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. Tailored to the needs of activists based in Central and Eastern Europe, 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 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 revitalise our own resources and those of our groups – this can help us stay inspired, nourished, & more creative in our tactical approach.
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? 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 revitalise 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 Central – Eastern Europe, to share practice and strengthen networks.
The course content will be specifically designed to meet the needs and challenges of organisers coming from Central-Eastern Europe. The training team will consist of trainers from CEE.
What are the aims of the course?
So, the workshop will help participants to:
1.1 Gain an increased awareness of the importance of self and collective care, and be better equipped to incorporate it in 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 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 socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues, coming from Central-Eastern Europe. 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.
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.
Margaret Amaka Ohia-Nowak is a racial justice activist, trainer and facilitator, scholar, and educator on racism and anti-racism in Poland with over 15 years of experience. Her approach to teaching is holistic, intersectional and decolonial. She uses cognitive and emotional learning, bodywork and somatic methods. Amaka has advocated and organized for Black, African and Afro-descendant communities in Poland. She is the founder of the Centre for Intersectional Justice in Poland, co-founder of the Alliance for Black Justice in Poland, which supports black communities and advocates for racial justice in the CEE region. She is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Social Communication and Media Studies at the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland, where her research focuses on race, racism and the portrayal of blackness in language and media discourse. She is a board member of the Polish Association of People of African Descent and a board member of the Black Europe Foundation. Additionally, Amaka is a member of the Decolonial Working Group at the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and a local connector for the Multitudes Foundation.
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.