In November 2018, CIJ came together to celebrate its one year anniversary in a big community gathering and open space event. Activists and community leaders from across Europe convened in Berlin for a joyful, empowering event that connected us, helped unite our communities, and created ideas and strategy for the coming year.
Our gathering included people from both social justice movements and grassroots organizations who are fighting oppression and systemic inequality at the intersections of racism, patriarchy, transphobia, ableism, capitalism, imperialism, and fatphobia. We came together from far and wide: Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, the Netherlands, and Finland. We are a powerful, global coalition.
Read on to find out what we got up to – if you’re keen and would like more detail, you can download the full report of the day below.
Making open space.
In a deliberate departure from the more traditional, roundtable approach of CIJ’s inaugural event in 2017, this gathering was created as an “Open Space”, facilitated by Najwa Ouguerram (CIJ Community Engagement Volunteer) and Nim Ralph.
The aim of the open space was to create spontaneous, free-flowing discussions and debates within a non-hierarchical space – participants were free to come and go as they wished, taking their experience, interest, and expertise wherever it was most needed. During the morning, facilitators helped everyone develop focus concepts, and in the afternoon we came together in small groups to discuss our chosen topics and develop strategies for next year.
Asking questions and planning for the year ahead.
How do we challenge power structures and create safe spaces for each marginalized group within an inter-solidarity movement? How can we combine grassroots strategies and legal strategies? How do we build our own public agenda while looking after our mental health? These questions – and hundreds more – provided the locus of our discussion in the afternoon.
Groups formed around these critical issues for our communities:
- Sharing and acknowledging our plurality of knowledges and experiences
- Making systems of accountability for ourselves and our allies
- Fighting internalized discrimination within movements
- Forging solidarity between movements
- Combining grassroots strategies with legal strategies
- Creating meaningful change with little or no money
- Challenging traditional funding and decision-making
- Sharing knowledge on the funding landscape
- Rethinking volunteering and low-wage employment in activism work
- Educating ourselves about talking to the media about intersectionality
- Decolonizing the healthcare system and training healthcare professionals in an intersectional understanding of respect and consent
- Centering healing, solidarity, and justice through radical compassion
- Campaigning for accessible and affordable self-care for all
A key theme was the need to share knowledge and pool resources across organizations. We reiterated the importance of CIJ as a hub connecting people from from different areas and movements. We also need training and guidance around funding sources, funding applications, and working with the media.
Sharing our visions of intersectional justice.
During the Open Space, participants shared some of their views on what intersectional justice means to them and how they deploy it in their work. Here are some voices from the day:
“To me, it’s taking into account all the forms of exclusion and oppression, meaning that no one is left behind.” – Rokhaya Diallo, journalist and activist
“Intersectionality is the best way to fight against sexism and racism at the same time.” – Sarah Zouak, President of Lallab
“Don’t exclude anyone and focus on multiple oppressions that can be lived by different people.” – Marina Carlos, Collectif Luttes et Handicaps pour l’Égalité et l’Émancipation (CLHEE)
“Applying intersectional justice in your work is always a struggle because you can’t fully apply it – that would mean having all marginalized groups at the table, which is sometimes impossible. […] It’s an ongoing process, it’s never a state you’re in. It’s something you can strive for. Always take into account that whatever you do, however well you’re planning it out, there might always be blindspots, something you haven’t taken into account. So it also always means to be willing to learn and grow.” – Kübra Gümüşay, journalist and activist.
Defining CIJ’s future.
Several key priorities emerged from the Open Space. Here are some of our goals for the coming year:
- Creating databases for intersectional funders and non-legacy-based funding options, alongside an anonymous platform for sharing funding experiences
- Providing intersectional training for healthcare professionals, as well as creating a database of known healthcare professionals who are already aware of intersectional justice issues
- Forging accessible, shared terminology in order to push intersectional terms and concepts further out beyond our communities and into the world
- Diminishing shame around getting paid for our labor
- Bringing together a mental health and healthcare toolkit
- Building alternative institutions, rather than becoming submerged in pre-existing institutions
- Putting together a webinar on all matters intersectional
- CIJ will continue to act as an umbrella organization for the many groups we work with
You can read the full report of the event in the side box and watch some snippets of the day in a short video here.