Regenerative Activism and the Ecology of Movements

Rich Mix, Shoredtich | Saturday 6th April 2019, 11am-9.30pm

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Regenerative activism involves practices that renew and revitalise us and our movements, in the midst of our social and ecological struggles. Through a day of workshops, panel discussions and reflection, we’ll explore what this means at the personal, organisational and movement levels of activism and change making.

To make meaningful change, we will to need to be in it for the long haul. To face the inevitable failures and losses along the way, we will need deep resilience. To stay motivated and energised, in the face of the immense challenges, we will need deep wellsprings of inspiration. Regenerative practices can help.

With a regenerative approach to activism, our efforts to respond to social and ecological crises become the basis for remaking ourselves and deepening self-awareness. It involves creating collective initiatives that reveal the power of embodying our values together. It revitalises the radical imaginal of what we and our society can become. It is a container for nurturing the relationships of solidarity and care that we need at the heart of powerful and transformative social movements.

During the day we’ll explore regenerative activism in three interconnected spheres: the personal, the organisational, and the movement level. And we’ll conclude by focusing on the interplay between these levels and asking what a holistic approach to activism and movement building might look like.

The exploration will be in four phases: 

1.     Deeper Resources for Action: Individual and Inner Practices

We’ll ask: How can we balance inner sustenance with outer action? What kind of practices can offer the deeper resources we need to sustain our actions? Are spiritual approaches compatible with hard-nosed political realities? And what can we learn from radical psychiatry and neurodiversity?

 

2.     Walking the Talk: Organisational and Group Dimensions

We’ll ask: How can we create institutions that truly embody our values? How do we balance idealism and pragmatism? What does a culture of care or a regenerative approach look like in our organisations? Are we getting any better that working with power and privilege? How can we balance the demands for urgency with the patience required to build effective organisations and movements?

 

3.     The Ecology of Social Movements: The Creative Tensions of Collective Agency

We’ll ask: What does a healthy movement ecology look like? How can we work creatively with differences of strategy, identity, values, and movement roles? What part do movement cycles and seasons play? How can we balance autonomy and cooperation? What is resilience at a movement level? Are we getting any better at working with the tensions between the grassroots and the institutions? What can strategy look like amidst the high levels of complexity and non-linearity of a social movement?

 

4.     Integral Activism and Holistic Movement Building

How can we integrate our learning from the previous discussions to create a vision for an integral activism and holistic understanding of movement building?


SCHEDULE - participants & workshop descriptions below 

  • 10.45 - Doors open

  • 11.00 - Overview & Presentation - Ulex Project

  • 11.35 - Panel 1: Deeper Resources for Action: Individual and Inner Practices 

  • 12.50 - Breakout 1

  • 13.50 - Lunch

  • 14.50 - Panel 2: Walking the Talk: Organisational and Group Dimensions 

  • 16.05 - Breakout 2

  • 17.10 - Break

  • 17.30 - Panel 3: The Ecology of Social Movements: The Creative Tensions of Collective Agency 

  • 19.00 - Supper

  • 20.00 - Integral Activism and Holistic Movement Building: fishbowl/panel and discussion 

  • 20.45/21.00 - Hangout/Practice session

  • 21.30/22.00 - End

 

Deeper Resources for Action: Individual and Inner Practices - PANEL DISCUSSION and Q&A with:

  • Matt Carmichael (Spiritual Activism)

  • Mama D (Community Centred Knowledge)

  • Kara Moses (Rewild Everything)

  • Gita Parihar (Environmental Advocate)

  • Sam Weatherald (Sunday Assembly)

  • Alex Swain (Ulex Project)

  • Host: Christabel Reed (Advaya Initiative)

deeper resources for action - WORKSHOP CHOICES:

  • Mama D: Plural Ontologies or Epistemologies of Inner Self

    • Indigenous or 'native' ways of relating to life and the planet do not necessarily approach things based on separations or distinctions based upon inner and outer. It is sad that the Cartesian dualities have established separations of mind, body and spirit in the way they have and reduced so much to atomic values. Nevertheless, as our language is the imperial language of English, and as such is imbued with these distinctions, we can but endeavour to explore something more whole and accessible as we together negotiate the rocky and sometimes turbulent but inherently lovingly curated journey towards a more 'resonant livity'!

  • Matt Carmichael: Practices That Nurture Hope

    • In Emily Dickinson’s poem, hope is a bird in our souls that “never stops at all”. In a spiritual perspective, hope is not dependent on circumstances or optimism, but a life-giving inner resource that is there to be found and nurtured. Matt will briefly introduce four types of practice – gratitude practices, mortality practices, presence practices and vocation practices – that feed the bird of hope. Teaching, open discussion and tasters of some spiritual disciplines.

  • Kara Moses: Rewilding Activism - creating a movement based on connection

    • Deep connection with nature can be a source of power and resilience to support our social change work, making us more effective, holistic activists and less prone to burnout. We can choose to do this on an individual level but it must also be integrated into the collective for empowerment on a movement level. How can we bring the wisdom and support of nature into our groups and our movements? Based on models of rewilding, we’ll discuss these themes and ideas for how to implement them.

  • Ruby Reed, Christabel Reed + Gita Parihar: The Roots & Fruits of our Actions

    • What is at the root of our action and what sustains us? How do we orientate ourselves towards action and what role does this play in maintaining inner resilience? Over the course of this workshop we will explore ideas from two ancient texts, The Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras, to see what light they might shine on how we can rise up to face the challenges of the modern day in a way that renews and revitalises ourselves, others and the Earth.

  • Alex Swain: Meditation Maps and Skills for Deep Resilience

    • How is Deep Resilience established? What are the elements which constitute it? What personal/inner qualities can we develop that will enable sustainability, effectiveness, wellness, authenticity and flourishing in our Social Change Practice? This session will offer some introductory theory - a simple and clear meditative map - and some practical meditation teaching, exploration and practice, with time for questions. Come explore!


Walking the Talk: Organisational and Group Dimensions - PANEL DISCUSSION and Q&A with:

  • Kat Wall (Organising for Change)

  • Fatima Ibrahim (We Move EU)

  • Stephen Reid (Psychedelic Society)

  • Byron Lee (Bristol Happy City)

  • Host: Anna O'Brien

WORKSHOP CHOICES:

  • Anna O'Brien: Whiteness and racism - talking about talking 

    • What happens in conversations, groups or events when these get discussed? What's your experience? What works and what doesn't? Experiential discussion. White facilitator. Everyone welcome.

  • Byron Lee

    • Description Pending

  • Kat Wall: Foundations, Visions and Culture

    • Groups are a core part of the ecology for social movements - whether formal organisations or spontaneous gatherings of humans for a few days. How we form, vision and work together is a vital ingredient in creating transformative social change. In this workshop we will explore what makes for joyful, transformative groups (and what doesn't!), and how we can intentionally create spaces where we can thrive in doing the work of changing the world


The Ecology of Social Movements: The Creative Tensions of Collective Agency - Panel Discussion and Q&A with:

  • Asad Rehman (War on Want)

  • Nicolò Wojewoda (350.org)

  • May MacKeith (Natural Resilience Project / End Deportations & Stansted 15)

  • Ali Tamlit (End Deportations, Resist & Renew)

  • Host: Gee (Ulex Project)


Regenerative Activism: Holistic Movement Building deepens and furthers an initial exploration on the theme on Saturday 7th April 2018. 


Collaborators

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Gee, ULEX PROJECT — Joint organisers

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

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.


FATIMA IBRAHIM, WeMove.EU

Fatima Ibrahim is English Senior Campaigner at WeMove.EU. She was recently a campaigner with the global citizens movement Avaaz, working on variety of issues including the climate, land rights, and bringing the war in Yemen to an end. Prior to joining Avaaz she was an activists with the UK Youth Climate Coalition mobilising young people around the UN Climate Talks. 


Gita Parihar, environmental advocate

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. 


Mama D Ujuaje, Community Centred Knowledge

Mama D is a co-curator of 'The Food and Otherworldly Sensory Journeys' and a natural and life-long learning facilitator through plant whispering and embracing the mysteries of the primordial.

As a life-journey guide, Mama D works towards encouraging people of all descriptions to embrace agency in affirmatively reshaping our shared environments. She encourages considerate, mind-and-body-full and wholistic living through the use of a range of enjoyable, reflective, engaging and sometimes disruptive experiences. Transformation, Mama D feels, requires at least momentary detachment!

Mama D has worked in different physical environments, learning from all the elements that nourish and now realise that there is still more digesting to do. Food is such a good metaphor! She is a Food and other Social Justices advocate and organiser, writer and mediator.

Mama D works at soil-soul level where the grass roots are to be found. She supports the navigation of our relationships within the context of the ordinary extraordinary and using the me-ness of us-ness to bring Ubuntu irrationalities into our exchanges. She loved you before we came here and will after we are long gone.


Kara Moses, Rewild Everything

Kara Moses is a facilitator of all kinds of rewilding – landscapes, people, and society – offering experiential, educational courses in nature connection, spiritual ecology and skills for social change. She teaches and facilitates on short courses and Masters programs at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Schumacher College, the Ecodharma centre, Hawkwood College and St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation & Peace, where she is an Associate Fellow. She is Vice Chair of the Wales Wild Land Foundation, which is currently focused on rewilding land in mid Wales with the Cambrian Wildwood project. As a grassroots activist she has spent much of the last few years fighting the fossil fuel industry with Reclaim the Power and Plane Stupid, and as a freelance writer she contributes regularly to Resurgence and Ecologist magazine among others. She lives in an off-grid housing co-op in a core wilderness area in mid Wales with three dogs and five humans. 


Christabel Reed & Ruby Reed Advaya Initiative

Advaya Initiative is an alternative think-tank seeking solutions to the interconnected crises of environmental destruction and mental health. We see the crises we are faced with today as a call to radical action: an opportunity to evolve, to come together and co-create. We inspire and empower young people and change makers to become activists for a better world, addressing narratives of disempowerment and exploring how to lead authentic lives in harmony with nature. We seek transformation at an individual and collective level while cultivating purposeful lives of connection and belonging. 


Sam Weatherald, Sunday Assembley

Sam Weatherald is a community builder, facilitator, musician and mental health activist, and alumni of the Spiritual Ecology fellowship 2018. He is Community Organiser at Sunday Assembly East End, which he helped found in 2016, a secular congregational community where he organises assemblies, hosts, and occasionally drums in the house band! He is also founder of grassroots participatory arts and events collective Antenna, which organises bespoke events supporting and celebrating grassroots London social change communities. His most recent major project was a ‘A Mindful Mess 2018’ a three-day community arts festival in Poplar exploring the mind, mental health and ‘neurodiversity’, funded by Tower Hamlets council, for which he also published an anthology of creative contributions from local people on the theme. Having experienced severe chronic depression for most of his twenties, he is passionately committed to exploring the deep cultural and spiritual roots of disconnection and alienation which have led to the growing mental health crisis. 


Matt Carmichael, Writer & Activist

Matt is a teacher, writer, homemaker and activist based in Leeds. After getting a degree in Theology from Durham Matt got involved with the Reclaim the Streets, Jubilee Debt and Roads protests of the 90s. Since then he has been campaigning on climate justice, including roles in 2 Climate Camps and a recent debate with the president of the NUM. He is a trustee of Tidal (an activist hub in Leeds) and a founder of Schumacher North, which seeks to understand our current ecological and social crises with a focus on the role of spirituality. In 2013 Matt created the Delta Course, an introduction to spirituality for people who are disillusioned with, or uninterested in, religion. His book 'Spiritual Activism', jointly authored with with Alastair McIntosh was published in 2015.  


Kat Wall, Facilitator & Activist

Kat is a trainer, facilitator and researcher. She is co-founder and co-director of organising for change - a training collective that builds the capacity of those working for a co-created, mutually supportive society, rooted in the principles of environmental, racial and social justice. Kat also works as a facilitator supporting movement groups to collaborate well and for the long term. She is also currently involved in a research project exploring how to build strong and effective collaboration for social change. www.katwall.co.uk


Byron Lee, Bristol Happy City 

Byron Lee is Director of Training and Consulting at Bristol Happy City, an organisation offering a place-based model of change that puts the wellbeing of current and future generations centre stage. He has 25 years experience or training and consultancy, and qualifications in counselling, coaching, education, mindfulness and positive psychology. His passions include cooking, family, gardening, music and having a go at almost anything (within reason of course). 


Anna O’Brien, Facilitator & Activist

Anna has provided free training, facilitation, conflict and accountability support to social and environmental justice activist groups for many years, alongside one to one support to key climate activists. She pays the bills via her interim work in the NHS. 


Nicolò Wojewoda, Europe Team Leader at 350.org

Nicolò Wojewoda is a climate change campaigner and organiser, currently Europe Team Leader at 350.org. He co-ordinated in 2013 the Fossil Free Europe tour that boosted divestment campaigning in the region. He now oversees regional efforts on fossil fuel divestment, "keep it in the ground" mobilisations, disrupting fossil fuel finance, and helping build a broad, diverse and powerful European climate justice movement.


Ali Tamlit, End Deportations / Resist + Renew.

Ali Tamlit is a member of End Deportations and a facilitator with Resist + Renew.


May MacKeith - Natural Resilience Project / End Deportations & Stansted 15

May has worked in grassroots activist groups for over a decade, with climate focused groups like Climate Camp, Plane Stupid and and Reclaim the Power, and more recently on immigration issues with End Deportations. Experiencing burn-out first hand led her to recognise the importance of thinking about the long game of our activism, and she now facilitates with Ulex and Ecodharma working around this edge. These experiences helped her recognise the passion she has for connection with the natural world as a powerful source of strength, and that sharing this makes her feel alive! She co-founded the Natural Resilience Project in 2016, to work with migrant women in wild spaces in cities. Together they build resilience, paying close attention to what is happening around, inside and between them.

Many of the women she was working with have first hand experience of the hostile environment, and in March 2017 she took action with the 'Stansted 15' to halt a Home Office deportation charter flight. While the last year or so has been dominated by the trial process, she is finally back focusing on the work she loves!