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!



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!

Sustainable Activism Weekend Workshop

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

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.

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

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

More info / apply?
Please email claire[at] 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

working with conflict taster/freebie

Hello to the multitudes that read our blog. I am running a taster session for Talk Action on the afternoon of 7th May, in central London, near Old Street tube. The taster will cover elements of a working with conflict programme I’m developing for them. In the taster, specifically, we will explore states of mind, active listening and how to avoid escalating conflict and getting the most, rather than the least, out of a conversation.

I’ve been told I can have a few friends along for free – let me know. Soon.



Co-operatives skills training: meetings, management, conflict and change

Over the last year or so Rhizome’s been working with Co-operatives UK to assess the training needs of co-ops, bring on board other training co-ops, and agree and design a package of 5 seminars all around co-operation.

For too long co-op training has focused on business start-up, legal structures, financial management. All necessary stuff, but none of it supports us to learn to co-operate better. So that’s where these courses come in. They aim to support co-ops with the skills and attitudes needed to co-operate through conflict, change, meetings, in management, and in developing that deeper sense of what it means to co-operate.

The first courses run soon in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester and can be booked through the Co-operatives UK website.

The process of co-operating on the course aims and content has raised some interesting questions on what we believe we can achieve through training – developing co-operative skills? Developing co-operative skills and attitudes? Sadly the pressure to get the courses up and running hasn’t allowed us the luxury of exploring these questions fully. But as we run the courses and learn from each other, the answers will become clearer – we’ll cross-fertilise between co-ops and co-develop our own co-operative skills (and maybe attitudes!).

Rhizome trainers will be at work on the Communication and working with conflict and Being a good co-op member courses to start with. See you there.

How to – get on a training about working with conflict


We’re offering, with Co-ops UK, a course called Communication and working with conflict. A bit of a gob full, but nonetheless it’s been tested and evaluated by worker co-ops in the last year or so; and elements of the programme have been used with community and campaign groups for the last 15 years.

We will work with you to (re)discover your own skills at working with contention, differences and arguments in a way which’ll help to solve them, not grow them. It doesn’t always work in solving matters, but everyone gets a lot clearer about what’s going on.

Unlike other programmes in this area we do not follow a dogmatic or branded approach. Our years of talking to and with people, has been stuffed into some easy to use and learn approaches to working with both what’s going on in your head when dealing with conflicts, and some steps to working with other people in conflict.

We like training it, we think you’ll like working with us. Sign up here.

Carl and others

Solidarity Activism Workshop

Solidarity Activism Workshop, Sunday 1st December 2013, 12-6, Leeds University Union

TidalA space for reflection on our experiences of solidarity activism and working mindfully with communities facing oppression/opposing environmental destruction.

This workshop is not a training. It will not tell you ‘how to do solidarity activism in ten easy steps’ but it will allow experienced and inexperienced people to raise and reflect on some issues around how ‘we’ act in solidarity with communities that may be very different from us culturally and politically, who may have very different ideas about tactics and decision-making. Solidarity activism requires us to reflect on our own attitudes and privilege. And to be mindful that while we can ‘parachute in’ and then return to our lives, others live with any impacts that our actions have. But bearing all of these issues we still must to act – because acting in solidarity is fundamental to our sense of justice and our fight for a better world.

We hope to be able to arrange accommodation for people coming from outside Leeds and there will be a travel pool to help with travel costs. The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. We hope to be able to arrange a crèche if there are parents who need to bring their children. There will be vegan food available for donations. Please let us know if you need accommodation, childcare, or have other dietary requirements by leaving a comment on our facebook event or emailing

More info and some suggested reading on facebook

Tidal is a global justice campaign group based in Leeds.

Sustaining Resistance 2014 – deadline 31st August; fully funded places

flamec bodySustaining Resistance, Empowering Renewal

26 April – 4 May 2014

This training offers personal and collective tools to make our activism more effective by supporting us to:

–     stay in activist work for the ‘long haul’ by avoiding burn out through creating personal and group sustainability and adding continuity to our movement building,

–     ensure that the collective dimensions of our activism exemplify the values we struggle for.

–     stay inspired, nourished, empowered, & strategically creative

 The training applies ecological/systems thinking, radical analysis and holistic-participatory learning to the practice of activism and the building of social movements. It offers practical methods for engaging in the inner work that underpins effective social engagement. It will also bring together activists from across Europe to share practice and strengthen networks.

These residential trainings in a wild and remote part of the Catalan Pyrenees in Spain will also give you the opportunity to experience life in a land-based community based on simplicity, low-impact living and being close to the land.

 For more information visit:

To apply for full funding please email: for Sustaining Resistance
We will email you an initial application form – to assess your eligibility, and which
you need to return to us by 31 August 2013. See below for details on the full application process.

Costs of training

Fully funded places: Full funding is available (including travel) for those eligible for Grundtvig In Service Training Funding.

Dana economy:  Needs based Economy – for those ineligible for grant funding or who are unsuccessful we can explore reduced and bursary funded – for more info please visit

 Full price: For those who can support the full costs of the event from their own resources the full cost of Effective Collaboration is 500 Euros and 717 Euros for Sustaining Resistance – plus a contribution towards food, accommodation and a local pick up by car (this amount represents full cost recovery, which means, how much it actually costs to deliver the course). This price is for those eligible for funding or with means to meet these costs.

 If applying for a dana / bursary place or at full price please indicate your respective situation and ability to contribute.

Funding Application Process

For those interested in applying for funding, once you have requested and returned our own internal application form by 31 August, we will assess whether it meets both the course and the grant profile/criteria. If you seem eligible for grant funding we will support you through the Grundtvig In Service Training Process step by step and send you all the supporting materials and information you need to complete the process. This will involve filling in Grundtvig’s on-line application form by 17th September 2013.

Dana / bursary application process

For those who wish to be considered for a reduced price or bursary/dana funded place please request and return our internal application form by 31 August. Then, once it is clear how many reduced price places we can offer in April we will be in touch with selected applicants by October 2013 to let them know if they have a place. For most Dana funded places participants will need to fund their own travel.

 Full price application process

For those who have the means to meet the full costs of the course, please fill in the internal application form by August 31st 2013. If you are selected for a course place we will be in touch to arrange payment by October 2013.

Is your organisation agile?

We’ve mentioned Holacracy a few times of late and explored how it relates to formal consensus decision-making because Rhizome’s  Nick Osborne has been exploring it in-depth.

He’s now offering a series of one day introductions to Holacracy through Agile Organisation.Over the next 18 months workshops will take place around the UK and Ireland in such places as Swansea, Bristol, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Dublin and more.

You can find out more there, or book your place through their Eventbrite page. And if you go along, don’t forget to let us know how it went.


Sustaining Resistance, 2013

Tools for Effective-Sustainable Activism,12-20 October 2013, Catalan Pyrenees

!! Deadline to apply for fully funded places, including travel: 20 April 2013 !!

This residential training, hosted in a wild part of the Catalan Pyrenees, offers personal and collective tools to make our activism more effective.

Sustaining Resistance helps us:

  • stay in it for the long haul, creating personal and group sustainability and adding continuity to our movement building.
  • ensure the collective dimensions of our activism exemplify the values we are struggling for.
  • stay inspired, nourished, empowered, & strategically creative.

The training applies ecological/systems thinking, radical analysis and holistic-participatory learning to the practice of activism and the building of social movements. It offers practical methods for engaging in the inner work that underpins effective social engagement. It will also bring together activists from across Europe to share practice and strengthen networks.

This 9 day residential training in a wild and remote part of the Catalan Pyrenees in Spain will also give you the opportunity to experience life in a land-based community based on simplicity, low-impact living and being close to the land.

For more information visit

Fully funded places: You may be eligible for a fully funded place on this course (including travel) –please email by 20 April to ask for information about this.

Dana economy: Needs based – for those who are unable to receive grant funding we are able to explore reduced and bursaried places based on a dana economy – for more information please visit

Full price: 717 Euros plus food, accommodation and local pick up (this amount represents full cost recovery, i.e. how much it actually costs to deliver the course and is only for those eligible for funding or with others means to meet these costs).

To apply for a place based on the dana economy or at full price, please email by end of June for an application form.

Funding from the edge to the edge

We’ve mentioned the Edge Fund before. Time to mention them again as their second funding round has just opened and decisions will very soon be taken as to who gets what from their first round – in fact the decision will be taken on Saturday.

So who are the Edge Fund and what do they do? You could do worse than read the Fund’s guest post over at the New Left Project‘s blog. Here’s a couple of snippets that will hopefully answer any questions you have:

We hope we are removing as many barriers to funding as possible. Barriers which include: funding being restricted to people in ‘the right networks’; groups and communities not knowing that the funding exists; groups and communities with language and literacy issues; the need to complete complex, written application and reporting forms that often use jargon; and organisations and activists being regarded as ‘too radical’….


…The aim is to prioritise groups who are working for systemic change, and ideally organisations who are led by those who are most affected by an issue. This is because if we want real, long-lasting change it has to come from the bottom up and it has to be people taking back control over their lives. So we are supporting groups which are grassroots-led and which do not suffer from the growing ‘professionalisation’ of activism, where salaries from large charities and other organisations have diluted people’s politics and often distanced them from the grassroots.

It’s a brave attempt to fund radical work in radical way – funding from the edge to the edge. Rhizome has had a modest input, in the form of facilitation of meetings, into the development of the fund. We watch that development with interest!


Facilitating Change: Supporting Effective & Sustainable Action Groups

Facilitating Change: Supporting Effective and Sustainable Action Groups
A 7 day residential workshop in rural Wales, 15th-22nd March 2013.

Effective group-work and high quality decision-making. That’s what we all long for, right? Yet bad process is rife in our grassroots action groups and can lead to a lack of trust and respect, frustration, resentment, burnout and ultimately group failure.

We can’t fix this overnight – Facilitating Change is an opportunity to start doing some of the work needed to build strong and sustainable direct action groups and networks.

This week-long workshop will be an opportunity to develop and strengthen our practice as facilitators and trainers, increasing the capacity, effectiveness and sustainability of our social change groups and movements. We hope to go beyond the current facilitation tools and develop our intuitive skills to help us support groups as much as possible.

We will do this by:

  • Deepening our understanding of the values, attitudes and behaviours needed to facilitate effective group-work.
  • Working together to develop strategies, tools, support and resources to help our groups and movements identify shared values, build trust, develop open communication and handle conflict positively.

This will help our groups make good decisions, implement them and stay sustainable and effective for the long haul!

Facilitating Change is a collaboration between activist trainers from
Rhizome, the Tripod Collective and Seeds for Change. You should apply if:

  • You are involved in grassroots activism in groups, movements or
  • You’ve ever noticed how grassroots groups can be effective and
    inclusive one week and shockingly bad at working together the next.
  • You have some experience of facilitating meetings, workshops or
    trainings within grassroots movements or if you don’t consider
    yourself to be a formal facilitator, you are familiar with
    participating in meetings and try to foster good process to support
    your group to work effectively together.
  • You have ideas about how to help groups work more effectively.
  • You are keen to improve your facilitation and / or training skills.
  • You intend to share your learning with your own group and your wider networks.

We have funding to cover some costs. We will also be asking participants to contribute to the costs of the event on a sliding scale of £30-£150. We don’t want to exclude anyone on the grounds of cost so please contact us if making a financial contribution to the event would prevent you from participating.

How do I apply?
Places are limited, so we have a selection process. Please contact us for an application form or download it. Get in touch to ask any questions about the course: facilitatingchangeATriseupDOTnet. Applications by 14th December, please.

DOWNLOAD: Application_Form_for_Facilitating_Change

Aspects of autism and neurodiversity

Regular readers of this blog may remember a couple of posts we wrote on autism and social change. Here’s a chance to find out more:

Aspects of autism and neurodiversity: a brief introduction for social change groups

Saturday 22nd September
7.30pm – 8.30pm
Old Music Hall
106-108 Cowley Road

Do you want your group to welcome diversity? Do you want to work together harmoniously?

Neurodiversity impacts on the way people see the world and interact. Understanding neurodiversity and autism can improve the way you understand and work with others in your social change groups and how you facilitate workshops and meetings.

The workshop will be facilitated by Caroline Hearst who was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum in her fifties.

The event is being hosted by Seeds for Change. Please let us know if you plan to attend this workshop as Caroline would like to know numbers. Either email richardATseedsforchangeDOTorgDOTuk or call us on 01865 403134. If no-one answers please leave a message.

Biofuelwatch and Friends of the Earth event – London

Biofuelwatch and Friends of the Earth are pleased to invite you to a FREE half day event:

Forests are Not Fuel: The Limits of Bioenergy in Climate Mitigation
Tuesday 9th October, 9.00am – 1pm
Quakers at Westminster, Friends Meeting House, London
A morning workshop with keynote speakers and group discussions to learn about and explore the environmental and social impacts of burning large-scale biomass and biofuels for power generation. Find out more here.
To find out more and register your attendance please send an email marked for the attention of Emilia at before 1st October.

Grassroots Campaigning Skills for Activists Conference

Unlock Democracy and the Electoral Reform Society are hosting a Democracy Grassroots Conference for activists from all over the UK to share their ideas, thoughts and skills on effective local campaigning.

Grassroots Campaigning Skills for Activists
Saturday 20th October 2012 – 10.30am  to 5pm
Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) Building -138 Digbeth, Birmingham

They are planning a series of workshops, speakers and discussion sessions and want your input – what topics would you like to discuss at the conference and who do you want to hear speak? Find out more and contribute here.


festival of co-operation

Co-operatives United is an inspiring global festival of events and exhibitions set in Manchester, UK, to mark the close of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives. With 1 world premiere, 3 exhibitions, 10 conferences, 45 countries, 150 workshops, 200 exhibitors and 10,000 people, Co-operatives United will inform and inspire everyone building an ethical economy and a better world.”

So says the website.

We’ll probably be going – will we see you?

Sustaining Resistance, Empowering Renewal

Tools for Effective Sustainable Activism
9 day workshop in the Catalan Pyrenees

10th to 18th November 2012

This workshop, hosted in a wild part of the Catalan Pyrenees, offers personal and collective tools to make our activism more effective. They can help us stay in it for the long haul, creating personal sustainability and adding continuity to our movement building. They can also ensure the collective dimensions of our activism exemplify the values we struggle for. They can help us stay inspired, nourished, empowered and strategically creative.

The workshop applies ecological/systems thinking, radical analysis and holistic-participatory learning to the practice of activism and the building of social movements. It offers practical methods for engaging in the inner work that underpins effective social engagement. It will also bring together activists from across Europe to share practice and strengthen networks. Funding is available for some participants, but places are limited.

More information and application form