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Where we’re at December 20, 2007

Posted by Winter in activism, the adventures of mind the gap.

I haven’t done many group updates this year. Since a lot of people say they like our blog because it’s connected to a real-life feminist group, I will resolve to do this more often in the New Year.

Possibly, I’ve said less on this subject because we’ve had less to cheer about. We haven’t achieved as much in 2007 as in previous years.  We did manage to keep the monthly discussion nights going and had some good socials. We’re also pleased with our web developments and feel that the decisions we made about the blog were correct.  But we were disappointed by our inability to hold events for International Women’s Day and the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

I think the problems we’ve encountered are largely due to the fact that we’ve expanded faster than our capacity to keep up with it all and found ourselves with a lot of members who want a lot of things, only a handful of people doing the administration and a serious lack of structures and processes!  So, now we really need to go back and look at the way we organise and run the group. In the New Year, we’ll be making some changes:  

The Action Group needs to function as the core administration and planning force in the network. It would be lovely if a lot of members felt a sense of ownership and stepped forward to take on responsibilities, but thinking realistically, that isn’t going to happen, at least not yet. We have more development work to do first.  If we’re going to run the network effectively in the meantime and cut stress to the people doing the running, we need to get a lot more organised, better at sharing responsibility and supporting each other. One thing we are going to do, from January, is plan out all our activities a year in advance, which will hopefully improve the way we organise in general and get rid of that horrible sense of lurching from one crisis to another. 

We’re going to make more effort to ensure people have positive experiences at meetings and discussion nights. This means we’ll be introducing a simple code of conduct with expectations on behaviour and making sure we welcome and introduce new members properly.  Ideally, I think we should try and make sure the chair or facilitator has a support person in the room to give them a hand with keeping things on line.

We need to improve communication with members of the network and find ways to encourage them to take more ownership and get more involved in the organisation. This will take time.  

I would also like 2008 to be a year of bridge-building and reaching out. The network remains predominantly white, middle-class and university-educated and we’re concerned that we may be unintentionally perpetuating the kind of exclusionary behaviours and limited perspectives of which white, middle-class feminism is often accused.  As a group, we are going to work on making connections with other women’s groups and organisations and become more open-minded about engaging with people who don’t identify as feminists. We are aware that a lot of women don’t feel they can identify as feminists for various reasons and so it may be a good idea to shift the focus more towards looking at how we can work together for women’s rights, whatever we call ourselves.  

 In terms of actions for next year, we want to send more energy producing independent feminist media.  We have plans for a zine on women and mental health and a short zine, or pamphlet, aimed at young women who don’t know much about feminism.  We also want to improve our engagement with older feminists because we’re particularly concerned about the loss of feminist history. Hopefully the discussion nights will continue and we’re going to be throwing their organisation more open to members of the network.  There will be definitely be more socials to foster friendships between members because one thing we agreed upon at the Activism meeting is the importance of feminist friendships in doing activism.                                  

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