I have been a volunteer with Birmingham Friends of the Earth for two years now. A few weeks ago an exciting opportunity became available, the chance for me to apply for the Birmingham Campaign Course. This is a course which trains people on how to organise and carry out a campaign. It aims to turn activists into organisers. I was delighted to be accepted onto the course and I would like to thank our amazing campaigns support worker Libby Harris and others who decided to offer me this opportunity.
The course began on Saturday 13th May with a great introductory session. We started by creating a ‘culture’ for the group and talked about what ‘culture’ and values we wanted in the group and what ground rules would help achieve this.
We then talked about our stories of self, who we are and our individual journeys into campaigning. We also talked about why these journeys are important in campaigning. Given that our stories are personal, it was very nice that the group were particularly friendly and welcoming, everyone seemed to feel able to be open about their stories and therefore, I did too. I think the setting of the ground rules at the beginning had helped to make this possible. Sometimes, in group discussions, especially ones about personal experiences, I am very shy and quiet so it was nice to feel comfortable to talk without feeling like that. We did some good group and paired activities to help us think about our stories so we didn’t have to feel put on the spot. That was left to organisers at the start who bravely told us their stories but they did a great job!
At lunchtime we had some lovely food to share. The organisers told us about how we had been asked to bring food to share because this idea fitted with the ethos we are aiming to create within the group.
In the afternoon we had a session on how to pick a campaigning issue. We put this into practice by getting into groups and talking about a whole range of issues. Then we started to plan a potential campaign on this issue.
After this, we talked about the structure of power in organisations we are involved in and how we are going to use that structure and people within it to move towards planning our own campaign. I would like to do a campaign on the importance of waste and recycling and making it a more everyday thing to do. I identified one of the lead waste campaigners at Birmingham Friends of the Earth as one of my key contacts for this and I have just started to work on it with his help. Thank you very much John Newson for your help so far.
I am very much looking forward to the rest of the course which I feel is the next stage on my campaigning journey.