Regenerative Activism

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Regenerative Activism: Sustaining Resistance

Tools for effective, sustainable and regenerative activism

7 – 15 July 2017

Venue: The High Heathercombe Centre

This is not a silent retreat but there will be periods of quietude.

Those of us involved in social change face enormous challenges. Daily we meet injustice, loss, and suffering in the world around us. We also meet our own responses to that: our fears, frustrations and anger. How can we best work with these responses creatively to achieve our goals? Where can we find the personal resources and skills that could make our action more effective and sustainable? And what collective tools can we use to enable our groups, organisations, and networks to better embody our values?

This workshop will offer a range of tools – collective and personal – which can make our activism more effective and sustainable. These methods can help us avoid burnout and stay in it for the long haul, adding continuity to our movement building. They can be used to ensure the collective and organisational dimensions of our activism exemplify the values we’re struggling for. A ‘regenerative’ approach goes beyond sustainability to explore how we can organise in ways that actually renew and revitalize our own resources and those of our groups – this can help us stay inspired, nourished and more creative in our tactical approaches. Our organising can embody a life-affirming vision and exemplify the values of social justice that we are inspired to realise in the world.

The course explores these issues using holistic and participatory methods – drawing on popular education, ecological and systems thinking, as well as reflective practices. It seeks to bring together those working in social change, to share practice and strengthen networks.

The Sustaining Resistance body of work has been developed by members of the Ecodharma Collective, based in Catalunya. They have worked with hundreds of activists and change makers, supporting them to make their work more sustainable, effective and rejuvenating. One of the key dimensions of what makes these trainings fruitful, is the focus on the ‘inner’/reflective dimension – supporting those well versed in ‘outer’ engagement to pause, and gain some of the ‘inner’ engagement, wellbeing and sensitivity, necessary to support their work, longer term. Various tools, approaches and practices are used to support this kind of exploration; meditation and mindfulness being key methodologies, applied in ways relevant and specific to the focus and aims of the course.

What are the aims of the course?

  • 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.
  • To offer tools which support more skilful inter-personal work in our groups and networks, and enable ways of organising which exemplify the values we want to realise in the world.
  • To create a vibrant and supportive temporary community of activists, as a safe space for deep reflection, analysis, and the sharing of experience of the personal and inter-personal dimensions of our work – finding nourishment and inspiration from each other and nature.

(N.B. These are the aims held for courses over a more usual duration of 10 days. This course being of a shorter duration, we won’t have the opportunity to go as deeply into all these themes/areas, and will prioritise/focus on some key themes – particularly the ‘personal’ dimension, keeping the interpersonal/group dimensions as secondary).

Who is it aimed at?

Anyone involved in socially engaged action addressing ecological, political and social justice issues. We embrace a broad definition of activism, including: Resistance – action preventing further damage to ecosystems and social justice; Renewal – action focused on developing and creating alternatives for healthier societies and communities; and Building Resilience – action supporting increased resilience in communities to weather the uncertain times ahead.

The retreat is offered freely as the organisers intend to fundraise in advance to cover all costs (we anticipate these will be about £180 per person). Donations will be invited at the end of the retreat and these will be used to fund retreats in the future. This gives retreatants the opportunity to practice generosity by making it possible for future retreats to also be offered freely.

We will also invite a separate donation for the teachers. Teachers do not receive a fee for leading retreats, whilst giving enormously of their time and energy. Dharma teachings are considered priceless and therefore teachers offer their understanding freely. Any donations will be gratefully received and help enable the teachers to continue to share their wisdom in this way.

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