So We Stand Activism Summer School – Introduction to community organising and social change


SWS Summer School is an intensive 1-week introduction to community organizing and social change, designed for young activists who have been involved with social justice organizing for at least one year. It will take place in July 2012 for 6 days in an undisclosed site of struggle against oppression in the UK for approximately 30 youths aged 16-30. SWS will be bringing leading international community organising movements to the UK. The School is dedicated to building the skills of young women, young people of colour, working class, and queer people as the next generation of leaders in the social justice movement. Nourished with political education resources from ‘We Are Mighty‘, the organisers will then be connected with internships throughout the Autumn with leading UK grassroots communities and movements paving the way for environmental justice and a culture of community defence. 

We are currently looking for organisers and activists to make the School a Reality – all skills welcome. Contact dan on for interest. Time/ Place to be confirmed.

The purpose is to strengthen and build capacity amongst frontline communities. Relationships will be built, allies strengthened, isolation combatted and a common political language built to focus action for the coming few years. The key is that the week is led by the participants through creating the curriculum from the start. Over the coming six months SWS regular events and trainings will build our allies amongst frontline communities. Resources will be created on the genealogy of community activism from political educators to encourage reflection on todays struggles in the UK. Art activism resources and a crowd-funding video to financially support the participants will also be created.

The School will turn marginalisation and isolation into politically powerful support systems, ideas for actions and long term strategic organising. The participants will be challenged with new ways of thinking, provocative speakers, inspiring mentors and fascinating guests with a deep understanding of engaging with the head, heart and hand. Youth affected by economic inequality understand oppression because it is daily life – you don’t need to read it in a textbook. The School exists to harness our anger at oppression and turn our anger into political organising against it. The School exists to catalyse self-determination, self-mobilisation and self-actualisation into building positive communities who can defend and confront oppression over the coming years.

Participants will be trained in popular education theory and practice, storytelling, building connections across cultures, anti-oppression organising, anti-racist training and environmental justice practice. Participants will receive SWS’s introductory political education workshop manual & Training for Trainers curriculum binder, as well as a light breakfast and lunch for all six days. We will provide childcare and other logistical support and aim to raise the full costs to make it free for participants but otherwise fees are determined on a sliding scale based on organizational budget or individual income. If we can train and support more community activists from a diverse range of backgrounds to participate in their community struggles like they are asking us to, then not only will we contribute to strengthening those communities, but we will see growing support throughout the grassroots movement.

The School will be bringing leading international community organising movements to the UK dedicated to building the skills of young women, young people of colour, working class, queer people and those with different mental and physical abilities as the next generation of leaders in the social justice movement. We are inviting community and organisational alliances to build training and skill-share programmes. Currently, trainings range from (1) Building a media campaign (2) The pros and cons of legal battles (3) Understanding the relationships between race, health and environment (4) Direct Action methods (5) Reclaiming Space (6) Organising in schools and education (7) Looking into our roots of resistance (8) Police infiltration and monitoring.

Deepening Learning – Political Organising Internships

Nourished with political education resources, participants will then be connected with 6 month internships throughout the Autumn with leading UK grassroots communities and movements to deepen the practice of critical community organising. The community based projects work within working class communities and communities of colour, fighting alongside people for their rights. The participants and movements will have built dialogue with throughout the year enabling the internships to deepen the practice of critical community organising and understanding shared struggles. Through the internships, organisers get on-the-ground experience with the strategies it takes to build community power. Continued relationship building between frontline activists and supporters will deepen transformative possibilities for greater positive change. Whilst the School will likely be in London the organising internships with community action organisations with our growing network across the UK.

Why the School?

The School justification is based on a pioneering mapping project which aims to combine new research on environmental racism throughout the UK, with the tools to connect communities in local struggles of resistance. The Schools purpose is to build a culture of community self defence across the UK as it is poor people and communities of colour who are hit worst by the impacts of poverty and pollution. E.g. most Black and Asian people breathe worse air than white Britons, according to environment department (DEFRA) research. In London, from Beckton by the airport expansion, to Tottenham facing displacement by unaffordable housing to Southall by the gas site people and are rising up. Environmental racism, simply put, is a process by which black and minority communities are disproportionately burdened by pollution and poverty.

The School will develop an interactive map resource and pioneering fresh workshop tools that not only visualises the connections between race, poverty and environmental injustice, but that also locates community actions that are resisting those injustices, to enable greater solidarity amongst communities who are facing these issues which takes the burden of proof away from communities on the frontline. Experiential knowledge is paramount for on the ground action-orientated organising, building affection for each other and self-determination for our communities.

Imagery: (1) The Vacuum Cleaner (2) Kristian Buus (3) Brandalism: The Art of Self Defence