Temporary Stewards induction: navigating uncertainty and collaboration in GM SC

What next? Can we become a self-reliant, organised governing collective? Overview of GMSC: non-funded allies, networks TBC, Lanekkly Chase, Temporary Core Team, Fiscal Host and 40+ Funded Grantees We want to strenghten connections by: communicating with stories rooted in solidarity, gathering in community spaces, learning by practices equity and liberation and training to create and nurture these realities. Our emergent strategy includes: the Islands of Sanctuary (SAWN, Rekindle, Northern Health and Soul and Middleton Cooperation), the organising themes (creative practices, economic justice, food sovereignty, healing justice, land and housing justice, refugees and displaced people and transformative governance), the existing collectives (Mama Health and New Northern Weave) and what is emerging (holding a space for the stuff we don't know yet)

In the world of collective action and social change, navigating uncertainty is often the norm rather than the exception, this also applies to us at Greater Manchester Systems Changers. We recently expanded our Core Team after Lankelly Chase announced its closure, and, in January, we held our first meeting with the new Temporary Stewards to discuss our Emergent Strategy, what has been the vision of the core team so far, what this transition means to us and what we feel would be the roles of the Temporary Stewards in relation to the Organising Themes.

Sense-making and setting intentions

The meeting started with a check-in, setting the tone for open communication and shared understanding. Then, Carrina introduced the Emergent Strategy to the Temporary Stewards, as well as the different organising themes they will be stewarding. As the core team had already initiated some preliminary sense-making activities, it was time to shift our focus to the broader community, to our partners at GM SC. Over the next four months, we were going to delve into fundamental questions: What binds us together? What unique gifts does the GM SC community possess? And most importantly, what is our vision for the potential future of this collective/network?

Navigating uncertainty and scarcity

One significant factor shaping the discussions was the recent announcement of the closure of Lankelly Chase, this introduced an element of scarcity mindset and fear among the group. Can we do this work without Lankelly Chase? Are there other funders to support us? How will we pay our bills? Do we actually need philanthropy to survive? Are there other organising models out there outside of philanthropy?

Clarifying questions and addressing concerns

Throughout this initial session, we discussed numerous questions reflecting both apprehensions and aspirations. From concerns about communication and clarity of purpose to inquiries about funding and decision-making processes, each query underscored the complex terrain we were navigating. Importantly, the group emphasised the need for transparency, inclusivity, and shared ownership in addressing these questions.

Embracing vulnerability and collaboration

A poignant moment emerged when we openly shared our concerns and uncertainties about this transition period. Themes of clarity, time, and collaboration resonated strongly, highlighting the deep care and commitment within the group. As we reflected on our fears, we also recognised our collective strength and resilience inherent in this shared journey.

Offers + Needs of Temporary Stewards

Identifying needs and offerings

In an exercise aimed at fostering collaboration and support, we listed our individual needs and offerings. From tech support and facilitation skills to creative input and emotional support, each contribution reaffirmed the diversity and richness of the group’s collective resources.

Next steps and collective visioning

Looking ahead, we agreed on key focus areas for upcoming meetings, including governance, action planning, and wealth accumulation strategies. Embracing a spirit of co-creation, we acknowledged the importance of flexibility and adaptation in response to emerging needs and opportunities. Additionally, plans for the Learning in Liberation Programme and communal engagement with relevant literature underscored our commitment to continuous learning and growth.

Closing thoughts

As we concluded our first gathering with the new Temporary Stewards, a sense of cautious optimism was in the room. While there were some uncertainties and worries, we remained anchored in our commitment for this work. In the face of complexity and adversity, we found solace and strength in our shared purpose and interconnectedness. As we navigate the next phase of this journey, one thing is clear: as long as we centre liberation and care, everything should be ok.


Illustration: Selva Mustafa

Text: Virginie Assal