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Looking back at our Active Hope workshops

Posted by Deirdre Duff on July 16, 2021 at 03:26 PM


We ran a five week series of workshops on Resilient Movement Building and Active Hope with environmental and social justice activists in county Clare during May - June this year. The workshops were facilitated by Undercurrent Education as part of our Irish Aid funded Global Citizenship Education programme, Making Common Cause – Global Citizenship Education for a Global Justice Transition(2020-2022).

One of the participants, Giselle Harvey, who took part in this series of workshops took some time to write a reflective blog on her experience to share with us.

If you are interested in this work - as part of our Learning Hub our next book is Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark and we will be holding a follow up workshop with Undercurrent Education on the 23rd of August. Registrations will open for this shortly. You can read more about our Learning Hub here - or donate to get sent any of our Learning Hub books here. 

We will also be rolling out another series of Active Hope workshops in partnership with Undercurrent Education over the coming year which we hope will provide many supporters with the necessary tools to strengthen resilience in their activism - which we know in the current context of a global pandemic amidst growing climate, economic, social, political crises is ever more necessary and relevant to sustain our work.

Giselle Harvey, Life in the Cracks, 2021. Photograph. The Burren, Co. Clare


Resilient Movement Building and Active Hope Workshop Series - A reflection

Written by: Giselle Harvey

I recently attended the Resilient Movement Building & Active Hope workshop series facilitated by Aine and Jacinta at Undercurrent.

The workshop exceeded my expectations in how re-energised I felt afterwards. This outcome lay in a combination of the active hope process, the facilitation style of Aine and Jacinta, and the wonderful group of people who formed our group. Having previously engaged with Joanna Macys active hope I was really attracted to the opportunity to apply ‘the spiral of the work that reconnects’ with people in my home community.

Reflecting together on the three stories, Business as Usual, the Great Unravelling, and the Great Turning, we were able to share our wide ranging activist knowledge and experience and map these stories to issues within the Clare area and identify what actions are already happening. Then working through the spiral; coming from gratitude; honouring our pain for the world seeing with new/ancient eyes; and going forth, we could process the challenges, value what we are fighting for, and look to new actions which might now happen as a result of our work together, either within our existing practices or by developing new ones. I especially enjoyed and benefited from the last session in which we each had time to talk about a project we were working on and wished to get feedback on. At this point our group relationship was well established which allowed for informed, meaningful and supportive feedback.

As a radical adult and community educator, embedding hope into one’s practice is the cornerstone of the critical and feminist pedagogies associated with Paulo Freire and bell hooks, to name but a few. It is essential to our wellbeing, our social imagination and our capacity to be agents of change. Joanna Macys hope centred approach, worked through the spiral, mirrors to me the praxis cycle central to radical pedagogies, making these powerful practice companions. Coming out of this spiral praxis our group moved into a new working relationship, a little reading/listening solidarity group, a way to stay connected to each other, support each other, and who knows yet what else might occur as the times will demand.

The social and ecological issues we face today weigh heavy and the necessity to have space to connect with other activists, have a rant, have a laugh, and reconnect to a hopeful view of life can’t be overstated. It is essential work as part of our personal self-care but also in our capacity to work with others and build resilient and sustainable movements. Aine and Jacinta were excellent facilitators throughout this process, instilling a community led ethos, reiterating that the space and time was ours and taking participant feedback onboard. They are demonstrably committed to Resilient Movement Building & Active Hope. it was a joy to work with them both and everyone who participated in this process.

I especially enjoyed the tune at the end to wrap us up! Hup!
If this is coming to a county near you be sure to give yourself some worthwhile time to reconnect and go forth anew.

active hope

It is thanks to Irish Aid that we are able to fund this activity as part of our Global Citizenship Education programme, Making Common Cause – Global Citizenship Education for a Global Justice Transition(2020-2022).The views expressed in this activity are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Irish Aid.




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