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Home / Resources / News / #Critical Minds at work

#Critical Minds at work

Day one offered a full range of activities for participants, in particular a series of trainings which anyone involved in activism or looking to gain support for their campaign or movement could greatly benefit from.

Adaptive Leadership

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, recently predicted that the future would be full of revolutionary movements but short of revolutionary moments. By that he meant that mobilisations and large-scale protests will increase, partly as a result of new technologies, but their capacity to result in system change will keep on diminishing. This, he argues, is because of a lack of leadership in the new horizontal movements.

Whatever our opinion on this may be, during #FixEurope campus we invited Le-ad academy to run a training on adaptive leadership. We ran through the difference between leadership and authority, and analysed together the different components of effective leadership and how this responds to complex challenges and is able to adapt in environments where no clear solution exists. We then moved on to apply the discussions of the first session to the core of the mission of #FixEurope: why is Europe “broken”? What would be required to fix it? How can leadership help produce the desired social change?

Culture Jamming, Subversion, & Other methods of Creative Political Strategy

The cultural jamming training run by Diana Arce of Artists Without A Cause and Jean Peters of Peng Collective proposed a very attractive programme: “Another world was not possible so far…. Now it is time for subversion and sabotage!

20141022_152223_resizedHow to act in a creative way remained the core question of the afternoon. The session focussed on a few examples of campaign initiatives that use culture, satire and fun subversion as a tool to raise awareness on an issue. Giving a few examples of successful campaigns such as the one on saving the city of Vernon as well as the MIRCA (Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act), both US campaigns, recipes of success soon became clearer.

So what are these recipes for success? It’s not only big money (none of these campaigns were actually grassroots campaigns) but creativity and a fine understanding political strategy, qualities that the man behind these two campaigns Chris Lehane, a political strategist who works for those who pay him can teach to NGOs.

One of Lehane’s saying is “Everyone has a game plan until you punch them in the mouth”… so how to punch people in their mouths? Some keys to creative campaigns can then be said to be: data/research, social media use, quirky events, street theater, culture jamming and subversion.

TTIP- What Next?

In this session packed with eager participants, Miguelangel Verde underlined the core issues at stake with TTIP (a full analysis is available here), which itself concerns intellectual property, healthcare sector, agriculture, labeling,GMF, etc.  Firstly, concerns arise when merely looking at the nations involved in this process– the EU and the USA, i.e. the biggest economic powers of the world (TTIP will affect 60% of global trade). Secondly, TTIP is a threat to democracy: there is no accountability, the negotiation process itself is obscure. European and American civil societies are aware that the impact of TTIP on basic democratic rules will be paramount and that defining new trading rules is just the smallest part of TTIP (even if it is a means of aligning US standards to EU ones). Equally problematic is that civil society organisations (CSOs) have very limited access to talks taking place with regards to TTIP, with businesses comprising 80% of those involved in the discussions.

In response to this, a coalition of European civil society reacted to TTIP by launching a European Citizens Initiative (ECI); however, the Commission rejected the ECI proposal with relatively vague reasoning:  ”The proposed citizens’ initiative falls manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act of the Union for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.” Not accepting defeat however, the coalition reacted forming an “autonomous ECI” which in only a few weeks has been overwhelmed by signatures. Running an autonomous ECI opens up the target to the European Parliament and Council of Ministers as well as the European Commission. The main problem, however, regards what to do next: what to do after the 1 million signature target is reached? Find out more here:

Crash Course in EU Politics