Building power from the margins to achieve large scale social transformation
How do we use organizing strategically in our activism and movement building? How do we develop a practice of transformative organizing, from organizing in silos to building long term alignments, from fighting short term campaigns to advancing a long-term agenda, from applying narrow approaches to power to an expansive one, from protesting from the outside to building governing power? This training designed and delivered by the European Community Organizing Network (ECON) and part of the Ulex Programme will help you address some of these challenges by developing your competencies for Transformative Organizing.
What is Organizing?
“Community organizing” is a term on more and more people’s lips these days. But what is it? And how can it be a part of strategies for large scale social transformation?
This training will focus on one particular organizing tradition: Transformative Organizing. Compared to some others, there has been less written about this approach – in part, because it is an emergent tradition where many of the practices are still being defined. However, early thinking on this practice has been defined by the US-based organizer Steve Williams, some of which he elaborated in the essay Demand Everything: Lessons from the Transformative Organizing Model.
In Europe, work is being done by a number of people and organizations to define this practice for the European context. Echos of this approach – including a more expansive view of power and adopting a longer strategic time horizon – are found in ECON’s publication, The Power of Organizing: Stories from Community Organizing Campaigns Across Europe. And a newly-forming, Berlin-based organization called Organizing Re:Generation, is attempting to develop a systematized training approach to support the growth of this tendency.
This training will be both rooted in the theory of Transformative Organizing, as well as a hands-on and very practical approach to how the skills of organizing can be applied in the field. You don’t need to have had formal training in organizing to get a lot out of this course. And if you are already a trained organizer, this training is designed to help push your thinking about your practice further. Together, we will look at how Transformative Organizing can be applied to building power within communities that are “closest to the pain” of our unjust system, and how we can build the power we need to achieve large-scale social transformation from below.
We will explore ideas and practices related to:
The aims of the training are:
Through a blend of participatory education and immersive learning you will:
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.
Marina is an educator, organizer, activist, and researcher committed to build people power for a just and regenerative society. She has a background in psychology and education and about 10 years’ international experience in facilitating transformative learning processes with movements, civil society groups, and international organisations. Originally from Italy, she has lived and worked most of her life in “in between” spaces facilitating learning, collaboration and co-creation between people, groups, organisations, countries, and cultures. She worked with Actionaid’s Global Platforms in Africa, Asia and Central America and Europe coordinating political trainings, participatory research, and developing the capacity of activists, organisers, volunteers, to lead organizing campaigns for climate justice, gender justice, human rights and Panafricanism. While working in Ghana, she facilitated to the creation of national and international activist networks such as Activista Ghana and the African Creative Action Network. Currently, she leads the European Community Organizing Network (ECON) as Network Coordinator responsible for strategic organisational development and network building.
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.
Steve has 20 years of experience working as a community, union, and political organizer in both the United States and Europe. He currently lives in Prague, and works on several trans-European and transatlantic organizing initiatives. Tracing his roots to the US labor movement, he made the transition to political organizing in 2010 when he went to work for the Working Families Party (WFP). In 2014 he moved to Europe, but he continues to support US-based organizing at the WFP, and has also taken a leadership role in developing the European Community Organizing Network, a hub for the community organizing sector in Europe. He has developed a community of practice with the organizers and movement educators of the Grassroots Power Project, a movement support organization founded with the goal of shifting community organizing practice towards less-siloed, more transformative approaches. In this role he serves as a link between the US and European organizing sectors.
Gorana is an educator and organizer from Serbia part of the training team of the European Community Organizing Network (ECON). She learned community organizing at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Education course “Leadership, Organizing and Action” by Marshall Ganz. Since then, she has held over 30 community organizing trainings in various areas, such as climate justice, women rights, patients’ rights, and democracy. One of the campaigns in which she was part of was “Bravo za mame” (eng. Bravo for mums) which fought for the law amendment to allow all mothers regular maternity benefits in Serbia. She is also a trainer of the UNICEF UPSHIFT program, as well as member and organizing trainer with the Leading Change Network (LCN).
Masha is a social movement organizer and educator, originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, raised in the United States and now calls Berlin home. Over two decades, she’s organized fast food workers in the Fight for $15, youth for truth and reconciliation in the Balkans, transit riders in NYC, Berliners for refugee rights, and communities for global economic trade justice. Masha organizes the Just Transition campaign with the European Community Organizing Network (ECON) and supports the development of new organizing leadership with the Leading Change Network.
How do people find moral resources to build courage in the face of injustice? How do we create resilient structures of belonging that build our movement’s capacity? How do we build power to achieve our goals? Common conditions prevail, but these are the questions that she explores.
Neus has been passionate about education since she was 8 years old and went dumpster diving in teachers’ recycling bins for worksheets to help other students learn at break-time. She moved from Castellon to Scotland to study Community Education, with a focus on youth work and adult education, where she co-founded The New Leaf Co-op, a successful workers’ co-op in Edinburgh. Whilst there Neus developed her understanding of how productivity meets good working conditions meets overturning the food system meets resourcing the commons with resilient and democratically managed capital. This passion now underpins her project coordination role at Ulex.
Cori is an anarchist activist based in Catalonia. He started getting involved in radical social movements when he was a teenager. He is passionate about helping the community in topics such as housing welfare, squatting, neighbourhood mutual aid networks, and anti-oppression and feminist movements. During the last five years, he has been taking courses on group facilitation to increase his knowledge of human relationships and accompanying processes for both groups and participants. He is currently volunteering at the Ulex project as a course organiser.
Alex has been fighting in the climate justice movement for many years with direct actions. He organized, mobilized and communicated many large protests against lignite mining in Germany as the Hambach Forest occupation or in the village of Luetzerath. Currently, he is building water alliances across Europe. With the kitchen collective Mobkit, he is cooking for action camps, protests and solidarity campaigns across Europe. He sees good, strengthening food and a visible and solidarity-based cooking and care structure as an essential part of transformative political work.
ECON is a hub for the community organizing movement and supports organizers to build an effective counterbalance to the rise of right-wing extremism, racism, and nationalism in Europe. ECON serves as a hub for the community organizing movement across Europe with a focus on developing the craft of organizing through training and mentorship, technical assistance, and by creating a space for organizers from different countries to collectively develop their strategic practice.
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.