Building trust: chapter 2 of GM SC Temporary Stewards’ collective journey

Building trust: chapter 2 of GM SC Temporary Stewards’ collective journey

GM SC February group photo

Our second gathering started at 10:00 am on the 28th of February, with a warm welcome and a check-in exercise. Each team member shared how they would describe themselves outside of work and who they would invite into the room if they could, some of us found the first part harder than anticipated, as our work as activists and artists is a large part of our identity.

We thought it would be best for now, for the Core Team to remain in place to organise those meetings, manage the financial side of things, in collaboration with Social Change Nest, and provide structure while the Temporary Stewards decide how we want to work together.

After this, the Core Team reminded us that our task as a group is to steward conversations with the rest of the partners, to work out, without Lankelly Chase:

  •  What binds us?
  • Who are we (the gifts that the GM SC community has)?
  • What do we want to be (the dream/full potential of what this group network could become)?

We briefly discussed ideas on how we were going to gather everyone’s views on those questions, before moving on to an exercise of The ‘Elephants in the Room?’. We each wrote on post-it notes our fears and unsaid questions for this work and for the collective.


The Elephants in the room

GMSC Fears on post-it notes

Overall, there was stress among temporary stewards about how we were going to use the budget and what would happen once it ran out, what would happen if GM SC stopped existing after Lankelly Chase funding ended, and how we were going to maintain group momentum with those fears. We were also anxious about the tight timeline, since we only had until September, the risk of excluding some partners due to capacity on their side, and the possibility of confusion and lack of clear direction in our work. Finally, there was also a fear of reverting to old/colonial/capitalist patterns under stress, and the fear of centralising power.

Verbalising those fears definitely helped to process them, hold them and accept them. It gave us an opportunity to reassure us on some points and hold each other where uncertainty remained.

This led us to the next part of the meeting which was how do we support each other? 


Our needs and offers for each other

Offer and needs to each other as leafs on a tree

We expressed various needs and offers to the group. Key needs included a commitment to honest communication, information on affiliated organisations (partners), thinking space, and transparency throughout the process. The support offered ranged from tech and editorial support, facilitation and decision-making skills, humour and energy, project management and media skills, visual materials and workshop facilitation, research and sensemaking abilities, creative expression, and emotional support. We also collectively agreed on the necessity of clear, timely communication and feedback on power-sharing to ensure effective collaboration.


Moving Conversations

After lunch, we divided into pairs and took a walk around the neighbourhood, to reflect on the following questions:

  • In our work/community/collective, can we name some of the systems (themes) that we are either trying to resist OR nurture into being?  
  • What gets in the way of the big-thinking work and how can we mitigate against this?
  • What are the key qualities/principles that we feel should underpin the work of this group?
  • ‘What is our dream/fear for what this group/network could become?

Dream into a radical position for the group, holding into reality what it means to exist

Here is a summary of what we discussed as a wider group when we came back from our walks.

We enjoyed the process and valued the time to deepen our connections, though some of us deviated from the original format. Concerns were raised about how movements can inadvertently sustain the status quo, using food banks as an example. We reflected on the dream of our roles becoming obsolete as a sign of mission success, appreciating the chance to learn more about each other’s work. Issues of inequality, such as unrecognised qualifications and immigration challenges, were discussed, highlighting the emotional impact and the need for critical thinking and tenacity. Gratitude was expressed for Lankelly’s support, and principles like dignity, justice, and shared ownership were celebrated. The conversation also touched on the difficulty of resisting systemic issues and the importance of dreaming about a radically different future, emphasising the strength of relationships to endure societal collapse.


Next steps


After a coffee break, it was time to discuss next steps and actions allocated to each other, those were primarily regarding communication, sharing our access needs and dietary requirements, and confirming venues and dates for the next meeting.

The agenda for our next meeting was going to focus on Governance & Action Planning: how we hold ourselves, how we hold the money, intending to leave the session knowing the parameters around this.

After the check-out, we each received a copy of Hospicing Modernity by Vanessa Machado de Oliveira to guide us in this work, none of us had already read it before so we suggested that a monthly book club time would be helpful.


Text and photos by Virginie Assal

Visuals by Selva Mustafa and Paolo Feroleto