A group’s culture can have a big impact on the likelihood of stress and burnout for members and staff. It’s possible to create a group culture that supports self-care, balance and sustainable work loads and patterns.
High stress levels and burnout are very common among grassroots activists and community workers. Stress management and physical, emotional and spiritual renewal is crucial to looking after ourselves for the long haul.
Many conflicts get worse than they actually need to be because the participants lose control of themselves and retreat into self-reinforcing patterns of attack and counterattack. Here are some suggestions, drawn from the literature of conflict resolution and psychotherapy, that can be used to de-escalate conflicts.
‘Feedback’ is a communication to a person or a group which gives that person information about how they affect others. It is important to be able to give feedback in such a way that people can hear it, take it in, evaluate it, and change behaviour which affects their relationship with others.
Active listening is a fundamental skill for peacebuilding and social change. It is more than hearing, it involves processing what has been heard and skilfully selecting a response. Active listening serves to encourage the person to tell more and most importantly, communicates to the person that you are interested and listening.
As a means of radical social change, nonviolence draws on a rich history of people’s struggles from around the world. Grassroots people’s movements have brought down dictators, stopped armies, undermined corporations and halted entire industries with nonviolent resistance.
Johan Gultung identified three major approaches to peace: peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding. Strategies can be applied proactively, to prevent violence occurring or reactively to reduce the likelihood of violence reoccurring. Each strategy on its own cannot really be effective in creating peace without the application of the other strategies.
The Your Rights at Work campaign ran from 2005 to 2007 and included some of the largest mobilisations in Australian social movement history. This article draws out some of the lessons in relation to ensuring strong turn-out at rallies and other events.
Anne O’Brien interviewed John Croft, developer of the Dragon Dreaming project model. John’s ‘Empowered Fundraising’ approach challenges groups to take their projects seriously and invite others to contribute funds, as a way to further their own social change values and make a difference in the world.
We’ve gathered together tips on building a donor base, running successful crowdfunding campaigns, and where to access more resources on effective fundraising for social justice causes.
Nonviolent direct action can play a powerful role in campaigns. This article summarises some of the characteristics that can make NVDA either effective or ineffective, and encourages the use of clear tactics criteria in developing campaign strategy.
Kyinzom Dhongdue from Australian Tibet Council shares the story of a campaign win and the lessons that can be taken from it. The country’s oldest university cancelled a talk by the Dalai Lama. Within a week, the University of Sydney backtracked and released a hasty statement welcoming His Holiness on campus in June. The short campaign shows the value of rapid response people power tactics.
Anne O’Brien reviews Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change by Cynthia Kaufman. Kaufman connects theory with the day to day dilemmas that activists face in the practical work of challenging injustice.
Aidan Rickett’s The Activists’ Handbook is a powerful guide to grassroots activism. Naomi Blackburn reviews the early chapters of the book which are particularly relevant to Theories of Change.
Getting clear on our theory of change can be personally empowering as well as important for alignment within organisations and campaigns. These notes are from a workshop by Naomi Blackburn, drawing on the Resource Manual for a Living Revolution and Australian Student Environment Network curriculum.
Lessons about the effective use of art in campaigns from three activist artists: Tom Civil, Arlene TextaQueen and Van Thanh Rudd. Lessons include: Build strong culture; Represent ethically; Consider your audience; Court controversy; Always remember the visuals; Value the labour of artists.
Insights about facilitation from the very challenging General Assembly process at Occupy Melbourne. This article will be of interest to facilitators and others learning about group process, as well as people keen to find out about the Occupy movement. These reflections were written two weeks after Occupy Melbourne kicked off in October 2011.
Holly Hammond explores what it takes for people to get active, what leads to people dropping out of activism, and things we should be thoughtful about when engaging new activists. This post is a follow on from the ‘Getting Started in Activism’ workshop delivered at the Commonground Festival in 2011.
“Occupy Melbourne became the largest occupation in Australia, and indeed, the southern hemisphere. Like most truly novel historical events, the Occupy movement caught most people off guard.” This short case study shares some of the lessons from Occupy Melbourne and why more effective skill-sharing would have made a difference.
Joel Dignam reviews Hahrie Han’s Moved to Action. Han tackles the question of what motivates political participation by people who face significant barriers. Han provides a toolkit for those seeking to empower and work with, or within, marginalised communities.