. The workshop is specifically designed to address needs, issues and challenges that people identifying as trans, gender non-conforming or non-binary face in their activism.
This workshop offers 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.
The workshop is specifically designed to address needs, issues and challenges that people identifying as trans, gender non conforming or non-binary face in their activism. We are going to explore, what is the link between this parts of our identities and burning out, how does being trans* influences our activism, our capacities, and resilience. Being in a space with others, who share similar experience will enable us to explore specific challenges and ways in which we can support each other and ourselves to thrive in our work.
Those of us involved in social change face enormous challenges. Daily we meet injustice, loss, and suffering in the world around us. We also meet our own responses, our fears, frustrations and anger. How can we best work with these responses creatively to achieve our goals? Where can we find the personal resources and skills that could make our action more effective and sustainable? How can we take care of ourselves and our own needs as trans activists? And what collective tools can we use to enable our groups, organisations, and networks to better embody our values?
We use the term ‘regenerative’ because we don’t want things to just be sustainable. As in the world of permaculture, we want systems to regenerate through processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials. Our organising and activism can be a context within which we can thrive, where we create a shared context that enables us to flourish as we support others to do so. Our organising can embody a life-affirming vision and exemplify the values of social justice that we are inspired to realise in the world.
The course explores these issues using holistic and participatory methods – drawing on popular education, ecological and systems thinking, as well as reflective practices. It will bring together activists from across Europe, to share practice and strengthen networks.
What are the aims of the course?
• To explore methods of working effectively with the personal and inner dimension of activism, helping us take better care of ourselves, equipping us to avoid burnout and to better empower ourselves for action.
• To offer tools which support more skilful inter-personal work in our groups and networks, and enable ways of organising which exemplify the values we want to realise in the world.
• To create a vibrant and supportive temporary community of trans* activists, as a safer space for deep reflection, analysis, and the sharing of experience of the personal and inter-personal dimensions of our work – finding nourishment and inspiration from each other and nature.
So, the workshop will help participants to:
1.1 Gain an increased awareness of the importance of self-care and be better equipped to incorporate it into your life.
1.2 Learn ways of developing greater personal balance, clarity, inspiration, and resilience – including the use of reflective and contemplative practices.
1.3 Explore issues and techniques relevant to managing your energy, fears, frustrations, despair, and despondency – and become better able to avoid emotional hardening and cynicism.
2.1 Increase your understanding of group-work skills, including communication skills and ways of working with conflict, to transform energy depleting situations.
2.2 Gain experience of methods of organising and community building that can express the values we are working for and increase personal and group capacity.
2.3 Examine issues around empowerment, leadership, understanding power dynamics and collective processes.
3.1 Reflect deeply on your own personal history of activism, identifying patterns and tendencies, and find ways of skilfully transforming these where needed.
3.2 Identify and draw upon the sources of nourishment and inspiration that support your engagement and help you realise your potential as an organiser and empowered agent for social change.
Who is it aimed at?
Anyone involved in LGBTQI and feminist activism, who identify as trans*, non-binary and gender non-conforming. 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.
This course grows out of our experience of running the Sustaining Resistance course on sustainable activism since 2010.
The main spoken language on the course will be English.
The team will consist of trans* 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.
Note on using trans with * : as a team of facilitators we have decided to use both “trans*” and “trans” form, even though we are aware the first one is not in use any more in the anglo-american context. It is still in use in different parts of Europe though (like Germany and Eastern Europe) where the history of the feminist and trans right movements is different. We would like to honour that. The aim is to be inclusive and we do not intend to exclude any trans identity, including binary trans identities and transwomen. We embrace a broad definition of what does trans*/trans mean and we believe it is up to you to decide what labels you want to use for yourself!
Note: This event will take place at the Abella site of our partner centre, close to the Ulex project.
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.
A buddhist, single parent, and self employed furniture maker. Kamalanandi is the first trans member of the men’s wing of the Triratna Buddhist Order. He is one of the founders of a support group for gender diverse members of the Triratna Buddhist Community and is part of a team that runs residential retreats, day retreats and evening meetings under that same banner.
He currently holds the mandate for Inclusivity within Buddhafield as well as the mandate for the Buddhafield Village Retreat. This year he was also invited to attend a panel that was set up to look at how the UK National Health Service can support people of faith who are accessing gender clinics in the UK.
He has a commitment to engaging in effective communication, drawing on his training in ethics and the principles of NVC. A meditator for two decades, he is passionate about enabling people, through meditation, to engage more fully with their experience of being human and to deepen their understanding of interconnectedness.
Jael is part of a grassroots facilitation and training collective for social movements called KommunikationsKollektiv and the German action training network Skills for Action. They have been facilitation workshops on sustainable activism, consensus decision making and anti-oppression. In recent years Jael has started to focus on the somatic part of transformation and social change and is part of a European politicized somatics group. Jael is also a part time organic grower.
creating empowering and inclusive spaces for organising
methods and tools for working well with conflict in our groups
skills and practices for effective team and group work
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.