transforming movements

Since the beginning of stone circles, we’ve been interested in shifting the culture of social change into one that’s both more sustainable and more effective.  We’ve all seen the campaign that drives to a positive outcome but loses its soul and its numbers along the way.  Too many valiant efforts have gotten mired down in relational divisions and miscommunication.  Can we achieve our goals with greater frequency and greater ease?
Becky Brown from CPC and Sterling Freeman from OpenSource
Seemingly small shifts can have a powerful impact.  Like when individuals begin to create healthier boundaries between work and life.  Or, we’re more honest about our own limiting patterns – from physical health to emotional stability to ideological positions.  Shifts in movement culture also happen when organizations and groups begin to operate differently.  Power dynamics are acknowledged and there’s a commitment to skillful navigation of those realities. We rethink conditions and create healthy work environments.  We re-envision white-led organizations to be truly rooted in an anti-oppression framework.

What We’re Learning 

We’re exploring more deeply what it means to transform movements.  In November 2011 we held a “Transforming Movements Institute” in collaboration with five other organizations.  The Institute was rooted in the collective wisdom, needs and strengths of these groups: Beloved Community Center, Blueprint NC, Center for Participatory Change, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, and OpenSource Leadership Strategies.  It was convened with the idea that (1) each organization brings a vital perspective and resource to the table, one that is essential for successful movement work and (2) through collaboration we can begin a long-term process of transforming movement-building and its outcomes.
We learned a lot from each other about what must inform our work – historical analysis, working with power, effective organizational structure, resiliency and cultural survival, mapping the movement and the role of transformational practice.  Powerful themes emerged around language, paradox, resources, accountability and reflection.  You can read more about the Institute and the key lessons it illuminated around movement-building here.
  • History of Organizing in North Carolina
  • Dynamics of Power in Movement Building
  • Resiliency and Cultural Survival
  • Mapping our Movements
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Transformational Practice

Deep Change North Carolina

In May 2012, stone circles hosted a conference on transformational leadership and movement building in North Carolina.  Click here to learn more about the conference.

Going Forward 

Building on what we’ve learned and the questions we have, there are three programmatic priorities for 2012-13:
1.   We are strengthening our role as a convener and container for movement work.   
We recognize what an incredible resource The Stone House is and we want to leverage it a bit better.  This means finding more systematic ways to collaborate with people who are renting our space, (i.e., offering various pieces of our curriculum and training to enhance the work groups have planned).  It also means we’ll be offering facilitated retreats for boards and staff of organizations, requests we’ve gotten in the past but haven’t been able to meet.  And finally we are developing a pilot leadership program for social change leaders based on all we’ve learned about how to support people on the individual and organizational level. Stay tuned for more information on that in late Spring.
2.  We want to impact specific movements on the ground 
We’re committed to shifting the culture of social change movement building and to doing whatever we can to increase both the effectiveness and sustainability of movement work.  We’ve already started a process around food justice work and we’ll be on the lookout for other places where we can be of use through workshops, trainings, convenings and other forms of collaboration.
3.  We are raising the profile & usability of transformational practice 
We want inspire more people around what transformational practice is and how to use it.  This means continuing with our “Deeper Practices of Transformative Social Change” training, and making it available for specific geographic and issue-based constituencies.  It also getting our curriculum into more usable forms, beyond the resources available here on our website.  And, it means creating five “zines” to distribute the curriculum in some more focused and juicy ways.