In August, our team has learning week. No meetings, no calls, no deadlines – just a week to focus on our learning and development. We close our external-facing work and spend time on ourselves. When the urgency of the world pulls us into different directions it can be especially hard to sit down and tackle the growing pile of books, unread tabs, or downloaded podcasts. I know I won’t get through everything on my list in one week of August, but I’m excited to have some focused time to just consume stories, research and resources that will inform my practice and deepen my understanding of pertinent issues people are organising on across the world.
Out of my very long to read/listen/watch list that I’m hoping to enjoy part of over the Summer, here are some highlights that I’m especially excited to sit down and take time to explore.
1. Resist + Renew Podcast: Episode 11 – Decolonising Local Organising
“If art has a role to play in modelling a progressive society, it means asking questions about how power works. How do we bring readings of power to what we do? How do we understand how power functions around us, including within art and culture?”
The Resist + Renew podcast is a truly refreshing and thoughtful production from the collective of radical educators – delving into movement work and sharing useful facilitation tools. Out of my downloaded-but-yet-to-be-played episode list is one featuring Rabab from Gentle/Radical, an artist-led cultural organisation based in Wales that uses organising in their hyper local projects unpacking power and seeking justice. I’m excited to hear more about their work in Riverside and connecting culture, politics and community – and what can be learned from their approach to decolonising organising.
2. Holding Change: The Emergent Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation by adrienne maree brown
My colleague molly is one of those people who always seems to have the right book on hand to share activities and excerpts to inspire us when we’re planning workshops and trainings. They recently talked us through an exercise from adrienne maree brown’s newest offering ‘Holding Change’ and it’s been on my to-read list ever since. Firstly, because adrienne maree brown’s work I find to be deeply insightful (as do many) – and brings a particular lens of care, love and joy that it can be hard to find time to think about during the day-to-day of movement work. But also – so much of our work at Act Build Change is holding space for folks to go deeper on their journey as organisers and social justice practitioners. I don’t compare facilitating to an art or a science, I think of it more of as a muscle – and I’m hoping that Holding Change will stretch and strengthen my facilitation muscles in ways I’ve yet to try.
3. Imagination Infrastructuring
In June, a collection of community organisations, artist collectives, funders, and future-thinking groups gathered for ‘Imagination Infrastructuring’ – a day of talks and conversations exploring how we define, grow and resource Imagination Infrastructuring, and the importance of collective imagination. One of the things I enjoy most about online events (especially as a chronically ill person) is the ability to participate asynchronously and save up moments of potential inspiration for when I have the time, energy and capacity to process and reflect upon them properly. Imagination Infrastructuring wasn’t only recorded, those involved are gathering a work-in-process library of related resources to allow the audience to delve further into the topics discussed – meaning it’s not just those of us who’ll watch it back in the future who’ll benefit from the event’s production, but those who attended in real time are able to re-engage in different ways. It’s a nice model for holding space for knowledge and insight to live on and evolve beyond a one-day event, and I’m looking forward to benefitting from it!
4. Lost in Work – Amelia Horgan
Pluto’s ‘Outspoken’ series platforming newer writers on political issues has already gifted us with some indispensable resources – including Leah Cowan’s ‘Border Nation’ and Lola Olufemi’s ‘Feminism, Interrupted’, both of which I’d highly recommend. ‘Lost in Work’ offers a chance to explore work and the myths around it, the harms it poses and the ways in which we can seek and gain control for transformation within work and our working lives. Amidst the increasing precariousness of work for so many over the last year, we’ve seen countless examples of organising and solidarity within and across workforces demanding for things to change. I’m hoping Horgan’s book will provide me with some further context and theory on how we as a society got here – and what more we can do to get free from it.
5. The New Economics Foundation Zine: Issue 3 – What World Do We Want to Return to?
Unpacking simplistic narratives about disability, the broken social care system, how the pandemic relates to the hostile environment and global vaccine justice – this digital zine is packed with tangible offerings of hope and reflection. In this issue, I’m keen to read Fergal O’Dwyer’s interview with community activist and trainer Nim Ralph exploring why trans liberation is a class issue. As part of my organising with an as of yet unnamed group of trans people working on political education (including Fergal), we’re working to build power across the movement for trans liberation. The relationship between trans issues, class and capitalism is an essential piece of the puzzle for liberation that I am ready to understand further.
What resources are on your list to read, watch or listen to?
Share below in the comments! And remember, there is power in an antilibrary.