“In the coming years, we are going to have to practice our skills and our politics in ways that we probably can’t fully imagine right now, because we live in unprecedented times,” says Kelly Hayes. In this episode of “Movement Memos,” Kelly and organizer Carlos Saavedra talk about burnout, building power and how our pandemic exhaustion could give way to an era of breakthroughs.
Note: This a rush transcript and has been lightly edited for clarity. Copy may not be in its final form.
Kelly Hayes: Welcome to “Movement Memos,” a Truthout podcast about things you should know if you want to change the world. I’m your host, writer and organizer, Kelly Hayes. Today, we are going to talk about burnout, building power and how our pandemic exhaustion could give way to an era of breakthroughs. We’ll also be talking to Carlos Saavedra, founder from the Ayni Institute, about how we should understand the ebb and flow of movements, and our own productivity.
It’s always a difficult time to be a person who gives a damn, but we’re living in a particularly disconcerting time. Right-wing power plays, vaccine resistance and mass tragedy have left us pained and frustrated, and in some cases, out of steam. So I wanted to take a moment to talk about how we can orient ourselves, emotionally and politically right now, to keep it together and remain whole, while we weather this part of the storm.
So let’s talk about what we’re feeling. One thing I am hearing from a lot of activists and organizers right now is that they feel stuck, or weak, or even powerless. That may have something to do with our capacity, in terms of our physical and emotional health — which a lot of us have a hard time honoring — or it may have something to do with what we are or aren’t able to contribute right now. Some of us have never quite adapted to Zoom, for example. I know that as a facilitator, running meetings, and as a public speaker, I am not as proficient on Zoom as I am in person. Nowhere near. That sometimes makes me feel less competent. But as a friend recently reminded me, not being able to exercise our strengths can make us feel weak, but our strengths are still there. We are just living in a moment that’s demanding something else from us.
One strength we can all bolster and exercise right now, that will always be essential, is imagination. Envisioning the future we want, and imagining what steps we can take, each day, to engage with each other and build toward it. Sometimes, those steps might feel small, and our contributions may feel insignificant when we contemplate the enormity of our struggles. Other times, we may feel like we are organizing relentlessly, but nothing seems to be happening. Personally, I look at what’s going on in the world and I think, “We need to shake the shit out of this system, and bring these politicians to their knees, and nothing less is going to get us the results we need” — and when the need is that great, we can often get frustrated with anything short of that upheaval. But when our expectations don’t align with the actual ebb and flow of movements, or with our own capacities, we can wind up in a state of constant frustration that fuels burnout. I have learned a lot about respecting that ebb and flow from the Ayni Institute, which offers political education grounded in Indigenous principles of reciprocity. I have attended a number of the Ayni Institute’s workshops online, and am currently enrolled in their Social Movements course, which I’ll talk more about later. But because so many of us are experiencing a particularly rough era, in our organizing and activism, right now, I wanted to begin by sharing some wisdom that Carlos Saavedra recently shared with me about the different seasons of our work.
Carlos Saavedra: I think that many of us are thrown into leadership positions, sometimes when real difficult things happening in our childhood, or when we’re growing up, and we have to just take maybe more parental positions, leadership positions in our family, and then we then want to take maybe positions in organizations or in causes.
And I think sometimes what is missing from this leadership conversation is that leadership has, in some ways, ebbs and flows. There are times where you can respond and there’s times where you cannot respond as much. And we believe that actually at the Institute I’m part of it at Ayni, that leadership in some ways goes through cycles and goes through ups and downs and a good metaphor, I think, that could ground us in that is a metaphor of seasons, or seasonality, meaning that there’s a time where a leadership is going through a Winter period, meaning it’s going through a period of hibernation where you are trying to rejuvenate yourself, rejuvenate your body, your emotions, your capacity. And also have a breakthrough, an insight that could allow you to then have maybe a Spring in your leadership where you’re maybe opening up, you’re doing more things. You feel very energetic, and potentially maybe going through a Summer in your leadership where it’s go, go, go energy. Let’s go, let’s move around as quick as we can. There’s so much energy. And then hopefully a time of Fall where we’re reaping the rewards of the work that we’ve done and preparing for another cycle of Winter.
I think in some ways the cycles happen in people, maybe, in a four or six year cycle, where people have a year and a half of a Winter and so forth and so on. Winters are the only season that people can stay in for many, many years, because it particularly, I mean, referring just in the context of leadership, meaning that people sometimes feel burn out because they didn’t, they weren’t in a perpetual Summer for a long time and never rested. They get burned out and never come back.
I believe that individuals, organizations and social movements go through seasons through this metaphor of seasonality. I believe organizations go through the same thing. Sometimes your organization needs to go through a Winter time, meaning a time of figuring out internally what it wants to do. Sometimes we call this a strategic planning times where people go within and through many retreats try to figure out what they want to do. And a lot of the reasons why people organizations do that is because they understand that for them to succeed, it’s not about just being better in the conditions that you have, but it’s about changing your organization’s identity or values or internal mechanisms to respond in a different way. And that requires a transformation and that requires a Winter.
Now what I am saying about seasons as a metaphor for understanding our leadership or our emotions, either in our personal lives or in our missions, is nothing new. I’m not the first person, we’re not the first, there’s tons of people that have used seasonality as a metaphor to understand the cycles of life. But I believe one of the main reasons why it’s so difficult for us to be in a rhythm of seasons nowadays is because of the nature of the global system that we’re in, that is highly, extremely productivist, which is capitalism.
That in some ways creates this expectation of what we call the eternal Summer and this expectation that everyone should be in the eternal Summer all the time. “Hey, how are you doing? How was your day? Are you doing good? Yes. Good.” Like if you say bad, it’s a bad thing. Or “What are you working on?” It’s everything about producing and being externally focused. And in some ways it’s an expectation. And sometimes people even make fun of other people and say, “Oh look, that person burned out” and so forth and so on, right? There is even a stigma to burning out or not having that capacity to keep producing.
And then we have, because of that, we also have the opposite of it, which we call the Winter phobia, which means that people are scared of taking Winters. They’re scared of going within, or maybe to deal with the pain of previous seasons to be able to then regenerate. And so people sometimes are stuck. They know that the eternal Summer is bad, but they are afraid of going into a time within.
So we believe that for us to be on the long term of our leadership, for us to be able to do this, not for 1, 5, 10 years, but for a lifetime, which is what I want to do. I mean, I want, I hope I can do it my whole life, but that’s what I’m preparing to do for my whole life. As long as life and God can allow me to live. I know that there’s times where my leadership is going to be able to be in real highs and times that it is not going to be as available. So the more that I can protect my leadership as a resource, the more that I can understand it, and the more that I can send the resources of, or the leadership of others, and not put a person that is in a Winter on a Summer context, which is what a lot of us sometimes do, because that’s basically the recipe for burnout.
KH: The first time I saw Carlos talk about seasons, it was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me. A friend had shared a link to an Ayni Institute workshop on Facebook. It was a Youtube link, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll check this out. It was a workshop about seasonality, and that workshop gave me a new way of understanding what I had been experiencing over the course of the pandemic, as my health tanked and my capacity shifted. So I immediately wanted to watch more Ayni Institute videos, and also to talk with Carlos, whose description of activists getting caught up in the expectation of “endless Summer” perfectly summarized what I had been doing to myself for a very long time.
I also learned from Carlos that our seasons as organizers don’t always coincide with the seasons that our movements or our organizations might be in. When long COVID devastated my organizing capacity, I fought those limitations, because we were experiencing situations where I felt I had to act, and I felt like my skills were needed. But, I was also grinding myself down in ways that were breaking me, so while I did see some things through, I also marked an X on my calendar, and told myself that, after that point, I was going to cut down on my responsibilities, and focus most of my energy on several projects that were more sustainably paced.
And what I was doing there, without having any language, or a lot of positive feelings about it, was initiating a Winter — and that didn’t mean that my group was necessarily in Winter, or that my movement was in Winter, or that I was inactive. I think everyone’s Winter probably looks different, but for me, it meant focusing on soaking up knowledge, and making things, and laying the groundwork for future work that I think needs to happen. And it’s actually been a really generative stretch for me, but when I started making those changes, I didn’t fully recognize the positive value of what I was doing. My sense of obligation — which can also get tangled up with our egos, sometimes — would tell me that I should be doing anything that jumped out at me as being necessary, anything that I could somehow contort my capacity to accommodate. The boundaries I was imposing just felt like a matter of catastrophic necessity. It wasn’t any learned organizing wisdom that led me to start creating those boundaries. It was my health spiralling and having to make choices about what my survival meant to me. A lot of committed organizers hit that wall at some point, after our beleaguered and overworked bodies stop negotiating with us, and start setting terms, and a lot of us don’t process it well. One of my mentors was diagnosed with cancer and wanted to delay surgery for the sake of a pressure campaign she was working on. So these are real things we struggle with, as activists and organizers — weighing the value of our lives against the need to never stop.
But the idea of this kind of slowdown was part of a natural progression — that the Winter I had been fighting off, for so long, was a necessary space for me to seed new ideas, and lay the groundwork for potential breakthroughs — that was huge for me. So I think it would be worthwhile for us to consider, what season are we really in? And if the answer is Winter, then, rather than treating that like a problem that needs to be fixed, maybe we be asking ourselves, “How can we create a season of restoration, and learning, and creativity, and conspire with our co-strugglers, to prepare ourselves for the breakthroughs of Spring?”
When we talk about the work of building things, and how we create formations that can oppose threats or advance ideas, I think one of our greatest impediments in leftist organizing today is the need for affinity. I think our expectations — expectations that may sometimes be created or re-enforced by social media — keep our efforts smaller than they should be, which makes the webwork of our movements, and the support that might exist for our work and our organizers, weaker than it should be. Generally speaking, we need to agree on way too much in order to take collective action in our own defense. That also makes our projects, and our movements, more frustrating. Social media is an important tool for activists, but we have to navigate it thoughtfully, and it’s easy to veer off course. One of the things that I appreciate about abolitionist organizing is that socialists and anarchists, and people who identify as neither, are able to find common cause is their opposition to the prison industrial complex — and I think that what that shared dream work demands of us challenges us in ways that most people don’t want to be challenged. Because most people who buy into an ideology mostly want to defend that ideology.
I don’t think any dominant political strategy associated with the left encapsulates everything we’ll need to take on the modern security state, and we are definitely going to need more than any of our respective political silos has to offer. I think we sometimes exhaust ourselves by insisting upon a level of agreement that not only isn’t going to exist, but also, probably isn’t needed to act in opposition to the security state, and capitalism, and in defense of our immediate survival. Educating people is part of building power, but we don’t get the satisfaction or gratification of knowing that everyone in the room understands or agrees with us about all the things that are important to us — that doesn’t exist at the outset and may never exist. Hopefully, the ideological gaps between us can get smaller as we learn together, and we learn through struggle. That doesn’t always happen, but it’s something I’ve definitely experienced.
When it comes to political strategy, it’s easy to get very fixed in our thinking, and we sometimes waste a lot of energy on trying to negate what other people are doing, rather than trying to build up our own work. It’s always easier to pick something apart than to build something, but social media has definitely taken our culture of critique to another level.
So many conversations play out like competitions. No understanding, agreement or education is being sought. It’s just wasted energy, wasted time and more entrenched rancor. A lot of us have engaged that way, at times, even if that’s not how we’re trying to operate in the world, because that adversarial energy is popular energy. It’s normative. It’s reinforced. It has a team dynamic. And when we are under a lot of pressure, a relief valve can be very alluring. We don’t always stop to check in with ourselves about what we’re seeking, beyond satisfaction, or approval or repetition. Social media doesn’t usually reward people for reaching common ground or managing to hold contradictions. It rewards people for spiking the ball. And, in pursuit of those rewards, a lot of people only engage in movements at the point of criticism. All of this gamesmanship heightens the difficulty of what was already extremely difficult work, when it comes to building solidarity within our movements.
I’m not saying let’s get off social media because, as we recently witnessed, with the simultaneous breakdown of Facebook and Instagram, these platforms are crucial social and political spaces for billions of people, and I don’t think organizers can afford to cede that kind of territory. And, to be clear, the left being at war with itself over strategies, tactics and theories of change is not unique to this era, but it is easier than ever for our differences to give way to conflicts that can foreclose the good we might do, or even just contemplate, together. We also have surveillance and corporate algorithms working against us. Meanwhile contempt is breeding too easily between people who are going to need each other to survive an era of crisis. Because successful movements are not collections of people who get along really well, or have a lot in common. And they aren’t tight-knit groups of people who all want exactly the same thing and have a shared blueprint for getting there. Those expectations will keep us at war on too many fronts. We are up against capitalism, and anything large enough to upend the violence of that system will have to contain multitudes.
The Ayni Institute teaches that diversity and mutualism — rather than monoculture and antagonism — are the conditions for strength and survival. Basically, if we saw our work through the perspective of ecology, we would be more supported and more successful. This is a big idea, but I asked Carlos if he could take a shot at breaking it down a bit for us. Here’s what he had to say.
CS: So for us, what we describe as movement ecology is that we believe that there are five different types of ways that people engage in the question of social change. So when you ask somebody, “Hey, you want to change the world?” There’s five different ways that people go about it. The first way is that people go about it in a sense of personal transformation. They believe that if they change individuals or they change themselves, they’re changing the world. So sometimes we see the motto of all you need is to change, change yourself and you will change the world. Then there are alternative institutions. They are about building an alternative, building a cooperative building, a different way of living or embodying your values in the world that is different from the dominant culture or the dominant system. And there’s a whole world of people that do that, right, that are involved in alternative ways of living, alternative cultures, alternative institutions.
Then there’s people that are engaged in one big area that we break down in three, which we call dominant institutional change. And these are people that are engaged in basically getting the dominant structures in society, whether it’s the market or the state, to regulate them or to get something from them, whether it’s legalization if you’re an immigrant worker, whether it’s getting more workers rights, so forth and so on. And in this category, we see three different approaches. One is called the inside game, which is people that are doing lobbying and advocacy that are from a position within the systems of power, they’re trying to create change, right? Which is very difficult to do. Right? So you might imagine an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being an embodiment of that. Of course some people would argue that, “Is she really trying to create change,” and all that. But if you just assume that yes, she is trying to do her best from that position, that would be the inside game.
Then there is community organizing that is trying to organize people to build a constituency, build power, build leverage against elected officials or against the political system to get their needs met. And then there’s mass protests, which is taking the streets, doing boycotts, strikes, mass demonstrations to do that as well. But all these different things take a different shape. And even these three or the five theories that I shared with you sometimes can become antagonistic with one another, meaning that sometimes there are traditions, schools of thoughts, right, in any of these ones that distinguish themselves from the other ones, that sometimes people say, “Well, if you’re not organizing to change the state, you’re just not doing the real work.” Or, “If you’re doing just a retreat to take care of yourself with others, how does that change the power dynamics of the world?” So there’s an antagonism to all these forms of work. Sometimes the opposite, people in alternatives say, “Well, all of you are fighting to change the state, but what is the alternative? So all of you are just embedded in… you’re going to recreate the same systems of oppression.” So there’s a critique that all of them share of one another sometimes. But what we notice is that, actually, any successful and powerful movement is a combination and the embodiment of these five different theories of change.
So because we need personal transformation to heal ourselves, to develop ourselves as leaders, to know ourselves deeply, we also need alternatives. We need a different way of embodying the world, right? We just need new experiments into how to live the values that we want. And then we have to engage the state and the market. There’s no way that we can just isolate from a particular fight with them. So when we, at Ayni, when we are looking at the top hits, the movements and the world, we’ve seen done some amazing things, we have not yet seen one movement that doesn’t embody all these five or has what we call movement ecology, which is when they all collaborate with one in another and they become greater than the sum of their parts.
KH: I’m sure that many of you have critiques of each of the theories of change that Carlos described. After all, a focus on personal transformation can be commodified and reinforce individualism. The creation of alternatives can become insular, and those alternatives often have a limited reach. And what people call having an “inside game” can easily collapse into complicity and betrayal. But when we understand these approaches — with all of their potential pitfalls and upsides — as existing, not in some kind of competition, that a single theory is somehow going to win, but in relation to each other, as part of a political ecosystem, there are opportunities for common ground and synthesis that we otherwise might miss. Building power against the right, in spite of our ideological contradictions, is one of the great challenges of our time. To rise to that challenge, and to fight for life on Earth, we are going to have to overcome our constant need for affinity, and an ecological understanding of movement work can potentially aid in that process.
I think part of embracing that ecological view is being eager to broaden our understanding, rather than simply defending what we think we know. I’ve talked a lot lately about the importance of taking advantage of the fact that we are living in the webinar era. The availability of political education, in this moment, is unprecedented, and I think that that could allow for unprecedented growth in our movements, and in ourselves, if we pursue those opportunities. As I mentioned earlier, I have been taking the Ayni Institute’s Social Movements course, which I really like. Next, I plan on taking the Seeds Course, which the institute describes as a “course in reclaiming our relationship with Mother Earth, our ancestors and our community.” Both courses are pre-recorded and self-paced.
But those aren’t free courses, and I know not everyone can afford to pay for their political ed, so I am going to, once again, include a variety of free and paid workshop and webinar opportunities in the show notes, on our website, at truthout.org, for people who want to spend some time arming their imaginations — including some free resources from the Ayni Institute. That list will also include a link to Building Your Abolitionist Toolbox, which you can access free of charge, and I sincerely hope that everyone will, because if you’re looking for new tools and new frameworks for building a better world, Project NIA has put together an amazing collection of webinars around topics like rape culture, accountability, movement security and much more. I recommend it to all activists and organizers, whether you’re an abolitionist or not — but especially to all abolitionist activists and organizers. Someone told me recently that they can’t do webinars because they are always multitasking with childcare, but I just want to put out there that I don’t always watch every webinar I hit up. Sometimes, I’m just listening while I do other things, and it can still be really worthwhile to do that, if it’s how you can squeeze it in, particularly with a prerecorded event where you’re not participating in any interactive elements anyway. It’s great to watch, but listening can be great too, because there are so many people with a wealth of experience who are sharing it right now in accessible ways. For people who are in a Winter phase of their justice work, we have so many resources right now that can help us prepare for the breakthroughs ahead. The radicalizing impact of the pandemic, as a political era, is not going to be realized all at once. Radical politics and rebellions and people’s capacities are going to erupt over time, and that process will be aided by the fact that some people have used this time to create accessible political education resources, and people will continue to access those resources.
I am really grateful to trainers and organizers who have responded to the limitations of the pandemic by putting their work online, and creating so many permanent resources, and I am excited to see where those efforts lead. Because, to survive these times, we are going to need a lot of imagination, but we are also going to need strategy, and above all, we are going to need each other, so anything that helps us think more deeply about how we can create new relationships and political projects, and draw connections between the work that we’re doing, is a good investment of our time right now. I know it can be difficult to focus on these things, and the lure of escapism is real. As someone who binge watches a lot of television, I understand that it’s much easier to phase out reality, than grapple with how we might change it, but I do make a point of squeezing in webinars, because I value those opportunities and we can’t simply lean on our good intentions to guide our political work.
But I do want to circle back to burnout, and the fact that some people feel stuck or in crisis right now. I asked Carlos about his thoughts on building power during difficult times and coping with burnout, and he had some thoughts to share with you all.
CS: Just engaging in taking care of the world and engaging in being a witness to the pain of the world is something very difficult. I’ve seen it since I started doing this since I was 15 years old. I’m 35 now and I see it still today. It’s just very difficult to hold the pain of the world. And especially, I think before, when I was younger, it was easier because social media and the communications’ capacities that we have were limited, so you didn’t really know as much of everything, and that was kind of, maybe a protection mechanism from being overwhelmed.
But I think now many people feel very overwhelmed. I think, always, there’s a need for a spiritual practice, and a practice of being connected to your ancestors, to your lineage, to your spiritual, whatever makes you, because everyone has their own perspective. But I think all that is needed to have resiliency, to look at the world, to look at the pain of the world, and then from there to fight and build something with others. Yeah. And I also think it’s something else, there’s so many other training institutes, not just us, but so many other different schools. When I was growing up in organizing, to go to a training you have to kind of know the right people and things were not really, there was no online things, so it’s great that there’s a lot of great tools.
And I think at the end of the day, we have to be committed to craft. And so we can develop our agency to take us, to make as much change as we can, and that just takes a lot of work, and I think we always struggle as young people to try to do things too fast. And we forget that strategy is doing the right thing at the right time, and we have to be patient, or we have to build the right things so that we can do them at the right conditions.
I believe that we respond, our capacity to respond, our leadership comes from the wealth of the relationships that we’re in. Usually leadership happens in relationships. There’s a relationship that holds the leadership, and the more risks that you want to take in your leadership, the more relationships that you need. And I feel like with the pandemic, it’s been really hard for everybody because everyone is so isolated because of the pandemic and in some ways that has weakened us all relationally, and in some ways emotionally. So, the only thing that I would say to people is to, probably to rest, is to, probably to take time off. If you feel that you are in a time where you are tired, you’re overly tired, maybe you need a few months off.
And I understand that sometimes people are unable to do that. And if you’re unable to do that, that’s okay. But just know that the problems that we’re working on are still going to be there the next year, the next five or the next ten years, hopefully less of those problems. But in some ways we need to make this a lifetime calling. And there’s a lot of people that I worked with over the years in organizing that for various reasons, they’re not doing organizing anymore. And I think a lot of that has to be because, not because they didn’t care, but maybe because they did way too much and they were not able, sometimes, to just take three months off. And I think it’s okay to take that time off. And I know we all sometimes take leadership and respond because we feel responsible for other people.
And when we’re not responding, we feel guilty. And guilt, maybe in some part it’s important to… it’s like the flame of a leadership is to start going, but guilt is not sustainable. Meaning that we have to go through deeper reasons of letting go of the things that we cannot change to then assume that things that we can change. But all those bigger questions take time of reflection and going within. And I don’t mean that to be done individually, you can do that with a group of people.
I just mean without the intensity of external work, that then you have to, because you’re not in that mode, then you have to pretend to be in a Summer or in a Spring when you’re not. And then you have to put this mask on your face to be something you’re not instead of really taking that time within, because actually the beautiful thing about the Winters is that they’re the times of breakthroughs and change. That’s when you realize who you want to be for the next cycle of your life or of your leadership. And imagine how many issues, causes we could solve if we had a workforce or a group of us that could be stronger in our leadership. And by stronger, I don’t mean that we can do more, but that we can be smarter and more sustainable.
KH: I know some of you who are involved in organizing may not feel like you can take a break right now, and if I were in your position, I might feel the same way. Sometimes, there are things that we feel we have to see through, even if we’re struggling. I’ve been there so many times that I practically live there. I think I’ve grown a lot in the last year, in terms of recognizing what I really need to see through, and what I simply feel obligated to do, when, in reality, someone else could help, or even take it off my hands. But there have definitely been moments when I kept organizing at full steam, even though it was unbelievably hard, when I think that was the right thing to do. Those moments are real. So how do we keep our bearings, amid the storm, when we have to keep moving?
One of my personal tricks, that some of you know about, is that I cover my desk in white butcher paper, which I tape down with painter’s tape, and I keep a mug full of different colored markers on hand, and I use the markers to map out my ideas and to-do lists. And for me, having that messy and colorful world map of everything I’m working on gives me a sense of cohesion. It helps me chart my path, and organize my thoughts, and when I start to feel disoriented, emotionally or politically, I have that map to turn to, and I know what I’m doing, what I have to do, and why it matters. I know a lot of people achieve something similar through journaling. Whatever shape it takes, if you’re feeling disoriented, sometimes, the answer is to become a mapmaker, and sketch out what it is that you’re doing, what you need to do, or what you’re aspiring to. My friend Atena has a daily to-do list that includes drinking water, stretching and reading poetry alongside doing household chores. I love that, because the actions that sustain us the most are often the first things we neglect, because we somehow expect to be productive while treating the things that fuel us as optional. It’s unsustainable.
I want to challenge all of us this week to do some map making work — and to make the work of sustaining yourself part of that planning process. What are you doing to keep yourself whole? What are you trying to contribute to? What are you trying to learn? What could be more sustainable?
As I said earlier, a lot of us feel limited in what we can do, right now, due to the pandemic or other impediments. But it’s important to remember that, in the coming years, we are going to have to practice our skills and our politics in ways that we probably can’t fully imagine right now, because we live in unprecedented times. There will be moments that we feel well-equipped to face, and there will be many others that will require us to pivot and adapt. The goal isn’t to have it all figured out, and thank god, because none of us is going to figure it all out. The goal is to make meaningful contributions to something much larger than ourselves, so that we can face the future together — and we will.
I want to thank Carlos Saavedra for joining us today. You can check out those courses I mentioned at aynischool.com. That A-Y-N-I school dot com. I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today, and remember, our best defense against cynicism is to do good, and to remember, that the good we do matters. Until next time, I’ll see you in the streets.
Music by Son Monarcas and OTE
- The Ayni Institute’s Social Movements Course includes “11 self-paced modules (each one between 25 mins to an hour long) that dive deep into our foundational frameworks for understanding social movements, including Movement Ecology and Seasonality.” This coursework is not free, but if you cannot afford to pay for it, you can also check out some of the Ayni Institute’s workshops and programs on YouTube.
- Spring Up uses “human centered design to generate our courses, emergent strategy to respond organically to the needs of our learning community, and participatory action research to lift up the wisdom of all participants in evaluating and collectively designing the future we desire.” (Some of this content is free and some is available on a sliding scale.)
- Just Practice Collaborative created this Mixtape “as an offering in response to the overwhelming number of requests we are getting for training, workshops and support.” With this resource you can “learn from some of the people who have been practicing and thinking about and creating organizations around Transformative Justice over the last two decades.” (This content is not free.)
Project NIA’s Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) Abolition 101 offers an introduction to PIC abolition.
- You can check out upcoming Defund the Police trainings and events here.
- Justice at Work: Understanding Power, Oppression, Resistance and Solidarity helps participants explore the relationship between identity and power, while considering legacies of oppression and learning what solidarity looks like in practice. (This content is not free.)
- Lastly, I highly recommend checking out Building Your Abolitionist Toolbox: Everyday Resources for a Punishment-Free World, which offers an amazing assemblage of content from Project NIA on topics ranging from Self Accountability and Movement Building to Rape Culture Intervention.