Blackbird Learning Circle – a base for community action
We are forming a learning circle to create a basis for action groups.
These could include:
- Community support structures
- Cooperative building, for affordable housing without landlords, fair workplaces without bosses
- Campaign groups
- Skill sharing (particularly to help everyone manage as the ecological crisis evolves)
The learning circle is part of the Blackbird Community Project, here in Northampton, the overall aim of which is to build a proactive and non-hierarchical community. The project already includes a weekly free-kitchen/social, zine, and support between individuals.
Many people already share the core values of this group, but meaningful change won’t come unless we work together to make sure it does.
We recognise that many societal issues feed off each other, and individualised responses often result in the problems never getting dealt with. The Blackbird project intends to bring together different groups and individuals so they can become informed on each other’s struggles, and can identify how to practically strengthen one another’s actions. Vitally, we want to look at what has prevented the necessary changes from being made, and imagine ways to make them ourselves.
This project is radically inclusive, recognising all people, no matter if they are excluded from the mainstream.
We want to help create long term solutions that meet everyone’s needs. If we get used to engaging in open-minded communication, we can strengthen everyone.
We invite those whose voices aren’t often platformed to join and make their needs known – non-white and international people, migrants of any status, queer people, those experiencing homelessness, neurodiverse people, disabled people, young people, disadvantaged elderly people, sex workers and criminalised people, isolated people, those who aren’t fitting the mould they are expected to, and anyone who feels they have been set up to struggle.
We are all stronger together because diversity is strength.
If you speak another language, you could help non-English speakers take part. This would strengthen the whole community.
The members of the Learning Circle are committed to unlearning oppressive behaviours that dominate our society, so we can create safe and inclusive spaces.
Crucially, we aim to create connections between those who could benefit from each other’s solidarity.
The Learning Circle will meet roughly once a month for presentations from group members and visitors on subjects that can inform our organising. We will brainstorm to figure out how to put our findings into action, and we can arrange group research sessions as well as occasional casual meet-ups to build relationships. We will organise skill-sharing events to equip local people for the harder times ahead, as the climate & ecological crisis unfolds. We believe that a community who is used to collaborating on each other’s needs is much stronger in times of crisis.
One idea which the Blackbird community is already taking steps to create is a ‘Time banking’ scheme. Here people can list their skills and the hours they can set aside to support those in need (either freely or cheaply). We are currently looking at the Coventry Time Union for an example.
This platform could also be the groundwork for a town-wide coordination of community gardens, starting with existing allotments that the occupiers can’t make the most of alone. If community gardens can become organised, and especially if we also redistribute a lot of the food that shops currently waste, we could feed many people very cheaply.
With this approach, we can build proactive community in real-time. Initiatives like the Timebank should be a stepping-stone towards a more interconnected community on the whole.
We think a cooperative, ecological and community-based way of living is where to find the answers, and that making it accessible for everyone will strengthen our actions.
In the long run, relationships can build and we can create more self-supporting arrangements, like co-operatives. With this approach, we can treat everybody’s needs as paramount, and we can make sure that ecologically sound decisions are made without being overshadowed by market demands. Our project is to actively empower the community to meet the needs that are going unmet – we choose to build collective resilience and do what needs to be done together.
If there is a problem, everyone concerned is invited to learn about the situation, research & imagine potential responses, and take action together. This long-term approach will prepare us to act quickly and effectively in times of crisis.
Lastly, we know the importance of accessibility, so we are committed to meeting in physically accessible locations, and regularly sharing shortform updates on our progress online. These organising responsibilities are exchanged between the individuals who make up the group as a way of diversifying our personal abilities and avoiding concentrating control in the hands of a few.
Intersectional community learning is essential; without it we will only reproduce the conditions that caused our issues in the first place.
We are not an elitist group, so please invite interested people to join the space. We have a joint responsibility to not perpetuate oppressive dynamics, and initiate a transformative justice process if necessary.
Thank you for reading – let’s get going.
Blackbird Community Project