Letting go 🍂 and new shoots 🌱 News from Healing Solidarity

We know some of you have been waiting to hear from us after ​we shared the news​ that we were planning to meet in person and explore the next steps for Healing Solidarity. We are glad to be finally arriving in your inboxes with an update.

We were able to meet in October as our Advisory Circle along with many of the facilitators we have worked with over the past few years to pick up the threads from the ​Manthan conversations​ that many of you participated in at the beginning of 2023 (thank you all again for everything you brought to those) and to take some decisions about the future.

When Mary Ann started Healing Solidarity in 2018 it was about bringing together conversations on ‘reimagining development’. She thought of it as a one off project to host some conversations and never dreamed that it would grow into a community, an idea that people feel some resonance with and ​five years of events and conversations​.

She used the word Solidarity because she wanted to question the idea of ‘development’ in the same way that many activists and thinkers had been doing for a generation and at the same time make space for imagining what cross regional and continental solidarity could look like in future.

As a consultant in the sector she had also seen far too many clients exhausted and overwhelmed, troubled by the issues they saw and seemingly powerless to change them. This resonated with her own experience leading an INGO in the 2000s. And so she used the word Healing because she sensed that for change to happen, for the collective work of the sector to heal, individuals would need to get more comfortable with the wholesale changes that she believed were needed and that healing practices would be needed to support that shift.

She was tired of theoretical debates and wanted to host inspirational conversations that made change seem not just doable, but joyful and essential if any future form of solidarity was to thrive.

Some of our Advisory Circle and Facilitators standing together in October. We took four days of planning – the Healing Solidarity way, with collective care and connection. We were guided by participatory decision making – each carrying an equal voice and vote – discerning together until we reached consensus. Sadly not all of us were able to attend in person. Jennifer Lentfer and Steph Yawa de Wolfe joined us remotely for key sessions.

By the time we met in October, we had realised together, that the big question that the Manthan couldn’t solve for us, was how we could make Healing Solidarity itself thrive. It had become too much to manage logistically and administratively and was feeling heavy in a way that we, internally, all knew was not sustainable.

Our only grant funding ran out last year and the valuable support from our Sustaining Members and Organisational Supporters has not been enough to sustain everything we have been doing.

Our resources, time, energy and money are finite and we knew we needed to be more realistic about what we are each about to commit to this work given everything else that all of us involved in this project have in our lives.

When we met together we therefore knew that we needed to make some choices.

The pathway we have chosen is to rethink what Healing Solidarity is, to celebrate the successes of the past five years and to let go of some of the things we have been offering, to share our learning and create space for reflection, rest and replenishment. As a result, we will only be doing what feels manageable and doable for us right now, and in doing so we hope to create space for new shoots to emerge in the future.

What will this mean in practice?

🍂 We will no longer be running our annual conferences. These ways of bringing people together to discuss ideas and issues have been the centre of our work. However, they have always been both admin-intensive and under-resourced. We have not been able to make them sustainable and, where in 2018, many of the conversations that we were having at our conferences felt like they weren’t found elsewhere in our sector and online conferences were not yet the norm, now there is a proliferation of online events that cover some similar ground, meeting the sector’s needs without us needing to add to them! To celebrate our success we will ensure that, by the end of March 2024, we create an accessible archive of our previous conferences that people can return to as we let our online conferences go.

🍂 We will be closing our online Space, The Healing Solidarity Collective Space at the end of March 2023. The space was created in 2019 to support our online conference that year and has since been a place to organise free events, interact and store some of our content. But a Mighty Network is only vibrant if we are able to invest time and energy in supporting the community there and this is something that we have struggled with. Whilst the network has been free for users it has a significant cost to run. With support from the ​Emergence Foundation​ between 2019 and 2022, this was manageable, but they have now closed out and we have not since found another donor willing to invest in it. Therefore, without the resources to run it well, we have decided to let this online space go. To celebrate our success we will ensure that by the end of March 2024 we create an accessible archive of our previous open content that people can return to as we close our online space and let our online conferences go. Our Bearings space for BIPOC members will also close at the end of March 2023, the content remaining confidential.

​Sarah Diedro Jordão​ currently continues to run an incredibly valuable ​BIPOC drop in session​. The next one will be held in December and, if you are a member of our online space you can access the details by ​clicking on this link​. This is a space that those attending often tell us they do not find elsewhere and so we have chosen to continue to run this space as we move forward. These are monthly one-hour healing spaces for intentional sharing, emotional checking-in, centering joy, kindness, understanding and vulnerability. This space is continuing to be supported by our Sustaining Members who give regularly to this work. To make it sustainable we could do with more of them and so if you would like to support the BIPOC space with a regular donation ​please do sign up here​ to do that or if you would like an invoice so your organisation can do so, please do reply to this email and let us know. You can read more about the BIPOC only space ​here​ – where we have summarised recent sessions.

For the time being the closure of our collective space and letting go of our annual conferences will also mean the end of our other free online events and courses. We intend to take time and space as a group to reflect without the pressure to continue to manage and run these. Before we do so we will however celebrate our success by resharing previous content and we will give everyone in the collective and on our mailing list the choice about whether to stay on our mailing list to receive updates about future activities of Healing Solidarity.

🌱 Whilst Healing Solidarity is letting go of these parts of what we have been over the past five years, we are doing so to welcome new shoots. We will offer these organising ourselves as those involved in running Healing Solidarity in a collective model, sharing more of the load of the admin and organising for the things we will continue to offer.

🌱 We will be developing a new Healing Solidarity values, principles and ways of working based on what we have learnt over the past five years which we hope to also share with you by the end of March. We hope that this will inspire many of you to take these ideas back into your work spaces and communities, to let them be new shoots from what we have released, enabling the ideas we explored together through Healing Solidarity to grow and flourish in new ways.

Maybe you’d like to get together with a small group of people near you to actually meet in person and explore what you’ve learnt from Healing Solidarity? Please do! Maybe you want to stay connected virtually to a few of the people you met through our online events? If so, please use the collective before it closes at the end of March to reach out to them to make plans! We hope the work we did together can live in new ways, in new forms, and that new shoots will grow.

🌱 ​We will also continue as a group of consultants, working in a collective model offering support to organisations.​ Most of what we have offered organisations so far has centred on anti-racist practice, often using a cohort model where we help people explore issues and unlearn in racialised cohort spaces before coming back together in a mixed space to address issues together. We have also hosted events and facilitated gatherings using our Healing Solidarity approaches. We are a collective of 10 consultants and are open to enquiries from organisations who might be interested in working with us.

In solidarity,

Esua Goldsmith, Jamie Pett, Jennifer Lentfer, Madeleine Lustigman, Mary Ann Clements, Nikita Shah, Nishma Jethwa, Roshni Nuggehalli, Sarah Diedro Jordão, Steph Yawa de Wolfe, Swatee Deepak & Tanya Hubbard.