Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Go the Resistance Distance: Pop-Up Schools for Novice Activists

How to Go the Resistance Distance: Pop-Up Schools for Novice Activists:

How to Go the Resistance Distance: Pop-Up Schools for Novice Activists

Modeled after the civil rights era’s citizenship and freedom schools, the new Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership teaches skills for the Trump era.


This post originally appeared at Yes! Magazine.
More than 200 people crammed into a meeting room at Smith College to listen to Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum speak at the May 4 opening ceremony of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership. The new school provides in-person training opportunities in activism in five cities throughout western Massachusetts.
“We need the Sojourner Truth School to lift us out of the deep funk that many of us have felt since the election of 2016,” said Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College and author of several best-selling books on the psychology of racism. “Ordinary people can get this started and make an impact.”
Since the Trump election, there has been an outpouring of interest in engaging with politics and social movements—and a hunger to learn new skills. The Truth School is one of a number of schools cropping up recently to train people to become activists in social change movements.
The Rev. Andrea Ayvazian co-founded the school and said the idea was to create a “school that teaches movement building skills — a ‘pop-up’ school that teaches useful skills to those seeking to resist Trump’s authoritarianism.” She said she hopes the school will “help us cling to democracy during the Trump years.”
The notion for the school emerged after Ayvazian attended a pop-up artist’s event in an empty store space. “I imagined an impermanent school, popping up around the valley.”
Ayvazian said that the initial response to her idea was overwhelmingly positive. People have offered free spaces for the school, she said, and now the Truth School is popping up in artist studios, library halls and community meeting rooms at religious congregations.
 
History of Activism Schools
The post-election activist surge has included thousands who have thrown themselves into electoral politics. These activists are working to elect insurgent candidates such as Rob Quist in Montana and Jon Ossoff in Georgia and around the country. And organizations that train people to enter political races for the first time have seen a spike in interest. More than 7,000 women have signed up for VoteRunLead’s “Run as You Are” course that teaches women how to run for office. According to The Cut, the She Should Run online incubator program for women candidates reported a huge increase in women registering for the program: from dozens to hundreds of women signing up in a normal month before the election to more than 8,100 in the three months since the election.
One new school that formed in the wake of the Trump inauguration — called the Resistance School — drew more than 175,000 participants during its initial four-part training series in How to Go the Resistance Distance: Pop-Up Schools for Novice Activists: 

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