Active Solidarity & Empowerment

4 to 11 Nov 2023

Knowledge, skills and perspectives to challenge oppression and create spaces for empowered inclusion

This training will help you to learn the know-how of building more inclusive and empowering environments for activism and social change work. The training focuses on the personal, interpersonal and organisational dimensions of active solidarity.

Applying foundational knowledge, frameworks and concepts used in anti-oppression work, participants will be invited to explore ways to recognise and transform the dynamic of oppression at the individual and organisational level and how those relate to the systemic level. 

Our organising work sits within a global and historical system of interlinking forms of oppression. These shape the material, relational, and psychological conditions that influence every one of us. Unfortunately, as many of us will have witnessed, this means that within our groups and organisations, we are likely to reproduce mechanisms of oppression, often unconsciously. Without the skills to identify and transform those patterns, they will give rise to tensions and misunderstandings, and will make our organising not aligned with values of solidarity and empowerment we strive for. We can find ourselves reproducing the barriers to participation, empowerment and wellbeing that we see in the world around us. This is especially depleting for people who are already marginalised and discriminated against and needs to be addressed if our groups are to be genuinely empowering and transformative spaces.

Navigating topics related to anti-oppression in our groups is not easy, often brings up trauma responses, tensions, conflicts and leads to erosion of trust. In order to move away from reproducing harmful oppression patterns, we need to learn to build cultures of care, move away from shame and blame towards a culture of reciprocity, accountability and collective transformation. 

Through this kind of work, we can become increasingly skilled in transforming harmful tensions and conflict into enriching growth opportunities, and through better working with diversity, we can include a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and histories, for more adaptable, resilient, and powerful movements that exemplify values we strive for. 

Systems of oppression often sustain themselves when we are unable to acknowledge and work well with the power dynamics, social privilege and mechanisms of discrimination that exist in our groups, communities and societies. In active solidarity and empowerment training we carefully unravel those structures, gradually building a safe ground that can support us to explore these challenging themes step by step. Although the training content and process will address a wide range of discrimination and oppression structures, the main emphasis will be on how we can work with the dynamics that exist in groups and organisations.

The course content is not aimed at giving ready made solutions but rather opening space for exploration, mutual learning and setting intentions for a long learning journey. Methods used during the course will invite participants to engage with emotional literacy work, embracing conditioned reactions in order to transform collective organising patterns. 

The learning process will be held by facilitators using exercises and activities supporting self-reflection and self-evaluation around the following topics:

  • stereotypes and prejudices that we carry
  • experience of oppression (both external and internalised)
  • understanding privilege related to the social groups we identify ourselves with or that we are identified with in the eyes of others/society
  • intersectionality of oppression
  • discrimination mechanism reproduced in our activist groups and movements
  • Practice of being an accomplice – actively transforming certain systemic oppressions while not being directly targeted by them

We will explore tools that will help us:

  • Transform behaviours
  • Regulate our nervous systems and emotions and stay centred under pressure
  • Move past blame and shame mechanisms
  • Embrace discomfort
  • Find empowerment 
  • Build cultures of collective care and solidarity, enabling individuals to find their own 

Participants will be invited to challenge their views and perspectives, be open to vulnerability, share from a place of personal experience and dive into explorations of the complexity of our individual identities, and how power and privilege play into these dynamics.

Like all the other Ulex courses, this one will be held in the rural setting of the pre-Pyrenean mountains, enabling us to integrate some nature connection and awareness practices, working with body and mind. Those practices will help us to be more present in our training experience as well as providing the inspiration to look at our activism in a more holistic way.

The three facilitators will bring different approaches to anti-oppression work, coming from diverse cultural, activist and organisational backgrounds. Read more about them below.

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.

Contribución sugerida
En la economía solidaria: €300/€450/€900
(ver los detalles de nuestro enfoque hacia Economía solidaria)

The Team

Our Name

Ulex: Latin (argelaga Catalan, gorse English) noun:

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.