We’ve arrived! We’re a small team of facilitators and trainers based in Oxford, Nottingham and Stroud. For thirteen years we’ve been running workshops and facilitating meetings for grassroots groups, co-operatives, NGOs, community projects and others working towards social and environmental justice, and until now we were known as Seeds for Change Oxford.
Earlier this year we realised something big needed to change, but we didn’t know what. We love the work we do, we love being in a worker’s co-op, but somehow we felt like we were stuck in the mud. From our work with hundreds of groups around the country, we know that many groups face a similar struggle, so we thought it could be useful to share some of our story.
We dared to say what we really think
We asked ourselves “what makes us feel alive and excited?” and “How can we each thrive within this co-op?”. We put everything on the table, including the option of closing the organisation down. Each of us talked about what we needed, which sounds so simple, but it felt risky to say things that the others might not want to hear. Kathryn wanted to offer more workshops on sustainable practices to groups; Hannah wanted to focus on facilitating community conflict; and Katie wanted to work more with teenagers. We all wanted to spend more time facilitating groups, we wanted more support from each other, and we wanted to grow our team, despite being tight on funds.
We met up with Seeds for Change Lancaster, our sister co-op and together we realised that both co-ops would be able to offer more on-the-ground support through a looser relationship with each other, more like cousins than sisters. We started our journey to become Navigate, and Seeds for Change Lancaster transitioned to become simply Seeds for Change.
Messy is OK, it doesn’t last forever!
We could paint you a neat picture, and pretend that this process made sense to us at the time, but the truth is that sometimes it felt like we were going round in circles. We think its normal to feel confused when a group is going through big changes, so we did our best to accept this mess, trust that it would make sense eventually, and sometimes we even managed to enjoy it. You could compare a group going through a transition to baking a cake: a group can also go through a gloopy stage whilst its transforming. The difference between a cake and a group, however, is that the group keeps cooking and transforming throughout its lifetime, a little bell never ‘dings’ to announce it is baked. That’s what we love about working with groups – there is always an opportunity for a group to ‘cook’ some more – to develop new skills and awareness, and become something more than the sum of its parts.
We have come through this transition feeling stronger and more inspired to help other groups with their own challenges. Check out our new website and see what we can offer your group.