CDC PRAXIS GROUPS: LEARNING FROM ACTION TOGETHER
The time has come for concerted, strategic morally imaginative climate disobedience. But our work as climate activists is in desperate need of connection, community and love - the things that are going to see us through the challenging times, helping us come together rather than tear one another apart. These same qualities of community, trust and love are the things needed to step into the breach and take risks of climate disobedience to propel our movement forward. Yet, often in our movement we are isolated from one another, and feel more like foot soldiers to somebody else’s big plans rather than empowered participants in a beloved community.
That’s why the Climate Disobedience Center is partnering with our friends across New England to begin a new experiment: helping to convene praxis groups. What is a praxis group? We see a place to build community and trust with a small team, prepare for and undertake acts of climate disobedience, nurture the strategic, tactical, spiritual, logistical and legal resources necessary to be strong and effective, and build a network of groups across the region working together in solidarity and as part of the larger climate movement. If this rings true for you, we are inviting you to join us.
We believe it’s going to take a strong culture to create the loving, militant nonviolent disruptive force that the movement needs. We want a culture that draws out the unique gifts that each of us bring to this work, and embed our work in our communities to build our strength and resilience. We want to build a culture that embraces deep struggle with the reality of our crisis and one that doesn’t shy away from difficult, emotional or intense conversation. We want a culture of love but also of asking hard questions. We won’t try to plug you into an action and train you to do a job; we will provide tools and encourage habits to help your group become morally imaginative, creative and self-driving--in short, empowered.
We invite you to join with us in convening small praxis groups based in places where you live and communities where you have existing ties, to ground our work in authentic networks of support.
Praxis groups will meet regularly to share food, stories, concerns and gratitude. At first the groups might look more like a study group, allowing people to think out loud and build shared understanding. CDC will provide material to help participants think through how to integrate nonviolent climate disobedience into the climate movement. We’ll also provide coaching and occasional facilitation to strengthen group’s work together. Groups will be invited to explore themes of power, vulnerability, nonviolence, intersectional action and solidarity, direct and symbolic action, and strategic thinking. Praxis groups will skip the questions of what climate change is, how bad it is and whether we should be engaging in direct action. We will dig right into the how:
- How do we create powerful actions and movement building opportunities?
- How do we spiritually, mentally and physically find our power in dark times?
- What can we learn from success and failures of our and other movements?
- What am I willing to risk, and what support do I need to risk it?
We expect that praxis groups will hold a few firm commitments, and we will support groups that have affinity with the CDC principles, and a serious commitment to active nonviolence, openness and transparency, acting from a place of love (even if we are motivated by anger at injustice), personal and group transformation and growth, and building communities of love and trust which practice forgiveness and accountability.
Finally, we’ll work with our partners across the Northeast and the country to help groups identify and train for action. When anyone in our praxis groups feels called to action, our whole network of people and resources can help to faithfully answer that call. We’ll strive to put ideas into practice quickly, learn from our experiments, and then put the lessons into practice.
We’re guessing if you think climate disobedience is a necessary tactic, you aren’t looking for climate action with a low bar of entry. We expect that participants in praxis groups will commit to regular meetings for six months. And we have hopes that go beyond that. We hope that you will be able to commit to being honest in sharing and reflection, being serious in your own continued personal development, bringing respectful encouragement and feedback for fellow group members, participating in group discernment and decision making, and engaging with direct actions instigated by the group and by other groups in the growing network.
We envision continuing to support groups as functioning teams indefinitely, with members coming and going over time. We expect that groups will meet every week or two for the first few months during group formation, and many groups will naturally have quieter or busier periods as time goes on.
We have to confess that we haven’t done this before. And so we are looking for partners, co-creators and co-conspirators who are excited learn with us, and who are committed to helping this model grow, improve and hopefully be useful to people all over the country who want to engage at this level in the climate fight. It may not be for everyone. We can’t tell you each step of the process in advance, but we know that doing this together is going to make for a community now and in the future.
A Final Word
Does this sound like you? What in it calls to you? How do you see our paths crossing?
We invite you to share some of those thoughts with us, and ask that you fill out the application here. After you answer those few questions, you’ll get follow-up from a group convener who will help the group set a first meeting date. They we’ll all get in the room together and see where we are taken.
Our work together in this first round will unfold organically through the winter and spring starting in January/February 2018 in New England with a half-dozen or so groups. Where it goes from there, and how we build a loving and powerful nonviolent movement is up to all of us. We would love to be on that journey with you.