The Resist+Renew podcast, where facilitators interview social movement organisers about their work and how they do it, along with a good chunk of geeking out about different tools in our training toolbox.
Season 2 episode 15 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we interview Aviah. A sneaky extra episode after the season closer! It took us a while to get back together.
Aviah is a lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, and is a community organiser the rest of the time. She is involved in the East End branch of Sisters Uncut, a national direct-action collective fighting cuts to domestic violence services as well as state violence. She is also involved in Hackney Copwatch, London Renters Union and the Kill the Bill Coalition, a national movement resisting the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill.
“Effectively, if you can organise enough people to [know their rights and intervene] in a coordinated way, then you can actually withdraw consent from policing altogether”
Season 2 episode 13 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we talk about a few tools to respond when conflict is happening in a meeting.
‘The sad update that we have is, at least to our knowledge, there is no fancy Magic Bullet intervention.’
Show notes, links
An outline of the VERA model:
“I understand why it seems that way…”
“Yes, I can see why you think that…”
“Yeah, I’ve definitely heard that it’s a struggle to get council housing, given the long waiting lists…”
“I like to think of it more like…”
“If we look at [this fact], then…”
“…but I don’t think that’s because of ‘too many migrants’ taking houses – especially as so many migrants are barred from social housing lists…”
“So if we look at it from that angle…”
“Which means I think…”
“…I think the the real problem is decades of underfunding of social housing, meaning that there aren’t enough houses for the people who need them, and the ones that are there are often shit quality…”
“What do you make of that?”
“…does that make sense?”
Some of the other tools we mentioned:
Name, frame, pause.
Pro = don’t need a solution to respond with this, or even know what’s going on.
Example phrase = “It feels like there’s some disagreement and heat here that’s not really being acknowledged. Is there something I’m missing here? Do you two maybe have different priorities when it comes to this topic?”
Request a group pause.
Pro = can use the break to reduce the heat and switch tracks to approach the conflict from a different direction
Example phrase = “I think things are getting tense here, and I don’t think I can continue to focus, could we maybe take a few mins break and come back?”
Enhanced name, frame, pause — where you talk to someone else to explore a challenge and why your group isn’t already dealing with the problem. Pro = dealing with thornier problems is easier with support.
Season 2 episode 12 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we talk about how to deal with conflict in the moment where it spikes up, using a frame called an “OODA loop”.
‘Conflict doesn’t have to be fighting or loud. It can be a stickiness, or a tenseness that our body is picking up on.’
Show notes, links
Why this is a useful frame: intervening in conflict situations can feel difficult; it is easier when you do these steps first!.
In the “Observe” step, a few things to look for:
an issue “cycling” back again and again
issues being raised but not addressed
participation changes (did some people leave the space and not come back)
feeling tense in your body
In the “Orient” step, a few questions to reflect on:
Who is involved, and who isn’t?
Who is visibly involved, who could be not visibly involved?
What roles are people taking (formal and informal)?
Why do you think it’s happening now? (e.g. specific timings
What’s your position in this?
How could this pan out? Do you think it will escalate, or fizzle out?
In the “Decide” step, a few areas to consider:
WHEN to intervene: never; later but not now; now; a mix
WHO should intervene: you? You + someone else? Other people, not you?
WHAT you could do: have a side chat with people you think are “in conflict”; checking in on what a person who has been harmed wants; activating a pre-existing conflict process; name that conflict is happening, and explicitly park it til later; take a pause, to make a plan; name + ask people what’s happening; find out what (some / all) people need; name and frame.
In the “Act” step… good luck! More on potential interventions next week…
Season 2 episode 11 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we talk about a model to understand some different positions that exist in conflicts.
‘This tool forces you to think about what it would be like for you to be in any of these different roles: having caused harm, having been harmed and having witnessed harm. We often don’t want to think about the possibility of ever causing harm.’
Show notes, links
Why this is a useful frame: these different positions have different needs; all of us could occupy any of these positions at any one time.
Season 2 episode 10 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we interview Elio. They organise with SWARM (a UK-based collective founded and led by sex workers who believe in self-determination, solidarity and co-operation) and are a branch organiser for United Voices of the World (UVW, a grassroots trade union of low paid, migrant & precarious workers and we fight the bosses for dignity and respect through direct action on the streets and through the courts!).
“Our focus is less on convincing the outside world that sex workers deserve dignity, and [more on] providing dignity to sex workers”
“Urgency will never end…but what might end is your capacity to be able to respond”
Season 2 episode 8 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we interview Nell, Martha and Naomi from Youth 4 Climate Leeds. We talk about shifting tactics from just strikes, working in solidarity with other groups, “de-diversification”, and navigating being a group during a pandemic!
“Both the cause and the effects of climate change is interlinked with racial justice”
“There is sometimes an ethic within activist circles like, ‘I can change the world by myself.’ And then you end up just taking on so much work and it just becomes ridiculous. Like, I remember like, it must have been early 2020 and I was going to three meetings a week all in different places”
Season 2 episode 7 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we talk about maintenance meetings: a meeting you hold for the overall health of your group.
‘It’s a space to focus on the maintenance of your group, rather than waiting until the car breaks down. It’s like a regular MOT’
Show notes, links
Some example elements of a maintenance meeting:
Doing a capacity check, to see how much time people have to put into the group over the next chunk of time
Invite difficulties – “one thing you want to raise with the collective / a person”. To give it some structure, you could ask for difficulties across a few different areas e.g.
with power in the group (is it serving us? is it comfortable?)
the purpose of the group (more regular than ‘at the annual strategy day’)
the practice of the group (how do we make what we do better?)
the people in the group (do we connect enough? are there tensions to bring out?)
Do some spectrum lines to map how people are feeling e.g. on enjoyment, fulfilment, connection
Season 2 episode 6 of the Resist + Renew podcast, where we interview Kadeem, Nirad and Zahra from No More Exclusions.
“It goes back to how the teacher stands at the front. The students act to passively receive. We don’t want to reproduce that amongst ourselves”
“Whether the law changes, and then the culture has to catch up, or whether we make it unconscionable to exclude and then the law catches up whenever it does. We don’t mind ultimately. School exclusions will be abolished in this country in our lifetime”