Since the last post in this series, I have spend a month in Latin America, including a week in Bucaramanga, working with the red inclusiva (inclusion network) there whose story figures frequently in the earlier blogs here. For the purposes of this visit I produced with my Colombian colleague an 8 page pamphlet Networking For Social Change (now published on the web at http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/authors/david-towell-phd/networking-for-social-change.html) which focuses on their story as a great example of the kind of group which Margaret Mead had in mind and uses ideas in the previous blogs to offer succinct reflections on their experience. (The 8-page format is designed to make the text accessible to busy people and fit into a series of short pamphlets – this is the fourth – mainly addressed to advancing inclusive education which Heidy Araque and I have published in Spanish.) In the light of discussion with red members two weeks ago, we are now producing a slightly revised version of this new pamphlet in Spanish to form the basis for a workshop next Spring where we aim to work with the red and some of their allies to use these reflections on the past as a vehicle for strategising about the future.
We had three goals in mind in offering this pamphlet and the workshop to our friends. Heidy comes from Bucaramanga and I have been visiting there twice a year since late 2007. First, it seemed timely to try to capture in pamphlet form some of this experience as a testimony to what the red has done, not least in sustaining and growing itself as an effective ‘agency’ for social change. Second, as I say above, the pamphlet and the workshop are designed to help the red learn from its own experience in order to shape their future contributions to valued social change. Third, we hope this public recording and reflection will be a positive stimulus to many other groups and networks in Spanish-speaking countries who are also organising at the grass roots to build a sustainable and inclusive future for their communities.
Of course, Bucaramanga may be a long way away for most readers of this blog but I think you will find much in this short story which resonates with experience nearer home.