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The top ten things inspiring the Catalyst team over the summer

Mostly what’s been on our radar this summer is power. Recognising it, owning our own privilege, learning more about how to shift it, listening more to those who are most impacted by it. It’s a constant challenge both personally and professionally to notice how it shows up, the conditioning we each bring to our work spaces, and how we can challenge ourselves and others, in a healthy and constructive way. Our biggest learning from the past year is that enhancing power literacy amongst the network members is fundamental to moving towards co-creating more equitable spaces.

This edition covers the resources we’ve been digesting over the past two months, with a particular focus on power, privilege and values. We hope you also find inspiration here. 

  1. ‘It’s all about power’ is a deep exploration of power dynamics in the social sector, released last year by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and partially funded by Catalyst partner City Bridge Trust. This inquiry was contributed to by 300 people across 2 years. This had a profound impact on the team, we really recommend making time to read it.
  2. We have found this wheel of privilege repeatedly useful for sharing with others to encourage conversations about privilege. The major flaw in this is that these dimensions aren't weighted the same - some can clearly impact a person more than others. And of course not one thing is ever being experienced in isolation (we recommend reading in tandem with People & Planet’s Collective Liberation handbook, which is great on intersectionality). Yet the closer you are to the centre across these dimensions, the less likely it is that you'll notice oppression, because you won't experience it directly, and are less likely to notice how it plays out. 
  3. Ellie has joined this course on Sensuous Knowledge, led by the inimitable Minna Salami. This is a Black feminist course for everyone; and follows Minna’s book of the same name (which Ellie says literally changed her life). Minna has a beautiful concept of exousiance: a poetic reimagining of power and nature, rooted in Black feminist and African traditions, as something alive, life-affirming, interconnected and enabling - a spirit of possibility.
  4. Jo is embarking on a trip to visit the Tamera Institute in October, a centre for global systems change, to learn about their Healing Biotope, and how to embed love, trust, and collectivism into activism and community work. 
  5. Megan enjoyed the blog 'Lessons on Transformational Governance (so far) | Half-way deep, still some way to go' from ex-producer Siana Bangura, on learnings from the Transformational Governance cohort so far. Lots of parallels with Catalyst governance learnings here, and many insights relating to power dynamics.
  6. Catalyst partner Newspeak House has partnered with Nesta to launch the Civic AI observatory, an initiative to support civic organisations to plan and adapt to the rapidly evolving field of Generative AI. Pretty cool!
  7. We loved reading this write up (from 'Accessibility and Events' article) on our summer stakeholder gathering in London by Robyn Barclay; “Catalyst has a really distinct working culture that focuses on equity and inclusion, and I found that really shined through at their event.” Thank you for noticing Robyn, we’re working really hard at this.
  8. Can a purely transactional approach to co-production ever be appropriate? This article explores the angles. 
  9. For those interested in values-led ways of working, the article 'Values Always Cost You Something. That’s What Makes Them Different From Platitudes' resonated. We recognise that we don’t always ‘get it right’ at Catalyst, but we know that the endeavor is always worthwhile and the lessons are rich. “Real values always cost you something. They are what guides you when you need to make hard calls instead of taking the easy path. They are what makes the difference between looking back with pride or regret." 
  10. This BBC4 podcast series examining ‘what it means to call yourself a witch today’ is fascinating. We need to reclaim our ancestry, and heal our roots. Storytelling is a huge part of this, and we’ve been exploring how we integrate sharing stories into the new direction for Catalyst.

If you have a resource of any kind that you think we should have on our radar, please share it with us! We would love for the wider community to influence our work and provide creative input. 

Drop us a line at hello@thecatalyst.org.uk Or tweet us @wethecatalysts.

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