|Who or what is The Change Agency?|
|The Change Agency Education and Training Institute Inc. is a small and independent not-for-profit activist education initiative. We are passionately committed to building capacity for sustainable and effective environmental and social change. |
Our mission is to strengthen community and workplace action for social, ecological and economic justice by providing facilitation, workshops, training resources, research and other learning opportunities. The core team includes Sam La Rocca, James Whelan, Holly Hammond, Jason Macleod and Pru Gell. Our skills and capacities include:
|facilitation and activist education|
training program development and advice|
curriculum and resource development|
strategic planning including campaign strategy|
research, evaluation and analysis|
|What does The Change Agency do?|
|We spend our time organising and facilitating activist education and training workshops. We focus on social change strategising, community organising, working with groups and other learning topics prioritised by social movements. We also work directly with organisers and campaigners within organisations to hone their specific social change efforts through training and research. |
The Change Agency are keen to collect, develop and share resources that help organisers be more effective in our work, so we spend the rest of our time looking critically at campaigning and organising so we can learn from our experiences, applying the tools we share. We use this website to share resources, tools and links we find useful and welcome any suggestions from you!
|What kinds of education and training do we offer?|
|Becoming an effective change agent or creating an effective community organisation requires continual learning and a very wide range of skills, understandings and capacities. Activist educators have theorised about what and how effective activists learn. We prioritise topics and forms of activist education that appear most important to our project partners and the social movements we are most frequently supporting. And to complement rather than duplicate training and facilitation opportunities that are available in our region. The Change Agency regularly facilitates workshops on themes including:|
|activist mobilisation and sustainability|
decision-making & working together|
learning organisations & evaluation|
movement action plan|
nonviolent direct action|
scenario-based campaign workshops|
theories of change|
|What are our assumptions about how activists learn?|
|Like many people, activists use a variety of learning styles to learn. Our workshops balance visual, audio and kinesthetic stimulus to support participants learning processes. Our approach to facilitating learning for change emphasises:|
|experiential and empowered learning|
listening and reflection|
mentoring, guiding, supporting, tutoring|
questioning, not telling|
exercises linked to real and contemporary change work|
building a ‘container’ or learning environment characterised by trust, openness, honesty, self-critique, mutual respect and support.|
|We avoid the ‘talking head’ approach to adult education, the facilitator as expert; and treating participants as empty vessels.|
|Who have we worked with… what do they say about us?|
|We work with community organisers, environmental and social justice advocates and campaigners, feminists, workers, people with disabilities, indigenous activists, queers, people of colour and activist researchers wanting to be more effective in their work.|
|The list of community-based organisations who have participated in our workshops is much, much longer. We evaluate every workshop, based on participants' feedback and regularly receive feedback and testimonials. |
|Testimonials - See what some people say about working with us or participating in our workshops.|
|How can you or your organisation work with us?|
|Talk with us! Our strongest project partnerships started with an email or a chat over a coffee. What’s going on in your organisation or campaign? What challenges and priorities have emerged? What learning opportunities are you keen to make the most of? What could you gain from some timely training, resources or facilitation? What support do you need to make a difference? Perhaps there are already resources on our site that meet your needs. Or perhaps we can design and facilitate a workshop to help you or your staff, volunteers, members, collective, supporters and networks articulate and move closer to your visions.|
|What's the problem with one-hour workshops?|
|We’re often asked to lead one-hour workshops. People are keen to learn new skills and tools, and have little time. In our experience, though, short workshops are no substitute for really taking some time to reflect, think and talk about the big questions in our work. We call this ‘slow learning’, and it’s definitely our preferred approach. When it comes to making change happen, you need to take the time to reflect critically on your work and experiences so far, think deeply about the political climate you are working in and strategise effectively; this process needs to be given the space it deserves, not crammed into bite-sized sessions.|
|How much might people pay for our services? Why?|
|We negotiate fees with partners based on a daily rate at a sliding scale. This supports a project cycle from initial discussions to evaluation and follow-up, and includes resource development and facilitation -- one day face-to-face usually means about 5 people days for tCA.|
From time to time, we’re asked to explain why we charge money for some of our work. Why don’t we provide this support service for free, all the time? We’ve all experienced community organising and activism that does not support personal and professional development and learning. And we imagined what a difference it would make if there was a sustainable and accessible support organisation we could turn to for resources, facilitation, training and research about the processes of social change, campaigning and community organising – not just the issues. Now we’re trying to be that organisation. We’ve tried for a few years to do it without resources and found it just isn’t sustainable.
We believe this work is important and warrants our full attention for a long time... and the time and attention of other people. To support effective community action requires research, curriculum design and resource development, building relationships with groups wanting support, and developing and updating our website. For each day of face-to-face training or facilitation, we spend 1-2 weeks establishing purpose and process, liaising, designing, preparing, travelling, facilitating, debriefing, evaluating and following up. Our average fee covers this whole cycle and allows a couple of us to be paid less than a living wage on an ongoing basis.
Most of our time and effort is voluntary. And it’s all been cost-effective. Between 2002 and 2004, we led workshops with more than 3000 people for less than $20,000. As we’ve found additional resources to support our work, we have been able to work more sustainably, build stronger relationships with the organisers, organisations and networks we support, and provide support to more diverse groups throughout the region.
We are committed to ensuring our resources are available to everyone. And we know that often the people who most need direct support are least able to access or afford it. Besides offering resources online, we endeavour to charge people and organisations according to their capacity to pay. This includes a sliding scale and free ‘pay the rent’ places in our workshops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisers. Each year, we provide a combination of free and cost-recovery activities and strive to visit new locations where services like tCA are scarce. We’ve also recognised that we need to seek funding for this service beyond a ‘user-pays’ system and actively seek grants and funding to support tCA so that we can provide more research, facilitation, training and resources for free.
tCA supports other activist educators, do-it-yourself organiser support and the proliferation of resources. More than 100 people access our website each day, with 1000s of downloads each month. These resources are mostly used by organisers and trainers in ways that provide no material support for our work – though hopefully with attribution. This service is effectively subsidised by our voluntary efforts and income from workshops and partnerships.
|How can people support the Change Agency?|
|We gratefully accept donations and in-kind support.|
Members of the Change Agency collective often work on a volunteer basis and we love working with other educators and volunteers in research, administration and event management.
We rely on small grants, donations, registration and fees from project partners and operate on a cost recovery basis (not-for-profit). Contributions, support, donations, encouragement and advice are very welcome.
If you would like to make a donation or you are interested in working with us, please send us an email.
|What do we mean when we use all those fancy words?|
|Social change and environmental advocacy is challenging and complex, and the words used to describe it can seem like jargon. Our glossary of terms clarifies and communicates our understanding of the various attributes of social change and environmental advocacy.|
|Are there any good books we recommend?|
|Sure! Our library of more than 200 books covers topics including activist education, nonviolent direct action, youth activism, avoiding burnout, campaign strategy, case studies and the history of social movements. It’s both reassuring and instructive to know that other people are struggling with similar social change challenges, and to learn about their solutions and achievements.|