On Saturday, 12th October we held our first Sharing Forum after a few years without them. It took place in the Quaker Meeting Centre in Glasgow, and was attended by around 30 people from different activist, community, and support groups around Scotland, plus a few Edge Fund members and our allies. It was facilitated by a member of Tripod, a social justice training organisation, and Edge Fund member Rose.
We started the day (after teas and coffees) by introducing ourselves in pairs and to the wider group. The facilitators then outlined the agenda for the day, and asked us how we’d like to work together. We came to some agreed values for the day, which included “take space, make space”: an invitation for those who normally don’t feel confident to contribute to do so, and for those who are more confident to take a small step back to listen. It really did feel like we stuck to that through the day!
(ID: A group of about 15 people sitting in a circle, having a discussion in a bright room)
We then discussed our various campaigns’ successes and challenges, breaking up into small groups to do so. Out of that, we highlighted some topics to discuss after lunch - they varied from broad topics like “accessibility in organising” to group-specific “how to resist evictions.” We had a really delicious lunch provided by Soul Food Sisters, and after having a deserved break, launched into the second part of the day.
After discussing in small groups, we came together to feed back and identify common themes. Then, we discussed how Tripod and Edge could support groups, and what their experience (if any!) of us had been until now. The day ended with participants reflecting on our conversations and what we had learnt. Solomon, from LGBT Unity Scotland, said:
“Saturday’s event was so wonderful and interesting. I felt so comfortable meeting other members and sharing my ideas with them and I learned something new that I can deliver to LGBT Unity Group to make it great.
I am really proud of the organisers and they are so friendly.”
(ID: Five people sit in a small circle around flipchart paper with notes on it. One person is speaking and gesticulating.)
Arianna, from Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, said:
"Attending the Glasgow Sharing Forum was a wonderful experience - extremely encouraging, inspiring and informative.
I met groups active in Scotland that I was not aware of, and was inspired by the amazing work they are doing. I hope I have made friends I will meet again soon, and certainly I have already learned so much from them.
The Forum was encouraging because I realised that the difficulties the groups I am involved with are facing are common amongst activist groups, and there are strategies to resolve tricky situations.
The facilitators from the Edge Fund and Tripod were fantastic, and I cannot thank them enough for the positive energy and learning they shared with us."
On a personal note, I really enjoyed getting to know the Scottish activist scene a bit more, and meeting organisers from different groups. It was also my first Edge Fund event, and I was happy to get stuck in!
We’ll be holding more of these in the future: one in the North of England, and another in the South. If you’d like to get involved, or have any ideas for a Radical Sharing Forum in your city, do get in touch with Andy for the North (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself for the South (email@example.com).