In July 2023, we had the pleasure of running part 2 of our ENRGY course: ENRGY RE-UP. Our free weekend course on radical facilitation for young people and youth workers, offered a deeper dive into the principles of inclusive, radical justice-oriented practices of facilitation, radical safeguarding, harm reduction and how to use their creative practice to inform their facilitation, in their own communities or contexts.
In this blog piece, we’ll be focusing on the continued magic and information from the second day of the course on Sunday. You can read about the key sparks of ENRGY and learnings from the workshops and sessions from day one here.
Sunday’s session focused on being in tune with the general energy of Sundays, moving at a slower pace than the first day of the workshop whilst allowing for more creative and movement based sessions to keep us energised whilst restful.
We started day two with some powerful tai chi led by Jalal, a practitioner since 2005. As we were guided through a few exercises, we were taught about tai chi’s focus on breath, body and intention, and the mantra of ‘strength through softness.’ It was a grounding way to start the day, engaging with our bodies and energy through a movement activity.
After this session, Annick and Sai ran a workshop on radical and inclusive facilitation techniques. During this, we looked at narratives and practices under white supremacy, especially in youth environments. This included questioning why these narratives and practices exist, what these practices physically looked like, who was involved, the power dynamics, and the result.
We analysed the punitive, restrictive, individualistic, eurocentric and colonial, ableist nature of spaces for young people, such reflecting on our own journeys through state educational schooling. Which applies a depersonalised, authoritative, ‘one size fits all’ approach, and how this connects to upholding capitalism; patriarchy and whiteness whilst squashing dissent.
Looking at a radical counter response, we considered how we could create youth spaces where everyone across all ages and walks of life are seen, comfortable, and have space to be creative. To the Shake!rs, this would include access to nature; using the wisdom that comes from our ancestors before us; acceptance that there is no ‘right’ way of learning meaningful power dynamics where boundaries, relationships we have with each other and harm reduction are centred. The outcome of this radical counter response would be more integrated connection, awareness, collective power and feeling rooted in safety.
In the afternoon, Sai led a session on deepening our own creative facilitation, providing a wonderful opportunity for us to collaborate together on Group Poetry from the guidebook. First, we did a freewrite on “What does freedom sound like, taste like, what are the senses that resonate?” Sai also encouraged us to respond with what was resonating with us, and then gave us further prompts based on this.
We were then encouraged to take our two favourite extracts of what we’d written and pass one to the person on our left to respond to. In two groups, we then used all the extracts and new lines to create two group poems.
We used writing to facilitate a wider discussion around engaging with artistic forms and sharing creative practice they’re engaged in that could help young people in workshops. We came up with a variety of ideas from our own experiences, such as using the freewrite and group poetry exercises and creating a collage of the words that emerge; use of writing bars and rap; movement activities; video production; focus of space, light and setting a scene including thinking more about what environments should look, feel and even smell like.
During this session, we also focused on why we write, what the artistic practice is and what it does for our bodies. This included for ourselves, with documenting, sharing it because people may resonate and using the voice as art. We also talked about writing for freedom, instead of being forced to, like we often have (for example, in education).
As we closed the session, Sai shared with us a quote from John Holt “Creativity as the immune system of the mind and the source of the mythic.”
For the final session, we focused on discussing our visionings for Rehearsing Freedoms in the Autumn, where Shake! will be taking part through an event created by our Shakers!. The Shake! fam brainstormed ideas of what this could look like, centering intergenerational queer and trans people of the global majority, with an approach grounded in sustaining ourselves, anchoring and creating community and care. This included emphasising disability justice, accessibility and ensuring its a mutual learning space, where we can continue, and document, community work we do.
Shake!rs highlighted the importance of thinking about how we all organise to enable sustainability so that everyone can take part, and different ways that people can be involved, especially for people’s different needs.
We considered the incorporation of the senses to create a multi-sensory scare space, such as how smell can be used to relax people; sounds as tools for grounding and nurturing our bodies through food and activities. We also discussed reimagining masculinity, which Shake! course participants and facilitators alike had been involved in. This included the use of martial arts practice like tai chi, and as one of the Shake! fam pointed out, “finding new and abundant ways to be disloyal to patriarchy.”
To close the space, we discussed how we’d felt, and what we’d learned from the weekend, and then we were led by Annick through a village movement activity – an exercise we also began the course with on Saturday. On both Saturday and Sunday, during this exercise, the room was a village and people were encouraged to walk around space taking as much space as possible, changing speed, being mindful of others, pausing, sitting, moving together at times, and also having silence. On Sunday, as the course came to an end, we sat and laid in silence, guided by Annick to take time to feel in tune with our bodies, and take care of ourselves before being released back into the world with the course.
We really loved being able to return for this second course, and we’re grateful to the brilliant learning and knowledge from all facilitators. We appreciated the learning, knowledge, insights and contributions from all of our fantastic participants. We hope Shake!rs continued to feel affirmed in their community work, filled with warmth and held in community as part of the Shake! Family. We’re so excited for our upcoming plans with Rehearsing Freedoms, led by our Shakers! in the autumn too!