Our team at the Werkstatt came together in 2019 in Berlin in order to provide a space for movement learning, thinking, and tinkering. After years of involvement in Berlin’s social movements, we observed the need for an infrastructure dedicated to circulating and distributing organizing know-how that is capable of helping ordinary people build resilient, rewarding, and politically effective organizations and movements.
The Werkstatt accomplishes this through three primary means.
- Firstly, we provide trainings and workshops tailored to the specific needs of organizations and initiatives. We provide a space and a toolbox with which to reconsider objectives, obstacles, and needs, building a careful and considerate environment that allows participants to reconsider the nuts and bolts of their initiative in order to draft new practices, techniques, and structures that can help them overcome blockages and dead-ends.
At the same time, we ask our participants that we stay informed regarding their organizing efforts in order to see which tools they decided to apply from the Werkstatt, how they did so, and whether or not their application worked. This forms part of a mutual learning process that cements the connection between theory and practice, creating a process of co-research between participants and trainers. By doing this, we also integrate a feedback loop that makes a living curriculum.
In this way, we build a circulatory system movement-building and organizing knowledge that flows downwards and upwards.
- Secondly, through hosting Spadework podcast, we achieve a more dispersed circulation of that knowledge. Through interviews with organizers and special toolbox episodes that help listeners reconsider organizational problems, Spadework is a forum dedicated to uncovering the practices, techniques, and mechanisms that help make transformative organizations possible.
- Lastly, lateral circulation is accomplished through facilitating and organizing HiveMind discussions between organizations. When facing a particular obstacle or when organizations simply want to run an idea or campaign proposal, Werkstatt organizes HiveMind discussions that assemble organizers and analysts from different political-organizational contexts in order provide as much varied experience as possible into the room to chew on the problem together.
Our trainers draw on years of experience and are excited to provide a space of learning and exploration. And we’re thrilled we’re not the only ones. There’s an ongoing bloom of initiatives and projects that are also building similar spaces – and that’s great. By approaching the problem from different angles, simultaneously, we can find out what works and what doesn’t quicker. In this way, we compliment each others’ work in trying to build a new common sense around organizing and movement building. And that’s what we’re all about.