Regenerative Activism: Revitalising Self and Society

A day that brings together activists & change makers

Sat 7 Apr 2018

Regenerative Activism: Revitalising Self and Society

Produced and presented by The Cockpit in collaboration with Advaya Initiative and Ulex Project


Join Advaya Initiative and Ulex Project for a unique and timely contribution to to addressing a key challenge of our time: how to achieve effective social change while creating personal and collective resilience, enabling our action to be a source of flourishing - individually, together and for society.

A day of presentations, discussions and workshops bringing together leading activists and change makers from across the UK and beyond, including:

Justine Huxley (St. Ethelburga's) • Asad Rehman (War on Want) • Alasdair Roxburgh (Friends of the Earth) • Sophy Banks (Transition Network) • Bayo Akomolafe (The Emergence Network) • Pat McCabe (Indigenous Rights) • Sarah Corbett (Craftivist Collective) • Natasha Adams (Campaigns Consultant) • Rachel Lilley (Aberystwyth University) • Guhyapati (Ulex Project & The Eco-Dharma Centre) • Gita Parihar (Legal Consultant) • Ruby Reed & Christabel Reed (Advaya Initiative)

Those of us involved in social change are all too familiar with the challenge of meeting injustice and hardship in the world. Our aim is to explore a range of tools and approaches, collective and personal, to make our activism more effective and sustainable. We will look at the personal and inner dimensions, as well as the interpersonal and organisational factors that enable long term engagement and continuity in the struggles we face. We hope to understand how our work for social change can be a context for flourishing, both individually and socially.

We will explore these issues using holistic and participatory methods, drawing on popular education, ecological and systems thinking, as well as reflective practices. The day will bring together leading activists and change makers from across the UK and beyond, to share practice and strengthen networks. It will be made up of presentations, discussion and workshops, which will aim to:

  • Explore methods of working effectively with the personal and inner dimension of activism, helping us take better care of ourselves, equipping us to avoid burnout and to better empower ourselves for action.
  • Share ways of supporting more skillful interpersonal work in our groups and networks, and enable ways of organising which exemplify the values we want to realise in the world.
  • Create a vibrant and supportive space for those involved in social change work to reflect deeply, analyse and share our experience of the personal and interpersonal dimensions of our work – finding nourishment, inspiration and learning from each other.

SCHEDULE:

09.15 - DOORS OPEN

09.30 - OPENING TALK - ULEX PROJECT

10.15 - NGO PANEL DISCUSSION HOSTED BY GITA PARIHAR:

- ASAD REHMAN (WAR ON WANT)
- ALASDAIR ROXBURGH (FRIENDS OF THE EARTH)
- SOPHY BANKS (TRANSITION NETWORK)

11.00 - BREAK

11.15 - TALKS PART 1 + Q&A

12.25 - LUNCH

13.10 - TALKS PART 2 + Q&A

14.20 - BREAK

14.30 - A CHOICE OF WORKSHOPS

16.00 - CLOSING REFLECTION

17.00 - END

THE TALKS:

JUSTINE HUXLEY (St Sthelburga's):
Awakening The Heart: Inner & Outer Regeneration

BAYO AKOMOLAFE (The Emergence Network)
A Post-Activism of Desire, Wellbeing, Justice & Failure

PAT MCCABE (Indigenous Rights)
Thriving Life: Indigenous Ways of Knowing

SARAH CORBETT (Craftivist Collective)
Craftivism: The Art of Gentle Protest

NATASHA ADAMS (Organising for Change)
Community Organising & Transforming Collective Culture

RACHEL LILLEY (Aberystwyth University)
It's Not How It Looks: How Neuroscience & Buddhism Informs Our Activism 

A CHOICE OF WORKSHOPS 
Once you've bought your ticket you will receIve an email to choose your workshop

ULEX PROJECT:
Regenerative Ativism

JUSTINE HUXLEY:
Integrating the Shadow: Systems Thinking for the Mind

SARAH CORBETT:
'A Positive Note', in Collaboration with Mind

SOPHY BANKS:
Thriving Projects, Thriving People

PAT MCCABE:
Sustainability & The Feminine Design

PARTICIPANTS:

ULEX PROJECT
Organiser, Speaker & Workshop Host

Opening Talk:  A keynote opening presentation, drawing on 10 years of running workshops for activists in personal and organisational sustainability. Touching on the themes of the day the presentation will enable the audience to reflect and share on the importance of the issues at hand.

Workshop Description: Drawing on the toolkit from their Regenerative Activism training, the Ulex collective will use participatory methods to help us reflect on the personal, interpersonal and political dimensions of activist sustainability, to deepen our understanding of the challenges that face us, and develop strategies to stay inspired and effective for the long haul.

Bio: A hub of collaboration, the Ulex Project is run by Col·lectiu Eco-Actiu, a non-profit involved in the design and delivery of residential trainings since 2008. The Ulex Project is a fresh initiative building on that experience. Ulex Project believe that connectivity is a key to cognitive vitality and learning. Diversity is crucial to resilience and adaptive capacity. We live at a time where social and ecological challenges require a shift from atomised individualism to networks of solidarity. It implies a new collectivity which still honours individuality. It requires cooperation balanced with autonomy. Ulex thrives on connectivity and seeks to be a reference for value based collaboration. Ulex works with numerous individuals and organisations to design and deliver our training programme. They establish partnerships with organisations across Europe and internationally. They bring diverse groups and individuals together in learning communities. They support organisations, groups, and individuals to foster collaborations, build networks, share experience, and deepen movement resilience through meaningful connection.

ASAD REHMAN (WAR ON WANT)
Participant in the NGO Panel

Bio: Asad Rehman is the executive director of War on Want, where he organises to put an end to poverty and injustice. Prior to that, he was the head of international climate at Friends of the Earth. Rehman has over 25 years of experience in the non-government and charity sector. He has served on boards of Amnesty International UK, Friends of the Earth International, Global Justice Now, and Newham Monitoring Project.

ALASDAIR ROXBURGH (FRIENDS OF THE EARTH)
Participant in the NGO Panel

Bio: Alasdair Roxburgh is Director of Networks and Communities at Friends of the Earth.

SOPHY BANKS (TRANSITION NETWORK)
Participant in the NGO Panel & Workshop Host

Workshop Description: Thriving Projects, Thriving People.

In this workshop we will explore how to understand the three core aspects of group life and learn to take care of the life blood of any group – the relationships between people.  This workshop will offer practical tools to help groups create balanced, enjoyable, effective ways of working together.

Bio: Coming from a background in engineering and computing, Sophy soon realised that there were many questions technology couldn’t answer, and in 1995 she started her inner journey. She has worked as a psychotherapist, family constellator and workshop leader combining insights from indigenous traditions, western therapy schools and meditation practices. In 2006 Sophy helped to set up the first “Heart and Soul” group of the newly forming Transition Town Totnes (link is external) , the first experiment in a movement (link is external) which thousands of communities globally have tried in some form. In her ten years at the heart of Transition she has trained people around the world in the model evolved in Totnes, to reimagine and build a vibrant, sustainable and inclusive future at the scale of local community. Sophy’s passion was to bring deep insights and processes to a movement tending to focus on external change. In 2016 Sophy stepped back from the Transition movement to give time to her own work and teaching. She played a lot of football in her youth, and is proud to grow most of her own vegetables and just about get up the Devon hills on her bike.

JUSTINE HUXLEY (ST ETHELBURGA'S)
Speaker & Workshop Host

Talk Description: Rewilding The Psyche, Rewilding Our Earth

For thousands of years, humanity has separated heaven from earth, spirit from matter.  This psychological split may have had a role in our evolution, but has now become dangerously out of balance and lies beneath the multiple global crises we now face.  A more holistic world view and experience is waiting to emerge, that shows us our inter-being with each other and with the Earth but our ability to live that emerging interdependent world view depends on healing that split and moving beyond dualistic thinking.  We urgently need to rewild the depths our own psyches, integrating our instinctual wisdom, our indigenous selves and the other lost parts of ourselves, while simultaneously rewilding our eco-systems, re-engineering our relationship with the natural world so that every element of an eco-system has its place, and that we recognise the Earth as a living sacred being.  If we are alive on this plant today, there is a direct relationship between our personal healing and our global healing.  We cannot successfully transform the destruction until we do that work both inwardly and outwardly.  Coming back into relationship with the Earth as sacred, we can transcend our self-centred hubris, that brings us nothing but pain and isolation, and rediscover a much deeper sense of belonging and our place in the natural order.  Spiritual wisdom, psychological understanding, and practical action need to come together and be completely integrated before we can transform our world.

Workshop Description: Darkness and light: The collective and personal shadow and its role in systemic change

As well as forming part of an immensely rewarding personal journey, shadow work is also an essential dimension to systemic change. It takes the understanding of interconnectedness and applies it to the psychological dimension of human life.

The tendency to project what we label as negative on to others and deny its potential within ourselves is a dynamic that is often present at the heart of many conflicts - both personal and collective.  For this reason, we cannot make a sustainable contribution to peace unless we understand and begin to integrate own our own shadow. On a larger scale, the challenge we face globally - ecological collapse, economic injustice,  religious extremism - are all signs of a way of life that has become dangerously out of balance.  The understanding of shadow dynamics forms part of a holistic psychology that can be a valuable lens to understand that imbalance – an imbalance which is reflected within ourselves as well as in the wider world. 

Leaders and peace-makers who are committed to sustainable systemic change can benefit greatly from knowing how to work with this system of psychology.  To make conscious and own one’s own personal shadow is to make a significant commitment to peace.  It is challenging work that requires fearless self-examination but ultimately leads to a state of wholeness and compassion that is greatly needed in our world at this time.  Psychological integration liberates apparently negative qualities to reveal their hidden gifts.  This frees repressed life force within the personal or collective psyche that can be used to energise and empower change.  In owning the darkness we discover priceless treasure and strengthen our own light.

This workshop will use a blend of light-hearted learning games, personal reflection, arts-based tools, humour, sharing and silence to explore the role of the personal and collective shadow in our own lives and on the global stage.  We will uncover and play with the hidden parts of ourselves that our family conditioning may have caused us to marginalise.  And we will explore the qualities and dimensions of life that we have denied on a collective scale and which play a part in global crisis we now face. This workshop is aimed at leaders, peace-makers, systemic change agents, ecological activists, faith practitioners and anyone seeking to understand themselves, or bring a deeper quality of awareness and empowerment to their personal social contribution.

Bio: Justine is the Director of St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace where she has worked for over 10 years.  St Ethelburga’s work is about enabling people from diverse backgrounds to collaborate across differences to build a global culture of peace.  It works with leadership, particularly in the younger generation, with sacred activism, spiritual ecology, community reconciliation, and with refugees.  St Ethelburga’s programmes call us to reconnect with our deepest values and sense of meaning, and to co-create action in the world that comes from that place. Justine has a Ph.D in psychology and also spent 5 years on the trading floor of a City investment bank - an invaluable spiritual boot camp which taught her how to remain rooted in the Real when in the midst of consumerist greed and power games.  She has a passion for bringing people together from different backgrounds and co-creating projects that speak to the needs of the time.  She brings a wealth of experience in deep listening, facilitation, and working with emergent process.  She sees spiritual ecology as key to the regeneration that is needed at this time of global crisis.  “It is a privilege to be able to share this work through St Ethelburga’s, and be inspired by many others around the world.  For me, spiritual ecology is about finding our own unique way to fall in love with the Earth again, allow that love to change us from the inside out, and to call forth practical action that comes from a deeper more transformative place.” Justine belongs to a Sufi Order and has been leading meditation and dreamwork groups in London for over 15 years.  Her understanding of the Earth as sacred,  her experience of interconnectedness, and the particular spiritual ecology practices she has adopted in her daily life, all emerge from the Sufi tradition.

BAYO AKOMOLAFE (THE EMERGENCE NETWORK)
Speaker (via Skype)

Talk description: Activists are made of apples, pixels and monstrous things: a postactivism of desire, wellbeing, justice and failure.

Who is the subject of activism or burnout? To whom do we refer when we speak about the 'activist'? At what point would our actions and practices have sedimented long enough to be considered a heap of justice? What does victory look like in a rhizomatic world that resists beginnings and endings? And what if we fail? Are there new questions we can ask about caring for ourselves? Are there new capacities that emerge from noticing we derive our being only in the relational matrix of other nonhuman agencies? In this story about postactivism - a queering of the usual trope of ethical responsivity in a more-than-human world - Bayo Akomolafe shares why we are seductively drawn into new understandings about our entanglement with the world, and why this destabilizes our usual lines of reasoning about how to be more efficient, or take better care of ourselves, in our quests for 'justice'.

Bio: Bayo Akomolafe (Ph.D.) considers his most sacred work to be learning how to be with his daughter and son, Alethea Aanya and Kyah Jayden - and their mother, his wife and "life-nectar", Ijeoma. "To learn the importance of insignificance" is the way he frames a desire to reacquaint himself with a world that is irretrievably entangled, preposterously alive and completely partial. Bayo was born in 1983 into a Christian home, and to Yoruba parents in western Nigeria. Losing his diplomat father to a sudden heart complication, Bayo became a reclusive teenager, seeking to get to the "heart of the matter" as a response to his painful loss. He sought to apply himself to the extremes of his social conditioning, his faith, and his eventual training as a clinical psychologist - only to find that something else beyond articulation was tugging at his sleeves, wanting to be noticed. After meeting with traditional healers as part of his quest to understand trauma, mental wellbeing and healing in new ways, his deep questions and concerns for decolonized landscapes congealed into a life devoted to exploring the nuances of a "magical" world "too promiscuous to fit neatly into our fondest notions of it."

A renegade academic, lecturer, speaker, and proud diaper-changer, Bayo curates an earth-wide organization (The Emergence Network) for the re-calibration of our ability to respond to civilizational crisis - a project framed within a feminist ethos and inspired by indigenous cosmologies. He considers this a shared art - exploring the edges of the intelligible, dancing with post-humanist ideas, dabbling in the mysteries of quantum mechanics and the liberating sermon of an ecofeminism text, and talking with others about how to host a festival of radical silence on a street in London - and part of his inner struggle to regain a sense of rootedness to his community. He also hosts a course (We Will Dance with Mountains) among other offerings. In short, Bayo has given up his longing for the "end-time" and is learning to live in the "mean time". In the middle, where we must live with confusion and make do with partial answers. His greatest vocation is however learning to be a satellite orbiting his greatest gift, his goddess Ijeoma, and knowing the blessings of her gravity. He speaks and teaches about his experiences around the world, and then returns to his adopted home in Chennai, India - "where the occasional whiff of cow dung dancing in the air is another invitation to explore the vitality of a world that is never still and always surprising." Bayo has authored two books, ‘We Will Tell Our Own Story!’ and ‘These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home’.

PAT MCCABE (INDIGENOUS RIGHTS)
Speaker & Workshop Host

Bio: Woman Stands Shining, Pat McCabe, has the honor of being of the Dine (Navajo) Nation. A Life-Bringer, Life-Bearer Mother, writer, artist, activist, speaker and cultural liason, her work is driven by the study of the Science of Right Relations. Moving from the central knowledge that We, The Five-Fingered-Ones, are born into Beauty, as Beauty, for Joyful Life, she brings the understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing into discussion and inquiry on Sustainability. Born to a People who have deep understanding and methodology for Restoration, she carries the Beauty Way into places where it has formerly been kept out. Pat is an active participant in Indigenous Peoples gatherings worldwide most recently in Chile, Belgium, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Bali. She has worked with the International Center for Cultural Studies in India and with Sarvodaya with Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne in Sri Lanka, as well as with organizations and gatherings in the U.S. Her recent work includes being a cultural consultant to the Pachamama Alliance, Inner Circle Invitee to the Language of Spirit Dialogue - Dialogue between Quantum Physicists, Linguists, Scientists and Indigenous knowledge keepers. Upcoming work includes the AUM National gathering, Women's teachings In Chile, and work with Israeli and Palestinian women.

SARAH CORBETT (CRAFTIVIST COLLECTIVE)
Speaker & Workshop Host

Talk Description: Activism often conjures up quick transactional signing of petitions, clicktivism, loud and aggressive ways to demand justice. Craftivist Collective's mission is simple: we believe craft can be a tool for gentle effective activism. By working with your hands, head and heart, craftivism can help us explore injustice issues and how they affect the world around us, we can create something beautiful, considered, positive and potentially world-changing that creates critical thinking, conversation, connection and long term social change.

Workshop Description: ‘A Positive Note’ in collaboration with Mind, the mental health charity (all profits go to Mind)

A special opportunity to send a positive message to your Member of Parliament (MP) encouraging them to help improve the lives of people with mental health problems. This is an important time in the campaign for health equality because we have a new UK Government in place where every MP vote and seat counts, and we have lots of new MPs because of the General Election, so it’s important as a constituent to engage them and their local staff in what you care about. Furthermore, mental health was in the manifestos of all the political parties as an important issue to tackle so that they are more accountable to show they are working towards better mental health support. The issue of mental health is finally becoming less of a taboo. It is being discussed more and features more frequently in the media and in daily conversation. Sadly one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. I truly believe (and so do Mind) that we can make a positive difference with these positive notes. One stitch at a time.

Bio: Award-winning campaigner Sarah Corbett founded Craftivist Collective in 2009 when after years of marches, signing protests and working on campaigns for large charities, she had begun to doubt the effects of some conventional activism, and as an introvert didn’t feel she fitted in to many activist groups. The time felt right to add a slower and less aggressive approach to the activism toolkit, not to replace other forms of activism but to add more tools to do activism effectively. Sarah saw how she could use some of the beneficial processes of craft and the final products as tools for a more gentle, respectful and more targeted way of doing activism. Although as a principle ‘Craftivism’ already existed, it took no time for Sarah to develop her own unique and award-winning activism approach she calls ‘Gentle Protest’.

Now with thousands of members, Craftivist Collective is thriving. Craftivism kits and tools are sold to craftivists and intrigued people all over the world. ‘A Little Book of Craftivism‘ book was release 2003 and a more in-depth book 'How To Be A Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest'  was released in October 2017. You can find their approach to craftivism in many different publications (and languages) around the world; 4 TEDx talks; over 300 workshops and presentations given around the world attended by over 11,000 people, and many successful partnerships with charities (including Unicef and Save the Children), art institutionsand universities (such as Bauhaus University, Falmouth University and Parsons New School NYC) have all helped carry the‘gentle protest’ methodology to a global audience whilst their campaigns have created tangible positive change. Worldwide project exhibitions and high profile collaborations, with the likes of cult jewellers Tatty Devine, The V&A and Secret Cinema, have helped extend its reach beyond the normal bounds of activism.

NATASHA ADAMS (ORGANISING FOR CHANGE)
Speaker

Talk: Community Organising and Transforming Collective Culture

Natasha will talk about community organising and transforming collective culture from the perspective of her work with Organising for Change, which is delivering training on these things, framing it within the context of her own personal disillusionment with much funded campaigning and personal transformation through mindfulnness and meditation.

Bio: Natasha’s years as a grassroots activist focused on environmental and social justice, and anti-militarism, evolved into a career as a professional campaigner which has spanned the last decade. She is a self described social change geek, obsessed about bringing fresh perspectives to the important question of how best campaigns, especially those focused on transformative systems change, can succeed. To this end she has convened numerous workshops and events exploring the theory and practice of many aspects of campaigning, and has gained a reputation as an activism expert in the UK. Having become frustrated with the limitations of NGO campaigning, Natasha now works as a campaign consultant freelancer, prioritising grassroots campaigning and strategies to nurture social movements. Natasha is a Co-Director of Organising for Change, a women' training collective focused on community organising and transforming the culture of groups and organisation. She also runs the Engaging Activists Facebook group and writes her own blog on activism and social change.

RACHEL LILLEY (ABERYSWYTH UNIVERSITY)
Speaker

Talk: It’s not how it looks...
A brain is not evolved for rationality, happiness or accurate perception. Neuroscience and contemporary theories of the brain agree with Buddhist teaching, that the brain is not designed to see reality. We understand this more than ever, so how does this effect how we work as activists to create change?

By understanding the latest theories of the brain, combined with practices of insight and reflection, we can make our work more effective and understand better the challenges of change making.  This work draws from empirical research, developing, delivering and evaluating programmes in change making organisations. Rachel shows that learning about the brain from both a personal (mindfulness) and theoretical (neuroscience, psychology, behavioural economics) perspective can transform the way people work.  How an understanding of unconscious bias, the role of emotions and intuition in decision making, together with increased self-awareness, meta cognitive and perspective taking skills, could help create the next cognitive evolution that might help us achieve revolutionary change.

Bio: Rachel is a mindfulness academic, advisor and trainer with over 20 years’ experience in social and environmental change, through activism, community engagement, project delivery, training and yoga teaching. She has worked on homelessness, international development, Aids, Permaculture, climate change, human rights and sustainability education. She lived and worked in coops for over 15 years, where she brought up  her two children. She is now a leading researcher on mindfulness as a means of supporting change and delivers a masterclass on her work at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.  Her research looks at how internal awareness and development can create capacities in activists, leaders and change organisations to enable them to better deal with 'wicked' and complex problems such as climate change and social inequality. She has worked extensively with Welsh Government, developing and evaluating programmes bringing mindfulness together with the behavioural sciences. She has a background in combined social sciences, and is currently completing a PhD on this work at Aberystwyth University.

GITA PARIHAR (CAMPAIGNS CONSULTANT)
Organiser & Host of the NGO Panel Discussion

Gita was Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth until July 2016 and has spent 12 years working with and for campaigning organisations, using her skills as a solicitor to bring environmental cases and advise at international negotiations on issues like climate change. This gives her a deep familiarity with the rewards and challenges of environmental activism. Alongside her legal work, Gita is passionate about exploring approaches to saving the planet that sustain us as human beings. Gita is a trustee of the UKYCC and the Climate Justice Fund and currently studying for an MA in Spirituality and Ecology at Schumacher college.

ADVAYA INITIATIVE 
Organiser

Saturday 7th April - 9:30am - 5pm
 

 
Tickets:
Earlybird General: £30 Earlybird Activist/Concessions (ticket for those working in activism in some way): £20