This training process guide is an excerpt from Building Power: A Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Who Want to Change the World. You can download the full guide from Original Power.
- To introduce ourselves to each other
- To build the container
- For participants to connect their own history to a larger history of social change
- To identify local tactics
- To rethink what success looks like
60 mins plus (It all depends on the facilitator). You might choose to have a strict timeline where participants only have 2 minutes to present their story to the larger group. Alternatively you might make it a bit looser with longer storytelling and breaks in between, in which case this process could go for a several hours or longer.
- A series of large newsprint stuck together.
- Cards in a particular colour for people to write the title of their story on.
- Something to stick the story cards onto the timeline.
- A map and pins for people to identify where their story took place (or a large hand drawn map)
- Cards in a different colour for identifying the broader historical timeline.
- Sticky notes.
Place pieces of flip chart next to each other on the wall so that a timeline can be drawn on them. (Depending on the size of the group the flip chart can cover the entire room). Mark today’s date at the end of the timeline.
Draw a second time line at least a foot or two (60cm) under the first. This timeline is for mapping key events that make up the wider historical context relating to both injustice and survival/resistance.
The facilitator then draws a map of the world (or country depending on the group) on another separate piece of flip chart.
A Note to Facilitators
You might choose to do this exercise in two parts. The first part is helpful to do in the early parts of a workshop, perhaps as part of the introduction or just after. The second part is done later in the workshop after people have a sense of what tactics and strategy are and the role of tactics in escalation and building power.
How it is Done
- The facilitator asks people to think about the time when you first knew you wanted to take action to change the world. These times are like “seeds of fire” that have the potential to spark enormous change. Give people space to think. (If you think it will help you may choose to do a creative visualization to spark people’s imagination.)
- Handout cards and give people time to write notes about their story. Ask them to give their story a title, as if it was a hit song, title of a blockbuster movie or headline of a tabloid newspaper. Ask them to write the name of their story as well as the place and date of the story on the card. (Give people at least 5 minutes to make notes about their story.)
- After giving people time to think, the facilitator asks the group when the earliest date is and marks that on one end of the timeline.
- Invite participants to share a story of the time when they first knew they wanted to take action to change the world. (It is important that participants share enough of the story for it make sense but not more than a couple of minutes otherwise the exercise will take too long and sap peoples energy – especially for a large group. See also the section above: notes to the facilitator).
- One by one people tell the story, write the date on the timeline and name a theme for that story, before marking on the map where that story took place. Then the next person tells their story. The process continues with each person telling their story one by one until everyone has shared.
- As people identify the wider historical context – acts of resistance, particular injustices, or other events that have shaped the community (like the coming of the mission, for example) – write these on cards (one for each event) and place them on the second timeline. Make sure these historical cards name the event, the date (if known) and also the place. The facilitator also names the event, ideally using the group’s own words.
- When the narrative timeline is finished review it by naming all the events.
- Debrief by asking what people notice and how they feel. It is often worth asking if anyone learnt anything new; about history they didn’t know or stories of resistance. Ask how they feel about that?
- In Part One as people tell their story – and identify the larger historical context – the facilitator takes notes of the different kinds of tactics that are being used in each story. The facilitator then lists each tactic on a separate sticky note.
- Once people have a sense of of what tactics and strategy are and the role of tactics in escalation and building power, the facilitator brings the group back to the two narrative timelines, the one generated by the participants own stories as well the timeline of the wider history.
- The facilitator then places the relevant sticky note with the tactic beside the story card.
- Once all the sticky notes with the tactics have been placed beside the corresponding story the facilitator invites people to think about their response to the following three questions (write the questions on newsprint):
- What was the purpose of this tactic or activity?
- What was the impact on the individual, family or group involved?
- What was the impact on the issue?
- In pairs or threes people have a conversation about those three questions. (If people choose to write they can do so.)
- Bring people back together to the larger group. Go round and invite people to share purposes and internal (group) and external (issue) impacts of the tactic.
- Ask as you look at these tactics and think about the stories connected to them, what does ‘success’ mean? Discuss. Talk about success in three ways: winning on the issue; building the power of the group/clan/nation; changing the conversation (either inter- nally about how people think about themselves or externally about the issue).
- Draw people’s attention to the reality that the more we are conscious about choosing tactics for how they address those three ways of achieving success, the more powerful we become.
Note: The tactics list generated by the group can also be used as tactics cards in the ‘tactics relay process guide’.
Here is a kinesthetic version of Part One the same exercise.
People form a single person line based on when you first got involved in “the movement” – or the struggle for peace and justice (frame appropriately for the group). Those who got involved a long time ago at one end and those who got involved more recently at the other end.
Ask people to share their stories with those close by.
In a small group, while people are still standing in line, interview everyone about their story. For a larger group selected interview people at different points in the line.
At the end you might ask people at the more recent end if they have been influenced at all by any of the people involved for much longer down the other end of the line.
Another variation in the written form of this exercise is to place today’s date half-way or two-thirds along and use the timeline in a closing ceremony for participants to write down concrete future commitments.
Other timelines can also be drawn. For instance a timeline showing the history of the struggle to connect peoples own personal history with a social history.
Source: This process is adapted from work by Miles Horton and others at the Highlander Centre, The Dulwich Centre, Pasifika (Jason MacLeod and Rosa Moiwend) and Original Power (Karrina Nolan). This version was written by Jason MacLeod, Pasifika and Karrina Nolan, Original Power.
Download the full Building Power guide from Original Power.
- Aboriginal Australians
- Capacity building
- Indigenous peoples
- Lessons learned_Reviews_Reflections
- Movements_Campaigns - Self determination
- Movements_Campaigns – Racism_Racial justice
- Torres Strait Islanders