Conversations for Transformation is an upcoming series of monthly virtual meetings bringing together organisations from our Landscape of Resistance for conversations about their work and goals, their engagement with the people of Glasgow, and navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic, burnout and austerity. It is our hope that these conversations will produce opportunities for further collaborative work, through exploring questions such as:
How have we adapted to the ‘new normal’, and what has the pandemic taught us about the ways we can reach out to one another?
What are the common root causes that drive the need for activism or campaigning in Glasgow?
Where might our visions for Glasgow overlap in terms of current city policy?
How can we build counter-institutions to meet people’s needs?
The project is the evolution of our 2020-21 ‘Conversations for Change’ project, a series of online discussions hosted by SANE and Enough! during the first lockdown of the Covid 19 pandemic. Their aim was to bring groups together from across Glasgow coming together to learn about each other’s work, share any agendas or developments in relation to COVID-19 and to begin to explore together whether there was value in trying to establish a broader alliance of groups to work together to push for change as a result of this crisis. We knew that during the crisis many organisations would not only be actively involved on the front lines, directly responding to the needs of our most vulnerable, but would also be developing their demands for how to build a stronger society from this.
As well as stimulating conversation among networks of activists and campaigners, we knew the project also had to involve families, households and friends. Given the ongoing lockdown on social and networking events, we developed the Conversations for Change House-Party pack, designed to facilitate the Conversations for Change experience from the comfort and safety of home.
There was no fixed agenda but during each Conversation participating groups were encouraged to get to know each other’s work, invited to talk about the implications of Covid-19 for their organisation. The appetite for working together for radical change was explored. The process helped to build connections across a range of organisations but a key concern quickly emerged about the composition and aims of the Glasgow City Council Post Pandemic Economic Recovery Group. An open letter to the leader of the Council reflected the desire for greater democracy in the city and a willingness to contribute the expertise of civil society within Glasgow. The Conversations also sowed the seeds for a Peoples Plan for Glasgow as a radical alternative.