This area of work has grown out of what used to be the Field Inquiry. We were interested in routes to developing a critical mass for change and saw networks as a mechanism to spread and reach beyond the small pockets of work we were doing.
What is the purpose of this work?
This area of work has grown out of what used to be the Field Inquiry. We were interested in routes to developing a critical mass for change and saw networks as a mechanism to spread and reach beyond the small pockets of work we were doing. We have begun to investigate not just the potential of networks and networked activities to amplify the impact of those working to change systems but also the role people played within networks, acting as catalysts, bridging and bonding across issues, places and communities.
Given the conditions of last year the opportunity to engage with networks that were emerging or playing a crucial role in current movements, such as BLM or community organising during the pandemic, has helped to shape some of the views and has led us to ask Networks for what? and Networks for why? From our work over the last year, we can see the role that networks play in questioning, dismantling and reimagining systems. We are also seeing synergies with the values of networks that support change and transformation and are becoming aware of the nature of people who are drawn to these networks.
What’s currently happening?
The networks portfolio is in the exploratory stages of its inquiry and is in the process of working out how it aligns with the newly formed How portfolio and the established wider Place work. The real strength of this portfolio is the fact that networks exist across all the work being done at Lankelly Chase and, like any organic network, it means it’s the work that cannot be limited to one space or team. See below for a list of all the partnerships that sit in this portfolio and the role that Lankelly Chase is playing in these relationships.
What are we learning?
- We have seen that a critical mass will not come about if we focus only on small but intensive pockets and so are now looking at ways of weaving and supporting infrastructure networks and hubs.
- The relationship between networks and movements and the potential to connect nationally on issues, across regions is becoming clearer. The work of activist networks that focus on shifting power,by sharing knowledge, creating identity / solidarity, centring lived experience and sharing common purpose, are the ones that fit best with Lankelly Chase’s emerging strategy.
- Community organising is an important tool in movements and organisers are often the ‘glue’ in communities.
- We continue to see the intersectional expression of oppression in communities worst hit by COVID-19 – in particular, black and minority ethnic and migrant communities. Funding to the networks of support is drying up with little provision in place post-March.
- The support for justice networks and collaborations is becoming more important, especially in the light of an advancing culture wars agenda that challenges the idea of racial equity by marginalising conversations on oppression e.g. from what is taught in schools to what complaints are upheld at Ofcom.
- Space needs to be given to react to what’s coming up, especially from outside the system. Some exciting partnerships have arisen as a result of doing this e.g., for instance those with Restoring Racial Justice, Centre for Knowledge Equity and Baobab.
Networks wants to understand the role that networks play within our current ‘How’ question of: What will the infrastructure or/ architecture be in a world of renewed systems that promote healing, justice and liberation?
To do this, we will focus on thematic areas to delve deeper and bring more focus to our exploration of networks. These themes should build on our current portfolio, on what we have learnt thus far and also take into account the bigger context and conversations taking place right now.
These proposed themes are:
- Lived experience
- Community organising
- Racial justice
- Intersectionality and interconnectedness
Some of our portfolio partners and workstreams [outlined in linked image] are already helping us in thinking about what actions we need to take next.