For everyone who couldn’t make it or who wants to re-listen, here is the link to the recording (as above!), and here are the slides. Please feel free to share them with folks you trust.
We really really appreciated people showing up and engaging with us. And it’s exciting that so many of you are interested in this topic - we had just over 440 people sign up to the session.
Coming up in this post:
A few things we want to make super clear:
What Happens Now?
Part of the purpose of the call was to reach out more widely to find people that what we are saying rings true for. We’re not asking you to agree with us, but we are interested in moving forward with those who do feel similarly to us.
We want to try and lay out clearly what we are suggesting/offering to those who are actively interested in what we’re talking about.
The question of “Leadership” came up on the call - people understand that word in very different ways, and there is a lot of complex stuff attached to it. Miki Kashtan talks about leadership as “caring for the whole” - a principle that we try to follow. We are entering this exploration as facilitators, mediators and trainers, trying to make the abilities and experience that we have to offer as useful as we can. We are therefore taking some kind of lead in 2 ways:
1) Laying out why co-creating a Movement Like We’ve Never Known is so important to us.
2) Creating spaces where we can guide and facilitate the processes that could bring about powerful collective leadership and collaboration in building this much deeper and wider kind of Movement
So, these are the 3 practical actions we are seeing right now. You might want to:
We could also hold a follow up call potentially, for people who are interested and want to engage more/ask questions/explore how to create a Movement Like We’ve Never Known. Please let us know in this form if you would want that and would try to come along.
Where This Came From - Acknowledging Our Sources, Inspirations & Influences, + How to Learn More:
All of Paul and Ama’s perspectives are deeply rooted in and massively woven from the work of others. We also acknowledge that lots of what we are saying has almost certainly be known, said and practiced by others around the world before us that we sadly do not know of and have not been able to learn from directly.
We want to acknowledge the many influences and inspirations that we have drawn from directly, or adapted ideas from, much more fully than we made space for on the call. We feel a particular importance of doing so when these influences and inspirations come from more intensely oppressed and marginalised people and communities. In no particular order…
Kurdish Freedom Movement
An incredibly powerful Movement in the world right now that is bringing to life and putting into practice anarchist ideas of radical democracy, feminism and ecology, exploring how to dismantle patriarchy in ourselves, our communities and society. It is a living reality for millions of people right now, and is constantly inspiring to us. Dilar dirik's ‘Kurdish Women's Movement: History, Theory, and Practice’ is a good place to start. And look out for ‘Worth Fighting For: Bringing the Rojava Revolution Home’ by Jenni Keasden and Natalia Szarek, forthcoming from Active Distribution.
The Civil Rights Movement
We try to ongoingly learn from this movement and the thousands and thousands of people who made it, with courage, wisdom and Love beyond words. Two people who we have quoted directly, and who inspire and inform us deeply, are Bernice Johnson Reagon and Martin Luther King Jr.
Fred Hampton & The Black Panther Party
We are very inspired by what we know of Fred Hampton’s leadership and vision in working for liberation, empowerment and systemic transformation for Black communities in the USA, and we particularly want to learn from the work to build coalitions and collaboration across differences that lead to the Rainbow Coalition.
These are a few among the many movements that we find inspiration, hope and learning. Others include: Indian Farmers Strike, Zapatistas, The Uprising of which Boudica was a leader (around the year 60 A.D.), the MST in Brazil, the Indian Independence Movement, and so many more in the past, present and future who strive for a World that works for all.
Restorative Circles & Dialogical Systems - these areas of work are a huge and central inspiration and influence on our thinking and work in general, and those influences were woven through many of the different things we spoke about on the call. We have learned about them from Dominic Barter, who has been at the centre of the development of this work around conflict, restorative justice and the collaborative development of social systems. As we understand it, these areas of work began in and grew from favela and other highly marginalised and oppressed communities in Brazil with whom Dominic collaborates. Some specific ideas we drew from this work include the idea of setting up “Fight Rooms” - intentional spaces for engaging with painful conflict - a concept originally named by students in the peripheries of São Paulo, and the focus on, way of understanding and way of developing social or organisational systems that we referred to as “Living Systems” that can create social conditions that support the ways we want to act together. Another fundamental principle that is deeply woven into our perspective that we heard from Dominic is that of conflict having the potential to join us together with more power to collaborate in transforming the conditions that brought us into conflict - this was the root of our understanding that conflict can organise or disorganise collective power, depending how we engage with it. Also things like shifting the question “can we make change happen (or not?)” to the question ‘what support, or collective power, do we need in order to bring about the change we want?’. The classroom metaphor Paul used as a way of making sense of how power is organised or disorganised, and the idea that we’re likely to inherit the implicit social systems from the dominant systems in our societies - including implicit punitive systems for handling conflict and justice - have come to us directly from Dominic. As we understand it, this work has been developed by people who experience oppression and violence much more intensely than we do. We really want to honour that development and the gifts it has brought us. You can find out more about Restorative Circles and Dialogical Systems and contact Dominic Barter, as well as offer support for the work if it’s been of value to you, here email@example.com
Convergent Facilitation, was developed by Miki Kashtan from the principles of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and it’s a major influence on our work in loads of ways. One specific element that Ama drew from it was the way of gathering constructive principles that we can hear within concerns - the concerns people have about a movement potentially containing key signals of what people would want or need to trust in or take part in a movement. Miki’s formulation of 5 organisational systems is a major root of the 7 Living Systems approach (with the Dialogical Systems work) and her influence shows up directly in the definition of leadership above and her very strong focus on connecting with and being moved by Vision. Loads of other elements and principles of our work around collaboration, dialogue, conflict, power, etc. are drawn directly from her work. You can find out more about her work here and here
Sarah Peyton has formulated and works with an approach to what she calls “Unconscious Contracts” or “Sacred Vows” - the commitments we might make to always or never do something to avoid bringing suffering to ourselves or others. They are a kind of fixed, not fully conscious rule we have given ourselves, normally as a reaction to experiencing pain or trauma without enough support, doing our best to survive and be ok. Paul wondered whether a lot of us - especially with strong Left-Wing or Anarchist beliefs, have something like this in relation to being powerful - to stop us causing harm by being powerful, and to stop us getting harmed because we are powerful - and to stay away from hope or vision because it hurts too much to have our hopes dashed or live so far from the World we might dream of. Sarah has formulated some simple ways of making those
Marshall Rosenberg & Nonviolent Communication - NVC
A profoundly important root of the work of Dominic Barter, Miki Kashtan and Sarah Peyton, and of Paul and Ama, is Nonviolent Communication (NVC) which was developed by Marshall Rosenberg in partnership with many others including many from marginalised and oppressed communities, particularly in the USA. As an exploration of what supports collaboration, healing and transformation for people, relationships, groups and communities, it’s at the core of everything we do, including all of our facilitation and mediation work. One specific element of this work that we drew on was the understanding that needs or values that connect us are living within everything we do or want - this is at the core of the way we are making sense of concerns that come up around building a movement.
Donella Meadows has been a massive influence for us in her articulation of Leverage Points - Places to Intervene in a System and systems and how they move and change generally. We’re also inspired by what she said about the importance of vision.
And there are many other influences that we won’t list here.
A very large chunk of what we said was either brought together and/or applied to this context by Paul, or came directly from Paul thinking about this kind of stuff. Ama brought a few key elements of what we spoke about, and has been a constant team mate with Paul in exploring and believing in this, bringing her insight and passion to the development of it all. Paul has also been engaged in a deep, ongoing exploration of movement building with Zahra Dalilah & Natalia Szarek, and their wisdom and experience are also present here.
Phew, that’s the end. Here’s the link to the form again, hope to connect more soon.
All good wishes,
Paul and Ama