Thursday, January 27th, 2021
Tamy Emma Pepin
Lian Benoît (photo)
The Resiliance Imperative (Title)
“The culture of the Extractive Economy is a culture of “life without limits”, couched in the rhetoric of freedom. The culture of a Regenerative Economy must be one based on caring and sacredness of relationships to each other and the world upon which we depend. This is a culture where love, humility and mystery guide us instead of avarice, entitlement and arrogance. This is a culture of constraint. One in which we see ourselves as a part of and not apart from the living world. This also demands, as the Zapatistas proclaim, A world where many worlds fit.”
- Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project from Banks and Tanks to Cooperation and Caring
The devastating impacts of the global pandemic, and the stark inequalities it has magnified and amplified, couldn’t make the dysfunction of our economy more clear: our future depends on our ability to collectively resist, divest and “build the new” in the present. It requires drastic policy changes, and foremost a level of personal unconditioning and mass coordination that is difficult to conceive, and even harder to put in practice. A recent article, “Why are we behaving so badly? With 20:20 vision, what can we see more clearly?” by Margaret Wheatley, co-founder and president of the Berkana Institute, is illuminating in this regard.
“I have also learned how incredibly hard it is to accept what our current destructive behaviors signal: we are in collapse. Our suicidal behaviors are predictable, normal, unavoidable for this ‘Age of Decadence.’ As we open to this reality, as we accept it, there’s no way to avoid the very strong emotions of anger, grief, sadness, despair. And once we acknowledge where we are, a personal existential question confronts us: What am I to do?”
Renowned writer, community worker and organizational consultant, Wheatley’s work is grounded in the idea that “real social change comes from the ageless process of people thinking together in conversation.” She has famously coined: “Whatever the problem, Community is the answer.” For most people involved in community work, this statement resonates, but certainly it is not as simple as it sounds.
Over the last three years, I’ve been involved in community organizing through a multidisciplinary collective and cultural non-profit organization I co-founded in Los Angeles called NAVEL. Its mission, to be a test site for kinship, rests on a similar, process-and community-based theory of change. In reality, it was three years of witnessing how myself and others struggled to work through our differences and biases, to practice non-oppressive ways of being and working together. Repeatedly, I was confronted with how much I have to unlearn, how many skills I need to cultivate, and what decolonial and caring practices I must root into my life to become a more mindful, resourceful and kindred community member and custodian of the earth.
So, where can we begin to abolish radical individualism1, to feed and grow our collective power without causing more harm? Concretely, what skills and habits can we develop and put into practice so we can more effectively contribute to radical social change; to not only survive, but to co-create a future where our collective, ecological and social, well-being is at the center of our economy. I am not advocating that the solution lies within a neoliberal idea of self-betterment, but I am writing with the belief that in order to move together towards this deep paradigm shift, it does necessitate a life-long commitment to heal, decolonize our mindsets and hone the regenerative skills we weren’t taught to value. Fortunately, we have centuries of knowledge, traditions and practices to learn from, as well as an abundance of resources by organizers, activists, educators, etc, who have laid/are laying the groundwork.
“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”
— bell hooks
For 2021, I’ve compiled a list of resources for myself, which I am happy to share with the ORB community. I’ve focused on workshops, courses and events from Montreal and US-based organizations and practitioners, which are taking place in the coming months or are offered on an ongoing basis (Don’t wait too long to sign up for them, some of them have already begun). I also invite you to browse through the wealth of resources, guides and writings on their websites. If you know of other great resources/training coming up in Montreal or elsewhere, please share them with ORB founder, Tamy Emma Pepin (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can build a more exhaustive list 🙂
1 Radical Individualism is the falsehood that we are a society made up of individuals (rather than relationships) and that the conditions of our lives is a function and reflection of our individual merit, rather than systems, structures and patterns. Mythologies such as, “The self-made man,” or “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” or, “Poor people are lazy,” give this paradigm meaning in our culture. – Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project
Facilitation, Cooperative Leadership and Generative Somatics
Série d’ateliers pour agir collectivement (workshop series in French)
- By Solon
- Feb 6- March 20 2021, 10:00 –12:30 EDT
Solon is a Montreal-based organization investing in the socio-ecological transition through the support of sustainable local projects that reclaim and build new commons while fostering civic engagement. I am a new member of their resident committee working towards the development of a community space in Rosemont La Petite-Patrie. This is a free opportunity to learn collaborative and facilitation skills from a dynamic and experienced team.
Greaterthan academy (workshops and trainings)
Courses on self-management, facilitative leadership, facilitation, trauma-informed collaboration, community governance, etc.
How To Become A Facilitator of the Work That Reconnects (trainings and resources)
The Circle Way (trainings and resources)
Ten Directions Facilitation (trainings and programs)
And here is alist of readings and training I’ve compiled over the last couple of years
SBS offers "trainings [that] provide participants with comprehensive frameworks to create more holistic social change narratives, while integrating messaging and storytelling with solid grassroots organizing and effective campaigning."
Participatory Meetings (workshop series)
- By Percolab
- February 9, 11 and 16, 9h-11h30 (Montréal, EST)
- $325 CAD
Percolab is an international network of cooperative enterprises run as a living lab with hubs in Canada (Montreal), Belgium and France. I haven’t attended any of their training yet, but have noticed that several people working in the social innovation sector in Montreal have attended their workshops. This workshop is also frequently offered in French.
Homeroom: community organizing check-in space (reflective space in English)
- Hosted by Sophie Reiff with virtual care lab
- Every other Saturday 11 AM PST (started January 16, 2021)
Homeroom is a virtual space for people who do community organizing work, or who are interested in community organizing work, to gather and discuss how their organizing work intersects with notions of personal and collective ethics, somatics, and longform histories of movement building.
Virtual care lab is a project by Alice Yuan Zhang and Sara Suáres, which I helped uplift while at NAVEL. They are doing incredible work building community and fostering mutual aid through remote creative experiments and gatherings. Sophie Reiff is a talented writer and educator with years of experience organizing with several activist organizations, who I had the chance to meet during my graduate studies at CalArts. Through popular demand, this is the second round of sessions Sophie hosts with the virtual care lab. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to attend yet, but I’ve heard only great things about Sophie’s facilitation.
Leadership horizontal (workshop series in French)
- By Percolab
- February 23, March 2 and 9 2021, 9h-11h30 EST
- $125 CAD
In this workshop, you will learn a holistic framework and supporting set of practices to take concrete steps towards integrating non-hierarchical ways of working.
I’ve attended one workshop with Roundsky before which I really appreciated. This seems like a great program to develop and strengthen cooperative skills and facilitate shared power. You will also gain knowledge about different collective decision-making processes and collaborative meeting tools. Other things on the program: learn to facilitate and understand effective accountability that doesn’t just rely on one person or create work imbalances, and develop tools to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
Generative Somatics (training + resources)
Generative Somatics is an amazing organization based in the US which offers transformative somatic programs to support organizers, movement leaders and organizers. The majority of their programs are specifically for BIPOC organizers in the US but some workshops are occasionally open to non-organizers and/or white folks. Their website is rich in resources they’ve created.
Amanda Vincelli is an artist with a background in creative direction, design, photography and visual arts, as well as an ORB mentor for our membership program. She is also an organizer and solidarity economy advocate invested in community-based and civically-engaged practices. In 2018, she co-founded NAVEL, a collective and cultural organization in Los Angeles where she developed numerous transdisciplinary programs, and ASSEMBLIES, a platform for collaborative learning and creation.
After 14 years abroad in Dubai, Paris, New York City and Los Angeles, she is now a graduate student in Community Economic Development at Concordia University in Montreal.