In 2003 Kathryn and her then colleague Matthew Herbert (now at Rhizome), started running direct action workshops for people campaigning against the Iraq war. In 2004 they founded Seeds for Change Oxford, and teamed up with colleagues at Seeds for Change Lancaster to form the Seeds for Change Network. Since then, with the arrival of Hannah in 2010 and Katie in 2015, and other colleagues along the way, we established ourselves as a grassroots training collective supporting groups across the country to develop healthy group processes, and run great campaigns and social change projects.
In the early days we helped groups develop skills and awareness to take safe, effective direct action - and learn about their legal rights through the Activist Legal Project, which we ran as an offshoot of Seeds for Change Oxford. Over time we developed a reputation for our workshops in facilitation skills and consensus decision making, as well as strategy support. Since 2010, we have been developing our work on power, conflict and sustainability.
During our time as Seeds for Change Oxford, we have worked with many hundreds of groups and organisations working for social change in the UK. We’ve worked with grassroots groups, NGOs and charities. We’ve worked with co-operatives and others who are creating structures that offer more sustainable alternatives to the individualistic, competitive systems that many people live and work in. From workers’ co-ops that are fixing bikes, growing food and running schools, through to community supported agricultural projects, housing coops and community centres.
We have also worked with groups across the spectrum of social and environmental justice campaigning who are challenging oppression. From campaigns against coal and fracking, to homelessness, and from cuts to public services, to asylum issues.
After 13 years as part of the Seeds for Change Network, we have made a transition to our new identity as Navigate. Given the geographical distance between the two co-ops; that Navigate is now based in Oxford, Nottingham and Stroud; and with a growing number of groups seeking our support, it became difficult to continue working so closely together.
We realised we’re able to offer more on-the-ground support through a looser relationship with each other. The two co-ops have also been developing different strengths over recent years. At Navigate we have been learning and developing our expertise in the areas of conflict, group dynamics and sustainability. Our colleagues in Lancaster have deepened their expertise in helping co-ops with collective management methods and supporting campaign groups with practical skills.
Check out the Seeds for Change website to read more about what they offer. These days we’re more like cousins than sisters, and we continue to work together on a project basis.