Joining the dots between grassroots movements, communities, campaigns...
A grassroots gathering is a one-off event run by a local group bringing together people involved in different community campaigns and social movements to learn from each other's experiences, talk about what works and what doesn't, develop networks and make alliances.
Joining the dots - imagines a raising of awareness, a politicisation leading to radical transformation, it may also envision a strategic connection between diverse campaigns and collective actions in order to advance, strengthen, consolidate and collaborate in struggle with unity and purpose.
There have been over a dozen of these gatherings in different parts of the country over the last eleven years and they have helped support all sorts of different campaigns and movements – campaigning against the water charges, resisting Shell in Erris, campaigning against cuts, supporting women's right to choose, advocating for housing rights and resisting evictions, challenging neo-liberalism in the EU, campaigning against deportation and the direct provision system, creating free space for young people, fighting for environmental justice, highlighting US military use of Shannon, challenging racism and more.
A good workshop for this gathering has any speakers talking for just 5 or max 10 minutes each to get a discussion going - remember most other people there are also activists. A really good workshop has people from different movements giving 5-minute intros about the same kind of practical problem from their own experiences and then a discussion. We aren't looking for events which are mostly made up of one person talking or which are mostly about trying to sell other people on a specific issue.
Typical sessions might include:
- How to organise, strategy and tactics, direct action, dealing with police...
- getting people involved, mobilising communities, media of all kinds, politicisation...
- education, understanding the issues, working together against austerity...
- arts workshops, film showing, children's activities, outdoors activities...
It's not for profit (and we all get to muck in with washing up, passing the hat and generally helping out), it isn't run by any political party and nobody will try to recruit anyone.
Over the last few years more and more people have seen just how corrupt the system is and how little faith we can have in the people who claim to represent us and "see us right". For this reason the Gatherings aren't for people who want to make a name for themselves, make a career out of other people's activism, get a leg up politically, make money out of campaigning, appear on TV etc.
More formally we have the "Grassroots Principles" which say that we want to work together as equals, run things in an open and democratic way and try not to talk down to each other or over each other's heads. Rather than rebuild the old mess we believe in communities being able to decide for themselves, workplaces controlled by the people who actually work in them, a sustainable economy and an end to neoliberal bodies like the IMF and World Bank which have helped to create the crisis. The full principles and more about the Gatherings at http://grassroots.pageabode.com
The venue is 20 minutes from Dublin city centre on the red Luas line, just opposite the Drimnagh Luas stop. We'll be having evening events on Friday, all day and evening events on Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon - more details TBA.
If this sounds interesting, please get involved and help us make it happen! If you’d like to offer a workshop or suggest one which you’d like to see, please email email@example.com. We're also going to need practical help on the weekend (food, childcare, beds etc.); one-off things like poster design and fundraising help; and you might just want to be kept up-to-date. For any of these please email us or check our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GrassrootsGathering)
Co-organised by the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (Maynooth) (http://ceesa-ma.blogspot.ie)
Supported by Gluaiseacht for Global Justice (www.gluaiseacht.ie) and Workers Solidarity Movement (www.wsm.ie)
Thanks to the St John Bosco Youth Centre, Drimnagh (www.thebosco.ie)