The third Land Justice (almost) Spring Gathering is just around the corner. This annual gathering, which Shared Assets is involved in organising, is the meeting for people working on land justice across all of its intersections, and from different regions of the land referred to as Britain or the UK.

These are imperfect terms to use, especially in the context of this gathering which will grapple with colonial histories and the legacies of empire that underpin the land system and relationships between people on the land here and across the world, and therefore fundamentally shape the values of our movement for social justice. This focus, and moving to organising and convening the gathering more collectively, is a progression from last year, after hearing the needs of the movement and what was missing.

A new approach to organising

This year, coordination and accountability working groups have been tying together what’s needed to convene people comfortably, and to create a programme which hits a combination of:

  • time to really get to know each other

This was missing from last year’s gathering, in terms of people having a good idea of what others were doing, what they stood for, and whether they wanted to collaborate or be in coalition.

  • the values and politics at the intersections of land justice organising, collective liberation, decolonialism, and internationalism.

Sessions on these intersections were desired because themes around colonialism  / property / access  emerged last year at the gathering and needed more time.

  • strategy and power building - digging into traditions of building power that we have at our disposal in our movement, what the structures to organise together are, and how we integrate popular education.

These are important because we are building towards collective power to shift the land system, and this requires collective strategy, accountability and care. This counts also for the gathering itself.

  • Care and emotions - bringing these into the space through physical movement, container building, grounding in values, and grief and hope sessions.

These were desired because the work is deeply emotional, and doing some emotional processing and expression together can build trust, get to know each other and make collaboration easier.

What’s new? What’s the same?

We saw these threads emerge since the previous gathering in May last year, and when programming session and activity suggestions early last month. Everyone attending the gathering has had a chance to submit ideas for sessions, and to review the draft programme when it was ready. In the previous two years the majority of the agenda was held by Shared Assets and Navigate Coop, with the result being that people felt the gathering was too tightly held, with little room to bring in other facilitation from the movement, and importantly the crux of building around land in a colonial country - the presence of capitalist colonial histories in our respective contexts, and in our movement too.

As in other years, participants were invited with the intention to bring people in from the ‘margins’ of the movement: specifically those working on racial justice and colonialism, and abolition - and to decentre the mainstream of land rights organising, often with more white, middle class values. Centring justice and embedding liberation politics is a necessary place to be in what still feels like a young movement where its disparate parts are finding ways to fit together.

Shared Assets acquired funding - like previous years - so that access needs could be met, and so that no-one had to pay for participating. This came from Patagonia Europe, and from SHED. Ways to collectively resource the gathering, and whether to further decentralise the gathering away from Shared Assets will be conversations at this year’s gathering. We will also continue to strengthen the working group structures.

We will be meeting rurally this year, in contrast to inner city Sheffield last year. The gathering will be held at the residential Wilderness Center in Gloucestershire. This site is geared up for nature reconnection with outdoor space to sleep, and walks and greenery all around, giving opportunity for people to get to know each other while connecting to the land at a slower and more human pace.

We are working towards….

  • A stronger movement with clear core values around which to organise
  • A vision for collective liberation grounded in an understanding of undoing colonial systems of property
  • A movement bridging global solidarity, with increasing internationalist underpinnings
  • Relationships which breed collaboration and trust, and which connect values to action
  • Emotional holding around difficult conversations touching across race, class and violent histories
  • Reinforced organising structures which meet the strategic needs of an interconnected movement
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