Welcoming Path Formation Program

Foundations for Sustainable Activism

At a Glance -

Weekly readings with discussion in an online classroom, combined with monthly face-to-face meetings, will provide opportunity, resources, and support for developing knowledge, attitudes, and habits that promote sustainable activism that is integrated with personal and community well-being. Program commitment is one year.

Why Bother?

Formation programs have long been used as a complement to both academic and practical study. In my experience, their great value has been in providing opportunities for participants to work at deeper levels with the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and habits that are essential to their work, especially work needed to be carried out in situations of stress and change, such as illness, tragedy, or death. If we apply this insight to social change efforts, it is a truism that justice-minded people involved in community activism and development often face physical and emotional fatigue, interpersonal conflict, and organizational fragmentation, all of which can erode the long-term effectiveness of movements and the well-being of participants. The hope is that a formation program can supplement community learning and actions, helping us co-create resilient and transformative communities, resources, and habits.

To use an analogy from permaculture, consider the process of capturing rainfall and conserving water in an ecosystem. The goal is to slow, spread, and sink the water, in order to minimize runoff and erosion while regenerating the water table and the soil community. For many of us involved in community support and social change, learning and experiences come like a hard rain, yet we often lack the habits and community we need to actually benefit from and capture that learning. Instead, it can overwhelm us like a flood, diminishing, rather than replenishing, us. A formation program is oriented toward creating the personal and community cultures that help slow, spread, and sink the learning and experiences, so that our experiences can be folded into a reflexive practice. 

What Can I Expect to Learn?

As such, this program is not geared toward learning everything we need to know, but rather on developing reflexive practices and habits that can be applied in whatever activities, communites, and daily decisions in which we find ourselves. So we will slow the pace, spreading readings and reflexive activities out over an entire year. 

Through the year, we will interact with key concepts related to anti-oppressive practices and community development in these areas:
  • Capabilities Approach,
  • Mindful Compassion,
  • Critical Theory,
  • Reflexive Practice, and
  • Conflict Transformation.
Our reflections will build on each other, and we'll also be thinking about these concepts and skills across the four dimensions of peacebuilding: intrapersonal, relational, structural, and cultural. We'll be looking for patterns, connections, and insights into how systems of oppression resist change and perpetuate themselves, and also how changes to those systems can occur. To do that, we'll make extensive use of both personal and community reflection. In other words, a key part of the slow, spread, and sink process is spending time, not just reading, but looking and listening deeply to our own lives and communities. 

You can expect to spend at least two hours a week in this process: reading, reflecting, and posting in the discussion forums.

What Will It Cost?

  1. Facilitation and meeting space are volunteered.
  2. Participant costs will include books, internet and technology usage, and transportation.
  3. New printed copies of the books will cost approximately $125 plus S&H.

Our Approach

At the heart of our approach is a commitment to continuous and experiential learning. Reflexive Practice invites us to join action and attention, so that we can both better understand our social realities and choose appropriate strategies for bringing about change.

In the process, we often uncover many obstacles that have made this kind of change difficult, especially for those of us within marginalized and oppressed communities. Mindful Compassion emphasizes the cultivation a healthy, kind, and wise relationship with our selves and our experiences while we identify and heal from internalized oppression and internalized dominance. Critical Theory gives us more tools to understand how that oppression has worked historically, systemically, and culturally in our personal lives and in society at large.

Conflict Transformation and Peacemaking Practices help us recover and reclaim our role in creating relationships and communities that are resilient and safe, able to support one another in gladness and in grief, and work for mutual healing when difficult and stressful times arise.

And a Capabilities-Centered approach provides a framework we can use to evaluate our actions, think through our goals, and renew and co-create communities where everyone's voice is heard and needs are met.

Contact Us

Our goal at Welcoming Path is to support one another in disrupting and subverting injustice while we create and sustain practices, resources, and connections that help us flourish as human beings in sustainable and just communities.

We are not currently forming a new cohort for this program. However, if you are interested in joining us in future opportunities, please CONTACT US.

Thank you!