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Escola de ativismo presentation


The role of activism on the path to sustainability A peculiarity of the modern day planetary crisis is that it does not permit a slow and gradual transition. We must act quickly and altogether to precipitate a paradigm shift - from the unsustainability of the current economic model and way of life to the emergence of a sustainable society. The construction of this new society requires substantive political action by agents seeking sustainability. On one hand it is essential to construct processes and alternative models of social organization, decision-making, production, and economic exchange; on the other hand there is a necessity for political action, pressure, incisive and assertive debate, whistleblowing and social mobilization against an antiquated socio-politicaleconomic model, which is exclusionary and unfair. It is here that activism for sustainability plays a central role.

If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that’s something. But the people in power can live with that. What they can’t live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time. Noam Chomsky 2


ACTIVISM

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What kind of activism are we talking about?

indignados

OWS

mahatma gandhi

The term “activism” is generally synonymous with street protests, strikes, and demonstrations. Popular thinking, however, can be misleading, and may not accurately represent the complexity of the activist’s work. This popular concept still holds true: activism requires that the political manifestation take place in the public arena. Historically, this has not changed. It was thus during the 19th century when people took to the streets to express their discontent. It continued into the 20th century and is happening today, in 2013. The struggle for transformation continues.

tunísia

egito

Today’s activism is the fruit of merging traditions of distinct political mobilization. They/it takes on multiple expressions, from the struggles of the communist labor movement or anarchism of the late 19th century to modern-day cyber activism and the systematic use of the internet and other communication technologies as an environment and a tool for mobilization. This was demonstrated most recently by manifestations in Egypt, Portugal, Greece, Chile, Tunisia, Syria, and during the 2011“Indignados” protests in Spain and the phenomenal “Occupy Wall Street” protests During the past one and a half centuries activism has had a strong impact on leftist movements; anti-colonial struggles in Asia and Africa during the 20th century (which resulted in such milestones as the non-violent civil disobedience practiced in India under their paradigm leader Ghandi); movements of counter-culture in the 50’s and 60’s; civil rights movements in the USA and South Africa; the hippie movement (an example of counter culture of 60’s); the 1968 student uprisings in Europe, North America and Latin America; anti-war, anti-nuclear and pacifist movements; ecological and environmental movements in the 70’s and in the

martin luther king jr.

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80’s (with strong media appeal such as those promoted by Greenpeace); social movements such as the Landless Workers Movement (which arose in 1984 in Brazil and updated the dynamics of mass protests); the Zapatista National Liberation Army in Mexico in 1994 (which reinvented the concept of “army” and popular organization and incorporated the innovative use of political language, information technology and communication); the globalization movements of the 90’s (Eco-92 provided the first major global discussions , with the “Peoples’ Global Action” movement, uniting members from causes as diversified as the Brazilian “Landless Workers Movement” to the British “Reclaim the Streets” movement) which would culminate in large demonstrations against neo-liberal globalization and the World Trade Organization between 19982001 in such cosmopolitan cities as London, Seattle, Quebec, Prague, Geneva, Cancun, to name but a few.

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MST

EZLN

We are a result of this process. However what differentiates- or what should differentiate- the activism of the current century from that of the past or recent past? It appears that it is not the street; nor the desire for change, nor is it the struggle…..These factors were also present in the past and are still present today. What is it therefore? What is different and what has changed?

reclaim the streets

seattle (1999)

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The necessity for learning activism Today in Latin America thereis an enormous gap between discussing and learning about contemporary activism. In the vision of the school, activism includes the formulation and implementation of political action strategies aimed at bringing about social change, through a combination of context-analysis techniques, campaigns, communication, mobilization, and direct, nonviolent intervention. It concerns political practices whose basis is citizen action within the scope of civil society, but which are characterized by the conscious exercise of specific techniques guided by a strategic bias. In Brazil, a vast number of grassroots organizations, community leaders, social movements and NGOs belong to an emerging, socio-political field which has sustainability, democracy, and human rights as a common cause. The number of independent groups and rallying supporters of a cause is steadily increasing. This set of actors has an important role, as much in making progress at the local level as in resisting attempts to cut back the scope of environmental and social rights which affect all of Brazilian society. These agents need, however, to increase the synergy, impact, quality and efficiency of their interventions. There is an urgent demand to promote the required changes.

Escola de Ativismo (School of Activism) was created with the mission to promote and multiply activism learning processes. Our proposal is to construct and deliver learning programs in order to boost and potentiate this sociopolitical field, increasing the focus of the organizations, movements, and grassroots organizations, qualifying their practices and providing a varying pool of instruments and strategies for political action.

THE PURPOSE To strengthen political agents who act in defense of sustainability, human rights, and democracy, through the development of learning processes, knowledge production, the spreading of activism principles, strategies, techniques, and tactics.

We believe in: activism as a political practice; in the combined and common construction of learning processes; in de-centralization; in power devolved to our society which decides and acts for necessary changes that favor sustainability.

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ACTIVISM

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who we are Currently, Escola de Ativismo is a formally established nonprofit organization, which is organized in a democratic structure and with multiple leaders. The projects are designed and created in a complementary, transversal, and strategic manner while keeping autonomy in their implementation. The current most involved group in the school is made up of a multi-disciplinary group of environmentalists, experts in communication and pedagogy, biologists, human right advocates and social scientists with different specialties and career paths. They are principally based in São Paulo and in smaller numbers in Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and Varginha.

ativismo.org.br

Most of the organization of the learning process is performed remotely, in home offices or in spaces assigned to workshops and meetings. The school is autonomous and independent from the supporting organizations, unions, political parties, companies and Governments.

THE IMPULSE The idea of creating an initiative like the school emerged in late 2010. The first step was to hold a series of meetings and interviews with activists, educators, politicians, leaders of social movements and environmentalists, as well carrying out research and preliminary studies about the proposal. Part of those interviewed would later make up what we call the “consultant cloud”, a group of professionals who accompany the evolution of the school, proposing ideas, advising and debating advances and challenges with theschool’s activists . In mid-( what?), a technical team devised a strategy for the initial implementation of the school’s project: the organization of its first basic course on theory and the practice of activism with a focus on sustainability. The first course “Activism and Mobilization for Sustainability” was planned and implemented in 2011 in São Paulo. At the end of 2011, the school established six strategic lines of performance and priorities. Since then, all activities developed are based upon these six lines.

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ACTIVISM

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how we operate

THEME LINES OF Escola de Ativismo The strategic planning of the school chose 2013 as the moment to advance in its consolidation, initiating the development of other learning processes, initiatives in knowledge production and the spreading of activism practices and effective political action. Accordingly, the Activism School (Escola de Ativismo) is recognized as stemming from an increasing flow of seven interdependent lines of thinking. Each line can be worked as an independent project, such as management and operations, duly interconnected to the other axes and other similar initiatives occurring in society.

1 School Development Plan The strategies of this axis are essential as a foundation in order to sustain the other performance axes. The plan provides for the formation of a minimum executive committee dedicated to facilitate the planning and execution of operational strategies. It is basically divided between activities related to project management, communication, animating the network of activists and relationships, the school’s financial administration and accounting.

2 Learning Journey: Activism and Mobilization for Sustainability This will continue to be an important axis around which the school will function in 2013. The process will undergo an enhancement of the original process and will act as a portal and a catalyst for the strategic- and technical-activism learning processes. Each course offered will require performance and dedication from a team of a minimum of eight people during a continuous period of approximately four months, and includes necessary advanced planning and execution of actions and of the elaboration of an annual calendar of events.

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Learning Journey: Activism and Mobilization for Sustainability The basic course, in its pilot stage, was carried out in three cities: São Paulo, Brasilia and Manaus, following a strategy to act on a national scope, between June 2011 and March 2012. The pilot project cemented the path to the Activism and Mobilization for Sustainability Learning Journey. The learning journey broaches the minimum necessary for activism based on campaigns and is dedicated to activists who are already in action. The design is based on a learning method which combines two phases of online study with a physical presence phase. The duration is two months including eight days of immersion study. The fourth edition of the course was in partnership with Oxfam Brazil and had its theme was adapted to the Grow campaign, addressing sustainability focused on food production and consumption. Taking place between July and September of 2012, it was aimed at 13 partner organizations and allies of Oxfam. In December 2012 we organized a short version of this learning journey focusing on campaigns. With support from the “Movimento Nossa São Luís” in the Maranhense capital, the course lasted 10 days in the online phase, and 3 days in the immersion phase. Young activists up to 29 years of age participated in the course which envolved social-environmental and human rights issues in the metropolitan region of the city.

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3 Other learning processes To enhancement and deepening of the experience of axis 2 the modules that comprise the learning journey are being transformed into autonomous processes with two objectives: (i)to conduct an introductory approach on a theme or specific practice functioning as a portal into the contemporary activism learning processes and/or (ii) to permit elaboration of and deepen experiences with reference to the themes and practices. We are developing the following learning processes: Theory and practice of non-violent action; planning and execution of campaigns; research and investigation for campaigns; activist communication/cyber activism; street action; logistics, planning and operation; legal aspects of activism; awareness; involvement and mobilization. To this combination of approaches should be added other methods regarding technical and instrumental questions on the practice of activism and themes related to the new emerging political field. These could have differentiating approaches or emphases: theoretical-conceptual, instrumental or conjunctural analysis, at an introductory or advanced level. A few examples are as follows: Economy and Sustainability; public policy and sustainability; climate change; 21st century agenda, land rights. Network dynamics: organization, transmission, swarming; conflict mediation and negotiating techniques; facilitation of interactive processes; how to “mine� data using the internet (scraping data); use of social media for mobilization; urban intervention and activism; graphics activism.

Digital Communication Workshop In 2012 we held the first workshop on digital media and strategies of online communication for campaigns. The workshop was geared towards grassroots organizations and activist organizations who were promoting democracy, human rights, and sustainability. This group of participants collaborated to produce a conceptual document on the theme.

Each of the school’s projects will be developed from a modular organization of the learning processes. Courses and learning journeys may be grouped in smaller modules or can be combined with other processes. Modules can be grouped to form larger processes, in a way that the themes offered will be multiplied and directed towards a distinct public audience.

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LabRio+20 Political Action and Mobilization Lab for Rio+20 At the beginning of 2012 we developed and executed the Lab, an initiative lasting four months that combines learning and activism technical assistance to 12 organizations and grassroots groups in their proposals for intervention related to the international conference. Our role was to offer scenario analysis, strategies and techniques to increase the political and media awareness of the presented projects, not interfering, however, with the autonomy and the decision-making processes of the organizations. We supported interventions such as the “Marcha ré”, or the twenty years of waiting by the Xavantes Indians for their home lands, Marãiwatsédé, in Mato Grosso. These interventions expose the current Brazilian government’s socio-environmental cutbacks. We also assisted with the project “Pimp My Cart”, which held artistic interventions on recyclable waste carts in São Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro to call attention to the recyclable waste collectors’ role in the city. They were demanding a better quality of life for these agents, and holding the municipalities responsible for the waste collection of recyclable materials. We helped during the demonstrations, in Belo Horizonte and surrounding region, in favor of the creation of a national park Serra da Gandarela (region exploited by mining); we supported activities performed by children from Niterói against the pollution in Guanabara Bay and we helped to increase awareness in favor of motor efficiency in the consumption and emission of pollutants.

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4 Production of public events, discussions, and diffusion of activism for sustainability If the learning processes have the power to reach a limited number of people, events of another nature, such as speeches, workshops, conferences, or debates- can call attention and amplify the diffusion of the school’s proposals. Our objective is to become more than a space for learning, and to be also a space for discussion and disclosure of contemporary activism practices.

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Primaveras Beginning in October 2012, we began a series of monthly meetings with the objective of debating the challenges of contemporary activism, democracy and sustainability. “Primaveras” (Spring) is held in conjunction with Matilha Cultural, ColetivoFora do Eixo, and the magazines Página 22 and Outras Palavras. In 2013 we plan to diversify the formats and stimulate the organization of similar meetings in other cities. The monthly meetings are a precursor for a special event planned for the beginning of 2014: an International Gathering on Activism.

5 Production of knowledge and development of editorial products There is an urgent need to produce materials in the Portuguese language on the theory of activism, urban activism, campaigns, communication, mobilization, and action techniques. The production of knowledge and editorials about activism are practically nonexistent in Brazil. These would cater not only to the demands of the school, but would also occupy a practically vacant space in the country’s editorial scene, and thereby play an important role in the socio-environmental field. This axis offers an opportunity to work in partnership with other organizations and eventually, with a commercial editor, in the creation of a personal editorial brand and/or a collection specializing in the “activism and sustainability” theme. Smaller editions, such as a test (not for sale), paper editions and e-books are planned. The format of didactic workbooks for use in the learning processes began in 2012 and will be updated in 2013. The school also produced thematic workbooks on campaigns, digital communication, and sustainability for specific use during the learning process.

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6 Technology and development of services and communication processes aimed at activism To potentiate the schooling it is necessary to develop our own platforms and technologies related to activism. This strategic line of support qualifies and stimulates the engagement of activists in their planning and development of their political interventions. The process should be developed with partner organizations which have scientific knowledge in this area. The development of our own technologies will open a fan of processes geared towards the use of these tools. A priori, we have planned to develop or adapt two types of products: 1) ) Specific (or adapted) software based on campaign-planning tools: analyses of power, mapping of actors, diagnostics of the force field, risk analysis, etc.; 2) Integrated and collaborative tools for communication, action, and political collaboration combining geo-referencing technology, registration, audiovisual material, video-activism and the use of social media.

7 Fostering the network of multipliers of Escola de Ativismo As the school promotes courses, workshops, debates and other processes, interest is increasing. A network of activists is beginning to form naturally around the exchange of knowledge and experiences. Animating and stimulating this network is becoming more important in the process to identify potential multiplying agents for the learning processes of the school. As a strategy for more awareness and collaboration, involvement and knowledge-spreading we plan to create a program to develop multipliers that aim to replicate the processes and methods of the school, each adapted to the reality of its location. This can only be done by individuals or organizations. Employees, volunteers and activists that have been through our school’s processes will be invited and encouraged to participate in this program. This network will begin in 2014.

It is possible to notice the practical effects in many organizations and movements that had their activists involved in the processes offered by the School. Basically, we noticed an improvement in the incidence of some political-media actions, better analysis of context and the process of setting goals, the adoption of campaigns into the working practice, and the use of techniques and tools in defining tactics and strategies. An emblematic case attests to these effects is the Operação Amazônia Nativa (in English: Native Amazon Operation), or simply Opan, whose participation in the Rio+20 Lab decisively contributed with visibility and it committed the government to the Xavante’ struggle for freeing the Indigenous Land Maraiwatsede in Mato Grosso (a process that, after 20 years of waiting, is ongoing at this time).

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22 people

One and a half years after its inception, Escola de Ativismo has presented a series of facts and data indicators regarding the effects of what is being produced.

are active in the development and execution of the processes, mostly unpaid

of 13 states

of the participants More than

receive scholarships.

of volunteer work have been invested since the School’s inception

80% of these are full scholarships

Financial resources of

R$ 157,000 in 2011

and R$ 393,000 in 2012 were colleted from 13 charity institutions and from more than

200

participated in learning processes lasting a minimum of two days

61% women 67% are

youngers

private citizens

170 activists

*

100% 6.200 hours

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< 30 years old

ì ativismo.org.br/quem-somos/ contasabertas

Activities take place in five states:

São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Distrito Federal, Amazonas e Maranhão

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speakers and voluntary debaters

¼

of the people who have participated in the school’s processes come from autonomous grassroots organizations or networks

A Facebook group was spontaneously created by participants and is updated daily

Three online platforms were developed: an institutional website, a platform for collaborative learning and a Facebook page. * We are beginning research amongst all of the activists who are using our processes to measure the practical effects of the learning methods.

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Who supports the School In 2011, the following organizations contributed by providing resources of low value such as scholarship concession to the participants, support with direct expenses or with human resources: Cineclube Socioambiental Crisantempo, Conservação Internacional, Fundação Amazônia Sustentável, Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica, Instituto Centro de Vida, Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade, Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável do Amazonas, Instituto Internacional de Educação do Brasil, Instituto de Manejo e Certificação Florestal e Agrícola, Instituto Marina Silva, OCA – Laboratório de Educação Ambiental – ESALQ/USP, Oxfam e WWF Brasil. In the specific case of the school’s course in Brasilia, a collective financial system (crowdfunding) was used: http://catarse.me/pt/projects/364-curso-deativismo-para-sustentabilidade In 2012 we received support not only from individuals, but also from the Institute of Democracy and Sustainability, from the Avina Foundation, the Sustainable Amazon Foundation, Socio-environmental Fund CASA and Oxfam International. In observing the supporting organizations and sponsors, we conclude that the initiative fills an existing gap and has collaborated in an innovative manner, fundamental to the strengthening of political action by activists in the transition toward sustainability. The post-learning qualified involvement of many participants in different processes and projects also reinforces this vision.

PHOTO CREDITS

All images used are registered under the Creative Commons license and their authors are:

ativismo.org.br

Contact

suporte@ativismo.org.br fb.com/ativismo twitter.com/eativismo

Page 3 OWS: Grenn Halo Indignados: Fotomovimiento.org Gandhi: Daquella Manera Tunísia: marcovdz Egito: Jonathan Rashad Martin Luther King Jr: Nobel Prize Page 4 Greenpeace: GP Esperanza Seattle: David E. Ortma MST: Overmundo EZLN: Orianomada Reclaim the Streets: Erik Anderson Page 7 Rodrigo Baleia Page 8 Escola de Ativismo Rodrigo Baleia Vitor Massao

Page 9 Escola de Ativismo Page10 Claudia Dantas Escola de Ativismo Felipe Muci Fora do Eixo Lunaé Parracho Vitor Massao Page 11 Escola de Ativismo Page 12 Vitor Massao Fora do Eixo

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