Chris Corrigan’s life’s learning…

We’ve mentioned and linked to Chris Corrigan from time to time on this blog. He’s just uploaded a page he’s entitled A collection of Life’s Lessons with over 80 links:

For a while thought, I have kept a set of writings apart from this blog, titled “A Collection of Life’s Lessons.”  I’ve just spent the morning updating that list, and if you’d like to read the book that I’ll never write, go on over to that page and start reading about everything I’ve learned in 43 years, and all the best stuff I have documented in 10 years of blogging.

Sections include:

  • Lessons about working with groups
  • Lessons about working in organisations
  • Lessons about working in communities
  • Lessons about learning
  • Lessons from indigenous North America and beyond
  • Lessons about life, the universe and everything

Let us know what you find in the collection – where it takes you, what you learn, how it changes your practice. We’ll try to do the same.

Facilitating occupation

In another recent post Chris Corrigan (see our previous post) has also collated a few links to support Occupy protests in facilitation.

Plan to Win have done the same in their #Occupy 101 post, with some specific tools for general assemblies of the kind being used at Occupy Wall Street.

The resources include a fantastic 8 minute video about consensus at Occupy Wall Street, which gives a passionate introduction to the process. I’m sure it’s not all perfect there (where is it?) but it’s a great reminder of the energy and joy that consensus can bring to a movement. I’ve embedded it below. Watch it!. 8 minutes well spent. But that’s not an excuse for not visiting Plan to Win’s site. The other resources are well worth checking out.

In the spirit of signposting resources, here are more links taken from our resources page (many more where these came from). All of these sites have invaluable materials on them on topics like facilitation, but also nonviolent action and strategy:

And of course there’s our own materials.

In praise of activism

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about recent posts on the Occupy movement. Not because I’ve said anything that on reflection I disagree with, but because I know that I’ve been offering a negative critique of both choice of tactics and the robustness of the actions so far without balancing it with a positive critique. So it’s good to read a positive assessment of activist organising from Chris Corrigan and be reminded that whilst, as a community of changemakers, we could undoubtedly do things much better, we’re pretty damn good at it most of the time. Whilst not Occupy-specific, in his post The activist model of action Chris makes an upbeat assessment of those working for change and shares some observations about how to organise most effectively:

When you are working for community change, there is often more at stake than working within organizational settings.  Leadership in organizations, especially commercial organizations tends to focus on efficiency, production and increasing revenues.  Within communities, change is often precipitated by the threat to lives or livelihoods, addressing violence or inequality and improving complex indicators of health and well-being.  Those needs have a way of focusing activist on doing things well, and people who don’t work in this world would do well to learn from those that do.

Starhawk has also been blogging from the Occupy frontline in the USA, and finding real power, energy and inspiration on the streets. Despite my reservations about the choice of tactics, like Climate Camp, Occupy protests are providing a focus and a way in to people who are just starting their activist journey.

I particularly appreciated Chris’s words on activist’s power and privilege, an issue that plagues parts of our movement, and is deservedly getting more attention nowadays than when I first got involved:

If you come to a change initiative with privilege (ie you have power within the system) the best thing you can do to enable change is to check in with your privilege and step out of the conversation to create space for new leaders and new forms of leadership to come forward.  Asserting your privilege closes space down.  Becoming an ally to change initiatives is a powerful and important way to support emerging solutions and to allow leadership to come from anywhere.  People with power and privilege can open lots of space if we get real about how our power works.

Facilitation – moments of clarity

Thanks once again to Dwight Towers for the lead to Chris Corrigan’s Facilitation Resources (which he in turn got from Johnnie Moore). A long and detailed list of approaches, specific tools and more. I haven’t found time to dig around in it just yet, but suspect I’ll be mining it for goodies for a while to come.

Dwight also flagged up Chris’s post The art of giving instructions: 7 practices for facilitators which is well worth a read, and on which I feel there’s more to be said if time allows….