350.org shares three examples and lessons learned of different ways Movement Support Teams can work. Movement Support Teams are peer-to-peer learning. Instead of staff supporting volunteers, it’s teams of volunteers supporting each other in the movement. These examples are shared in a presentation with videos and feature:
- Deborah Rosenstein, US Training Coordinator (Running the Racial Justice and Equity Community of Practice)
- Liangyi Chang, East Asia Regional Campaign Coordinator (Running the East Asia Climate Leadership Camp)
- Tine Langcamp, Germany Organiser and Divestment Campaigner (Running German Movement Support Teams)
This presentation is shared as part of the Organising Story-telling Lab, a collection of different case studies and stories of organising and movements from across the globe collated and presented by 350.org.
The story telling lab weaves lessons from a range of stories and perspectives, including people close to the ground and nationally.
Each case draws out lessons from the people involved and concludes with broader generalisations. Whilst these case studies are focused on 350 and the climate movement the lessons learned and reflections are applicable to any campaign.
See the original slides on the 350.org Organising Story-telling lab. The Commons has also shared the presentation below and made minor formatting edits to the original such as adding headings and quotes.
Movement Support Teams
What do you mean by Movement Support Teams?
Movement Support Teams are peer-to-peer learning. Instead of staff supporting volunteers, it’s teams of volunteers supporting each other in the movement. Hence, Movement Support Teams.
See Slide 5 for video
*Anna Keenan is the Fossil Free Community Manager. If you want to develop Movement Support Teams, she is a global support for that!
Examples of Support
1. Racial Justice and Equity Community of Practice
Hello! I Am Deborah Rosenstein, US Trainings Coordinator. I help run the Racial Justice and Equity Community of Practice with Michelle Fournier (2018) and now Marquese Averett (2019).
What is the Community of Practice?
- Starts with a clear application process (initially to give groups small amounts of money)
- Realized it’s not enough to just ask for “report backs” – needed a method for mutual group learning
- Group calls every 6 weeks for people to share lessons
- Expect at least a 6-month commitment – and every 6-months new people can join
- Created racial caucuses for further support
A Few Key Lessons
- Clear application
- People need to know how to get into the support team.
- Just “joining” doesn’t create as much buy-in as if people have some kind of application. Perhaps most importantly, the local groups (not just the individuals) need to sign off on the application (so that there’s more of a tie organizationally).
- 6-month intake
- Clear intake “moments” help organizers and participants focus, to get better outcomes.
- During intake the focus is on recruitment, welcoming & building group trust.
- Between intakes, the focus on learning & building relationships.
- Logistics staff-led
- At least at the beginning, staff from 350.org should lead the logistics so that staff & volunteers from the local groups can focus on the content. This makes it easier for volunteers to focus on where the energy of the group is. So volunteers facilitate the sessions but don’t have to do all the reminders, setting up calls, etc.
- Racial Justice and Equity Community of Practice 2019 Application
- Local 350 group
- Name of person completing this application
- Email and phone number of person completing this application
- What has your group been working on that relates to racial justice and equity?
- What is your group hoping to work on that relates to racial justice and equity?
- What are some experiences that your group could bring to the Community of Practice?
- What would your group like to gain by participating in the Community of Practice?
8. Name, email, and role in the group for participants your group are nominating as a representative in the Community of Practice.
- Can these nominee(s) commit to attending the calls regularly and other requirements laid out in the RJ&E Community of Practice Charter?
- The Racial Justice and Equity Community of Practice Charter
A living document that allows people to see clearly the expectations of being part of this group. It includes responsibilities, cultural practices (like decision-making) and membership agreements.
- Sample call agendas
Typical sessions included: welcomes, logistics review. Different teams presented their racial equity work and challenges, with time for questions. Breakout groups dug into some themes, report-back, and closing.
2. East Asia Climate Leadership Camp
Hello! I Am Liangyi Chang, East Asia Regional Campaign Coordinator. I help run the East Asia Climate Leadership Camp with East Asia Team and local groups on the ground support.
What’s unique about the climate camp?
- It’s a 5-day training with a different theme, with peer-to-peer tools
- Target junior NGO staff (1-2 years) who don’t get as much support, but do have resources to implement plans, and can support each other
- Use a pre-call ahead of training where people get to hear each other’s work and context
- “Unforgettable memories” in the training – like shocking trips to a coal mine to create greater commitment
- Use the trainings to help develop country strategy
A Few Key Lessons
- Identify people who can make the plans fly
People getting support should implement those plans – which means assessing who we can best support. In their case, they stopped accepting everyone, and realized that some people are in better positions to carry out the plans. This has empowered them to now take leadership roles in their countries.
- Using pre-calls ahead of the training helps people get to know each other – and their contexts. They include 1-page reports about the different contexts. People get to read, hear, and connect with other people before coming into the room. This strengthens connections.
- Unforgettable experiences
- To make a training unique-add one-time trips or visits: to coal camps, to see mass protests, etc. These unforgettable experiences complement the training content.
- More post-mentorship
- To strengthen the ongoing support, the team is exploring adding a formal peer mentoring process to continue the ongoing learning.
Example “Unforgettable experiences”
The power of vivid field trips during our training – these helped build a close team to build the relationships of the EACLC Alumni. This gave the participants a powerful shared experience.
- Coal mines visit a unforgettable experience for participants, especially those countries importing coal from other countries in Asia region.
- Coal plants were a chance to hear learnings and challenges that the local community faces.
- Taiwanese from local community leaders and mothers around Taichung coal plants met with EACLC#3 participants for anti-coal work.
We do pre-EACLC call before people gathered to be on the same page about agenda & expectation.
See the complete slides we use for the pre-call here.
3. German Movement Support Team (MST)
Hello! I Am Tine Langkamp Germany Organiser and Divestment Campaigner. I run the German Movement Support Team and receive counsel from Marianne Koch, Anna Keenan, Emma Biermann, and Daniel Hunter.
What is the German MST doing?
- As the network grew, staff could no longer support all the local groups.
- Therefore, started the MST with a 22-person national training, April 2018
- People committed to 1 year, but drop-outs were a challenge. Next intake is April 2019. Currently the MST is a group of 6 people.
- MST members support local groups and other movements as coaches and resources.
- Stronger support for 30 local groups across the country than Tine could provide on her own.
A Few Key Lessons
- A definite no is better than a maybe yes.
Don’t push people to commit to a team if they are uncertain about it/can’t prioritize it in their busy life. Better to start with 10 deeply-committed people, than 20 people, half of whom drop out because other priorities take over. Celebrate a definite no’!
- Different goals? Different teams!
Coaching local groups is one goal. Creating a series of webinars is another. Improving racial justice practices is different again. Different people will be drawn towards different goals, so honour people’s desired focus by setting clear boundaries. Create multiple teams if you need.
- “The athletes kick the goals. Coaches stay on the sidelines.”
Some of the MST were uncomfortable presenting themselves as ‘experts’. A sports-coach analogy helped them feel more comfortable in their role. Winning teams have great coaches, but great coaches don’t need to be expert athletes! Local groups are the athletes ‘on the field’.
The MST used to only have group conversations via zoom and sla because it was such a big group. Sometimes I would reach out to individuals, but it was never very regular. Now that the group is smaller and solid, I have introduced one-on-one meetings. One-on-one meetings with each of the 6 MST members help me hear concerns, questions, and problems early and I can help the MST deal with it. And I can identify strengths and develop them together with the MST members.I recommend this! – Tine
People who are looking for movement coaching can contact the German MST on their website.
At that website, people can submit a “Request Form” to ask the Movement Support Team for help or coaching (This goes to a Slack channel for the MST!)
Tine did an interview with Anna Keenan with even more lessons and reflections. (Notes are no longer available as of July 2023)
Let’s review some best practices …
Reflections from Anna
Common to all 3 initiatives
- Teams that cross a regional network.
- A specific, motivating purpose for each team structure.
- Clear boundaries on who is in.
- Team members help each other, and the network, learn and grow.
- Staff facilitate, teams do the work.
- Greater impact than if staff did the work alone!
There are many ways to scale up
These are just some examples of movement support structures within 350 – there are many more, by many different names, in different regions.
350 has done this well historically. It’s one key way that we ‘punch above our weight’ – we can scale up our movement by working smarter.
Core Lessons when setting up a Movement Support Team
- Define the goal & role
- The goal of a new team, and the tasks you want people to perform, should be perfectly clear. Whether it’s skill-sharing on racial justice & equity; creating national strategies; coaching local groups… or something else.
- Possibilities are endless, but the team should be focused.
- Recruit carefully
- Find the right people, with the right skills, who will be fully committed to the specific work of the team.
- Have rigorous application/ entry processes.
- Starting small, but with the right people, can meet your goals faster.
- Adjust as needed
- All 3 projects made adjustments & changes after experiencing challenges. Iterative learning!
When the team shares a goal, they will have ideas about how to improve, if goals aren’t being met. Listen to their needs & respond to their ideas, and your team will sing!
- Organising Stories and Lessons from the 350 Organising Story Telling Lab
- Climate Impacts: 350 Organising Lessons from Australia, US, Pacific Islands, and UK
- Resources for decentralised organising
- 350.org (Organisation)
- Learning - Peer to peer
- Movements_Campaigns - Climate action and justice