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 BIPOC activists and organisers face in their work.
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 BIPOC activists and organisers 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 BIPOC activists influence our work, our capacity, 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, as well as in our personal lives and our own experiences of systemic racial injustice. We also meet our own responses, our fears, frustrations and anger. How can we best work with these responses creatively? 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 BIPOC activists? And what collective tools might we use to enable our groups, organisations, and networks to better embody our values and our marginalised perspectives?
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. Including exploration of the traumas we are carrying, personally, collectively and intergenerationally, and how these contribute to the burnout we are experiencing.
• 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 BIPOC 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 inherited traumas, identifying patterns and tendencies, and explore 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 identifying as a BIPOC activist or organiser. 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 BIPOC facilitators from different activist backgrounds.
This training is offered in the solidarity economy. You do not need to contribute financially to attend. We are also hoping to be able to offer some travel bursaries.
Sheila has been involved in activism and campaigning for social change for about a decade, organising and facilitating with grassroots groups and NGOs, primarily in the UK climate movement. In the lead up to COP21, in 2015, she was part of forming a European network mobilising for grassroots action on climate justice. In more recent years she has been more focussed on developing anti-oppression training, to support the need for greater intersectional thinking in all movements in order to not recreate systemic racism and social inequality. After a year working in the Ulex core team, Sheila is now leading a project to build capacity to support training for BIPoC activists, and to develop a Ulex training programme exclusively for BIPoC participants.
skills, insights, and practices for creating transformative teams and effective collaborations
deepening sustainable activism - for BIPOC activists
transversal and transnational movement building
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.