Come to the ‘How to do it’ gathering next weekend to talk about system change – full programme and timetable

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Posted Mar 31 2016 by Roger Hallam of How To Do It

We blogged in January about the ‘How to do it’ conference about grassroots change that’s happening next weekend in London. There are still places available – book your free ticket here.

This weekend event brings together people from many different backgrounds to learn from each other and to work together on how to bring about concrete radical social change. It is concerned with how to improve and increase participation so that many more people can contribute to and help achieve our aims. It will involve people who research and study this area in our universities and also political activists and community organisers who are working to build participatory groups and organisations in their local areas. The question we all want to answer is “how to do it” and by coming together we can learn so much from each other and be inspired by each other’s experience and knowledge.

More here.

How to do it takes place at the King College London Waterloo Campus.




The full programme:

Saturday 9th April 2016
Please note: all of the sessions below have the event’s ‘standard format’:  10 minutes presentations, then split into small break out groups for discussion, followed by feedback at the end. If a session has a ‘non standard’ participatory format, this is stated in the summaries below.


Session 1A Therapy and the challenge of austerity
Room: 1.13 From professional experience and our knowledge of empirical psychological evidence, we know that cuts have been toxic for peoples’ wellbeing and mental health. Responding to this, this session looks at how this campaign mobilises psychologists and psychological knowledge to make a case against further austerity policies. This session has its own participatory format.

Shinead Peacock-Brennan

Psychologists Against Austerity

Session 1B Deliberative democracy and citizens assemblies
Room: 1.16 Deliberative democracy emphasises the importance of discussion, reasoning and dialogue in the process of decision-making. This session looks at different models and mechanisms through which the deliberative can be put back into democratic processes.

Emma Pole

Canterbury Christchurch University

Graham Smith

University of Westminster

Peter MacFadyen

Independents for Frome

Session 1C Learning from social movement theory: how to build effective collective action
Room: 1.20 Sustainable changes to human society happen when we manage to convince a majority to change their minds. A relatively small number of committed activists taking visible action can actually swing the spectrum of opinion. When they’re deeply engaged and organising in communities, they can convince passive allies to get involved and support their cause, shifting friendly neutrals to become allies. Natasha shares lessons from Hahrie Han (US academic and author of ‘How Organisations Develop Activists’) and Carlos Saavedra (Organiser with the US DREAM movement and founder of Movement Mastery), drawing on their research, practice and theory.

Natasa Adams

Tax Campaign

Session 1D Digital communication and decision-making
Room: 1.21 A structured brainstorming and collaborative design work session, based on the information conveyed during the initial presentation ‘Towards Liberatory Technology’ (LibTech). The tentative goal of this workshop is to develop a set of guidelines for those trying to initiate a LibTech movement in their community. The session has its own participatory format.Recommended reading: PolonosFree Lab / LibTech
Session 1E Sociocratic decision making – A deeper democracy
Room: 1.68 A facilitated workshop on structured consent decision making processes as used by sociocratic practitioners in community groups and co-housing, as well as in small and large business and public services. We will also focus on how consent decision making and sociocracy are energised by the development of high quality relationships to produce shifts in culture that can bind groups together in greater solidarity and sustain organisation change. Sociocracy is a complete system (Open Source) but can be implemented in modular form.
SociocracyUK serves a network of individuals and organisations around the British Isles, to support the growth in use and understanding of Sociocracy for smarter, more effective and more enjoyable organisations, collaboration, work and living. We share a common and passionately held view that ‘business as usual’, whether in business, in politics, and anywhere that human beings come together, not only needs to change, but will evolve or become obsolete in the face of better practices. The session has its own participatory format.Louis LoizouHealthy Power Alliance / Sociocracy
Session 1F Mental health and diversity
Room: 1.70 Details to be confirmed

Joel Vos and colleagues

CREST, University of Roehampton

Session 2A Action Aid: How to do campaigning
Room: 1.13 Details posted soon.

Jon Ward

Action Aid

Session 2B The Teal Path to Thriving Organisations
Room: 1.16 A Teal organisational style, unlike other styles, works like a living organism. It is agile, effective and responsive to evolutionary forces even within a complex ever changing environment. The three Teal breakthroughs, which distinguish it from other forms are: self-management, expressing evolutionary purpose and promoting wholeness are work. This workshop will look at how adopting the Teal approach can support activist and community groups to work better together and create radical social change. During the workshop we will: 1.Discover common pitfalls to getting things done experienced by the participants. 2.Explore what Teal is and how it can address those pitfalls. 3.Explore and share Teal practices that can be used to support the participants current ventures. (How, What, When)

Morya Short

Teal for Start-ups

Session 2C Putting the participatory into participatory budgeting
Room: 1.20 Participatory budgeting (PB) is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. PB has been described as a significant area of innovation in democracy and local development, and as an instrument of decentralisation that successfully avoids fragmentation. However, in recent years, the emergence of these new participatory mechanisms in towns and cities has given rise to a conflict between ‘the old protagonists of local participation’ and the new citizens invited to participate. This session asks: how can we create progressive and effective political participation in PB? This session has its own participatory format.

Catherine Wilson – Trust in PB.

School of Education, Durham University

Phil Jones – Community-led cultural commissioning: reflections on an intervention

University of Birmingham

Shealagh Pearce

Principal Area Action Partnership Coordinator at Durham County Council

Session 2D New  Perspectives in Organisational Culture Change
Room: 1.21 Statistically most change programs do not work well.  It is said this is because people resist change.  Actually this is a myth (after all wouldn’t most people rather change their workplaces to be more humane, enjoyable and democratic?).  What people resist is not change itself, but the imposition of new systems without being consulted or involved in the process, however well-intentioned the change may be (so all you activists out here, please take a note of this!).  For change to work, those affected by it need to be asked, and invited to co-create the change together.  Easily said, but how do you do that at scale, in larger organisations, ensuring everyone is engaged positively in the process? This session will explore the problem (e.g. why has Zappos holacracy adoption faltered?) and potential solutions to the challenge in this experiential participant-led workshop.This session has its own participatory format.

François Knuchel


Session 2E Street theatre as a method of activism
Room: 1.68 Danny has been creating theatre in public spaces for many years and this session introduces those who create street theatre, with a view to an intervention at this event. Full details to be confirmed.

Danny Shine

Session 2F How to increase participation in groups (1)
Room: 1.70 Unequal, hierarchical societies divide people. Simply put, those at the top get more access to resources and justify this through narratives around their own exceptionalism and how disadvantaged groups are less deserving. There is a long history to this. It manifests as racism, classism, sexism etc, which get played out (often unwittingly or unwillingly) against others and ourselves (causing depression, isolation, discouragement).This workshop uses participatory methods to give participants an opportunity to begin to explore, articulate and unpick these divisions and their impacts on our activism. This session has its own participatory format.

Pat Gregory

Cardiff Transition

Louise Gray

Cardiff Transition

Session 3A Direct action: how and why
Room: 1.13 Research shows that direct action is a critical component to successful civil resistance, but how can it best be designed to maximize effectiveness and create dilemmas for opponents? This workshop looks at the theory and practice of direct action design.

Roger Hallam

Kings College London

Others TBC

Session 3B Participatory education and organizational forums
Room: 1.16 Education when participatory is empowering and creative. This session brings together examples of groups engaging in participatory education and look at the various ways in which participatory education can be organised from one-off debates to long-term educational design.

Mike Neary

Social Science Centre, Lincoln


London Free University


Bricklane Debates

Neus Beascoechea Segui

Kingston University

Session 3C Bottom up unions: how to create a rent strike
Room: 1.20 Casualised workers and exploited tenants in London are now creating their own community-based unions. Major successes have been achieved over the last year, giving London the living wage. This session looks at how to create effective collective action through organising these new unions.

Andy Hiles

Unite, North Yorkshire

David Dahlborn and Roger Hallam

UCL Cut the Rent Campaign

Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) Couriers Branch

Session 3D Rapture: sex, music and radical participatory action research
Room: 1.21 Sex and relationships have a big impact on young people’s lives. For most young people in the world, apart from pornography, getting information about sexual pleasure can be difficult. Online sex education reaches millions of young people in countries like Kenya, where sexual health is poor and people cannot access trustworthy information. But in order to change norms and behaviour, it is essential to engage with a reality of gatekeepers and disillusioned young people who distrust politicians, officials and NGOs. Popular culture – especially music – can be an effective way to reach young people. Music can subvert but also reinforce sexual and gender stereotypes, and artists that disseminate NGO messages often lack credibility and respect within the industry.  This session asks: how can you engage young people on sexual health? The session follows its own participatory format.

Pauline Oosterhoff

Institute of Development Studies

Session 3E Free Session
Room: 1.68 This is a free session. We have left this space empty in order for further spontaneous workshops to be planned on the day. If you want to use this space at this time, please see the sign-up sheets.
Session 3F Food and the environment: spreading the word
Room: 1.70 Campaigning around climate change and food issues are growing areas of vital activism. In the present context, this session looks at to examples of how campaigns have been set and organised in this area.

Annie Randall

UCL Fossil Free Campaign

Bearta Ciupinska

Awakening Compassion

Thomas Hamre



Sunday 10th April 2016


Session 4A Migrants Organise: migrants and refugees acting for justice
Room: 1.13 Migrants Organise is a platform where refugees and migrants organise for power, dignity and justice. We develop leadership and open up spaces for relational, organised participation of migrants and refugees in public life.This session looks at our approach to community organising. We will focus on how we grow power; build common ground amongst diverse people; connect people through mentoring and training; encourage our members to speak out on campaigns aiming to to end indefinite detention and the national refugees welcome movement which we are part of.

Ffion Wyn Evans and other staff/volunteers from Migrants Organise (TBC)

Session 4B How to network at scale
Room: 1.16 How do we bring networks together to communicate and combine to make political change? This session draws on experience from and Radical Assemblies. What is the role of network switching, and the movement between radical networks?

Graham Jones

East London Radical Assembly

Dave Darby / Community Supported Everything

Barnaby Flynn

Global People Power (TBC)


Session 4C Community participation in Afghanistan, Philippines and Bolivia
Room: 1.20 Significant and creative innovations in bottom up community organisation are being made by poor and marginal communities in many parts of the world. This session looks at specific instances of these efforts and seeks to share lessons for participatory organisation.

Erika Lopez Franco

University of Sussex

Mary Dobbing

Voices for Creative Non Violence UK

Session 4D E-campaigning and the role of media
Room: 1.21 Online campaigning is now a vital means of political communication. This session looks at how social media can be used to convey radical messages effectively. It covers the processes in news transfer, and the relationship between online and offline knowledge.

Sharon Coen

Salford University

Dwayne Raymond


The E-Campaigning Forum


Session 4E Energy co-ops: how to organise community energy
Room: 1.68 Energy policy is one of the areas of the European Union’s further integration. Aspirations to create an internal energy market are reflected in development strategies that aim to decarbonise economies and popularise renewable energy sources. However, energy policy and climate change management are not only technological issues. Energy transformation can result from changing the structures of markets, industries and production, as well as whole societies. A shift in development policy gives a chance for grassroots movements that are willing to improve local living conditions, such as caring for the environment and tackling energy poverty. Energy transition could be an inspiration for local development strategies in Europe, as a model for encouraging the citizens to engage in local activism for good and common purposes.

Maria Skora

Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform


Session 4F The resurgence of the political: rebellion in the city
Room: 1.70 The 2011 worldwide social protests voiced a dissensus towards the theatre of everyday policy making, performed by political actors and various interest groups in their effort to reproduce the current order, termed by Rancière as ‘politics’. In this session, we turn to Tel Aviv, where lower income Israeli families, gentrifiers, labour migrants and African asylum seekers have reached the brink of urban riots. This predicament has given rise to various activists groups and here we focus on two: ‘The Activists Executive’ and ‘Power to the Community’. We ask: are the city’s forgotten margins the locale for reclaiming ‘the political’?

Eran Tzin

Tel Aviv University

Gal Levy

Tel Aviv University


Session 5A Spiritual organization and activism
Room: 1.13 This session involves a discussion of grassroots anti-authoritarian spiritual and shamanic associations. This workshop brings together academic discussion of radically individualized religion with those who are practicing in this milieu (within various spiritual contexts) in a framework of equality and respect, to consider the potential of this kind of ‘bottom-up’ spiritual activity. 

Claire Wanless

Open University

Jules Christie



Session 5B Organising independent political parties
Room: 1.16 New political parties are now developing based on local community assemblies and activism. This session looks at exciting examples from Frome and Take Back the City in London.

Peter MacFadyen

Independents for Frome

Simon Thorpe

Take Back the City, London

Session 5C Perspectives and tools for overcoming divisions in movements
Room: 1.20 Effective action on many critical issues, such as the destruction of the environment, requires united and broad-based mass movements. The biggest impediment to all progressive movements has been division (whether externally-provoked or spontaneous), where a section of humanity comes to view another section as their major problem, diverting both from achieving their common interests. Preventing and overcoming division then becomes vital for the future of humanity.Emotional damage, from growing up under oppression, leaves people vulnerable to being co-opted into the oppressive system. Blaming ‘the bad people’ misunderstands the problem and prevents solutions. Overcoming divisions requires understanding the structures; how mistreatment and oppression work at the emotional level, and how to undo this. This session follows its own participatory format.

Karl Lam

Independent writer on social and political change

Alima Adams

Session 5D Citizens, platforms: creating a new constitution
Room: 1.21 Assemblies for Democracy (consisting of activists, facilitators and interested members of the public) is currently engaged in a process to create a Citizens Convention on the Constitution. In the run up to that, our aim is to get citizens involved in thinking about what kind of constitution they would like to be governed by. This is a fun, co-creative workshop based on the question: What would you like to see in a Citizen’s Constitution for this country? We look at what a Constitution is, how historically they have been created, what they presently look like and how there are new global initiatives for Citizens to crowdsource their own constitutions (with varying degrees of radicalism) in Iceland, Canada and Ireland. This session follows its own participatory format.

Andy Paice and other members

Assemblies for Democracy

Session 5E Organizing on the margins: migrants and the urban poor
Room: 1.68 The migrant crisis has seen as surge of bottom up activism responding this dire situation. This session looks at several case studies of how activists and migrants have responded by creating their own bottom up networks and associations with particular reference to activism amongst the migrants at Calais.

Dan Mercea

City University

James Elison

Calais Migrant Solidarity / Loughbrough University

Session 5F Community politics of GLC (Greater London Council)
Room: 1.70 ‘A Greater London’ is a project that aims to retell the story of GLC of the 1980s in a way that engages current campaigners on London issues ( During this period, the institution experimented with new forms of participation in areas such as planning, arts funding and health research. While by no means perfect, it stands in contrast to the highly centralized and top-down governance of the last 30 years. For younger residents of the city, it is hard to imagine what this might have looked or felt like.

Deborah Grayson

Former-GLC staff

Hilary Wainwright (TBC)

Former-GLC staff

Session 6A How to organize urban assemblies
Room: 1.13 Since the 15-M movement began in 2012, Spain has organised hundreds of local assemblies where communities are opposing austerity and politics. This workshop explores the construction and organising principles of these actions, drawing upon the experience of Spanish activists.

Simon Thrope

Take Back the City

Activists from Spain


Session 6B How to map for justice
Room: 1.16 The spatial dimensions of campaigning, communities and collective actions form a significant but often overlooked aspect of change. From the occupation of space through protests, to the appropriation of land in rural societies, to the commodification of urban spaces, this workshop asks how maps and zoning are used as a tool of oppression, and how hacked maps can be used as a tool of liberation.

Doug Specht

CAMRI, University of Westminster

Other Speakers TBC

Session 6C Facilitation: how to do it better
Room: 1.20 Good facilitation is vital in enabling groups to work well and make decisions effectively. This session looks at what is involved in good facilitation. What are the components and mechanisms for good facilitation?

Jake Colman and other members of the collective (TBC)

London Roots Collective

Seeds or Change (TBC)

Session 6D How to increase participation in groups (2) – meetings
Room: 1.21 This is a free session. We have left this space empty in order for further spontaneous workshops to be planned on the day. If you want to use this space at this time, please see the sign-up sheets.How can we create better participation for bottom up meetings? How can participation be increased through the structure of the meeting and various methods of consensus decision-making? This session draws upon the experience of the Occupy protests in various contexts.

Emma Pole

Canterbury Christchurch University

Anastasia Kavada

CAMRI, University of Westminster

Session 6E Power, participation and civic organization (the nature of power)
Room: 1.68 How do we deal with the issue of power? This session explores the theoretical and conceptual ideas upon which this event is based. This includes contrasting top down and bottom up state development projects that recognise diversity, and looks at what we mean by ‘participation’ in these contexts.

Swetha Roa Dhananka

India Institute

Nicky Dean

London School of Economics

Brian Schmitt

University of Cergy-Pomtoise

Session 6F Participation, gender and sexual diversity
Room: 1.70 Details to be confirmed

Joel Vos

CREST, University of Roehampton


Session 7A Cultural media: community projects
Room: 1.13 People in communities around the country are creating their own community-based projects, including independent cinemas, crowd funded local newspapers,  and urban food growing projects. In the session, practitioners share their experience on how to get started.

Anthony Killick

Edge Hill University / Liverpool Radical Film Festival / Small Cinema


The Bristol Cable Newspaper, Bristol

Sarah Pugh

Shift Bristol 20CIC

Carla Cruz

Artist and Research Associate for Goldsmiths University of London

Session 7B Empowering and ethical nudging – a guide for activists.
Room: 1.16 “Nudging” is a term used for the use of behavioural economics andpsychology in policy and social change. It is often viewed suspiciously by activists who see it as “spin” or “psychological manipulation” but increasingly people are using this work for social good. Behavioural insights helps us understand our own and others ‘irrationilities’ and why people might not change even though they agree/know they ought to/want to.  This offers essential information for any activist who wants to understand how to work more effectively with their fellow humans for radical change. This session will include a half hour talk followed by questions, discussion and workshop.

Rachel Lilley

Aberyswith University

Session 7C Free Session
Room: 1.20 This is a free session. We have left this space empty in order for further spontaneous workshops to be planned on the day. If you want to use this space at this time, please see the sign-up sheets.
Session 7D Revolt in the city – global examples
Room: 1.21 What were the common features from the 2011-12 global Occupy movements and the Arab Spring? This session draws upon the experiences of activists in Tel Aviv, Gezi Park and others, with a view to being more effective in the future. This session also looks at the role of bazaars as a form of bottom up political organisation.

Basak Tanulku


Muhammad Salman Khan

University of Middlesex

Session 7E Participation as European citizens
Room: 1.68 This is an interactive session exploring what kind of community we want to live in, and whether being part of the EU helps. This includes looking at the environment, health, and various social aspects by playing a game that we have developed for the session. Our aims are to get people to think about the consequences of Brexit, of making sure they are registered to vote (and making arrangements in case they are going to Glastonbury this year which falls on the election day) and to share our Big European Citizens’ Survival Guide for living in the UK, which is a great resource everyone can benefit from. This session follows its own participatory format.

Bella Kosmala

New Europeans

Tamara Flanagan

New Europeans

Session 7F Bringing it all together
Room: 1.70 This session brings together everyone who is interested in taking the ideas from the conference and moving towards action, including organising further events and an online presence to sustain the momentum of our discussions.

Event organisers