Buurtzorg – how to be radically different

A few months ago I read a wonderful book called ‘Reinventing Organisations’ by Frederic Laloux. It borrows a framework from Ken Wilber in describing the evolution of organisations towards ones that are freer of ego and control, ones that believe in abundance and in wholeness. What makes the book wonderful, though, is not the framework but the case studies of organisations that run this way. This is, in brief, the story of one of them.

This example comes from the Netherlands. In the nineteenth century, every neighbourhood had a nurse. Originally they were self-employed, but in the 1990s the health insurance system, which mostly paid for them, thought it would be more efficient to group them into organisations. Between 1990 and 1995, the number of organisations dropped from 295 to 86.

Alongside the rationalisation of organisations came the rationalisation of work. Time norms were established for different tasks: “wound dressing 10 minutes”, for instance. Treatments were rated: only the more experienced and expensive nurses could perform only the more difficult treatments. In order to keep track of how long visits were taking, a barcode was placed on every patient’s door: the nurse had to scan it on entry and exit.

Nurses hated the new system. Here are the sorts of things they said about it:

The whole day is making you crazy. Some day I had to go and see 19 patients.

The planning went wrong so many times that I could no longer explain why nobody would come.

The final straw came when (they) wanted us to sell stuff to our patients.

Buurtzorg was founded in 2006 by one Jos de Blok, as a reaction to all this control-freakery. Between 2006 and 2013, when the research for the book was done, it grew from 10 nurses to 7,000. By 2013 it employed two-thirds of all neighbourhood nurses in the Netherlands.

Here’s how it runs. Nurses work in teams of 10 – 12, serving 50 patients in a neighbourhood. They have no boss and they take all decisions. Decisions are not taken by consensus but on the basis of a lack of principled objection.

Buurtzorg has a tiny headquarters staff of 30 people. Another difference from traditional organisations is that, instead of having regional managers, who control, they have regional coaches, who support. Their role is mostly to ask the questions that help teams find their own solutions. The coach lets the team do that, even if she believes she knows a better way. Part of the job of the coach is to give the team the belief that they have what it takes to solve their problems.

One of the striking effects of the lack of official hierarchy is that it enables natural hierarchies to evolve. People get to do what their best at within their team. Some of them become known for their expertise in a particular area and are consulted by other teams across the country.

The results speak for themselves. Buurtzog’s nurses take as much time as they wish with patients, as opposed to being bound by ‘time norms’, but in fact Buurzorg’s patients require 40% less time than those of other organisations. Patients stay in care only half as long. A third of emergency hospital admissions are avoided. Among nurses, absenteeism for sickness is 60% lower. Just wonderful….

The EU referendum: “I’m right and you’re an idiot”

EU-inoutMy title is taken from the title of a recent book by a Canadian author called James Hoggan. It sums up neatly what the attitude seemed to be of many people involved in the EU referendum debate, whether that debate was face to face or on social media. By accident, I and my colleagues in Talk Shop found an antidote. This is the story of that accident.

In the run-up to the EU referendum, we organised ten events around the country, attracting a couple of hundred people in all. We began in Hackney, ended up in Huntingdon, and our journey also took us to Halifax and to Hereford.

EURef-eventOur original intent was to assist people who were undecided. In fact, based on the three events for which we have figures, only 9% of the people who came were undecided at the start. We certainly helped them, because only 1% were undecided at the end. But they were a small part of our audience.

We wanted roughly equal numbers to argue for each side, but had no idea if the ‘decideds’ who turned up would split equally between Leave and Remain. (The actual split was about 30:70.) We therefore introduced some role play: taking the side you didn’t believe in and arguing the case. This turned out to be what people valued most. It came up consistently in our evaluation , from the first event in Hackney…

“I found it helpful to have to put the other point of view, because it made me realise that I do have some things in common with people I disagree with.”
“Having to rehearse and be devil’s advocate – this is helpful when campaigning on the issues”

….although the point was most vividly made verbally by a participant in Liverpool called John (who, as it happened, was wearing a T shirt with a hammer and sickle on it):

“Arguing the case for leaving helped me realise that people who take that view, especially because of immigration, may have thought it through, rather than simply absorbing messages from the media.”

EURef-event-feetfirstBy accident, as I said, we created a format that did what no other referendum event I attended or read about did. It helped people do what the C18 German philosopher, Immanuel Kant ,said was the essence of reasoning publicly: to “think from the standpoint of everyone else.”

Calling anyone with facilitation, working with conflict or Community Development skills

3020000335_14c6d287b5_z-300x224Though we know nothing about this initiative beyond their blog post, we’re re-posting this because in these post-Brexit times – now more than ever we need to get together and think about what we can do to work with and across communities, and to struggle against the rise in racist attacks and the possible slide to even darker places. 

Dear friends and colleagues

I’m writing to you as someone in our network who we think might have facilitation, community development, conflict resolution or digital engagement skills that could be relevant to the situation the country finds itself in post-referendum.

Are you interested in coming to a gathering of like-minded people to explore the best way to deploy our particular tools and skills in the aftermath of the referendum?

If you are then we’re collecting a bit of information in this form to help us to plan it effectively. We need to get an idea of numbers quickly so please could you complete the form by end of day Thursday 7th July.

If you think that someone else in your network with relevant skills and experience might be interested, please do forward this email. However, we’re keen to keep it focused so please don’t do a mass mailing unless to a particular community of practitioners with relevant skills. 

It is really important to note that everyone at Involve holds their own opinions about what they would like to see happen next. However, this proposed gathering is not intended as a planning meeting to explore how to get the ‘right answer’. 

If you’re interested in strategising for a particular side, or hoping to meet likeminded campaigners to develop a plan of action, this is not the gathering for you. Let us know if this is what you are looking for and we will do our best to point you towards groups we know and respect.

From Involve’s perspective it is important to be up front about this, because the framing of the debate running up to the vote, and even more starkly afterwards, has been divisive. It has been framed around only our membership of the EU. This is only one aspect of the underlying issues. As a result, it has left the country with no clear idea of which direction to take as we renegotiate our relationship with the rest of Europe and the world. I’ve expanded these thoughts a little in this blog post.

I hope I am not presumptuous in saying that I think that one of our collective core activities sees us reframing issues, providing tools and facilitators who can help people find a different route into – and potentially out of – challenging and divisive debates. But right now it is hard (for me at least) to see how to make purchase within the debate in a way that can help to reframe it at any sense of scale that makes sense.

This email aims to find out if there is sufficient interest within our networks to come together to explore how we might work more effectively to help make the debate more productive and less incendiary. 

So, if you’re still interested in attending a day long workshop focused around ways we might work collectively together on the challenges thrown up by the referendum can you let us know by completing this form?

Please complete the form by Thursday 7th July. This is to give us an indication of numbers and allow us to book venue etc. We will give priority to people who complete the form before the deadline, but will try to accommodate late responders too.

Specifically, we have two purposes for the workshop:

  • To explore the different ways that we might work together to make the post-referendum debate more productive; and
  • To provide a space for people with facilitation and engagement skills* to learn more about each other and spark productive partnerships.

*hopefully from both sides of the debate.

We are not aiming for consensus, or a grand idea to come out of this (though both might). Instead our more modest aim is to surface energy and ideas that different groups of us might gravitate around. Given this, our aim is to set the day up as an open space, though we reserve the right to change our minds once we know who wants to join us and what they want to get out of it.

We’re aiming to hold it outside London because the focus of power in the south East seems to us to be part of the problem and it’s one way of doing a small something to counter this. However, we will reconsider this if you (collectively) tell us strongly otherwise. We’d like to know what dates are best for you and what you’d like to get out of such a meeting. Though we make no promises to meet any, or even some of your needs.

We’re a small charity with very limited reserves (aren’t we all), so we are also interested in any resources – financial or otherwise – that you might be able to bring, but this is not a precondition to attending. However, we won’t be able to provide any financial assistance and will will ask you to bring your own lunch, though we will provide tea and coffee.

Once we’ve had a bit more time, we’ll probably set-up an online space for people to start discussing different ideas before we meet. You are also very welcome to write a post for our blog – or cross-post from somewhere else – if you want to get a little extra reach.

Any suggestions welcome and we’ll try to respond as quickly as we can. However, we are also keeping the show on the road and continuing to deliver our existing projects, so all this is currently happening in the spaces between our other work. 

We really hope you think this is a good idea and are keen to join us, but totally understand that you will have your own ideas and work to deliver.

Best, Simon, Involve

Reposted from here

Co-operation in the UK: from start to finish, developing a support package for Co-ops UK

cukzen_logoWe are excited when we get asked to design whole programmes of support to organisations and networks. It’s possible in a one-off workshop to spark and see transformational change, given the right conditions, and we aim for ‘catalytic interventions’. A whole package of support gives us and our client the time and relationship to develop greater understanding, mutual learning, and exactly the right mix of agile responsive support that hits the spot. This is one example we’ve been working on since 2012, with Co-operatives UK.

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Amazing things sometimes grow from seeds sprouting in different places, from rhizomes bursting up through the soil into the air to grow and blossom. So it has been with the Co-operatives UK training programme that we’ve been heavily involved with – from conception, through analysing learning needs and co-creating programme design, to delivery.

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The United Nations International Year of Co-operatives was celebrated in the UK with an inspiring global festival of events and exhibitions, Co-operatives United in autumn 2012 in Manchester. We’d already started talking to Co-ops UK about the possibilities of running ‘soft skills’ trainings to complement the primarily governance and financial management support and training that was on offer in the British co‑operative movement at the time. So this was the perfect opportunity for us to have face-to-face conversations with co-ops about their training needs, and to survey co-ops’ training needs through questionnaires. This complemented an online survey we co-designed with Co-ops UK and enabled us to do a broad learning needs analysis. At Co-operatives United, we also go to have fun offering ‘games for activists and non-activists‘ workshops!

From the learning needs analysis, Co-ops UK were able to give the green light and could select the training topics that would be designed specially for workers’ co-ops, in the first instance. We also came up with a plan to co-deliver the programme with other training co-ops, and Co-ops UK made contact with some to bring them in to the process, in late 2013.

In the meantime, in summer 2013, Rhizome co-facilitated a two day workshop on facilitation for Co-operatives UK staff, which was a real pleasure from start to finish. It’s amazing to get two whole days with any group to properly delve into facilitation – issues, formal and informal skills, challenges, planning meetings, and a good helping of practice. And from the surveys filled out in advance, through to their levels of participation during the workshop, the staff through themselves into it and thus got lots out of it. As a trainer, it’s always rewarding to see participants learning journeys, the moments of realisation and change.

co-op-handsThe design stage of the process and of the different workshops with other co-ops and Co-ops UK was dead interesting, and many thanks for this chance to Co-operantics, Dynamix and Lancaster Seeds for Change. We learnt from each others’ different approaches to training, with each co-op taking a lead on the design of a different workshop, inviting comments from the other trainers. At Rhizome, rather than making the most obvious choice to lead on ‘Effective Meetings and Decision‑making’, we decided to focus on the ‘Communication and Working with Conflict’ module, and took up the gauntlet for the introductory ‘Being a Good Co-op Member’ training session. Making a round-five were ‘Strategic Planning and Managing Change’ and ‘Accountability and Delegation without a Boss’.

Rhizome_iconOne advantage Rhizome has is that we are a sizeable group of trainers and facilitators coming from diverse experiences and backgrounds. As with much of our work, we put the extra time into discussing as a group and commenting on the session plans for this co-operative training programme, so that what is developed is the fruit of our learning from each other, and deliver the most benefit for the end participants. With the way the design process for this overall training programme was conceived, we were also able to share our ideas and experiences with the other trainers taking a lead on different training sessions.

In 2014 we were all busy delivering the workshops we’d designed, in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, London and Manchester, evaluating and reviewing our session plans in time for the 2015 programme. Through all of these it was a treat to meet people from many different kinds of co-ops, each with their own areas of expertise and their own organisational cultures, and to get to know what needs and challenges co-operative businesses on the ground are facing. In 2016 the training programme has become part of a bigger package of support on offer to co-ops, The Hive, and we continue to play a part in making this a success. the-hive-800

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Right now, alongside our other constant work with diverse co-operatives, delivering various workshops and facilitating communication, development and change, we are excited to be facilitating Co-operatives Congress 2016. By the time you read this, we’ll have met some more of the interesting and inspiring co-operatives out there doing great work throughout the four nations, and have facilitated the sharing of ideas and solutions that will enable the co-operative movement to continue to go from strength to strength.

Open Space: the Technology, approach, free resources and critiques

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Here at Rhizome towers, we have facilitated many Open Space events and sessions over the years.

Through our desire to share our experiences, and support healthy organisations and rewarding events, we developed a series of useful Open Space resources free for you to download and use.  Here are some reflections, questions and hints too…

 

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Sometimes we’ve followed the Open Space Technology methods to a T, and other times we’ve taken a more informal approach, using the methods without calling it as such a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – or the Delia Smith method Some years ago I went on a week-long Open Space training in Germany run by some of the pioneers, where we did Open Space on Open Space, so I am in theory a highly trained accredited OST facilitator (& of grammatically-correct capitalisation!), but more of that (the OST training!) later…

smell-rosesI remember in the first decades of my grassroots (ecological) campaigning many times we used what I later learnt were Open Space techniques, without using the terminology or the strict rules – if they were given a name, they were often called a bazaar or market. It was a useful approach in an arena characterised by voluntary effort and association, and with many organising and cultural influences including anarchism. I remain extremely grateful to the movements that came before and the active individuals who shared their learning from the women’s rights movement, anti-racist and justice campaigns, the peace and anti-nuclear movements, animal rights and liberation, Movement for a New Society and many others. Hopefully in Rhizome’s work with you you can get a flavour of the cross-pollination that we’ve learnt from over the years, and that we endeavour to encourage ourselves. 

LCC-open-space1The times we’ve blogged about our experiences in using Open Space, adapting and borrowing parts of it, include the NGO Capacity Building Forum’s Supporting Local Group Networks and their event Re-energising and Re-motivating Activists, the World Car Free Network’s Towards Car Free Cities, an advanced decision‑making training Consensus: In at the Deep End, a Transition Network gathering to support initiatives in creating good group process, LCC-open-space2Space for Cycling hosted by the London Cycling Campaign, an UnConference on co-op democracy facilitating for Principle Six and Co-operatives London, and the Rebellious Media ConferenceHopefully you can pick up from these posts that Open Space can work well for an event and the participants, and not so well, or not for everyone. As a facilitator, you try your best to pick the right time for the right tool for the right people.

 

Sometimes when we’ve used Open Space it has been an on the hoof response to the tension between those who’s needs are better met through small group discussions, and those who see the needs of the group being better met through plenary sessions. It’s an interesting tension to work with, and sometimes as facilitators we can get caught in the cross-fire. When facilitators are clumsy, we can end up putting ourselves in the line of fire, but it can just happen that we end up representing a role for the group, and potentially helping play it out ‘on their behalf’. There’s interesting theories and approaches on this, such as Bion’s Pairing Theory and Process Work (AKA World Work, Deep Democracy)…future blog posts to be written, if there’s interest from you, dear readers.

Packages and support

P+P_Open_Space_report_smallRhizome gets asked to design whole packages of support to organisations and networks, and we’re proud of the work we’ve created and the positive impacts it can have – we’ll be blogging next about one such piece of work for Co-operatives UK. Focussing back on the topic of this post, we’ve included Open Space as part of a bigger package, for example in our work with the Fairtrade Foundation. It does not start with the event but with planning and asking what the client wants and who are the key stake holders. Like other work mentioned above, Open Space can be useful when building a strong grassroots foundation for a group, maximising participation and a sense of ownership over discussions and skill-sharing.

It’s exciting too when we get to support others to facilitate Open Space sessions, including through mentoring and training, such as for 6 Billion Ways, the Camp for Climate Action, and sharing our learning and experiences directly with NGOs including Friends of the Earth, WDM (now Global Justice Now), and the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Open Space training sessions e.g.for the Environmental Training Network, and an event package for People & Planet.

Pitfalls and fissures

Some of the issues with Open Space were highlighted in our work with People & Planet – the dangers of domination and lack of participation in small groups, how to work with the British mainstream politeness in not getting up and leaving discussions that aren’t working for us, balancing control and the heart and soul staff may have poured into developing strategic goals within NGOs with members – especially ones that talk of being member-led. Without small group facilitators, or with one individual given the role of kick-starting the discussion, taking notes and facilitating (as I was taught in my long OST training), discussions can veer ‘too far’ off topic. It’s possible that as facilitators of the overall process too, we can be too focussed on doing things differently and wanting participative processes to see that what is needed instead or as well is something different. Another potential pitfall is that it relies on the energy of the participants and how much they care about the topic; as awareness and use of Open Space has spread, it has been used as another way of running meetings by the statutory sector (e.g. councils, hospitals), without always checking that it’s appropriate and that there’s enough energy from the people present. Some of the issues we’ve highlighted so far are how the method is facilitated, but others may also be problems in the very design of OST.

Which brings me on to where I started, with the week-long Open Space training, which turned out to be in the formal strict OST method, from a German approach. As a result, there were issues around the facilitation – it took us a while to figure out through a process of deduction, that we would not get any questions answered by the facilitators if we asked them in the main room or the corridors, but instead had to wait for the times when a famous and experienced OSTer was in the library. And we had some fundamental questions that felt pretty important to us in the application of Open Space Technology – about safety, confidence and assertiveness, and about how to work with the direct experiences of discrimination and oppression in society that people bring with them (and get reproduced in situ). Some of these questions came largely with the British contingent and our culture(s), of creating safer spaces for learning and transformation that at the time were so key (and continue to be today). Some of that grassroots ‘activist’ culture has since started to shift, with the Process Work and Training for Change emphasis on how can marginalised people step in to their own power (in a way that’s not managed by those with the power, and as a strategy for maintaining control).

So what answers did we get in the library? So here is what he said…

OS is not about group building and doesn’t change hierarchy or power. It assumes people are empowered. It is not necessarily participatory or democratic, it is just open space for self-organisation. OS is not a process for those things to happen, but they may happen anyway.

Another of the questions we brought with us was about how to have less control as a facilitator; what we saw instead was an obscuring of the power of the facilitator behind the rules and structure of OST that could not and should not be challenged. When someone suggested a brief exercise to share information on our confidence level in the OST space so far, the facilitator blocked it as not appropriate for the ‘Evening News’ section of the day, and when other people said they would find it useful too, the facilitator closed the session and stormed out. I later found why he may have responded like this – on page 119 of the Open Space book, this is the prescribed response for a facilitator when “mad egoists” try to hijack the process!

butterfly_bee_smallNow the thing is, I like OS (and I liked our facilitators) – it seems a shame that a good set of ideas should be distracted from by being presented in anything other than an open way. Maybe if we as OS facilitators consider if being ‘invisible’ can accidentally turn us into shadowy figures, somewhat inaccessible to the group, with an unclear agenda, then we can make a real effort to interact and share information on an equal footing with our participants – with no secret rules they have to figure out! Participants that challenge or bend the plan are not automatically a threat who must be obstructed until they submit meekly – they are engaging with the process! And OS is strong enough to handle this!

However, that doesn’t mean the pendulum should swing the other way towards individualism. It was our Southern European comrades on this training in ex-East Germany, near Berlin, that helped us look through that prism – that OST is based on a US model of individualist democracy and freedom that doesn’t take into account privilege and rank, and expects that everyone can step up straight away and present a topic winningly to a large group of people.

I can see clearly now the rain is gone…

Through the experiences of the training I went to, and through the times all of us ‘Rhizomistas’ have used Open Space, when I could see its limitations, I could also much more clearly see its uses.

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I’ll end with a few more hints (in addtion to our downloadable Open Space resources) and some questions:

  • Talking with, not to: Ten tips for talking with your grassroots
  • Team Syntegrity, a method that designs in cross-fertilisation (p.50 of Participation Works!; Open Space is p.32 along with many other techniques)
  • Does some explanation of the reasons behind why we set up OS like this contribute or weaken how well it works?
  • How to deal with anxiety of the group ‘not knowing’ and ‘pragmatist learners’?
  • What are the issues around control and facilitation? How & when do we let go of control of the process – why are we controlling & does it help?
  • Is Open Space about bringing real life into the room? If so, therefore there will always be power issues – what is our role as facilitator here?

helping you make up your mind for the EU referendum

wee-playRhizome co-op members are involved in a range of activities alongside what we might see as core Rhizome work.  This post describes one such initiative and how games can be useful to create both a participative process and a safer space in an often polarised debate.  This is particularly timely in light of the upcoming EU Referendum – with a useful link at the end of the article.

 

Wee Play was a card game created by Perry, working with an organization called ‘So Say Scotland’, for the Scottish Referendum in 2014. The aim was to create a safe space for Yes, No and Don’t Know to come together, think and talk about the referendum. This was needed because a lot of the discussion around the referendum was  confrontational and biased for both sides.

How the kit worked

To run Wee Play, all that was needed was a pack of cards, four or more folk and a table to gather round. It usually took about 90 mins but could be played in 45. The pack is divided into three suits on the independence subject: pro, con and information cards. Each player chose two cards from each pack. This created their information base.

The final round was all about making meaning. Players spotted the connections between the cards on the table and clustered them together. This activity often created a juicy discussion.

How the kit was created

In 2013, I worked up a very rough kit and printed out on my home printer. We tried it in Scotland a couple of times, first with a few people at the University of Edinburgh and then with 23 people at the Just Festival, which is part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

In 2014, we revised the cards to produce a long list of 67 pro-independence and 69 pro-UK cards. These were scored by six people and the scores used to reduce the cards by a bit over half. We had couple of trials in March, and then in April a ‘Play and Proof session’ at a café in Glasgow. We then made final revisions in the light of which cards were chosen most often and feedback from participants. I summarised this feedback as “people want big picture stuff. They don’t want the nitty gritty.”

The first batch of 150 kits were printed and delivered in June. Since the referendum was in late September, this was very, very tight.

How the kit creates a safe space

I’ll pick out three features. First, Wee Play is designed to look and feel like a game, albeit one with no winner. That gives a sense of familiarity.

The second feature was the use of cards. A player can select and read out a card that says X without saying whether they agree with X. This is linked to the third feature, which is that the process gives the participants a series of shared tasks. This helps them to feel that they are collaborating rather than competing.

We learned a lot as we went along. For example, a huge lesson from trying out the first draft of the instructions was that having people talk about the topics in the first stage (when people are choosing cards to create their information base) meant that they got into a fixed position. Leaving the discussion till the end allowed players to see all the points first and respond with fresh insights.

Sometimes, the process needed adapting for particular groups to make sure that they felt safe. This is what Cara Spence said about the LGBT Youth game:

“To ensure there’s a balanced debate much of the game is focused around ‘reading aloud’. This can be really daunting for young people. A solution might be to ask if another young person or the dealer reads out their cards. This seemed to work well and other young people were supportive.”

Some of the comments from participants suggested both that we had succeeded in creating such a space for them, and that they were able to make use of it:

“They said it made for a much better dialogue than the usual self congratulatory talk, got them thinking, defining and even disagreeing which is a good thing” – feedback from Sparkle Horse, Partick game.

“Brilliant game thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve learning difficulties and this has done me a lot of good” – participant Café 13 Glasgow.

“I became aware of a number of softer issues like identity, cooperation etc. that I hadn’t really thought about” – player at ‘Play and Proof’ session.

Our challenges

There were some challenges we didn’t manage to meet in the few short months that we had to produce the kit and get it used. About 30% of Scottish population, were undecided at the time and it was difficult to tap into this group. Even where we could, bringing together groups where there was a mix of yes, no and undecided playing together was also difficult.

After the referendum there was a lot of talk about the older generation being the most nervous. They like to gather and like to sit, so it would have been great to reach them – but we didn’t manage to work out how.

Do you want to have a go?

The Wee Play kit is no longer available, but a kit on the EU referendum is available. Email perry AT openupuk.org

For anyone still thinking about how to cast their vote in the upcoming referendum, see the questions tool at www.openupuk.org/eu-referendum.  Do pass the link on to anyone you know who is undecided. Tweet  #openupEU

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Taking risks for personal transformation: Education and Participation with Training for Change

screen-shot-2014-09-04-at-9-31-00-pmA few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend the best part of ten days holed up in a room at Friends House in London with 20 other grassroots trainers and facilitators. For once, we were participants on a training course – not the ones running it!

inspirational-quotes-8-638If the trainer-cum-participant role sounds like a relative walk in the park, let me remind you of Rhizome’s modus operandi: as facilitators committed to meaningful social change through empowerment and participation, we view participants not as empty vessels engaging obediently with course content as a means of soaking up knowledge offered by a trainer. Rather, we recognise that every group of participants already possesses, between them, the knowledge needed to advance their learning on any given topic. With this in mind, we seek to welcome every part of every participant and support each person in the training room to bring their unique skills, experiences and aptitudes to the room.

This participatory approach to adult learning is not new and Rhizome is amongst a growing number of training organisations using it to advance the learning of those we work with. Many of those organisations (Campaign Bootcamp, the New Economy Organisers Network, Seeds for Change, Tripod and Turning the Tide) were with me on the 10 day training – all of us recognising that no matter how experienced we are, there is always room for furthering our learning, benefits to engaging as participants and value to be found in networking with others on a similar path.

The training in question was run by renowned US-based training organisation Training for Change (TfC), and the two-part course comprised a Training for Social Action Trainers (TSAT) followed by an Advanced TSAT. TfC uses the phrase “Direct Education” to describe the participatory approach I outlined above and it is essentially a way of drawing learning directly from the participants themselves. Over the course of several years of training trainers and social change agents, TfC has identified some core frameworks, theories and tools which support facilitators to use the “Direct Education” model. It was these frameworks, theories and tools that I, and my fellow participants, spent 10 days getting to grips with.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the fact that we were on a training course to learn more about Direct Education, for which we were using the Direct Education model, made the whole thing very ‘meta’: a Direct Education training course on Direct Education! And whilst the self-referential way of engaging was somewhat tiring, it was also, as one would hope, extremely revelatory. Over the course of ten days, we got to experience engaging tools and activities (most of which I’d encountered before, but some of which added to my repertoire), we used reflection and generalisation to explore approaches and we applied our learning by trying things out for ourselves. This explicit use of the experiential cycle – Experience, Reflect, Generalise, Apply (See David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model) – was both central to the way we learnt and a key framework for us supporting others’ learning.

shutterstock_125282522We were challenged throughout by constant engagement with the group dynamics in the room, working directly on race and gender and exploring other ways in which structural oppression plays out in groups. We practiced what TfC calls ’emergent design’ (basically how to change your plans ‘on the hoof’ in response to what is happening in the training room) and elicitive questioning – an essential tool in the facilitator toolbox. Whilst the TfC trainers had outlined their stated goals at the start of the workshops, the focus of what we learned was most definitely directed by the group. Particularly in the Advanced TSAT, back-to-back practice facilitation by groups of two co-facilitating participants ensured that it was always the participants who were ‘reading the group’, diagnosing its needs and designing and delivering the sessions according to what they deduced was needed to move things forward.rope

Of course that’s not to say that the Training for Change facilitators didn’t have a key role to play. Far from it. The skilful facilitation of our trainers Erica and Nico represented both inspirational modelling and an essential part of the thoughtful holding of space and building of trust required for such deep transformational work. The degree to which they were able to ‘build the container’ of group trust in the room was evident from the risks we as participants were willing to take to further our learning.

training_for_change_web-2

I think I can say with some certainty that every one of us made ourselves vulnerable and open to the extraordinarily personal challenges we were invited to encounter. And I think it’s also true to say that we each came away feeling empowered, energised and more confident trainers and facilitators as a result. I know I certainly did.

Kat

Rhizome’s sixth birthday – walking, not running

6th-birthdayEntering into our sixth year of existence, Rhizome wishes all our readers a happy year of learning and action. You may like us be on a journey, destination unknown, clutching your ‘values compass’ firmly in hand – we’ve blogged previously to share our attempts at an evolutionary process. On the other hand, you may be an organisation or group with a clear strategic masterplan with clear measurable outcomes. Either way, we welcome you as readers to interact with us, and are proud to have worked with a diversity of organisational cultures and models.

So what will you see from us this year?

Well, we’ll be blogging more regularly not only about exciting events and training, but also to share our inspiration and learning, and to demonstrate how facilitation, training and supporting groups and communities to grow in resilience and be better able to organise collectively, dynamically, innovatively, and effectively will lead towards a just and sustainable world. Plus show that we can write short and long sentences in the same paragraph. Stop press. You heard it here.

Watch out for our special 6th birthday tweets, and later in the year our website revamp, including new resources for your delight. We’ll also be show-casing some of the in-depth work we’ve been up to over the last couple of years.

Two notable and pretty comprehensive packages have been:

  • working with staff and local groups at 38 Degrees to birth healthy local groups, to offer opportunities to reflect on how they work, and to improve facilitation and group-work skills;
  • working with Co-operatives UK and other training co-ops to develop and run a suite of training for workers’ co-ops exploring communication and conflict, and decision-making, amongst others.

We’ve also been catching public transport throughout the UK to facilitate, work with conflict and train a wide range of groups, organisations and communities – from various kinds of co-ops, campaigners, NGOs, and grassroots groups, to Student Unions and schools innovating with consensus, and top international lawyers evaluating strategies and working together.

Take a look through our website, and do get in touch if there’s any support we can provide for you or exciting collaborations that we could make happen. We’re in this for the long-haul too, and would love to join you on your journeys, walking not running.

Bonnington Square – inspiring community empowerment & collective action

Bonnington Square – c’est si bon

Everyone in Rhizome who can – every six months or so – meets up to do all the things that are best done face-to-face. For a team that’s scattered across the UK, regular calls help us run the co-op, and working together whenever possible builds relationships and is great for sharing experience. However, nothing beats meeting up for such things as strategising, and the deeper levels of learning from each other and sharing good practice.

We held our recent meeting once again in the Bonnington Centre in London. It feels like an honour to go there and see what collective action and community empowerment can achieve. It’s also great to be able to both support a venue that’s right up our street, as it were, but also one that leaves you refreshed and inspired.

bike-box-lambeth-councilAs we approached Bonnington Square from the busy streets and tiring journeys that morning, we felt our troubles slip away, the greenery of years of guerilla tree-planting soothing our minds. We could not but help but be inspired by little things that caught our attention – bicycle racks and on‑street bike shelters, community gardens, a co-operatively run cafe, community centre and more. If you’re not near enough to go visit, you might feel the same after you watch these lovely slide‑shows.

The central square is an ex-bomb site that in the 70s had swings fitted by the local council. It was largely abandoned until 1994 when residents bought and transformed it into a community garden, as a homage to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (“a major feature of London for three centuries; a place of curiosity, promenade and play”). The community garden was:

“designed by committee… and must be one of the best adverts for design by committee that you will ever come across.”

“The intention was to create a gentle and beautiful slice of nature that could serve all sides of the community. A delightful play space for the kids and something of a sanctuary from the big city storm for the adults. It is one of the beating ‘hearts’ of our community and a place of pilgrimage for many more.”

madepossiblebysquatting

The 100 or so houses in the surrounding streets had been bought up by the long-mourned

GLC for the building of a school, and were all in a state of major disrepair, bricked and boarded up. Eventually all the dwellings were made habitable and were home to a diverse, international and bohemian bunch. Many of these squats over time became ‘short-life housing co-ops’ (still functioning 30 years later; here’s a timeline). Residents also created and ran two community gardens, a cafe, a wholefood shop, a nightclub, a newsletter and even a milk-bar.

However, in 2009, Lambeth council “the co-operative council’ made moves to evict the ex‑squatters.shameclose43k

“They’re destroying lives, destroying communities, destroying the things that used to make living in Lambeth so amazing,” she says. “The cooperative council has to understand that you can’t impose a cooperative structure on a group of people. It has to come from the people themselves and they have to be working towards a common goal. And that’s what we did. We took care of vulnerable people, we nurtured them.”

“Now we’re just on a spreadsheet as assets to be disposed of, to be ticked off. We’re not communities, we’re not people: we’re just in the way of them raising money.” (more here).

Financially blackmailed too, the response was for residents to set up a super co-op, Lambeth United. Read more about their innovative and sensible proposals that could benefit all, including the council. Protests have stopped some of the viewings by auctioneers, and there’s been resistance to some of the evictions.

WPLUHClogo2

Photo set

So much to think on, as we ate our lunches in the café, formerly squatted in the 80s and still run collectively.Bonnington-cafe

 

 

What can we learn from such things?

The power of effective organising, direct action and squatting; how inspiring it is to see what a difference people can make through big ventures and small actions; the variety of forms of action and social change needed to respond to changing situations; the power of vested interests and the forces that fuel gentrification and the social cleansing of much of London; and the strength of collective action and empowered communities to create the world we want to see. We hope in our little way to continue to support groups and individuals who also believe some of these things and are ‘fighting the good fight’ – we hope you’ll join with us…

Lovely 20 minute video about the squatted history of the square, with a walk-about the community gardens:

 

upcoming events: bottom-up political and community action and toppling tyranny

How To Do It – Creating Bottom up Political Participation

9-10th April 2016, London

From citizen engagement to radical collective action, the focus of the event is how ‘ordinary’ people can come together to collectively act upon and change their environment.

The challenge is to create determined and conscious collective action, which can be effective, shared and scaled up.

This event seeks to generate and share concrete knowledge of how bottom up radical political participation can succeed.

More info here

Community Action: Taking the Power Back

An open event for people active in their community; we will explore this by hearing from speakers, participating in workshops, networking and dialogue.

We aim to celebrate alternative models and visions of community action, without privileging any single approach.

Purpose:To explore how we can build stronger communities

Date: Friday 29 April 2016

Time: 10.30 am – 4.30 pm

Venue: The Great Hall, Holloway Campus, London Metropolitan University, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DP

Click here to book a place for the this event

Venue is fully accessible: if you have any specific dietary requirements or want to make further enquiries please email Matthew Scott.

You’re very welcome to offer your own workshops and open space discussions in the afternoon. Please contact us before the event if you’d like to offer a topic/input.

We are offering a limited number of travel bursaries for people travelling from outside of London – for further info email.

Learn how tyranny is toppled:

an afternoon with one of the world’s renowned nonviolent democracy campaigners.

25th April 2016, Manchester

Srdja Popovic led the Serbian nonviolent resistance group Otpor! which helped topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

He will be speaking about people power and his inspirational life, which he has dedicated to nonviolent protest against oppression in many parts of the world.

More info

Skilling Up trainings April 2016

Training for change workshop

In April 2016, one of the world’s leading activist training groups, Training for Change, will be visiting London and offering a 10-day programme made of two powerful workshops for trainers and facilitators.

 About these trainings

The three-day ‘Training for Social Action Trainers’ is an intensive training designed for experienced facilitators wanting to revitalise their work; for new trainers wanting to inspire; for teachers, community leaders and activists – for anyone wanting to take their skills to a new level and learn how training can be used more effectively. As a participant, you will gain greater awareness about yourself and your strengths as a facilitator; get a chance to take risks, experiment and refine skills in a safe and supportive environment; learn new tools that are easily adapted, principles of workshop design, skills for working with diversity and a better understanding of how to use experiential education methods effectively.

 

The six-day ‘Advanced Training of Trainers’ involves tackling some of training’s biggest challenges – including doing cross-cultural work, handling conflict and strong emotions, and modifying workshop designs on the fly (which TfC calls ‘emergent design’). This training is only open to people who have already taken the Training for Social Action Trainers workshop, whether on 15-17 April or previously. As a participant, you will receive in-depth, personal coaching on your goals; prepare for cross-cultural work, including international training; use more practice time to experiment with new approaches in a supportive setting.

 

These are intensive learning environments, including morning, afternoon and a number of evening sessions. We ask that you attend all sessions, as each one builds on the ones before. There will be many breaks, and opportunities for self care.

Both workshops begin on the evening of the first day and sessions on all days will continue into the evening.

About Training for Change

For over 20 years, Training for Change has provided activist training for groups across the world who are standing up for social, economic, and environmental justice through strategic nonviolence. TfC has led hundreds of workshops and trained thousands of people – from striking steelworkers to interfaith coalitions for immigrant rights – in the skills they need to effectively create change.

 

TfC calls its approach ‘direct education’: ‘Direct action means actions that directly confront and challenge the current system of injustice; direct education means education that directly confronts and challenges the current system of injustice – which includes how people are taught.’ TfC believes in a group-centered approach, where trainers see themselves as empowering people to discover their own expertise and that of each other. Direct education includes: holding difference/diversity as a theme throughout training, not just as a content area; and inviting risk. You may not always be comfortable during the workshops, since we are learning new skills and approaches to vital issues, but we build up group support to take risks and to learn from them.

 

Details

Training for Social Action Trainers: 15-17 April.

Advanced Training of Trainers: 19-24 April 2016.

Venue: Central London

Fees for both workshops

Organisations: £2,000

Individuals and small groups: sliding scale between £250 – £750

 

If your income is   You pay
under £11,000  £250
£11,001–£15,500  £280
£15,501–£21,000  £330
£21,001–£28,000  £400
£28,001–£37,000  £490
£37,001–£49,000  £600
Over £49,000  £750

 

Fees for Training for Social Action Trainers only

Organisations: N/A

Individuals and small groups: £125 – £250

 

No refunds after 15 March. The fees cover the training and all meals during the training. The fees do not cover travel or accommodation. Both trainings will be held in central London.

How do I apply?

 

Organisations 

There are a limited number of places in these trainings for organisations. People who are employed by a trade union, a campaigning organisation or a public body must apply through their organisation and pay the organisational rate. If an organisation is going to pay for your place, please fill in this form and we will get back to you to discuss your application. Organisational applications are open now and will be done on a rolling basis.

 

Individuals and small groups

If you wish to apply as an individual or from a small group please fill in this form. The application deadline is 15 February and we will get back to everyone who applies this way after that date.

 

If you have any queries, please contact skillingup@peacenews.info

 

 

This training has been made possible by the co-operation of three British organisations:

Peace News

Turning the Tide

Campaign Bootcamp

Sustaining Resistance in the UK

resistanceisfertileSustaining our Activism: Building Resilient Communities

Workshops in the UK in 2016

 

To sustain our work for social change we need to feel empowered, nourished and creative. In these workshops we will explore tools and strategies for finding inspiration, hope, and ways forward through the ups and downs, to keep going for the long haul.

 

We are planning a series of workshops including:

  • An 8-day residential workshop, 26th March – 2rd April 2016 (details below)
  • 1 and 2 day open workshops around the UK (dates tbc)
  • We can run workshops with your group or organisation.

 

These workshops are for anyone working for social change – whether that means building community through arts or events, organising campaigns, resisting injustice, building alternatives or taking direct action.

 

The workshops provide an opportunity to get away from our busy lives and take stock, taking time to reflect and learn from our experiences, and build resilience. We will question the long term viability and sustainability of the ways that we work personally and in our groups, highlighting ways of working that if left un-noticed can produce conflict, physical and mental ill health, trauma and exhaustion. We will develop skills, practices and ideas to help us make changes in our day to day lives that will support our wellbeing and explore ways of working which keep ourselves, our groups, and our communities sustained and effective in the struggle for social, economic and ecological justice.

 

8 day residential workshop 26th March – 2rd April

(Arriving evening of 25th March, leaving morning of 3rd April)

This workshop will take place in a beautiful setting that will provide ideal conditions for reflection and renewal. We hope to bring together a diverse group of people, from across the UK and Europe, involved in a wide variety of issues and projects, who are keen to share their learning with their networks.

 

To make the workshop as accessible as we can, we are asking you to make a contribution towards the workshop costs based on a sliding scale of between £20 – £500 (this includes accommodation and all meals). In addition, we are looking for grant funding, but this is not yet secured. We will know early in the new year if we have enough funding to go ahead with the workshop. In the meanwhile, please send us an email if you are interested in participating. Places are limited.

 

This course will be facilitated by: Kathryn ( www.seedsforchange.org.uk), Claire

( www.ecodharma.com ), Jake ( www.london-roots.org.uk ) and Mara ( www.cre-act.net & www.klimakollektiv.org)

 

If you are interested in participating in any of these workshops, or you would like to discuss us running a workshop with your group or organisation, please email us so we can keep you updated:

SustainingActivismUK@riseup.net

next years’ Co-operative UK training programme

Rhizome is happy to be supporting the new Co-operatives UK programme, for which we will design & deliver training to existing and new co-ops across Britain.

Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Bank have agreed a £1 million three-year partnership to support the development and growth of the UK’s dynamic co‑operative and social enterprise sector.

The new programme, set to launch in early 2016, aims to boost the ‘co‑operative economy’ which is already worth £37 billion to the British economy. Over the next three years, the £1 million programme, the first of its kind in the UK, will support the development of the existing 6,796 independent co‑operative businesses across the UK alongside helping new co‑operatives and community businesses starting up.

“”This programme is about empowering local people to create their own solutions, economically and culturally – giving power to the people.”

For the full story and to register an interest, go here.

Capitalism Is Just a Story – Rise Up and Create a New One

If you didn’t see this earlier in the year, fired up by the symbolism of Bonfire Night*, and you’re more than ready for the weekend after a long week, give this a watch:

How many of us have a sneaking suspicion that something pretty fundamental is going wrong in the world? We keep hearing about the potentially devastating consequences of climate change but we are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every single year. We are forced into economic crisis after economic crisis and the only people who aren’t brought to their knees are those that cause it. In fact, they often just get richer and more powerful while the rest of us work harder and harder for less reward. Politicians all say the same basic thing. No one, it seems, is offering anything that is really different. The whole operating system is somehow wrong, but also somehow inevitable. Nothing can really be changed because this is just how things are.

At least, that’s what we’re told, and how it can feel. But this way of living – our system of modern capitalism – is just a story.  And this story is not the only one there is.  It’s not inherent within us.  It was invented by human beings, and so human beings can change it.

But in order to get there, we first have to face up to some difficult truths.

Re-posted from therules.org

*Bonfire night pictures from Lewes, and London Million Mask protests.

turn the tide – get stuck in to (AKA co-ordinate) non-violent training & education

Turning the Tide workshopJust missed out on joining a small and mighty team of people passionate about using nonviolent power to turn the tide of injustice in society?

Then how about applying for a job co-ordinating Turning the Tide’s programme?  It’ll be based in London, and the deadline is 20th November – see here for more info.

Good luck to our TtT colleague and friend Denise on her journeys south.

Stealing the Future

StealingtheFuture_m_webUtopian and dystopian writings often have a great appeal to those of us who consider ourselves to be working towards a better world. If that chimes with you, then you might want to know about Stealing the Future, written by a good friend of Rhizome, Max Hertzberg. In Max’s own words:

There are quite a few novels describing utopian societies, particularly in the science fiction genre (Ursula K. Le Guin‘s The Dispossessed, Kim Stanley Robinson‘s Mars Trilogy), but it’s rare to come across a book that doesn’t just attempt to describe a utopia set up in a new environment (new planet, new continent, ‘uninhabited’ island etc) but actually attempts to chart the progress of a society like ours to one with more utopian properties. Stealing the Future is an attempt to close that gap – an attempt to describe that phase of hard work, hope and (seemingly?) insurmountable challenges. It’s a thought experiment: how could the East Germany of 1989 go from Communist dictatorship to something much more equitable, much fairer and more just than we even dare dream is possible?

The book’s supported and enhanced by a whole load of related articles on the website. It’ll be launched at the Anarchist Bookfair next month. Happy reading!

poster2015sm

resilience! Festival of Solidarity

This just in from our friends at the Edge Fund:

In November of 2014 members of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid, Lesbian Immigration Support Group and Action for Trans* Health met at Edge Fund’s Radical Sharing Forum and hatched a plan to make their groups more sustainable through a unique community fundraising event. They’ve worked really hard to create an amazing day. Please support them and help make it a huge success. Please buy a ticket (for you or someone else) and spread the word far and wide!

resilience! Festival of Solidarity, 25th July,

MERCi, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Manchester

Join us at resilience! Festival of Solidarity for a family-friendly day of culture, art and music.

We have created an intimate journey through the halls of Bridge 5 Mill, starting with a photo exhibition (there will also be an auction of the photos) interwoven with powerful short films, explosive live music and heart-moving spoken word from some of Manchester’s most talented Artivists.
Bridge 5 Mill will be shaken up by an eclectic mix of Artivists from all of the world. Some of the artists you can look forward to are: Emma Obita – an actress, filmmaker and ‘expressionist’ from Uganda by way of Botswana and Manchester. Elmi Ali is an accomplished writer, poet and revolutionary. The effervescent Marcela Herivia – of Chilean origin – is a British actor and director; Marcela will be reading her works on the day.

You will also be treated to a fantastic line-up of musical acts on the day. Felix Ngindu will be indulging us in the rhythmic sounds from the DR Congo – expect percussion, bongos, rhumba, and of course dancing! Claire Mooney is a singer/songwriter from Manchester. Well known for her presence on the North West LGBT scene, her music is both playful and political. Paper Wings are a 5 piece folk-punk street band from Liverpool, consisting of a Mandolin, Violin, Double Bass, Guitar, Cajon and vocals by everyone!

As if that wasn’t enough, there will be a film screening showcasing 12 films as part of the First Person project. The films are the creation of a collaboration between (Community Arts North West) CAN and Filmonik two brilliant arts orgainsations based in Manchester.

Bridge 5 Mill is Manchester’s first, (and only!) Centre for Sustainable Living. The Mill was refurbished with reclaimed and recycled materials, eco paints, no pvc, water saving and low energy fittings.

More info, and to book tickets

Hope to see you there!

Democracy starts the day after the election…..Days like today can seem

There’ll be a lot of people in the community activist groups, the campaigning organisations, and the co-operatives that we work with who will be feeling the anger, frustration, disbelief, despondency, resignation, powerlessness and more that an election result like the one we’ve just had here in the UK can bring about. So much time, energy, hope has gone into making change and we’re still left with a government who divide and rule, who pit us against each other – those in work against those on benefits, those from the UK against migrants and refugees, the non-disabled against the disabled and so on.

Here at Rhizome we believe in community and we believe in action. Neither of those things is election dependent. There’s been a lot of talk about promises, pledges and vows this election. Our promise, pledge and vow is to continue to work with you, to the best of our ability, to support you to make change, to build community, and to take action that delivers real democracy.

Support is out there if you want to work by more genuinely democratic processes like consensus decision-making, or to take action despite the political system through nonviolent direct action. Here’s a quick run down – whether it’s for formal advice or an informal chat, mentoring, training, facilitation of meetings, try:

  • Rhizome – that’s us. We can help you with your group and organisational processes to build a culture of cooperative democracy. We can also help you strategise and plan for action, as well as train you in the ethos of nonviolent direct action and its techniques. We have lots of free resources on this website

Then there are our sister organisations who can make a similar offer:

Days like today are hard. But this is where democracy really starts – when we decide to set aside mere formalities such as election results and engage in real democracy – in our workplaces, community groups, families, and neighbourhoods. Relearning and rekindling the values of community, of empowerment and of relentless nonviolent action. Get in touch.

Sustainable Activism Weekend Workshop

Where? Claverham, near Bristol
Cost? Sliding scale of £15 – £100
When? Fri 19 (pm) – Sunday 21 June 2015

Why?
When we think of mounting inequalities, eco-systemic collapse, runaway climate change, and the rise of the Right – the problems we face can seem insurmountable. No matter what we do, it never seems to be enough. Change seems to require such immense effort that no rest is permitted. The result is paradoxical: an activist culture of burn out, disillusionment and high drop out rates.

If this resonates with you, if you have felt or feel on the edge of burn-out and want to develop skills to avoid it, join us for a nourishing weekend of personal and collective reflection on effective activism and personal sustainability.

What?
This two-day residential training was borne out of ‘Sustaining Resistance: Empowering Renewal’ a 10 day residential training developed and delivered at Ecodharma in the Catalunyan Pyrenees.

The introductory training applies ecological/systems thinking and holistic-participatory learning to the practice of activism and the building of social movements. It offers both a space of reflection and practical methods for engaging in the inner work that underpins effective activism for social and ecological justice. Themes that will be explored include:

  • Building group dynamics that support sustainable activism
  • Avoiding disillusionment/staying inspired
  • What is ‘enough’ and how to manage it
  • Self care and how to integrate it into our daily lives

Facilitators?
Nate Eisenstadt and Claire Milne, both of whom are co-facilitators of Sustaining Resistance at Ecodharma

More info / apply?
Please email claire[at]ecodharma.com to request a (short) application form.

Sustaining Resistance, Empowering Renewal: Tools for Effective and Sustainable Activism

A 12 day residential workshop in rural Devon
11th – 22nd May 2015

This workshop offers personal and collective tools to help make our activism more effective. Theworkshop aims to help us stay inspired, nourished, empowered and creative. It offers space to reflect and analyse, helping us to stay involved for the long haul, create personal sustainability and bring continuity to our groups and movements. It aims to explore ways of working which keep our groups sustainable and effective in the struggle against social and economic injustice and ecological destruction.

The workshop provides an opportunity to get away from our busy lives and take stock, taking time to reflect on our activist experiences and history and to identify and draw upon sources of nourishment, inspiration, creativity and resilience, and develop skills that can help us make changes that will support personal sustainability and wellbeing. It also provides an opportunity to develop skills for organising and working in groups that will help avoid a burnout culture in our groups and networks. The workshop venue, on the edge of Dartmoor, provides ideal conditions for this reflection and renewal.

The course is offered by the ecodharma collective and Seeds for Change. Places are limited.

Application deadline 27th March 2015.

For more information and an application form please call 01865 403 134 or email kathryn@seedsforchange.org.uk