Exploring Collective Liberation

On the weekend of the 9th of February, Resist and Renew ran the first weekend residential on the theme of Exploring Collective Liberation. In the final hours before the participants arrived at the venue, we did our last bits of preparation and ran through the agenda for the whole weekend. In the run up we had spent a lot of time thinking about and planning the journey we thought would be most useful for the participants – but we had no idea how they would respond to it and what ideas and energy they would bring to the space – we had built the framework, but how would they fill it?

Part of the motivation for running this course was to respond to the growing awareness and need for solidarity, but move away from debilitating feelings of guilt and shame. This, however, doesn’t mean shying away from difficult conversations around power and privilege, but going through them and beyond them. This requires that we challenge ourselves. This is one of the things we asked our participants on the first evening – how can you challenge yourself? This came as a part of a session on how we want to treat each other, what can we do do make things ‘safer’ for one another, and how would we want to be treated in a conflict situation over the weekend? These were big questions to ask on a Friday evening, but they also laid the necessary groundwork for the group to work together over the rest of the weekend.

Much of the next day was focused on our identities – who are we, what makes us who we are, where do we come from – in the widest possible sense? Games and different ways of performing our similarities and differences helped to explore this. Identity, of course, is not a static thing and neither is it an inherent thing that we are born with. In part it is produced by society and that process is political – we therefore looked to politicise our identities, rooting them in history and examining some of the ideas and philosophies that have shaped how we see one another today. We also asked how these might play out in our organising today and experimented with how we might change it.

Mapping our individual, collective and political histories

On our final day we explored the concept of solidarity, looking at how it has been done in the past and thinking about how to begin to integrate some of the learnings we came up with into our groups to do solidarity better in the future.

Ultimately, these are lifelong questions we will all hopefully be working on, but we’re really grateful for all the participants who came along to this event. They modelled a great sense of vulnerability and trust in sharing with each other and they’ve given us a lot to think about in planning for our next events.

Applications now open – Exploring Collective Liberation 9-11th of February 2018

Are you interested in examining race, power, privilege and oppression? Want a space where we can explore challenging topics in a way that is both authentic to the pain that is tied up in this but also is compassionate to each of us as human beings?

In a world full of oppression – White Supremacy, Islamophobia, (cis)hetero-patriarchy, classism, ableism – exploring privilege and oppression can be paralysing when it is tied in with guilt and shame. But if we are to create a world without oppression – in the groups we work in now and in our dream communities of the future – we need to explore these in an honest and frank way that acknowledges our position in this society, and allows us to work for a better one.

If you want to explore these complicated questions, join us this February as Resist + Renew host a weekend course on these topics. In this space we want to explore, discuss and experiment with ideas, but we recognise that this is life-long work and that this weekend is a contribution to a journey, not a quick fix to bring about ‘diversity’ in a questionnaire.

Given our current context of increased racism and division following Brexit in the UK, a wider trend worldwide and an ‘activist movement’ that is predominantly White – we will be primarily focusing on issues of race and White privilege. However, we will aim to carry out the weekend in a way that all identities are welcome and recognising that everyone is on spectrums of privilege and oppression and that there is space for expressing how it is to have these experiences.

Who is this course for?

This course is for anyone who is involved in groups working for social justice – whether that’s in grassroots organisations or in a paid role at an NGO – and who wants to examine how both we and the wider structures of the world need to change.

Is this course for White People?

Absolutely! Racism and White Supremacy can’t be overcome without White people working on this too. We recognise that coming to terms with privilege and power can be an uncomfortable thing but ask that people embrace this vulnerability as an opportunity to learn.

Is this course for Black and People of Colour?

Yes – we very much welcome Black and People of Colour. For us it’s important that the voices of those most affected by racism are given space. However, we also recognise that sometimes this can result in marginalised people doing ‘all the work’ of ‘teaching’ people about oppression. We therefore will plan to use a variety of tools and approaches to reduce the possibility of this.

Where is the course being held?

The course is going to be run in the Dinedor Outdoor Centre in Hereford. We chose this location to get away from the busyness of everyday life in cities, to be closer to nature and to decentre London.

This venue is wheelchair accessible.

Cost of the weekend

We want this to be an accessible space, therefore we have a sliding scale for the course. We both don’t want to turn anyone away due to the cost, but also recognise that some people can pay more either from their own income or through the institutions that they work in:

Costs from £25 to £250.

Registration

If you are interested in joining us please fill in this form and if you have any questions email us @ resistrenew@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

Resist + Renew

www.resistrenew.com

Upcoming!

Exploring Collective Liberation, February 2018

Resist + Renew  are proud to announce an upcoming course Exploring Collective Liberation – Racism, Identity and Difference in February 2018.

This weekend course is for anyone who wants to examine race, privilege, power and oppression in our groups and the wider world. We will aim to do this in a way that is authentic to the pain and emotions tied up in these experiences but is also compassionate to each of us as human beings.

Dates and further info about the course will be available soon. But if you want to register your interest now drop us an email at resistrenew@gmail.com

 

How can men* respond to #MeToo?

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At the moment I’m trying not to go on social media too much but when I’ve dipped in and out recently I couldn’t help but notice #MeToo, where, mainly women, are sharing their experiences of sexual harassment or assault.

I thought I was aware of this stuff. But the amount, the brutality and the banality – how it has been normalised – has been an eye opener. I knew we lived in a messed up patriarchal world, but it’s much worse than I thought.

How though can cis-men respond to this? What can we do with this information and contribute to ending sexual violence? How can we do it in a way that fosters collective liberation – recognising that heterosexist patriarchy harms all of us – and that it’s not about “helping” or “protecting” women – which I use in an inclusive sense for cis-women, non-binary, trans and gender fluid folk who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence – but dismantling oppressive systems and creating better, more loving worlds.

I recently came across the four I’s of collective liberation – Internalised, Interpersonal, Institutional and Ideological – and thought I could use this framework to look at how to respond this issue. This frame could also be applied to other oppressive systems: racism, ableism, xenophobia and so on, and it’s important to recognise that none of these systems are separate and in fact reinforce one another in ways that compound their effects on people with intersecting identities.

Internalisation

We live in a society infused by oppressive systems: patriarchy, heterosexism and rape culture form part of this.

If you grow up in this society you can’t help but learn some of these oppressive beliefs. Oppressive systems are like smog, you sometimes don’t see it, but you can’t help but breathe it in and out unconsciously. But, if you become aware of these learnt beliefs, then you can start the work of unlearning them.

As a heterosexual cis-man, for example, I often catch myself noticing the attractiveness of women in public – actually it’s all the time. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding people attractive. I do, however, think it’s messed up that the first thought that comes into my head about women I see is about their attractiveness, whereas the thoughts I have about men are completely different.

These are learnt thought patterns. It’s the result of hyper-sexualised advertising, the roles women are given in films, music videos, literature etc that reinforces the idea that women are objects and how they look is what’s important.

Each time I have one of these thoughts, I try to be conscious of it and not internally judge myself as being sexist, but relate that thought to where it came from – patriarchy – and use it as a way to start unlearning it. I might never stop thinking this way entirely, but noticing these patterns also disrupts the idea that it’s normal and is a step towards change.

Interpersonal

The number one way for men to end sexual violence is this: don’t rape. Ask for and check you have consent.

I’m assuming that the people reading this will think that that doesn’t apply to them. I hope it doesn’t apply to me. As far as I am aware, all of my sexual interactions have been consensual. I’m aware, however, sometimes that we can find ourselves in situations we’re not 100% comfortable with but just go along with it anyway, and in a world where women are taught – by the same systems – that their value comes from being attractive and submissive to men, they might not always feel able to speak up. So it’s important to remember that consent is active. It’s not just “not a no”.

Beyond this, men can play a big role in affecting change through calling out/in other men in their sexist behaviour, as it can be safer or more effective coming from a man than leaving it to the woman who was affected.

I know I don’t do this as much as I could. I also know that it’s important to do this within our spheres of influence and not feel that we have to do it all the time.

I sometimes work in construction for money. This is a very male, very sexist environment. I don’t think that if each time my boss made a comment about a woman, if I were to say “Hey, do you know that’s sexist?”, I would either affect much change or keep my job very long. Sometimes I try to make jokes about it back e.g.:

My boss: “Oh, she’s nice”

Me: “Oh really, did you speak to her?”

For the most part I just don’t participate, which I accept could be seen as not doing enough to challenge these attitudes and perhaps I should try to do more. It doesn’t, however, go unnoticed. After a couple of days working with one guy, he asked me how come I don’t join in, so then I told him that I’m not into it. I could maybe have gone further, but I think that he started the conversation was a positive step and that he was curious meant he would also have been a bit receptive to my different viewpoint.

Other areas of my life I have more influence and therefore more responsibility. If a close friend were to say something sexist or behave in a sexist way, then I feel I should do something. Calling people out/in is hard emotional labour and it shouldn’t be left to women and especially not to the ones affected by these behaviours. I also feel that men need to learn how to respond to being called out, without getting defensive or explaining away our behaviour. We need to listen to how people feel and take it on board.

Institutional

To what extent do our activist groups, workplaces and friendship circles foster a culture that is loving and treats women as people?

Having lived in an “alternative” community for a couple of years, I’ve experienced how these spaces fail to create cultures that challenge sexist behaviour and how apologist attitudes can be widespread. This has been painful for me to realise when it clashes with what I thought the values of the space were and even worse for the people we’ve failed to support.

In these spaces we should, again, put the work in to make sure that these issues are taken seriously. For example, men can join “wellbeing” working groups that focus on these dynamics and if that means that they have to cut back on other responsibilities then that might just have to happen. It’s important that we have the processes to prevent and deal with issues when they arise – the Salvage Collective has great resources and runs workshops about how to do this.

For groups, it can also be about the overall priorities of the group. For Resist and Renew for example, should we put our training efforts more into Direct Action trainings to shut down fossil fuel infrastructure, or should we do more consent workshops in schools to help foster a respectful culture? We all have limited time and resources, so the choices we make implicitly say what we think is important and what’s less important.

Ideological

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Lastly, how can we change our frame of reference and learn about the experiences of women and people of different backgrounds, and how that’s important for making social change?

To do this, we need to change our sources of information. What we read, watch and listen to. For over a year and a half I’ve stopped reading books by white cis-men. I’ve loved reading stories with strong lead characters that are women from Margaret Atwood, Marge Piercy and Ursula Le Guin, been shocked by Assata Shakura’s experiences for the US criminal justice system and blown away by Silvia Federici’s Caliban and The Witch that outlines how the burning of witches, taking of women’s power and slavery, were essential for the rise of capitalism – a perspective you would never get if you just read Marx or another hero’s story where the cis-man kills the bad guy and saves the defenceless woman.

There are also countless blogs and podcasts out there that talk about these issues. They aren’t women’s issues and by looking for these public sources of information, we as men don’t need to rely on asking our friends who are women about their experiences.

These suggestions are a few ways that men can, and should, step up. Regardless of how much “nice a guy” you are, these all affect you. You may already be doing things in all of these areas, but the extent of the #MeToo revelations shows we can all do more. If we’re committed to making better worlds, then we have to see this as our fight too.



Ali Tamlit is a facilitator for Resist and Renew. As part of our work we offer workshops on consent for schools, youth groups and activists, please get in touch at resistrenew@gmail.com if you would like us to run a workshop for you.

Testimonials

Was the content and the delivery of the workshop as you expected?

2/7/2016 – I wasn’t sure what to expect especially as the young people are home educated. The content and delivery was appropriate and thought provoking.

16/11/2015 – Content yes, and most of the delivery. Great games and ice breaking activities. The plenary at the end with the blue cards was a good idea – they liked that.

15/11/2015 – Yes it was excellent.

5/11/2015 – It was an excellent workshop! The content and delivery were very good with lots of interactive stuff and discussion. It’s not always easy to engage our service users but you did a really fantastic job of it! They were all enthusiastic until the end!

2/11/2015 – Yes I was pleased with the content of the workshop, the interactive activities were fun and geared at their level of understanding. I was happy that the workshop was broad, looked at overview of issues and respected all ideas of the group as opposed to being skewed towards a specific agenda.

26/10/2015 – The content of the workshop exceeded our expectations. The topics were relevant and engaging and varied.

Do you feel the workshop benefited your group? If so, how?

2/7/2016 – Yes it made them think about things that they were aware of but perhaps hadn’t articulated to themselves and each other. It gave them an open and secure space to do that. It also allowed them to think the worst and then move toward what they could do about it – moving from dark thoughts and a bleak future to action!

16/11/2015 – Yes – the issues discussed were relevant to both year 12 and year 13 for their A Level courses. It enabled both year groups to learn from each other and to use resources (videos/photographs) to practice analysing different themes.

15/11/2015 – Excellent – they felt more enthusiastic in their study of Politics and Sociology in particular afterwards

5/11/2015 – It was appropriate for the client group i.e. easy to follow and relevant issues. I think it was beneficial for the group as it got them thinking about issues that affect them. I hope they have been deliberating the content since the workshop!

5/11/2015 – Yes, it seemed to allow the group to discuss their opinions and discuss topics that people will not normally talk about. It allowed people to open up and talk about topics that are rather sensitive in a safe setting.

2/11/2015 – Yes, I feel that it got them thinking about global issues and about how actions within our country greatly affect peoples life outcomes in the 3rd world.

26/10/2015 – I feel the workshops benefited the group a lot. It allowed them to make connections to the wider world from there personal and local actions. It helped them put things in to perspective and inspired them to take action

Resist + Renew Cycle Summer School

16 August – 22 August 2017
London to Germany

cycle

This year we are happy to be collaborating with Time to Cycle running a cycling summer school exploring how to affect social change.

Over the five days of the cycle we will be taking time to hold workshops, discussions and games along the way, so we’ll be learning and sharing on the move!

The workshops will all be participatory and will evolve as the cycle goes on. However as a basic structure we will be exploring:

What are the crises we are living through and how does it feel to live in these times?

Who are we? What privileges, power and responsibilities do we have?

What action can we take to affect change in these times?

Whilst we will be cycling with the rest of the Time to Cycle crew, we are asking for separate registration for the Cycle School. This is because we want people to commit to the entire school as we are hoping to explore quite challenging themes so we’re hoping to keep a tight group and build group trust. However, we’re not looking to be a separate group and will be organising games and sharing circles for the whole group too.

Alongside, this event we will be cycling to Ende Gelande, the largest mass action against a open pit coal mine in the Rhineland, Germany.

To sign up – simply send us an email to resistrenew@gmail.com saying who you are and why you’re interested in taking part in the Cycle School.

Workshops We Offer

Power of the Grassroots

Understanding the relationship between local and global issues; with an emphasis on local solutions. This workshop is relevant to many subjects, particularly geography which at KS3 one of the main aims is to “understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human geographical features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over time”. This workshop, for instance, uses climate change as an issue that has social, political and economic causes with impacts for both human and physical geography. The same issues, however, are relevant for topics of citizenship, politics, and history.

Democracy – Is that it?

Exploring different forms of democracy; and how design can be used to create democratic spaces. This workshop fits well within the politics and citizenship curriculum at both KS3 and KS4. We will explore how democracy functions in the UK and elsewhere and aim to increase student engagement in their community. This workshop can also be tailored to Design Technology by exploring how the design of our environment can increase participation in society.

Consent and Sexuality

This is a key component of PSHE education, which we will approach with honesty and sensitivity. We feel that by being led by outside facilitators this workshop will allow for more openness and engagement from students compared to if their teacher led it with whom they might feel awkward.

Critical Perspectives on Media and Citizen Journalism

Examining the way the mainstream media works and creating alternatives through publishing, blogging and  filmmaking. This workshop fits within the curriculum for Media Studies which has the aim to critically assess the role of the media in society and to learn practical skills for media production. Given the role of media in society, however, this could also be applicable to politics, geography or citizenship studies as well.

Borders and Migration

Exploring the perceptions around migrants and refugees, and the public responses this generates. As migration is a distinctively spatial process, this workshop fits well within a geography curriculum. However, as one of the defining issues of our time, this workshop is also relevant to citizenship, politics and also ties closely to media given the media’s role in shaping public opinion around this issue.

Understanding the Economy

Demystifying the jargon that is used in the media around the economy. Asking what does it all mean and what really matters? This workshop contributes to many subjects including economics and citizenship – which both aim to increase economic knowledge for students to participate in the economy and make sound economic decisions. As well as, geography and politics as it explores the wider processes around the economy.

 

Earth First Summer Gathering

August 9 – August 14 2017
Location Cuffley, Hertfordshire

Info on how to reach the site: http://earthfirstgathering.org/information.html

So here’s the info finally!

We’re running to workshops at this years Earth First! Gathering:

First on Weds the 9th at 5.30pm we’re running: Seeing beyond the crisies: the role of speculative fiction

In these times of Trump, austerity and looming catastrophic climate change it’s sometimes hard to envision that another world is still possible. In this workshop we’ll look at how the speculative fiction of Ursula le Guin, Marge Piercy, Starhawk and others can help us to keep imagining better futures in order for us to fight for them now.

Then on Thurs the 10th at 3.15pm we’re holding a workshop called: So you want to change the world, huh?

Which will ask: is social change possible in our current context? Do we still believe in revolution or utopia? In this interactive workshop we will explore the emotions of living in our times of crisis and then take a look at some of the strategies and theories of change that might help us take a step in the direction of radical social change

Come along and join the discussions!

Direct Action Training at Peace News Summer Camp

Burston Rd
Diss, Norfolk
IP22 5SX

DA TRAINING

Want to get involved in direct actions but not sure how? Have you already been involved and want to share your experiences? Are you planning to get involved with a mass action like Ende Galende or stop DESI and want to feel more confident? If so, or your just curious, this is the workshop for you!

We’ll explore what direct action is and try out some basic techniques. We aim for the workshop to be fun, participatory and to break down any notion that direct action is a ‘macho’ thing.

This workshop is part of the Peace News Summer Camp. Full details are available here http://peacenewscamp.info/