Networks

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 area of work?

Networks but moving towards ‘Resourcing Movements’

The year 2020 had been like no other in recent memory.  It has shown the power of the collective and has highlighted the role that networks of organisations, individuals and groups can play in the face of unprecedented challenges. It has revealed different ways to confronting power, the intersectional experiences of oppression and nurtured ideas of alternative forms of operating and existence.  As part of this revealing, civil society has been forced to reflect on its role in reinforcing systems of oppression.

What is the purpose of this work?

Through the Networks Inquiry we have learnt that transformative networks are an integral part of the change story, but they are not the only character in the social change story – they are part of an ecosystem of actors and entities that make up movements that challenge systems of oppression.

This is helping us to understand what’s missing and what might need strengthening in order to disrupt/transform existing unjust models.  That is taking us to exciting places such as:

  • Where does change happen? What is the role of grassroots movements in informing and driving change?
  • Inquiring into what is needed to encourage community organising to take a justice lens with questions such as: Who gets to organise? How does organising interact with wider justice approaches and anti-oppressive and liberatory practice and methods of justice work?
  • Building alliances across issues and organisations
  • Being future-focused and thinking about what needed in the short and medium term to respond to systemic racism in the UK. This could be about pattern spotting and revealing, it could be about building and/or it could be about bolstering.

The emerging inquiry will be engaging with grassroots organising and transformative nodes, organisations networks and considering the part they play in building and sustaining movement ecologies. There is part of an overarching question of how these structures are resourced and sustained.

What next?

Our framing question which will be the guiding of our efforts in the coming months is:  How can anti-oppressive movements be resourced in a way that is equitable and enabling?  We expect that some of what comes out of the work listed below, will help us to answer this question.  We also expect that, alongside some answers, more questions and partnerships will emerge.

  • A series of workshops and interviews exploring the role of and relationship between community organising and social justice. Are there tangible areas for investment within the wider framework of social justice work.  This work is taking on even greater significance as the importance of community organising is showing up strongly in our other inquiries.
  • Working in collaboration with another foundation to develop a small participatory fund that will allow experimentation at the intersection of poverty and racial justice. A networked mindset and participatory approach are key to groups being considered.
  • Supporting work into what’s needed to enable the racial justice movement in the UK to flourish. A grant has been awarded to Ubele to conduct the scoping work.  Harakati, a new project to explore opportunities to strengthen and expand the infrastructure that supports anti-racism movements in the UK. The name “Harakati” for this project is derived from the word “movement” in Swahili and Arabic.

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