Tackling Power and Privilege at the 2016 Degrowth Summer School

24 August 2016

The Climate Camp in Rhineland has become one of the big meeting points for Climate Justice activists in the summer. For the last two years, the Degrowth Summer School has taken place at the camp. The Summer School consists of courses that run for 2 to 4 days in which a stable group works on a specific topic. This year, Friends of the Earth Europe joined the camp for 4 days, bringing the techniques and insights from our School of Sustainability project to the Degrowth Summer School 2016, with a course on "System Change, Power and Resource Use".

The 4-day course Friends of the Earth Europe ran in the Rhineland focused on (social) reflective skills, developing common analysis and action that can be applied to a wide range of environmental justice issues, including degrowth, and resource use & consumption. During the workshop, the 24 participants also looked at how we experience and work with power as domination, resistance, solidarity, and empowerment.

Commenting on the workshop, Werle from BUND Jugend said: "The best parts of the course was that it was inspired by popular education tools. The chair game of power and the pillars of power have proven that the system of injustice is unstable where we can change something. Then there was the power flower exercise which made me aware of my own privileges".

The workshop was facilitated with techniques of popular education to equip participants with tools that can be used to analyse and engage with power in our societies, in our work for system change, in our movements, and within ourselves. The course followed a learning-cycle from experience, through reflection and generalization, to (planning for) action.

Annika, who also took part in the workshop wrote: "I felt comfortable with the group and I've learned how to practice popular education tools within my organisation and I look forward to try them".

Shenna Sanchez, School of Sustainability Project Coordinator said: "This has been a fulfilling experience for the facilitation team as we've discovered how transformative popular education approach was to this group. We've also had learnings in terms of having a more international group and to ensure we take into account the diverse contexts. School of Sustainability will continue to challenge status quo through praxis- unity of theory and action to resist unjust uses of power or oppression".

The "School of Sustainability" project is being run by Friends of the Earth (FoE) Europe, with educational activities at local, national and European level, to develop common political analysis and action. It draws on the experience in other regions of the FoE International federation (most notably in Latin America and in Africa), where "sustainability schools" have been set up using techniques from popular education, environmental education and political ecology. These schools, which take place for a few weeks each year, support the creation of common political analysis, the sharing of skills and development of leadership, within and between FoE groups and allies.


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