A “Needs List” for a Collaborative Movement: what would be needed in order to enter into deeper collaboration?

On day 2 of our Land Justice Spring Gathering, we sat on the grass outside Selgars Mill in glorious sunshine as we worked through our second ‘Theory of Change’ session. 

This session aimed to explore collaborations within the movement: we asked what is currently stopping us from collaborating with others, and what limitations have affected our collaborations- both individually and organisationally.

Through this process, we harvested a ‘needs list’ - what we in the room felt we need in order to create and nurture a truly collaborative movement.

Although not exhaustive, comprehensive, or fully agreed, the list felt like a really important co-created resource, which can be used and referenced again and again as we move forwards exploring movement building.

So what would be needed to enter into (much) deeper collaboration?

  • Sufficient resources to sustainably support everyone to do the work.

For us this means enough time, human resources, monetary resources (funding and pay), resources that connect us to the right places and people, and physical spaces where we can do our work.

  • Time, energy and capacity made available for building relationships.

It was noted that opportunities such as this Spring Gathering don’t come often enough. We agreed that we felt that dedicated time for relationship building is essential for healthy collaboration between us.

  • Physical spaces for people to come together.

We suggested that creating spaces that are not necessarily action-focused, or purely relationship-building-focused are important for genuine and candid collaborations and partnerships to spark and develop.

  • Honouring people’s limits, boundaries and need for privacy (physical spaces).

Meanwhile in spaces mentioned above, we also reminded ourselves that boundaries are needed to ensure people have access to physical spaces which allow for a level of privacy. People need to be able to show their true selves, but not have to give every part of them away.

  • Valuing the unique skills, contributions and capacities that different organisations and people have.

We recognise this movement is made up of people with different talents, skills, specialities and passions, which can all be complementary to one another when they are properly recognised, named and valued.

  • Choice to actively participate - continually able to choose the scale of participation at every stage of involvement: ‘you can’t say yes if you can’t say no’
  • Decision-making which allows everyone to have agency.
  • Clarity about strategy, and good coordination.
  • Clear mechanisms for developing coherent strategy.

As well as clarity around strategy and good coordination, we included the need to have clear and transparent mechanisms in place - whether those are a set of process meetings, or a process for decision-making.

  • Clear ways to meet and transform conflict.

Many of us shared past experiences of conflict within movements - both for land justice and others - and we recognised the need to truly acknowledge and be ready to ‘transform’ conflict in order to create long-lasting collaborations where conflict is bound to happen. This involves everyone understanding the mechanisms and support for holding people through this transformation process, and how to access them. 

  • Clear roles that are specifically about collaborating and relationship building (both internal to organisations, and externally through facilitators.)

We shared a sentiment that time resources within organisations specifically dedicated to relationship building are hugely valuable for organisations often near capacity.

  • Structures and spaces that support wellbeing and sustainable work. 

We highlighted the need for structures and spaces both within organisations and operating externally for the movement, in order to sustain wellbeing and prevent burnout and overload.

  • Consistency of building and tending to relationships (this may mean a consistency of people.)

Building relationships takes time and energy - we diagnosed a need to establish this as a long term goal in our work through creating specific roles within and between our organisations. 

The flipchart page where we gathered the needs list as written above.

We would love to hear your thoughts on what we spoke about at the gathering. We know that there are many more items that could be added here, and ideas to be shared around how to answer these needs. Please get in touch with us at hello@sharedassets.org.uk to share your thoughts!

Read more about the conversations we had at the Spring Gathering in: Exploring Theories of Change at the Land Justice Spring Gathering 2022.

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