Here you’ll find stories of successful organising, training and facilitation, what’s new in these areas already helping us build the world we want, news of Rhizome’s activities, and news of upcoming events. Have a browse or use the search for interesting topics we’ve written on. Please do feel free to comment and leave your own reflections – we feel that we’re on this learning journey, together.
intro to conflict resolution
I ran a short training session with the NGO Capacity Builders Skillshare Forum the other day. Posed with the issue of how to condense what could be a several days long training into 1hr 45mins, I decided to focus on four themes – State of mind Core listening and interactive skills Roles Application State of […]
Groundrules: empowering or oppressive: part 2
Reflecting on Daniel Hunter’s article, mentioned in our previous post, a few things come out for me. Firstly, not to be put off using of a group agreement (I don’t do ground rules and find the terminology too reminiscent of school for many of the groups I’ve worked with). It’s a good tool. Whilst Daniel […]
Groundrules – empowering or oppressive?
Daniel Hunter of Training for Change has contributed a thought-provoking article to Turning The Tide’s latest Making Waves. In it he talks about ground rules and the various ways in which they can, ironically, undermine the safety of a group. This flows from Training the Change’s emphasis on margins and mainstreams – that every group […]
Planning campaigns at the grassroots
In this post we interview Kathryn Tulip of Seeds for Change Oxford who has been working to make strategy more accessible to grassroots campaign groups. You can listen to the full interview (12.5 minutes) or Kathryn’s top tips for facilitators (2.5 minutes). Apologies for the background noise. For those that prefer the written word, we’ve […]
Language, laptops and lethargy
A few things grabbed my attention whilst preparing for and facilitating the World Carfree Network‘s annual general meeting. As mentioned in the report back post, it was a very international gathering. I’ve noticed that these gatherings bring with them specific challenges for participation that I don’t encounter so often elsewhere. There are the obvious ones […]
I’ve just read Cooperative Streets – Neighbours in the UK, a recent Co-operativesUK report. It charts the decline in neighbourliness in the UK over the last 28 years. Amongst other things, the average number of neighbours we each know by name has declined from 13 to 7. That’s perhaps unsurprising when you read that only […]
Towards carfree cities
York’s a lovely city any day of the year, but on Friday it was in full sunshine. Perhaps not ideal when you know you’re going to be indoors all day. The World Carfree Network was holding its annual conference: Towards Carfree Cities IX . Friday, day 5 of a 7 day programme, was the day […]
What's strategy ever done for us?
I thought it was time for a more upbeat post on strategy whilst I find the time to edit 2 interviews that I hope to post soon – the first with Kathryn Tulip of Seeds for Change focusing on overcoming challenges in facilitating strategy at the grassroots, and the second with Peter Chowla of Bretton […]
Growing strategy, not planning it?
Reading Carl’s recent post I’m seeing some threads developing from our strategy blogging experiment. In some ways I feel a tad guilty – we seem to be posting reflections that support a shift away from the ‘traditional’ strategy tools that facilitators have relied on for I don’t know how long. This post’s no different in […]
Strategy – craft or science?
I was reading the New Scientist the other day, en route to a friend’s place. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a reference, as I threw away the magazine, but kept my musings. There was an article on scientific peer review. It stated that many more positive research pieces are published, than those that are negative. […]
Just do it!
Here’s one for the film buffs and direct action junkies amongst you. Coming soon, but not to cinemas: Just do it, a documentary to inspire action on climate change. This film needs your help, as this isn’t going to be distributed along the normal commercial lines. So here’s the trailer to give you a taste […]
Telling the story of strategy?
Simmering away in the background for the last 12-18 months has been a 3-way conversation between facilitators from Rhizome, Seeds for Change and Turning The Tide. As you’ll have seen from other posts in this strategy dialogue all have encountered enough issues with facilitating strategy for activists that they’ve been looking at new approaches. […]
Strategy: change & chaos
bringing about systemic change is less about trying to control things and force a particular outcome at a particular time, and more about trying to create the conditions for that change to happen. This doesn’t necessarily mean changing what we actually do. It just requires us to be more open to different understandings about the effect we are having – and the effect on us when we do it.
Camp for Climate Action 2010 – Break the Bank!
The Climate Camp has unveiled plans for this year’s mobilisation against the causes of climate change. The Camp describes itself as: a place for anyone who wants to take action on climate change; for anyone who’s fed up with empty government rhetoric and corporate spin; for anyone who’s worried that the small steps they’re taking […]
Transitioning to consensus
Sunday afternoon was spent at the rather magnificent Seale Hayne, an old country estate and ex- agricultural college near Newton Abbot in Devon. I was working with a small group of Transition Towns folk from as far afield as Paris and Forres at their annual conference. We were looking at ‘structuring and facilitating efficient meetings’. […]
Let's talk strategy…
Just a quick ‘heads up’ to say that from June 21st onwards, for about a month we’re planning to host a series of posts on strategy. We hope to bring you both a facilitator’s and an activist’s perspective on the joys and frustrations of planning actions and campaigns strategically, facilitating that process, and training activists […]
Strategy – a walk in the park?
Wednesday saw me facilitating strategy in the park for the good folk of the Bretton Woods Project. BWP scrutinises the work of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and provides up to date information to campaigners and campaigning organisations. The park in question was Waterlow Park in London. […]
Tipping the balance
I’ve just finished a series of 12 phone interviews with campaigners from the Fairtrade Towns network, and NGO partners of the Fairtrade Foundation. This was one small part of the Foundation’s mid-point review of their 5 year Tipping The Balance strategy. The excitement for me in this kind of work is having the opportunity to […]
Fireflies, fish and florists
Just a hasty post to point you at Lynn Walsh’s post on emergence. I’ve only skimmed it and already I’m thinking of its applications to groups working by consensus decision-making. There’s a useful language here and some useful imagery that a lot of the autonomous, non-hierarchical groups we work with may find exciting and intriguing. […]
A Grand Meet up
We had our inaugural AGM – I had beans on toast and Matthew had white tipped tea. We affirmed all the administrative and operational activities that had gone into setting up the co-op; agreed that there were no funds to distribute in any direction; and that we were still open to new members. On the […]
Thinking outside the ballot box
So the UK election is over, although we don’t yet know who’ll be forming a government. How does it feel? Are you convinced that we’re going to be living in a fairer, more just society within the next few years? Me neither. Personally the old adage – “whichever way you vote the government always gets […]
A breath of fresh air…
If the election campaign has you fed up with lying politicians, spin and public apathy, if you fancy a proper debate about real action to change the world, you could do worse than get yourself to the Peace News Summer Camp. We’ll be there running a few workshops. Why not join us?
I met David Babbs of 38 Degrees to discuss participation on-line, how it works and its impacts. 38 degrees was set up in May 2009 to enable people to be engaged in change using social software and email. 38 degrees is the angle of slope which naturally causes an avalanche; the analogy being that enough […]
Mapping new ground
Last week I was back working with Friends of the Earth, helping them take forward the vast quantities of ideas that came out of their recent staff away days. 10 staff members spent 4 hours painstakingly sifting through a mound of flipchart paper and video footage to distill the collective wisdom of the staff into […]
NVDA – negative, violent, divisive and alienating?
I’ve been using nonviolent direct action (NVDA) as my technique of choice for making change for a long time now. Indeed I’d say it went way beyond technique to ideology, philosophy, ethos – take your pick. In that time I’ve heard many arguments for why NVDA doesn’t work: it focuses too much on saying ‘no’, […]
Don't vote! It only encourages them
So, the UK election date was called today. On May 6th we go to the polls. No doubt the blogosphere’s crackling with comment, impassioned pleas, and a fair amount of cynicism, even apathy. Already the news teams are out interviewing Jo Public who are coming back thick and fast with comments such as those I […]
What a difference a day makes?
I’ve just received the evaluations from a ‘strategy day’ I facilitated for the staff and management committee of Labour Behind the Label back in mid February. LBL is a small but impressive campaign for the rights of workers in the garment industry around the world. They’re the UK platform of the international Clean Clothes Campaign. […]
Full group or full participation?
Facilitating for full participation can be tricky. Usually we’re using techniques that break large groups down to allow quieter voices and less confident people be heard. It’s a generally accepted rule of thumb that to achieve full participation in large groups we avoid full group sessions. Smaller group sizes lend themselves to creating safer spaces […]
The Curse of Competence?
The problem seemed to be that as facilitators we’d taken on all of the explicit facilitation roles ourselves. Potentially we’d disempowered others, leaving them feeling “I’ll never be able to facilitate like that, so why bother trying”.
For any facilitator committed to participation, it’s a real challenge. I didn’t enjoy the interaction at the time but it’s proved very thought-provoking.
Big wheel keeps on turning
We ran our first co-facilitated Rhizome workshop last week for (mostly) Bike It workers at Sustrans. The venue was friendly and by the docks in Bristol – the International YHA. The food was wholesome and veggie/vegan. Lots of natural light, access to AV equipment, if you need it; and there are flat walls you can […]
Building the capacity builders
For us the key message is that people need to be involved in their own learning. As facilitators we need to bite the bullet and accept that it takes more time, but participation gets better results….
We facilitators can be as guilty as anyone of stereotyping people as ‘difficult’. We write them off and try to either ignore them or marginalise them so they cause as little disruption as possible. But if we take the time to think about what’s going on then we can see that the problem often lies with us, or with the group as a whole.
At Rhizome we believe in making change in the world. Specifically we believe in ordinary people and communities taking control of their lives, environment, and destinies. Change from the grassroots up is powerful and sustainable because it’s rooted in a community. It’s rooted in their values and aspirations. The people making change believe in it. […]