what’s on your mind about Coalition building in a state of hyper capitalism I was really excited actually when I got asked me this podcast and I thought it was prime time to talk about Coalition building that’s something we talk about a lot within breathe the utopian dream of resistance you know building power I’ve written the working class um in racialized communities with all marginalized groups and what does that look like in a world where we’re seeing increasing a crisis where hyper individualization and I would say divisions across the board on local levels as well as at International levels we’re in a different era when the Rainbow Coalition was born in the 1960s I would say can you contextualize that a little bit yes certainly well the Rainbow Coalition was born in the 1960s it was lead it was aspered on originally I might say spurred on it was initiated by the Black Panthers and it was Progressive and fundamentally socialist movement Poor People’s Army that was said by Cha-Cha and he was founder of the young Lords so it was a coalition between the Black Panthers the young Lords and they were young Latinos and young Patriots and they were a street organization of why you foods and there was attention or interpretation about these different groups working together particularly the white youth I had a Confederate flag as one of the ambulance however they did manage to bridge these divides and create a coalition where they’re able to create resistance on various fundamental issues that are affecting all of them including economic inequality living conditions police brutality and it was all embedded in deep organizing in each of their communities as well you said something about about hyper individualism as being kind of part of our current political crisis or moment can you tell me a bit more about that what does that mean yeah I think that in terms of Coalition building and in terms of the movement as a whole I think that we are in a space and we’re having for a long time like capitalism took a new hold around about the development of neoliberalism and so on where we put individual rights above the collective and that makes it often difficult to form Bridges across divides I find this quite an amusing conversation because often people speak of the individual and the collective are separate and pathetical even as though the two are not necessarily linked whereby they inform each other because when you help the collective you help the individual but going back to coalitions when they are by Nature alliances that look to be broad were the internal challenges around dynamics of power going back to the Black Panthers and the Rainbow Coalition their programs were co-opted by the state because when you’re that powerful and effective in building dual power and black autonomy the state is threatened and will do everything in its power to stop and disrupt you however the state’s ability to interfere can be facilitated by internal power dynamics we’ve got to ask the question where does power lie because when the state began infiltrating assassinating and murdering leaders the structures often patriarchal in nature were weakened as the absence of leaders heavily impacted their ability to organize effectively so how do we have leadership how do we organize with each other how do we build coalitions that don’t centralize power with a few select individuals because the second those individuals leave or are intentionally assassinated and removed what do we do I know we’ve showed insight and how to maintain relatively horizontal structures in our episode on the tyranny of structurelessness but how do we fit this within the context of coalitions does a coalition necessitate said individuals because of its broad nature or can we Implement elements such as rotational roles delegation distribution of power as spoken about previously in that episode yeah I think disrupting power and making sure we’re constantly a question that is a really really important thing we should also recognize from starting point that all social movements and movement organizations I would say as a whole are shaped by privilege and power and it’s deep and slow and clumsy work to try and undo this so the black lives matter movement and if you compare that to the Civil Rights Movement so this was obviously the largest resistance and mass mobilization Against Racism that we’ve seen in 40 years and there was lots of similarities in terms of organizing that took place on the ground and the women did a lot of the work in in both new spaces but one of the key differences was in the black lives matter movement was the rejection of patriarchy and the rejection of hierarchical structures in the same format which was a strong feature of the Civil Rights Movement right women were also powerful civil rights movement and Erica Huggins has actually just released a book hasn’t she on the woman of the Civil Rights Movement which is meant to be a beautiful read and I can’t remember the name of it in the top of my head so from this point of view there was an intentional approach to disrupt power and it’s um Alicia Garza has said very clearly that if we’re not creating systems that disrupt power and do not embody the change that we’re not uplifting the people who are centered to Injustice and I suppose there’s a question of do we wait for the transformative change to happen before we pass the mic and pass the pedestal so to speak or do we actually embody that change ourselves I don’t think any movement entirely gets it right but it is a clumsy and slow and and awkward and actually having lots of Grace in our Consciousness as we explore what this means I think in terms of actual power leaderful organizing obviously that’s the terms that’s used a lot nowadays and that is the idea of we create lots of leaders we create leaders within the communities who are the most impacted and we raise them up so they’re the people that that invite and invoke the change and they’re also leaders that are obviously be trusted within the communities and you’re creating broad coalitions of trusted individuals instead of having one person at the top that all the burden falls upon I am nodding because I’m just wondering whether you have any thoughts and Reflections on when you as an organizer would use a coalition when would you consider it useful as a tool yeah I think that’s a great question because obviously coalitions are not things that just exist in the past right they’re very current today and I think often when we think of coalitions as well we think of them as a kind of the top level like the big names like stop the war Coalition the climate of Scotland the cocktail six Coalition and these being such big coalitions with such big players in them I think there is limited opportunity to disrupt power there’s a limited opportunity to in inact and embed the change that we want to see and that’s really really important how big and how broad do we want to go or how true to transformative change do we want to be do we want to remain within local communities there’s obviously lots of scope and Community conditions I would say it’s a far bigger thing in the US as far as I understand than it is in the UK but there’s obviously lots of scope for creating coalitions on a local level as an organizer so that could be individuals of a community that want to address pure public transport in the area that want to oppose the closing of a local Health Clinic that want to look at Community owned energy in the area in terms of local organizing on for example a city level I mean what we’re seeing in a lot of places in the UK and what we’ve been seeing for quite a few months and it has been looking at the theme of the last six months is the increase in collaborations between different organizations that are finding around about workers rights that are found about cost of living there’s a myriad of organizations and issues that are beginning to see more collaboration amongst each other has that reached over to organizing yet and particularly the Deep organization of communities I wouldn’t say it has as a whole yet in the UK but I think there’s a lot of potential around about this space to create more movement building a more Coalition building that’s really interesting um I do Wonder like listening to you whether there’s a question around like is using the term a community Coalition or a Coalition in an organizing sense useful when is it used for are we creating collectives are they cooperatives are they forums so perhaps maybe you could help us understand how you understand what a coalition is and when do you think you would use one if you were on a kind of road map as an organizer like at what point does it become a really important tool or perhaps it’s not a word that you want to use and there are other more appropriate words now words are it can be really important in creating understanding language is important language is both important as it is fluid right so not everything’s going to strictly fall into one category depending on the context depending on the era depending on the individuals you’re working with the language very much is important so I would also bring movements into that set of words that we could be looking at right now so a collective might be a group of individuals that decided to Loosely come together I would say Coalition is units of different entities that already exist some of them might already be individuals but these different entities would represent different demographics fighting for Change and area and when they come together there is enough overlap for them to want to fight together to build power to fight either for larger systemic change or around about a value or around about a targeted outcome if that’s round about policy to do with health whatever that looks like whereas obviously coalitions and movements obviously have a lot of overlap as well I would say a movement is more than open-ended surge of energy for social change and it’s often based around a value and it’ll often have a broad base of activists and organizations that coalesce together for around about one aim but you can feel it in the Zeitgeist so movement has a very distinct feeling of roundabout right it’s the kind of questions that are being asked at the time it’s been the way that we challenge each other is the values and the way that we scrutinize our values often coalitions are formed in response to Opportunities and threats I would say but they need to build on existing and mobilizing structures right of that stuff that already exists within organizations and within networks the social with the power of coalitions come in coalitions can Bridge social movements as well right they can Bridge social movements across our Race Across class across environmental issues and that’s for example what the cop 286 Coalition look to do right so it looked to bring these different issues and these different movements so to speak the labor movement with the racial Justice movement with environmental movement to fight for the bigger cause which was seen as climate Injustice I also think coalitions can be really important because they say that all these issues that we are individually fighting for so a collective might be a group of individuals that come together that will care about one issue a coalition is where we see all these individuals problems have the same root cause I’ve spoken about before I’ve got problems with the word allyship because I think it kind of assumes that you’ve done the work that you’re already there that racism doesn’t exist within us or if you look at genuine solidarity what you’re saying is your experience is not about my experience there is no comparison I do not listen to European whilst reflecting on my pain I stand here in solidarity to listen to your pain to listen to your needs and be there right when I can be there for you so I think Coalition building can be really interesting because I think it can allow those things for more genuine and useful solidarity and I think it can allow us to understand that there is a common cause that is kind of bigger than these individual issues as well I would have thought political alignment or maybe political priorities or organizing priorities are really important in the Coalition I’m starting to question that a little bit like do you think it’s important that in a time where climate Defenders are at risk of increased police brutality and state intervention into our activism with that in mind the Coalition spaces I suppose all the kind of collective spaces that we create also become safety spaces now having like listen to talk that feels like it’s kind of a defensive space how important is it that they are broad how broad are they and do we really require everyone to come into that space with a shared idea of what allyship means solidarity means and racial Justice Means and what do we do when people don’t because inevitably we’re all so different on solidarity what is it is it an action is it the statement that we are in solidarity Asia because we always say that we always hear that like what does that mean like okay say it sure but what does that actually mean like what are you doing oh my God I’m having an existential crisis I even sign off my emails in solidarity for goodness sake but like what does that mean you know what I mean like what are you actually doing to be in solidarity or are you just saying that because it’s like yeah I support you LOL how can we actually like actively support each other and how do we actually demonstrate that solidarity not just as something we say but as something we do if solidarity is something you would do and if it’s not then we can’t just be in solidarity another thing that you brought up there was the the matter of scaling by Nature these are broad things by Nature the cop26 Coalition was abroad I think what distinguishes it quite significantly from say the Rainbow Coalition in the states is the political climate that it was born out of right because these are massive ngos these are individuals these are groups these are organizations coming together working at a national level you’ve got your coordinating committees what we called it right and then you have your working groups like we also had the hubs more local level because of course that’s necessary but again like I think it’s really important to think about the context that this came out of the way that black brown POC communities exist in the states is very different to how they exist in the UK there’s been years of work there’s been years of solidarity we don’t have that right there was not this cross solidarity between different elements of the working class as highlighted in the Rainbow Coalition this is a bunch of middle class folk part of ngos part of organizations that have enough time on their hands to do essentially what is volunteering work some of them paid by the way myself not included because young people never get paid to do [ __ ] our coalitions are existing for completely different reasons you know you have essentially what is a food program Again co-opted by the state because it was that powerful because it was that strong because it was that threatening we didn’t do that we are not doing that the function was completely different and entirely born out of its context so like what relevance does it actually have to our context especially in relation to our work is breath the question of size of our bread and to what level do you want to interrupt power it’s I think all really really important right to the aims and and why you’re forming a coalition the cop 26 Coalition obviously that was incredibly broad the remit was to broadly hold the left and the left is a very very big diverse and at times problematic space right the aim was to hold the left together as the UN came to town and I could describe the UN the cop the the conference of parties as a killing machine effectively every year that they land in a different country and they decide who lives and who dies and that so the idea was to hold the left together so we’re not pointing our guns at each other but we’re pointing them at the governments and the powers that be the corporations as well and it was very successful in doing this and it brought together trade unions they brought together an environmental movement it brought together different economic Justice groups uh racial Justice groups and so on and in terms of outputs it ticked all the boxes you know the biggest mobilization they’ve ever been in Scotland but in the UK around about climate climate Justice 800 actions around the world huge Conference of 250 sessions the purpose of the cocktail ex Coalition was to be a leverage for movement building so that is the change the energy the momentum that looks for a value shift within Society a cultural shift or what we see is right and wrong and how we behave within that and that shift needs to happen as an Institutional level if we do see a ship so in terms of ticking the boxes of the Winds of the Coalition and manage to do that for the cup in terms of actually changing the movement I think that’s a larger discussion which you know I’m very very much willing to have those time to do that today what I think is really really important is can we see shifts at that scale looking abroadness so you’ve got that at the UK international level then you bring that down to the local hubs the local hubs were generally white middle class environmental individuals not Everywhere by any means we did have a trade Union caucus there were migrant Justice groups involved as well but on the ground the level hadn’t been done in terms of building the trust and the solidarity to include the groups that are actually absolutely fundamental to climate justice so in terms of scaling it that was acceptable at the international level at the local Hub level what we were seeing was the same environmental demographic for me that’s not climate Justice and that is not interrupting the Pyro systems and I think this is maybe the limits of kind of broad Coalition uh building and this is where we see where we see the compromise between size and scale versus Integrity to the changes that we want to see and obviously we know many kind of coalitions kind of that I was mentioned before at the larger level stop the war stopped kind of chaos raised the roof of Berlin Irish one round about housing rights trade unions as well you know they offer work in Coalition so to speak often the bigger the organization the less tolerance there is for I would say more radical groups and ideas and when I say radical we know that the Latin word radical simply means root and for me that’s more rooted in justice so if you bring it from the small level the small local level and then you’ve got the country or International level the spaces in between might be the city-wide level the Rainbow Coalition they were working in a city-wide stroke City kind of area kind of level I think today we are seeing that to be increasingly difficult in terms of transformative change at the stage a wide level and I think that’s because the rise of I would say individualism divisions and ego as well there’s a lot of often loud voices and there are often lots of loud men loud white men at the top that are not willing or prepared to put aside their ways of organizing their ways of communication their practices let alone go through the really difficult process that the patriarchy doesn’t allow that’s around about self-reflection that’s around about vulnerability that’s around about the space that I take up the power that I hold why do I need to be centered to this space to this organizing that’s a cool conversation again that we could have set for a round about fragility and vulnerability within movement leaders so so we’ve talked a bit about the climate hubs I don’t know that much about them but from what I’m hearing from you there needs to be some kind of work around making those hubs more relatable so that space isn’t kind of taken up by people with more privilege so what kind of organizing tactics would you use to do that how do we change that how do we intervene I think so thing that has come from this conversation is that we don’t necessarily rely on Coalition building we can learn from each other and be like oh this was an interesting strategy it worked in this place we can apply it to another but you’ve also got to understand that there needs to be flexibility and and contextual understanding where we are coalitions such as the Rainbow Coalition is something that at least in my context in my part of the UK wouldn’t be able to be done I don’t think not effectively not meaningfully and for who for what but like as a community organizer test how would you perhaps approach this how would you make those building blocks where Coalition building then becomes relevant like what tactics do we use what tactics if people use that we can learn from yeah these are really vital questions I think on the the local Hub level we can use just local hubs as a template but you’re talking about the local level right and I do think that that is the level where more power building between different marginalized groups or groups that have been marginalized by the system can take Center is more possible and more genuine and has more Integrity one issue that you you might see in spaces where coalitions already exist a is that when someone comes to the table and they’re like ah there’s no one like me sitting at this table and I need to deal with the power dynamics that already exists within this space and I have no reason to yet trust that these people deeply care about me and the issues in my world it’s hard to change that Dynamic and for me I I very much believe that you need to be clear who’s at the table and who’s holding the power to begin it can be an unsafe space to feel and it can inflict more pain and it can be incredibly slow and not necessarily that effective so I think that’s a really important point when we think of the spaces that already exist that might exist in Coalition and the difficulties to move them to a space where they represent those who are most impacted and they are actually with Integrity fighting for a systematic change as we know the foundations for a lot of this work and this is where the organizing work comes in is building trust and is building relationships and that is work that takes place you know knocking at people’s doors I was talking to someone recently and the work that’s going on in Glasgow right now around about um cost of living campaigns and kind of recognizing a lot of the organizing work isn’t taking place yet because organisms and work takes place at 10 A.M on a Saturday morning in a freezing Community Center none of it’s glamorous none of it’s even that exciting a lot of the time it’s a slow gentle getting to know each other and getting to know each other’s needs and getting to know each other’s Dynamics within that space kind of work organizing is a long game and to build the foundations that we need not just to build coalitions to fight the fights today roundabout Energy prices you know this winter and how energy prices continue now for this summer to next winter but how do we build the foundations in a world that slowly collapsing is the long and slow work and I think that needs to be understood so this is where you know the big switch from the cocktails is coalition immobilizing to the organizing if we’re serious about keeping people safe and doing so by building Collective power in the streets that we live on but then like how do we balance that with the urgency of the crisis because we’re constantly in these interceptional crisis like Health cost of living climate in order to kind of get to that place where the coalitions can have impact or build towards real chain transformative change and balance that with the urgency of the crisis with our work at breathe we get asked quite a lot and I’d really love to hear your Reflections on how do you answer that question so how do we balance deep and effective Foundation Building with urgency and I think this is a really poignant question right now because there’s lots of crucial thinking lots of wisdom around acting without urgency or resisting that feeling of urgency and I think that’s a really important conversation to have post covered in times of escalating crisis in the uks we’re seeing you know after the cotton climate movement and the emergence of lots of direct action organizations that the whole messaging is roundabout we’re all going to die and acting with this urgency obviously has huge damage right has huge damage a spiritual level at a collective level at the movement level of how we look after each other and how we keep the cogs of the machine sustainable and functioning whilst recognizing the urgency already exist the amount of people that are facing called homes this winter anyone who says we need to learn to act without urgency would they be brave enough to say this to people in the global side that are seeing the hard face of climate breakdown today communities are already dying from this so yes we are we’re in a state of multiple crisis and urgency to keep this planet an inhabitable space which is already increasingly not so many places and I think this is where Coalition building can come in helpful because you are building off the tactics from a lot of different groups coalitions need to lean on they’re mobilizing and the organizing and the processes of different groups that already exist so all the learnings are already out there right and really importantly we know that the infrastructure is out there and it has been perhaps in many places it doesn’t mean when you pick up and you put in your community that we don’t need to take in the historical context so we don’t need to take in the trauma of the activists that we don’t need to take in the division that we don’t need to take in the different needs but like I say all these processes have been lived out in different places all over the world we also need to begin to enact and change so as I was saying before we need to give Grace and space for that to be kind of clumsy an awkward as we apply in different ways of different kinds of leadership different kinds of communication different kinds of ways that we meet and maybe I’m just talking from a place of pure optimism but I do believe that there is space to to meet and together and to organize and to act in response to the emergency that we’re in whilst trying to explore and develop and live with Integrity our values around about care and Justice and relationship building at the same time and admitting that we don’t get it perfect because that’s a really classic problem we regularly don’t get things right we destroy each other as well and of course we don’t get everything right because we live in a horrifically imperfect system so I think Grace around that learning curve is really crucial within this I mean I could sit next to the campfire and talk to both all night long which I think we should actually do in person in real with an act or fire because that would be amazing but I do also know that Tess is a Grassroots organizer and has a whole day out there this has filled me with like a bit of fire in my belly to go back out there and like rethink things and challenge some of the ideas that we potentially like initially started breathe with and start evolving and emerging and trying new things so thank you so much Tess my pleasure thank you too both this has been campfire stories brought to you by Breathe check out our socials you can hear directly from our community organizers who are doing the work don’t forget to like share and subscribe to our Channel and keep up to date with our future episodes

Coalition Building

Episode 6 | Coalition Building Welcome to our video on the potential of coalition building. It’s all about collaboration, building relationships, and working towards a common objective. Coalition building is often seen as a crucial tool for achieving collective goals, bringing together individuals and organisations with a shared vision. Indeed, we highlight this potential and reflect on the powerful force that was the Rainbow Coalition whereby they united different communities and gave a voice to the marginalised. However, in this video, we’ll also take a closer look at the challenges and limitations of using this tool, especially in relation to current crises and context. By examining both the benefits and drawbacks of coalition building, we hope to encourage a more nuanced discussion about the role of coalitions in achieving social change. Remember to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, and let’s continue the conversation! Link to the article here: #coalitionbuilding #rainbowcoalition #collaboration #socialchange #movementhistories #activism #blackpanthers #podcast #community #communityorganising #organising #cs #campfirestories #breathe #breathebuilds #hwgf #howwegetfree #thewayitis #thewayitshouldbe #thewaywechangethings