On December 2nd 2021, we celebrated 10 fantastic years of Shake! with young people, partners and friends. Toynbee Hall in London was the venue for the Shake! the System launch night, holding an outpouring of love, honouring and beauty.

This was also the launch for our new trilogy of publications marking the decade. Tiff Webster (Lead Designer) commented how the publications felt like they were “literally birthed. It was painful. We are different people today,” with Rose Ziaei (Programme Manager) emphasising how “our pains are also our resistance, how we transform”. She emphasised the importance of this two year process in documenting the impacts of Shake!: 

Our histories get erased and we don’t get a chance to archive the process, to capture creative arts movements”.

Shake! Researchers Annick Météfia and Haneen Hammou spoke to their efforts in making the research as embodied, and grounding as possible knowing that as young people of the global majority: 

“we are tired of being researched so we are going to produce data, we are going to produce histories and we are going to produce beauty about ourselves by ourselves and for ourselves”.


So what is the Shake! the System trilogy?

Voices that Shake! An Anthology of Creative Movements

A full-colour 320-page book of Shake! young people’s creative writing, original artwork, photographs and essays; also pieces by artists, facilitators and elders involved in Shake! Which you can buy here.

Shake! the System Research Report: A Decade of Shaping Change 2010-2020

Full-colour 120-page youth-led research into the impacts of Shake! on young people, using a non-extractive, consensus-based research approach. Download the report here.

Shake! the System Guidebook: Rituals, Tools & Practices

A 60-page guide to Shake!’s methods, to inspire, amplify the work, strengthen movements. Download the Guidebook for free here.


The launch was subtitled ‘The Cry’ following the theme for Chapter 1 of the Anthology which Creative & Strategic Director Farzana Khan and Sai Murray (Artistic co-director) articulated upon with a reading from their Anthology introduction: the cry of the moment, the cry of our people; the urge to connect, to feel, to be human. Performances from Shake!rs (young people who have taken part in the programme over the last 10 years) included poets Sky Caesar and Annie Rockson together with MCs Rotimi Skyers and Shezara Francis who debuted her first ever poem.

Annie Rockson, performing ‘Freedom of Expression’

We also heard from close allies who have collaborated and supported us over the last decade. Writer and literary activist, Kadija Sesay (Sable litMag, African Writers Abroad) commented:


“This is testament to 10 years of consolidating what radical social change looks like and can do. It’s a template of good practice on how to start, nurture and develop a programme that is geared towards effective social change…” 

Anu Henriques from Skin Deep spoke on how “… taking time to pause can feel futile, counter-intuitive, or even scary” but that taking this time “is so vital for us to be doing right now”:

“This trilogy feels like a collective processing of what it means to question, to create, to build… It nourishes movement-building and equips us for the revolution.”

Kinsi Abdulleh (Numbi Arts) spoke to the power of the archive and a shared determination for us to not be erased, but to: “repair, heal, transform, change, fight, rest, breathe, call again, mobilise, retreat, rebel and revolutionise from the heart”.

Video messages from those who could not be with us on the night also included the poet Selina Nwulu (original Shake! participant from 2010), Shake!’s Research Mentor Paula Serafini, poet Dorothea Smartt via the New Republic of Barbados and a special guest appearance from actor, director and podcaster Kelechi Okafor offering insightful commentary on The Cry chapter. 

Grace Lee’s newly commissioned artwork for the launch was on display, and sets from DJ Drybabe brought the vibes. As one online viewer wrote: ​

“Beautiful. Shake! Fam is ever-expanding. Truly limitless and boundless.”

Big thanks to everyone who attended, online and in-person. Thank you to Janet, Arif, Hajra, Miad, Soniya, Tahmid – our Shake! event crew on the day. We extend our gratitude to George Nindi and his excellent tech team who made the Livestream possible. Also to Whitney, Arthur and Ben at beautiful Toynbee Hall, and delicious catering from Lady Lane Kitchen.

This is only the beginning! Four more Chapters to come. Plus, the film of the Launch is coming soon. Please sign up for our newsletter to find out more. Read about Shake! in The Voice and this review in NSUN: National Survivor User Network.

The creation of the Shake! the System Trilogy and Launch took over two years, and was supported by Act for Change Fund/#iwill Fund, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Arts Council England, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, Glass-House Trust and individual donors.
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