ChangeMakers and Tipping Point hosted a series of online training sessions crafted for the Covid-19 context in April and May 2020. This article gathers notes, slides, recordings and other resources from the sessions. This article will be updated as further trainings take place.
Session 1: Public Dimensions of Our Private Lives
3 April 2020
The training was presented by Amanda Tattersall and was attended by over 160 people. The following notes are excerpted from the presentation slides.
The dimensions of this crisis don’t just relate to a virus but to the public arena – and the presence or absence of public resources it provides. These are the public dimensions of our private lives but expressing this is hard. We often shift from extremes, from intensely personal to intensely public, missing where the two intersect. When we grounding the crisis in day to day experiences it can open the pubic arena and politics to new people, because it shows why it matters. Everyone’s experience is valid and worth listening to, although some are impacted more than others.
When we see pressures as individuals we see ourselves as victims, clients or rugged individuals. We may then act in public in overwhelmed, angry and reactive ways. When we see pressures when connected with others we see ourselves as learners, creators and leaders. We can then act in hopeful, powerful and proactive ways.
What does this mean for us?
- We need to make space for these conversations in our organisations and networks
- We can work on this ourselves – reflectively – asking what are the public dimensions shaping our lives now (and in the past too)
- Build our public narrative
- Use this approach to engage others
- Use this approach to shape the issues that we work on, the solutions we seek to this crisis
Full slides from the session are available to download from the box at the bottom of the page.
Further reading and listening
The Relational Meeting by Ed Chambers, in Roots for Radicals.This short reading provides more information about the power of relational meetings, the kind of places where you might explore the public dimensions of private lives with colleagues and fellow leaders. In the third Organising in a Pandemic training, we will explore this skill further – but this is a good introduction by one of the former directors of the Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States.
Hear more about the amazing housing campaign in Barcelona via the ChangeMakers Podcast, Episode #1 Making the Impossible Possible (on all major podcast apps including Spotify). This story demonstrates the power of people hearing each others stories about housing, reducing shame and isolation and forging solidarity and collective action.
There are plenty of other inspiring stories on ChangeMakers. If you want to know more about the welcome assemblies discussed on Friday, you can also listen to Episode #14 about Reclaim the City which tells the story of a Cape Town campaign that created Advice Assemblies – adapting the Barcelona idea to their context.
There are also a short list of other readings about organising available via the ChangeMakers podcast website resources tab.
Session 2: When everything changes can we change everything?
19 April 2020
This session explored power and major shifts in the economy, climate, democracy as we negotiate a new world. We heard about what’s changing, how it’s impacting upon different groups of people, and discussed what opportunities and threats this moment presents and how we can respond. The pandemic has reset our understanding of what is possible. Amidst the horror of the illness and the shock of global economic collapse, we know that things need to change. But what? And how? This training aimed to help people imagine ways forward out of the crisis to a better life.
This training :
- focused on key concepts in community organising to explore how people can identify the most powerful ways to work on issues at this time
- began with a set up of the context in Australia
- featured three local speakers – Karrina Nolan (Original Power), Jagveer Singh (student activist and climate striker), Jane Grundy (care worker and United Worker Union member)
- discussed three key concepts:
2. Cutting the Issue
3. Multi-interest claims
Notes from presentations
Karrina Nolan from Original Power made the following points:
- First Nations communities were already experiencing massive pressure prior to the pandemic
- The pandemic, policing of it, and biased media is exacerbating existing inequalities
- However, there have been some important wins with freezing plans eg Santos fracking is on hold
- There should be no new approvals of extraction on First Nations land in this period
- Now is the time to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Jagveer Singh (student activist and climate striker) made the following points:
- Overseas students are in a precarious situation, unable to return home, without adequate support in Australia
- Education could be significantly changed by the pandemic – normalising online teaching and isolation
- We need an economic system based on life and the wellbeing of people, not ‘value’ in the market
- We should resist increasing police powers and racial profiling
- People need to be held accountable – to stop profiteering and abuse of power
- Let’s make a better future rather than return to normal
Jane Grundy (care worker and United Worker Union member) made the following points:
- Working on the frontline in essential services is scary – for workers and clients
- There is dangerous shortages of PPE
- Employers are changing working conditions with very little notice, creating uncertainty – 24 hours notice to change EBAs (which are the result of longterm negotiation)
- Casual employees are missing out on work and government support
- The amount of ppl who need help is growing with Australia’s ageing population
- Workers need to stick together to avoid being undermined by employers/privatised companies
- There’s some important organising going on, in workplaces, in communities and in social media
- Join your union
References and readings
- Daniel Kahneman: “Thinking Fast and Slow”
- The Practice of Adaptive Leadership
- Adaptive Leadership: Free Online Course
- Summary of the Teachers Federation Campaign
- The USA’s Green Stimulus Package
Session 3: How to organise relationally during a pandemic
This training session conducted by Amanda Tattersall outlined why relationship building plays an important role in making change and building a strong civil society. The session then explored the art of relational meeting, including modelling a short relational meeting.
Movements are founded on relationships, so how do we build more of them in this time of physical distancing? In this time of lock-down and physical distancing, connecting deeply and meaningfully with others has been made harder. Building power to confront big challenges can feel like a bigger struggle than usual. But let’s lean in to building relationships in this time of crisis when people are needing social connection more than ever.
Session 4: Understanding power to win a better world
1 May 2020
Power. There is a lot of talk about power, but we often don’t have a clear conceptual understanding of how it works. This session explored the concept of power, who sets it and how power can be challenged. It then very practically showed how to use the tool of power analysis to map and contest power.
This training was presented by US community organising trainer Erik Peterson and Amanda Tattersall.
Session 5: Building Powerful Coalitions
8 May 2020
The corona crisis has thrown up challenges that are unimaginably difficult to confront – economic, health and climate crises to say the least, alongside threats to our democratic way of life. How on earth can any of us stop this on our own?
We can’t. It’s why we will need to build powerful coalitions. But coalitions aren’t simple or easy to generate. While we often think ‘more is more’ the truth is that lots of organisations signing on to a statement or plan isn’t very powerful at all. So what does it take to build a powerful coalition?
This session will first hear from Mel Gatfield from United Workers Union, who will run through their own experience of coalition building – the ups, the downs, the surprises and the consequences. Then, Amanda Tattersall, author of Power in Coalition will run through the elements and lessons about how to build powerful coalitions.
Session 6: Public Narrative
24 May 2020
“Because stories allow us to express our values not as abstract principles, but as lived experience, they have the power to move others.”
Our ability to communicate and to persuade others relates directly to how well we are able to express our experiences, challenges and goals. This session ran through the method that is public narrative – which is how we project ourselves in speeches, one to one, in meetings, in public life.
A series of concepts were laid out and then explored through examples. People had time to do some work on a story and then shared and got feedback from others in break out groups. People were invited to come to the session with an idea of something they wanted to say to a particular audience. This session was run by Marc Stears, former speech writer for Ed Miliband in the UK and now Director of the Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney.
Here is also a 3 part series on March For Our lives, a movement that used Public Narrative to create change that was mentioned in the training.
Session 7: Understanding People Power
24 May 2020
Why is it that some mass rallies work to make change and some do not? Are there different ways in which people can come together to make a powerful impact and achieve social change?
This session unpacked a variety of different ways that we gather together in the process of making change – identifying five different strategies. Based on new scholarship by Amanda Tattersall and Kurt Iveson, this new approach identified that people can gather in these ways:
- Playing by the rules (petitions, lobbying, the courts);
- Mobilising (mass rallies);
- Organising (build leaders);
- Prefiguring (modelling the change we want to see, eg creating the thing you want changed – like building your own affordable housing) and
- Parties (political parties and electoral work).
This session defined each of these approaches using stories of change from around the world. In the second half we heard from three civil society leaders who engaged in these different strategies.
The argument at the heart of this is – how can we use these different approaches to build new forms of powerful change? When do these strategies work well together and when do they create conflict?
Here are some episodes of the Change Makers podcasts exploring four of the five different People Power Strategies further:
- Organising – How to win – Gasfield Free
- Prefigurative – Reclaim the City – housing occupations
- Parties – Barcelona
- Mobilising – Indivisible (distributed Networks), March for Our Lives (Parklands students – Gun Violence)
Keen to learn more? See Activist Inspiration and Learning in Lockdown.
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- Organising - Community
- People power