We use the expression ‘activist education’ to describe our work. This has implications not just for what we consider important for community organisers to learn, but how we believe we/they learn most effectively. We’ve facilitated discussions and workshops with other social movement trainers and facilitators to explore just what might be involved in working as activist educators.
The educational principles and practices (or pedagogy) guiding our work include:
- experiential and empowered learning
- listening and reflection
- questioning, not telling
- peer support and mentoring
- 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.
So you are interested in working with the Change Agency? What are some of the options for working with us? These nine scenarios illustrate how some organisations and campaigns have built partnerships with tCA:
- Two members of Organisation A attended a workshop on campaign strategising. They later shared the new tools they’d been introduced to with other members and applied them to a campaign.
- The coordinator of Organisation B downloaded Change Agency resources to facilitate a discussion about theories of change with their team.
- Organisation C engaged tCA to design and facilitate a three-day workshop on group maintenance (including decision-making, consensus, team-building and mentoring) during their annual retreat. They later brought tCA on board to design and facilitate a two-day induction program for new committee members.
- The campaign team of Organisation D met with tCA to discuss some challenges they were facing and decided to initiate a series of half-day workshops with their project team on priority issues. They engaged tCA to facilitate some of these workshops and to support an action learning process to evaluate the impact of the workshop series.
- Organisation E engaged tCA to facilitate workshops with their staff, board members and volunteers in several cities as a precursor to a new process of strategy development. The workshops introduced Organisation E’s members to a suite of strategising processes and defined shared understandings and language to guide the planning cycle.
- Organisation F hoped to build their campaign team and train a cohort of new organisers. They worked with tCA to develop a structured six-month internship program embedded in a short-term campaign with achievable objectives. The tCA facilitators worked with the team to develop a detailed campaign strategy and evaluation framework, then supported the team to implement them.
- Organisation G is developing tools to evaluate their campaigns – not just at the end, but from the outset. Members downloaded some resources from tCA’s website, then read in tCA’s email bulletin of our action research project on this topic. We have invited groups to collaborate with us in the project. Org G’s team participated in a tCA workshop to trial evaluation tools, then initiated a 12 month action learning project to apply these to their campaigns. During the project, they met regularly with tCA facilitators and members of four other organisations who were applying different evaluation tools to share learnings and identify preferred tools.
- Network H has member groups in thirty locations and is growing rapidly. With tCA support, they have developed a training manual for organisers and provided a series of workshops for the educators and facilitators who work within each of their member groups.
- Group I has an interest in supporting a variety of groups working on similar campaign issues. Group I works with tCA to develop a project proposal and applies for external funding to resource tCA to roll out a series of workshops on different topics aimed at a cross section of organisations all interested in the same campaign issues.
- The lead campaigner of Organisation J is struggling to figure out where to go next in their campaign, and the campaign team is experiencing conflict and low morale. The campaigner approaches tCA to provide monthly one-to-one supervision sessions. With the greater clarity and capacity achieved through accessing deep listening, sound strategic advice and interpersonal skills development, the lead campaigner revitalises Organisation J’s campaign.