“...and none of these things mattered as much as the need to weave a solid alliance that would grow into a force that could fight and win.”
Navigate is creating a space for different groups to come together to find ways to collaborate better, and to work through their differences, with our support, in order to build collective power. In this post I delve into why, and how we might support you.
In order to transform the social systems that are devastating communities, ecosystems and Life on Earth, we believe we need to join together; to become a movement that is strong enough to turn things around.
One of the most fundamental goals in working for social and ecological justice, as we understand it, is:
to organise Collective Power, and to focus it in strategically wise and effective ways.
For us there are two super important parts of this:
1. To organise potential power into actual power, moving from separated cells to becoming an organism → realising our collective power and becoming more than the sum of our parts;
2. To focus that power in ways that are coordinated, coherent, strategic and effective, to make the best use of that power to bring about what we want.
To try and explain what we mean by both 1 and 2, I want to give some examples:
If someone grabs hold of my arm and I try to free myself using only my little finger - or my little finger and my knee, but in a way that’s not at all coordinated or working together - it’s going to be hard to get free. If I use my whole body in a coherent, centered way, aligning the power and weight of my legs, core, arms - everything as one - I have way more of a chance. It’s a bit like 3 people pushing a car that won’t start - whether we push at different times or all together makes all the difference.
Secondly, if I use all of my power in a strategically wise way, I’m more likely to be effective. For example, I could use the power of my whole body to move the person who grabbed me into a position where they are strategically weak (e.g. a place where they are less stable and can’t re-stabilise themselves). This might be a more effective use of my power than if I use all my power pushing against them in a way that actually re-stabilises their balance or strength. Strategic coordination and coherence rely on communication and working together.
We believe we live in social and systemic contexts which actively interrupt and disorganise our collective power - and that includes disrupting our power to organise our collective power. We get separated out, either as individuals or as small collectives that can’t really hope to do what’s needed on our own. “Divide and rule” is a method of domination, and in so many ways, we are divided. All the time we don’t succeed in fundamentally transforming our social systems, the forces that are destroying life are winning, and driving us over the cliff edge of tipping points that we may never be able to turn back from.
Collectively we already know a lot about the world we are trying to create, the world that we know is possible; there are so many beautiful visions of what life could be. We already have so much of what is practically needed for that world - ways of doing things better are there, at least in seed form. But we don’t have the power to make them happen at anywhere near the scale that’s needed. Not because we don’t have the potential for that power, but because our power is not sufficiently organised and strategically focused in coherent and coordinated ways - instead we are often divided.
Ultimately we need to build a movement that is powerful, focused and strategic enough to bring about the changes we want. It’s about the processes, systems and culture that bring together and sustain collective power, within movements (as well as in communities and society more widely).
This building and coordinating of collective power has been the basis of so many powerful movements. There are a lot of different ways this can happen, and a lot of different ways of going about it, the rest of this article is about one way that might be helpful.
Navigate has been focusing on supporting groups, projects and organisations to organise and unleash their collective power by supporting them through conflict and challenging decision making. We’ve also been supporting groups in navigating power dynamics, working in sustainable or regenerative ways, developing their internal social systems, and helping them clarify their vision, mission, values, theory of change and strategy.
Now we want to invite different groups and organisations to come together, so that we can host and facilitate the dialogues that could build collective power and make more strategic and coordinated action possible. Often we turn away when things are difficult or we don’t agree, but we want to bring the support that would make it possible for the relationships needed for collective empowerment to grow and thrive.
And with that I turn to you: is there anyone out there whose power, resources, or capacity you wish could be united with yours, to work together, side by side? What’s stopping that happening? Is there a group or organisation that you would like to be working with, but there seem to be obstacles to that happening? Is there a group that you have been working with, but differences have left you stuck, hurt, pissed off, or frustrated? Are there other groups that you could be more powerful with, if you could agree a way forward?
Navigate are offering facilitation to bring together groups and organisations that could be collaborating more effectively and could become more than the sum of their parts. We have funding for this work, so money needn’t be an obstacle.
We could support you to:
This might be hard to imagine, or pretty daunting. From our experience of working with groups in these ways for years, we see massive potential for finding really positive ways forward with all of these things.
If you’re interested email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat.
In this time of utter crisis and ecological, climate and social emergency, we want to find ways to unite, and through that grow the power of those who stand for a world that works for all.