A few weeks ago, I attended a session a changemaker/campaign training from Simon at Take One Action Film festival. It was focusing on the question of ‘what is ours to do in the world’. He focused the session on why do we campaign, rather than the nitty gritty of campaigning tactics.
He started using the spiral of the work that reconnects, from Joanna Macy and Chris Johnston’s Book ‘Active Hope’. I started reading this several months ago, but had put it down so it was a great reminder to go back to it.
As part of going through the spiral we started from gratitude, what is it we we love in the world.
Having cycled down from the station my first thought was about nature. I’ve been trying to embrace the natural elements in a more mindful way recently. Embracing the feelings of the rain on my skin on the bike, rather than being grumpy that I’m getting wet again. Taking in the beauty of the world around us, and appreciating the views. Last week, I was cycling out to Govan and came around a corner and I had this spectacular view across the Clyde and out into the hills beyond. I’ve been welcoming the opportunities to feel the physicality of nature into my life and using it as part of my own selfcare.
The second thing that I identified as what I love about the world was about people and connections. How do we connect with other people, how do we build friendships, how are we embracing others into our lives. These are definitely some questions that I’ve struggled with over the last few years. How do we build those connections in a meaningful way. When those connections work there’s something magical, something beautiful about how we connect with other people and can both mutually support each other.
We then moved through the cycle to honoring our pain for the world, thinking about what frustrates us most about the world, what makes us angry. Unsurprisingly for me, it was all about inequality, lack of connection. How people don’t have opportunities to influence decisions that affect their lives. That people’s opinions and experiences are not being listened to and valued. It was a great reminder of what makes me angry and what I’m trying to change.
It was a really thought provoking session and some of the key takeaways I had were:
1. Confidence — The direction I’m taking Exploring Participation is matching with what I love about the world and also tackling what I find frustrating about the world and I need to be confident on this. I’ve found the last year hard, but am now much more confident that what I’m doing is resonating with my key values and drive.
2. Time — Change takes time, and so whilst I know what I’m doing is right I need to be OK with embracing the time that it takes and not beat myself up for taking the time to explore the questions.
3. Curiosity — taking the time for the approach to be curious and getting lost in in questions and answers. I’m going to make sure going forward that I’m approaching the work I’m doing in Exploring Participation from a place of curiosity.
4. Systems — often I think about systems change as needing to change the whole system and all of the elements involved in the system. However
Simon had some useful insights.
‘If you try to change the whole system you will be exhausted and its not possible’
an important reminder that whilst I want to change everything I don’t need to. The second quote really changed my mindset about needing to do everything.
‘If you believe in a systems approach you don’t need to change the whole system, but trust that by changing one bit of the system it will start to influence change in the rest of the system’
5. Reading — its really important to build in time for reading and reflection. I’ve been buying and then half reading quite a lot of books recently. I’m going to aim to give myself half an hour to read a day. (Since the training I’ve gone back to Active Hope referenced before, and finished it there was some great learning that I need to build into Exploring Participation
6. Courage — I loved this quote from David Whyat and have been going back to it regularly
This is a start of more regular updates from Exploring Participation, so please get in touch if you’ve got any thoughts. This has also been published on www.exploringparticipation.org
I also went on a graphics course recently and here is my very basic attempt to represent this all graphically!