In that time we’ve met in cafes, pubs, living rooms fortnightly, monthly, once in a blue-moonly. In the past 2 years we’ve been very lucky to have had the meeting space provided by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency that has allowed us to settle and stabilise and increase our productivity and membership.
More recently, it’s been the feeling that it’s time for a change. The monthly activist meetings aren’t proving to be where the magic happens. Ideas are being generated all the time because the BFN membership are extremely engaged, creative and passionate people but the structure we currently operate within isn’t allowing all of those ideas to be translated into actions.
And so at the residential in February the participants came up with a plan – we need to open up the space for more people to step up and make things happen by creating sub-groups. At a follow up meeting in March someone expressed a preference for the term ‘groupettes’ and it has kind of stuck. (Think ‘suffragettes’ rather than 1950s girl group!) Each groupette will need 1 or 2 people to lead – leading in this context means making it happen. Planning and facilitating meetings, getting the word out, having some goals of things you want to achieve, inviting others in to get involved with the activities you plan. Right now we have vacancies to lead for ALL of these groupettes except Direct Action which is already up and running. Have a look at the list and see where your feminist calling might be taking you:
– Direct Action
…taking feminism to the streets, capturing the public attention, mobilising a response at short notice when something needs a feminist challenge, pushing the boundaries, channeling the righteous feminist anger, tapping into the feminist funny-bone…
– Lobbying and campaigning
…keeping an eye on public policy and legislation that needs to be informed by a feminist voice, engaging with public bodies and reminding them of their equality and human rights duties to women, writing to public representatives and mobilising the wider membership to campaign on issues that need a collective voice…
– Media and communications
…looking for opportunities to engage with the mainstream media, writing to papers, responding to requests to speak on the radio or TV, being proactive and sending out press releases on issues that affect women, taking on social media duties, updating Twitter and Facebook pages and maybe even helping make this website less crap (please!)…
…kind of an obvious one – get creative about how we can find the resources to do more of the stuff we think is important, being familiar with common funding streams for grassroots groups and writing applications, getting creative about how to harness wider community support through fundraising activities and events…
– Peer support
…organising safe women-only social space with a focus on supporting and taking care of each other, providing a relational focus for members who want to feel more a part of a feminist community, recognising that sexism and patriarchy leads to painful experiences that many members need to share and be understood, organising social time like movies, pub nights, discussion groups…
– Events (including FemFest)
…proposing, planning and organising a couple of bigger events each year, contributing side events to conferences or festivals such as International Women’s Day or Culture Night, events can be everything from the intensely political to the playfully creative, we are committed through funding to host an activist training event and a FemFest mini arts festival in this financial year so we need a team to get things moving on those straight away…
So we’re recruiting at least 5 organisers to volunteer to take on these roles. At this point in the life of BFN we really believe the only way to expand beyond our current level of activity and achieve more is to have people step up and get more involved in this way. We know it’s not for everyone and that many members have life circumstances that just won’t allow them to take on the increased commitment. That’s OK. Thank you for being part of this feminist challenge in your own context. But out of our 1200 or so Facebook members and everyone else who has been involved in various ways, we’re really hoping we can find that handful of people who can take this activist community further.
Finally we’re also looking for a coordinator. At the last meeting it was agreed that a coordinator is necessary to be a point of reference and accountability for all the groupettes as well as for public/press enquiries and to help new people figure out what we’re about and the best way for them to engage. This will be a rotating role with 1 person holding it for 6 months before handing it over to someone else – it needs enough time to give consistency but not so long that the person gets burnt out. So if you’re a pretty well organised person, good at keeping lots of balls in the air at once and motivating people to get shit done then please think about volunteering for this one.
As for our monthly general meetings, we’re going to stretch those out to quarterly meetings, and they’ll consist of a mixture of exploring a theme through guest speakers, discussion etc and getting updates from the groupettes on all the work that’s been going on. It was raised that having lots of parallel activities going on might make it harder for new people to get involved so we’re going to make better use of all the communication available to us, particularly using this website more, starting an email list and making sure all activities go up on the Google calendar for everyone to see and choose what they want to come along to. This is quite an experiment for BFN so we’ll be happy to take all the feedback you have about how well it is working along the way.
This does mean there’s no May meeting – we will aim to have a general meeting near the end of June but on one condition: we have to have all 6 of the groupettes assigned to volunteers and up and running before then. On your marks, get set….GO!
If you’d like to volunteer for any of the roles above please fill in this form and someone will be in touch.