Regenerative Activism: Revitalising Self and Society
The Cockpit, Marylebone | Saturday 7th April, 9.00am-5.00pm
Join Advaya Initiative and Ulex Project for a unique and timely contribution to addressing a key challenge of our time: how to achieve effective social change while creating personal and collective resilience, enabling our action to be a source of flourishing - individually, together and for society. A day of presentations, discussions and workshops bringing together leading activists and change makers from across the UK and beyond, including:
Justine Huxley (St. Ethelburga's) • Asad Rehman (War on Want) • Alasdair Roxburgh (Friends of the Earth) • Sophy Banks (Transition Network) • Bayo Akomolafe (The Emergence Network) • Pat McCabe (Indigenous Rights) • Sarah Corbett (Craftivist Collective) • Natasha Adams (Campaigns Consultant) • Rachel Lilley (Aberystwyth University) • Guhyapati (Ulex Project & The Eco-Dharma Centre) • Gita Parihar (Legal Consultant) • Ruby & Christabel Reed (Advaya Initiative)
Those of us involved in social change are all too familiar with the challenge of meeting injustice and hardship in the world. Our aim is to explore a range of tools and approaches, collective and personal, to make our activism more effective and sustainable. We will look at the personal and inner dimensions, as well as the interpersonal and organisational factors that enable long term engagement and continuity in the struggles we face. We hope to understand how our work for social change can be a context for flourishing, both individually and socially.
We will explore these issues using holistic and participatory methods, drawing on popular education, ecological and systems thinking, as well as reflective practices. The day will bring together leading activists and change makers from across the UK and beyond, to share practice and strengthen networks. It will be made up of presentations, discussion and workshops, which will aim to:
- Explore methods of working effectively with the personal and inner dimension of activism, helping us take better care of ourselves, equipping us to avoid burnout and to better empower ourselves for action.
Share ways of supporting more skilful interpersonal work in our groups and networks, and enable ways of organising which exemplify the values we want to realise in the world.
Create a vibrant and supportive space for those involved in social change work to reflect deeply, analyse and share our experience of the personal and interpersonal dimensions of our work – finding nourishment, inspiration and learning from each other.
(Talk descriptions & bios below).
09.15 - Doors Open
09.30 - Opening Talk - Ulex Project
10.15 - NGO Panel Discussion Hosted by Gita Parihar:
- Asad Rehman (War on Want)
- Alasdair Roxburgh (Friends of the Earth)
- Sophy Banks (Transition Network)
11.05 - Break
11.15 - Talks Part 1 + 25m Q&A:
- Justine Huxley (St Ethelburga’s)
- Bayo Akomolafe (The emergence network)
- Pat McCabe (indigenous rights)
12.25 - Lunch (Piccalilli Caff)
13.10 - Talks part 2 + 25m Q&A:
- Sarah Corbett (Craftivist Collective)
- Natasha Adams (campaigns consultant)
- Rachel Lilley (aberystwyth university)
14.20 - Break
14.30 - Workshops. CHOOSE ONE FROM:
- Ulex Project
- Justine Huxley (St Ethelburga’s))
- Sarah Corbett (Craftivist Collective)
- Pat Mccabe (indigenous rights)
- Sophy banks (Transition Network): Thriving projects, thriving people
16.00 - closing Reflection
17.00 - End
Organiser, Speaker & Workshop Host
Opening Talk: A keynote opening presentation, drawing on 10 years of running workshops for activists in personal and organisational sustainability. Touching on the themes of the day the presentation will enable the audience to reflect and share on the importance of the issues at hand.
Workshop Description: Drawing on the toolkit from their Regenerative Activism training, the Ulex collective will use participatory methods to help us reflect on the personal, interpersonal and political dimensions of activist sustainability, to deepen our understanding of the challenges that face us, and develop strategies to stay inspired and effective for the long haul.
Bio: A hub of collaboration, the Ulex Project is run by Col·lectiu Eco-Actiu, a non-profit involved in the design and delivery of residential trainings since 2008. The Ulex Project is a fresh initiative building on that experience. Ulex Project believe that connectivity is a key to cognitive vitality and learning. Diversity is crucial to resilience and adaptive capacity. We live at a time where social and ecological challenges require a shift from atomised individualism to networks of solidarity. It implies a new collectivity which still honours individuality. It requires cooperation balanced with autonomy. Ulex thrives on connectivity and seeks to be a reference for value based collaboration. Ulex works with numerous individuals and organisations to design and deliver our training programme. They establish partnerships with organisations across Europe and internationally. They bring diverse groups and individuals together in learning communities. They support organisations, groups, and individuals to foster collaborations, build networks, share experience, and deepen movement resilience through meaningful connection.
ASAD REHMAN (WAR ON WANT)
Participant in the NGO Panel
Bio: Asad Rehman is the executive director of War on Want, where he organises to put an end to poverty and injustice. Prior to that, he was the head of international climate at Friends of the Earth. Rehman has over 25 years of experience in the non-government and charity sector. He has served on boards of Amnesty International UK, Friends of the Earth International, Global Justice Now, and Newham Monitoring Project.
ALASDAIR ROXBURGH (FRIENDS OF THE EARTH)
Participant in the NGO Panel
Bio: Alasdair Roxburgh Director of Networks and Communities at Friends of the Earth.
SOPHY BANKS (TRANSITION NETWORK)
Participant in the NGO Panel & Workshop Host
Workshop Description: Thriving Projects, Thriving People. Understand the three core aspects of group life and learn to take care of the life blood of any group – the relationships between people. This workshop will offer practical tools to help groups create balanced, enjoyable, effective ways of working together.
Bio: Coming from a background in engineering and computing, Sophy soon realised that there were many questions technology couldn’t answer, and in 1995 she started her inner journey. She has worked as a psychotherapist, family constellator and workshop leader combining insights from indigenous traditions, western therapy schools and meditation practices. In 2006 Sophy helped to set up the first “Heart and Soul” group of the newly forming Transition Town Totnes (link is external) , the first experiment in a movement (link is external) which thousands of communities globally have tried in some form. In her ten years at the heart of Transition she has trained people around the world in the model evolved in Totnes, to reimagine and build a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive future at the scale of local community. Sophy’s passion was to bring deep insights and processes to a movement tending to focus on external change. In 2016 Sophy stepped back from the Transition movement to give time to her own work and teaching. She played a lot of football in her youth, and is proud to grow most of her own vegetables and just about get up the Devon hills on her bike.
JUSTINE HUXLEY (ST ETHELBURGA'S)
Speaker & Workshop Host
Bio: Justine leads on overall strategy, vision and management at St Ethelburga's. She has a Ph.D in psychology, with a background in business communications and 5 years of experience on the trading floor of a City investment bank. She is passionate about bringing people together from different backgrounds and co-creating innovative projects that speak to the needs of the time. Justine sees peace as a dynamic state where people collaborate across divisions in service to the whole.
BAYO AKOMOLAFE (THE EMERGENCE NETWORK)
Speaker (via Skype)
Talk description: Activists are made of apples, pixels and monstrous things: a postactivism of desire, wellbeing, justice and failure.
Who is the subject of activism or burnout? To whom do we refer when we speak about the 'activist'? At what point would our actions and practices have sedimented long enough to be considered a heap of justice? What does victory look like in a rhizomatic world that resists beginnings and endings? And what if we fail? Are there new questions we can ask about caring for ourselves? Are there new capacities that emerge from noticing we derive our being only in the relational matrix of other nonhuman agencies? In this story about postactivism - a queering of the usual trope of ethical responsivity in a more-than-human world - Bayo Akomolafe shares why we are seductively drawn into new understandings about our entanglement with the world, and why this destabilizes our usual lines of reasoning about how to be more efficient, or take better care of ourselves, in our quests for 'justice'.
Bio: A renegade academic, lecturer, speaker, and proud diaper-changer, Bayo Akomolafe curates an earth-wide organization (The Emergence Network) to respond to civilizational crisis - a project framed within a feminist ethos and inspired by indigenous cosmologies. He considers this a shared art - exploring the edges of the intelligible, dancing with post-humanist ideas, dabbling in the mysteries of quantum mechanics and the liberating sermon of an ecofeminism text, and talking with others about how to host a festival of radical silence on a street in London - and part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. He also hosts a course (We Will Dance with Mountains) among other offerings. In short, Bayo has given up his longing for the "end-time" and is learning to live in the "mean time". In the middle, where we must live with confusion and make do with partial answers. His greatest vocation is however learning to be a satellite orbiting his greatest gift, his goddess Ijeoma, and knowing the blessings of her gravity. He speaks and teaches about his experiences around the world, and then returns to his adopted home in Chennai, India - "where the occasional whiff of cow dung dancing in the air is another invitation to explore the vitality of a world that is never still and always surprising." Bayo has authored two books, ‘We Will Tell Our Own Story!’ and ‘These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home’.
PAT MCCABE (INDIGENOUS RIGHTS)
Speaker & Workshop Host
Bio: Woman Stands Shining, Pat McCabe, has the honor of being of the Dine (Navajo) Nation. A Life-Bringer, Life-Bearer Mother, writer, artist, activist, speaker and cultural liason, her work is driven by the study of the Science of Right Relations. Moving from the central knowledge that We, The Five-Fingered-Ones, are born into Beauty, as Beauty, for Joyful Life, she brings the understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing into discussion and inquiry on Sustainability. Born to a People who have deep understanding and methodology for Restoration, she carries the Beauty Way into places where it has formerly been kept out. Pat is an active participant in Indigenous Peoples gatherings worldwide most recently in Chile, Belgium, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Bali. She has worked with the International Center for Cultural Studies in India and with Sarvodaya with Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne in Sri Lanka, as well as with organizations and gatherings in the U.S. Her recent work includes being a cultural consultant to the Pachamama Alliance, Inner Circle Invitee to the Language of Spirit Dialogue - Dialogue between Quantum Physicists, Linguists, Scientists and Indigenous knowledge keepers. Upcoming work includes the AUM National gathering, Women's teachings In Chile, and work with Israeli and Palestinian women.
SARAH CORBETT (CRAFTIVIST COLLECTIVE)
Speaker & Workshop Host
Bio: Sarah Corbett founded Craftivist Collective in 2009 when after years of marches, signing protests and working on campaigns for large charities, she had begun to doubt the effects of some conventional activism, and as an introvert didn’t feel she fitted in to many activist groups. The time felt right to add a slower and less aggressive approach to the activism toolkit, not to replace other forms of activism but to add more tools to do activism effectively. Sarah saw how she could use some of the beneficial processes of craft and the final products as tools for a more gentle, respectful and more targeted way of doing activism. Although as a principle ‘Craftivism’ already existed, it took no time for Sarah to develop her own unique approach she calls ‘Gentle Protest’. One focused first on putting the contemplative moments spent stitching to work for the maker; exploring global issues and using craft for critical thinking. But then the finished craft piece are used in different ways to engage, empower and encourage people to become part of the change we need to see in the world.
Now with thousands of members, Craftivist Collective is thriving. Craftivism kits and tools are sold to craftivists and intrigued people all over the world. ‘A Little Book of Craftivism‘ book was release 2003 and a more in-depth book ‘How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest‘ is due for release October 2017. You can find their approach to craftivism in many different publications (and languages) around the world; 4 TEDx talks; over 300 workshops and presentations given around the world attended by over 11,000 people, and many successful partnerships with charities (including Unicef and Save the Children), art institutionsand universities (such as Bauhaus University, Falmouth University and Parsons New School NYC) have all helped carry the‘gentle protest’ methodology to a global audience whilst their campaigns have created tangible positive change. Worldwide project exhibitions and high profile collaborations, with the likes of cult jewellers Tatty Devine, The V&A and Secret Cinema, have helped extend its reach beyond the normal bounds of activism.
NATASHA ADAMS (CAMPAIGNS CONSULTANT)
Bio: Natasha’s years as a grassroots activist focused on environmental and social justice, and anti-militarism, evolved into a career as a professional campaigner which has spanned the last decade. She is a self described social change geek, obsessed about bringing fresh perspectives to the important question of how best campaigns, especially those focused on transformative systems change, can succeed. To this end she has convened numerous workshops and events exploring the theory and practice of many aspects of campaigning, and has gained a reputation as an activism expert in the UK. Having become frustrated with the limitations of NGO campaigning, Natasha now works as a freelancer, prioritising projects promoting community organising approaches and nurturing European social movements. Natasha also runs the Engaging Activists Facebook group and writes her own blog on activism and social change.
RACHEL LILLEY (ABERYSWYTH UNIVERSITY)
Talk Description: It’s not how it looks...
A brain is not evolved for rationality, happiness or accurate perception. Neuroscience and contemporary theories of the brain agree with Buddhist teaching, that the brain is not designed to see reality. We understand this more than ever, so how does this effect how we work as activists to create change?
By understanding the latest theories of the brain, combined with practices of insight and reflection, we can make our work more effective and understand better the challenges of change making. This work draws from empirical research, developing, delivering and evaluating programmes in change making organisations. Rachel shows that learning about the brain from both a personal (mindfulness) and theoretical (neuroscience, psychology, behavioural economics) perspective can transform the way people work. How an understanding of unconscious bias, the role of emotions and intuition in decision making, together with increased self-awareness, meta cognitive and perspective taking skills, could help create the next cognitive evolution that might help us achieve revolutionary change.
Bio: Rachel is a mindfulness academic, advisor and trainer with over 20 years’ experience in social and environmental change, through activism, community engagement, project delivery, training and yoga teaching. She has worked on homelessness, international development, Aids, Permaculture, climate change, human rights and sustainability education. She lived and worked in coops for over 15 years, where she brought up her two children. She is now a leading researcher on mindfulness as a means of supporting change and delivers a masterclass on her work at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. Her research looks at how internal awareness and development can create capacities in activists, leaders and change organisations to enable them to better deal with 'wicked' and complex problems such as climate change and social inequality. She has worked extensively with Welsh Government, developing and evaluating programmes bringing mindfulness together with the behavioural sciences. She has a background in combined social sciences, and is currently completing a PhD on this work at Aberystwyth University.
GITA PARIHAR (CAMPAIGNS CONSULTANT)
Organiser & NGO Panel Host
Gita was Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth until July 2016 and has spent 12 years working with and for campaigning organisations, using her skills as a solicitor to bring environmental cases and advise at international negotiations on issues like climate change. This gives her a deep familiarity with the rewards and challenges of environmental activism. Alongside her legal work, Gita is passionate about exploring approaches to saving the planet that sustain us as human beings. Gita is a trustee of the UKYCC and the Climate Justice Fund and currently studying for an MA in Spirituality and Ecology at Schumacher college.
The Cockpit is the only purpose built theatre-in-the-round in Central London. As well as performances, the theatre hosts classes and professional development courses. Both the auditorium and studios are available to hire, for shows, rehearsals, photo or film shoots, auditions, workshops, and seminars. The Cockpit is owned and supported by City of Westminster College. thecockpit.org.uk
The Cockpit, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH
Nearest stations: Edgware Road (Hammersmith & City, District, Circle, Bakerloo), Marylebone (Bakerloo, main line). Both are about a 7 minute walk.