bookmark_borderGetting It Together: A workshop on organizing collectives for the real world


Facilitated by the Punch Up Collective, this workshop is for anyone interested in starting a collective, or those keen to discuss how to make a collective they’re already a part of more effective and sustainable.

This workshop will be capped at a maximum of 30 participants. This post contains a range of details about the event, but should you have additional questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

In Sol,
Punch Up Collective

CONTENTS

1. Event Description and Details
2. Registration
3. Cost
4. Reading 
5. Accessibility
6. About Punch Up Collective 
7. Contact Information

1. Event Description and Details

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018
1-5pm (doors open at 12:30pm)
Room 101, Jack Purcell Community Centre
320 Jack Purcell Lane
Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory

Number of participants: 30

(Facebook event page)

We live in a frightening and unpredictable period, faced with the growing challenges of climate catastrophe, ongoing economic austerity and state violence, and emboldened white supremacy. Countering these challenges will take widespread, powerful, and resilient social movements that can sustain themselves over the long haul. But how do we get from here to there, when so many of our organizations and projects seem temporary, ad hoc, and dysfunctional?

We think building vibrant, sustainable collectives in our communities might be a good place to start. This workshop hopes to help start that conversation in Ottawa. Some topics the workshop will cover include:

  • what exactly is a collective?
  • why meaningful anti-oppression analysis and practice is essential for collectives
  • tools and features of effective collectives
  • how are collectives structured?
  • plus plenty of time for discussion and reflection on the experiences of participants

The workshop will last 4 hours (with breaks, of course) and be facilitated by the members of the Punch Up Collective. It will be capped at 30 participants.

There will be drinks and snacks available with vegan, kosher and gluten-free options. There will be no nut products, but we cannot guarantee a nut-free environment. Please contact us if you have specific dietary needs. Also, please see accessibility info below.

2. Registration

To register, please fill out this form. Because this workshop has limited attendance, we would like people to register by Wednesday, January 24th. If you’ve registered but won’t be able to attend, please also tell us that by emailing us.

3. Cost

There is no cost to participate in this event, however donations to cover costs associated with the workshop are appreciated.

4. Reading

It’s not necessary but, if you’re a keener who wants to do some advance reading, we recommend Syed Hussan’s short but vital article “You can’t change the world alone, but all of us can together” which you can find here.

5. Accessibility

  • Childminding is available. If you require childminding, please email us by Saturday, January 27th.
  • The room where the workshop is taking place is on the first floor and is wheelchair accessible.
  • The first floor has gender-segregated wheelchair accessible washrooms. On the 2nd floor, there is a washroom that is wheelchair accessible and unisex (gender neutral).
  • Bus tickets will be available for transportation.
  • We request all participants refrain from wearing scents to better allow people with chemical sensitivities to attend.
  • Portions of this event will be recorded. Participants can ask not to be recorded.
  • If you have any other accessibility needs not listed here, please get in touch with us.

6. About Punch Up Collective

Punch Up is a small anarchist collective based in Ottawa, Ontario, on unceded Algonquin land. A more detailed description of the collective is available on our website.

7. Contact Information

The Punch Up Collective can be reached at punchup@riseup.net.  

bookmark_borderWhat is Anti-Fascism?

In the past year, we’ve seen the rise of emboldened white supremacist groups and networks globally. In response we’re also seen a resurgence of anti-fascist organizing. To help us make sense of these developments in the context of recent, and not-so-recent history, Punch Up Collective is very excited to be bringing organizer, historian, and writer Mark Bray to Ottawa. 

Thursday Oct 19th 
7:00 pm (door open at 6:30) 
Room 31, Dalhousie Community Centre 
755 Somerset Street West
Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory

(Facebook event here)

Mark will be speaking about his new book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. He will focus on the history of anti-fascism, exploring its development from resistance to Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s into contemporary struggles against white supremacists. Based on interviews with anti-fascists from around the world, Antifa details the tactics and ideas of the movement, offering insight into the growing but little-understood resistance fighting back against fascism in all its guises.

We’ll also hear a presentation from a former member of Toronto Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a group that actively organized against white supremacists in the Toronto area and in Ontario more broadly during the 1990s and early 2000s. This speaker will share recent regional history of anti-fascist and anti-racist organizing in our context, drawing out lessons for today’s struggles.

Following the speakers, there will be lots of space to think and talk together about how these histories are relevant to our lives today.

Endorsed by Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Movement OttawaCUPE 4600, COPE 225 SEPB, Ottawa-Outaouais Industrial Workers of the WorldSolidarity OttawaCriminalization and Punishment Education Project, and Ottawa Against Fascism 

Accessibility Info

  • There is an elevator up to the 3rd floor.
  • ASL translation and French whisper translation is available. Please email us (punchupcollective@gmail.com) if you require translation by October 6th.
  • Childminding is available.  Please email us (punchupcollective@gmail.com) if you require childminding by October 6th.
  • The ground floor has a unisex (gender neutral) wheelchair accessible washroom. The washrooms on the 3rd floor are wheelchair accessible but gender-segregated.
  • Bus tickets will be available for transportation.
  • We request all participants refrain from wearing scents to better allow people with chemical sensitivities to attend.
  • This event will not be recorded.
  • If you have any other accessibility needs not listed here, please get in touch.

Who is Mark Bray?

Mark Bray is a historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe who is currently a lecturer at Dartmouth College. He was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street, and is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, and the co-editor of Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader. He has published widely, and he has appeared on major news programs, including CNN and NBC News, to speak about radical politics and movements. You can find out more about Mark at his website: markmbray.wordpress.com.

Who is Punch Up?

Punch Up is a small anarchist collective based in Ottawa, Ontario, on unceded Algonquin land. You can find out more about Punch Up at our website.

bookmark_borderEndorsement: No On Prison Expansion (NOPE)

The Punch Up Collective endorses the No On Prison Expansion (NOPE) initiative and their call for a nation-wide moratorium on all prison expansion projects.

The NOPE initiative, a campaign by the Criminalization & Punishment Education Project (CPEP), monitors prison expansion projects across Canada and works to increase understanding of the negative impacts of human warehouseing.

Punch Up is in full agreement with NOPE’s statement that:

It is undeniable that prisons disproportionality impact racialized minorities, most notably Indigenous peoples, as well as other marginalized groups including the poor. Imprisonment is also an ineffective way to address the needs of those in conflict with the law, survivors of criminalized harms, as well as their loved ones and communities.

NOPE engages in prison justice work through a variety of avenues, including:

  1. promoting carceral divestment strategies to diminish the use of incarceration, such as the decriminalization of prohibited drugs and supporting the transition of prisoners into their communities
  2. encouraging the reinvestment of government funding away from human warehousing and into projects that address the social inequalities that give rise to ‘crime’
  3. building capacities for restorative and transformative justice alternatives

Punch Up rejects the idea that mass incarceration is an effective means of securing and sustaining justice and dignity for individuals and communities. Human warehousing runs counter to this stated goal of the prison system, by creating the conditions for recurring cycles of harm, marginalization, criminalization, and punishment that can affect individuals, families, and communities for decades.

We also strongly support NOPE’s calls for public funds invested in prison expansion to be redirected towards restorative and transformative justice projects. Lasting healing and justice are possible when we have the capacity to create processes of accountability that address the needs of all those affected by social conflict, including survivors, perpetrators, and their communities.

We encourage all organizations and collectives to endorse NOPE’s important work. You can learn more about the campaign here.

No More Prisons!

In solidarity,

The Punch Up Collective

bookmark_borderThe Grim Hate-scape that is the 2017 Manning Centre Conference

The 2017 Manning Centre Conference starts today, February 23rd, 2017, in Ottawa. In it, we can see some of the worst ideas and most despicable plans brewing amongst Canada’s conservative elite (though they are also importing a bunch of people from the U.S. to speak).

The Manning Centre is a “think tank” aiming to help conservatives network with each other, train to be more politically effective, and research things that matter to them. Their annual conference is an important event for them.

This year the theme is “Take the lead,” and that aspiration is sponsored by (among others) Facebook, Twitter, Air Canada, Rogers, and the Canadian Real Estate Association. Sessions address: “Leading the Response to Islamist Extremism and its Ideology in Canada,” a session that was advertised with the image of a bomb in a backpack; uber-elite Doug Ford speaking on how to understand the “rise in anti-establishment sentiment”; why conservatives might be okay with defunding public schooling; how hard it is to be a conservative student at university; why we should embrace hydrocarbons; and whether it’s time to kill the CBC.

Particularly chilling is the session called “A Trump Movement in Canada? Can Trumpism be exported to Canada? Or is it already here?” This has been the question Conservative candidates have been circling around for months: How can they mobilize the people in Canada who oppose immigration, who want to kill environmental protections, who support increasing our dependence on petrochemicals, and who are on board with a future in which only rich white people flourish? While Kellie Leitch has been most blunt about her interest in becoming “Canada’s Trump,” the tendency towards far-right conservatism is ascendant.

This tendency did not simply arise among conservatives, and it is not only in response to Donald Trump’s election. Justin Trudeau’s response to Trump’s agenda has been one of warmth and collegiality, alongside an almost gleeful escalation of a pro-pipeline, anti-Indigenous, anti-refugee policies. Trudeau’s visit with Trump in Washington helped to normalize and legitimize the hateful politics and actions of his opposite number. We should care much less about whether Trudeau won the handshake battle and much more about the ways he is reneging on every promise he made about electoral reform, the environment, and nation-to-nation respect for Indigenous people.

Additionally, a key component of the Conference is a Conservative Party Leadership Debate on Friday evening, featuring 14 candidates. Among them will be Kellie Leitch, key architect of the Harper-era “Barbaric Cultural Practices” snitchline, and currently campaigning on a plan to charge potential immigrants for the cost of enduring a “Canadian values” screening test. Kevin O’Leary will be there, perhaps expanding on his plan to make unions illegal and throw union members in jail, or maybe posting more insensitive and violent home videos. Most of the 14 leadership hopefuls, including Leitch, O’Leary, Maxime Bernier, and Lisa Raitt, are all vocally opposing Motion 103 (M-103), which calls on the federal government to develop a plan to combat systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia. That’s just too much for most of the candidates attending the upcoming Leadership Debate, who’ve responded to M-103 with a series of racist dog whistles, falsely claiming that it would limit free speech or bring about Sharia Law.

Events like the Manning Centre Conference are dangerous because they work to normalize and legitimize hateful, disgusting ideas that lead to real harm and violence. These views are part of a broader conservative agenda that endangers our communities and makes our world worse. Consider Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered at least six people at the Centre culturel Islamique de Québec; he was part of the far-right, white supremacist movement that has been bubbling in the Canadian political landscape for a long time. (Another recent event shows us some of what might be in store for us in Ottawa this week: Rebel Media’s Freedom Rally).

Conferences and events like these take place under the guise of freedom of speech and respect for a diversity of opinions. But freedom of speech does not require that the Shaw Centre allow their venue to be booked, it does not require that Ottawa Westin and Les Suites Hotel Ottawa provide special conference rates for attendees, and it does not require that the Conservative Party of Canada deem it an appropriate event at which to hold a leadership debate. The Manning Centre and its conference should be opposed and denounced for cultivating and nurturing a politics based in racism, Islamophobia, environmental devastation, and unbridled economic war on ordinary people.

Also, can we just say that the closing session is actually just kinda sad? Live taping of the Mark Steyn CRTV show (a guy whose main claim to fame is that he’s a friend of Conrad Black), with a live musical performance from Tal Bachman (another guy whose hit single “She’s so high” came out seven years ago – you probably don’t remember it, but it’s bascially is a paean to women who don’t have breast implants and deign to notice Tal Bachman).

bookmark_borderPlanning To Be Good To Each Other: Reflections on our Accountability Framework and How Others Might Develop One

Two years ago, we encountered several stories about sexual assaults among activists in our city, Ottawa. We were disturbed and, sadly, not surprised about what we heard. From our perspective, what was extra difficult was seeing that many people in the radical activist scene here, including ourselves, didn’t know how to respond effectively to this violence.

Punch Up is a small anarchist collective trying to help generate fierce, effective, and loving transformative movements. We believe that sexual assault among activists is not only a terrible harm, but also a major impediment to building durable movements. In what follows, we’d like to share a little about how we’ve tried to learn and respond in our city, and about the unresolved questions with which we’re still wrestling. We offer these reflections and experiences in the hope that they may be useful to others. 

Responding to harm and looking for “community”

We saw activists, including ourselves, relating with these sexual assaults in two main ways: on the one hand, personal conversations and, on the other hand, public but frequently vague call-outs on social media. In the call-outs, people often appealed to “the community” to do something. While these two approaches have value in many circumstances, they didn’t seem sufficient to us. In fact, the revelations about sexual assault in the Ottawa radical activist scene brought up a lot of questions for us about what “community” means. In this way, our experience resonates strongly with what the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective describe in their “Pods and Pod Mapping Worksheet”:

we found that, not surprisingly, many people do not feel connected to a “community” and, even more so, most people did not know what “community” meant or had wildly different definitions and understandings of “community.” For some, “community” was an overarching term that encompassed huge numbers of people based on identity (e.g. “the feminist community”); while for others “community,” referred to a specific set of arbitrary values, practices and/or relationships (e.g. “I don’t know them well, but we’re in community with each other”); or some defined “community” simply by geographic location, regardless of relationship or identity (e.g. “the Bay Area community”). We found that people romanticized community; or though they felt connected to a community at large, they only had significant and trustworthy relationships with very few actual people who may or may not be part of that community.

Looking seriously at the Ottawa radical activist scene, we didn’t see anything like a coherent “community” capable of following up on accusations and holding anyone accountable, much less establishing expectations for how people should treat one another. However, influenced by materials in The Revolution Starts at Home and Accounting for Ourselves, we started examining our context more closely. What we noticed was a range of formations – activist groups, collective houses, left-leaning trade unions and student organizations, and others – in which people have ongoing working relationships, generate group expectations, and carry out collective activities. We began wondering about what potential these formations, with all of their limits and imperfections, might have for responding to harm in transformative ways.

Finding resources and developing a framework

We also decided to ask for help. We contacted experienced activists we know and trust, and we asked for things to read, especially formal policies and procedures for conflict resolution and accountability. If we didn’t already have the sense that these are major issues affecting movements and communities in struggle, the deluge of resources we received certainly made this clear. Sifting through the materials and assessing our limited time, we decided to focus our collective attention on the writings we list below. This is a small fraction of what is available, much of which focuses on how to set up response systems for when harm has occurred.

We used these materials, along with conversations and group reflection, to draft our own Conflict Resolution and Accountability Framework – a plan for what we’ll do within our collective if people are having conflict or if someone harms someone else. The difference between these things – conflict and harm – is power-saturated and can be hard to articulate, and we’ve had lots of discussion about this, which we think will be ongoing. We see this as a living document, one that we will continue to revise as we use and modify our procedures in real, messy situations.

Supporting other groups in creating accountability plans

The work of developing this framework was illuminating. It revealed to us how rare it is for groups to do this kind of work before they are confronting a crisis. So, we decided to host a workshop for other groups in Ottawa to come together and begin gathering resources to draft their own structures and processes. We called it “Planning to Be Good to Each Other: Accountability in Organizations,” and we invited groups that are mostly small, autonomous, and committed to some form of anti-authoritarian and feminist practice. Because we hadn’t heard of other workshops like this and because people have since expressed interest in what we did, here we will give some detail about how we approached organizing it.

Two priorities for our collective are only doing work we have capacity for and doing it with very long lead time – trying to be proactive instead of reactive. So, about two months before we planned to have the workshop, we wrote a very long invitation email that we sent out to groups we thought might be interested in sending people. We asked them to register through an online survey, which also let us collect their accessibility and childcare needs. We also set up a “private” Facebook event so that people invited could invite or suggest comrades who should be invited (we struggled with the balance of wanting to have a small enough group for meaningful conversation versus being open to anyone who might be interested in coming). We arranged to have an experienced facilitator, we rented a wheelchair accessible space, offered snacks, and had a small quiet room with a trauma-informed person available in case people wanted to take a break from the workshop or process stuff that was coming up for them. We also budgeted for a sign language interpreter and for childcare, though in the end neither of those was used. 

Nine groups sent one or two representatives, and we had a three-hour session. Our aim was to offer some skills and resources that folks could take back to their organizations, not to have them craft a plan in the workshop itself. Feedback on the workshop was positive, though in general people said that they felt it was, indeed, just a beginning. Within our collective, we felt that we had overestimated how much it would be possible to do in a three hour session, and we weren’t satisfied that we had succeeded in giving people the resources they would need to take back to their groups to develop their own policies. Since then, we have been reflecting on what we might do to further support groups in generating their own procedures. (Writing this description of our own process is part of this.)

Responding versus preventing?

One of the things we have thought about a lot, and don’t have a clear approach to change, is the fact that many of the accountability processes and policies that exist are primarily responsive: they are meant to come into play when something bad has happened between people. We believe this is a problem. For sure, it’s better to have a process in place than to be making one up on the fly, in the midst of a confusing and harmful situation. But if we want to really create a world in which sexual harm in particular is not part of our movements or our lives, we need practices in place that make it impossible or very hard for people to assault, manipulate, or dominate one another. 

Punch Up, for us, is partly an experiment in accountability. We are trying to build and sustain a formation that can participate in preventing and responding to conflict and harm in our community. We’re accountable to one another, and as a closed collective, we can be transparent with others in our city about who is in our collective in a way that we hope helps others hold us responsible (though we aren’t sure what the mechanism for this would be!). We’re also actively trying to use liberatory practices in our work and to support other formations in Ottawa. But even as we’ve appreciated working in a closed collective, we worry about the effects of being in this formation within the broader context of movement work. We’re actively thinking about how we can meaningfully contribute to the broader ecology of movements and communities in struggle where we live.

Resources we consulted:

Chin-In Chen, Jai Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, eds., The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence with Activist Communities

Creative Interventions, Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence

Danielle, Anti-authoritarian Approaches to Resolving and Transforming Conflict and Harm

Lukayo Faye Estrella, “Facilitating the Creation of Accountability Policies & Procedures” Tip Sheet

Jane Hereth and Chez Rumpf, Community Accountability for Survivors of Sexual Violence Toolkit

Briana Herman-Brand, Draft Proposal for “Community Accountability/Transformative Justice (CA/TJ) Framework for Decolonize/Occupy Seattle”

Esteban Lance Kelly and Jenna Peters-Golden, “Philly Stands Up Portrait of Praxis: An Anatomy of Accountability”

Rock Dove Collective, Dealing with Conflict

AJ Withers, Transformative Justice And/As Harm

bookmark_borderNazis Out! Financial Support for Injured California Anti-Racists

The Punch Up Collective has made a financial donation to the medical and legal fund in support of those anti-racists and anti-fascists injured during the successful shut down of a white supremacist rally in California on June 26th, 2016. 

More than 200 anarchists and anti-fascists prevented members of the Traditionalist Worker Party and other assorted white power groups from rallying at the Capitol Building in Sacramento, California on Sunday. 

Unfortunately, several anti-fascists were seriously injured, at least 5 of whom were stabbed by white power members.

Punch Up believes that racism and white supremacy are systemic and structural, and combatting them requires powerful and committed community-based organizing on multiple fronts. That said, we also absolutely believe that when fascists attempt to organize in our cities and towns, they need to be confronted directly in the streets.

We send our love, respect, and solidarity to all those in Sacramento who helped send the racists packing, and put their bodies on the line to do so.

A fund has been set up to assist those injured with their medical costs, as well as any legal bills that may result. You can make a donation here: The Anti-Nazi Effort in Sacramento on 6/26

You can also send get well / support cards to:
Sacramento Prisoner Support
PO Box 163126
Sacramento, CA 95816

You can find more details on what happened in Sacramento (warning: some images are graphic) on indybay.org

Additionally, this interview after event with By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) organizer Yevette Felarca gives a solid overview of what took place and why. 

bookmark_borderVideo from “All In: Worker Organizing Beyond the Mainstream Labour Movement”

Video from Punch Up’s event on April 27th, titled “All In: Worker Organizing Beyond the Mainstream Labour Movement.” The panel featured amazing speakers from Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineua Work, Educate, Resist, Justice for Migrant Workeres, Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Unions, and the Toronto Drug Users Union.

bookmark_borderDanceDanceSolidarity: A Congress Party

The Punch Up Collective Presents:

DanceDanceSolidarity: A Congress Party!

Congress is in Ottawa! Let’s reach for true interdisciplinarity, shake off the polite torpor of the paper that opens no questions, and embrace extra-institutional pleasures like chatting and dancing!

There will be a DJ from 9:30 on, and a cash bar throughout the evening hosted by bartenders equally capable of giving you a good drink or hot critical analysis. Or come for the chance to smash an “evil prison” piñata, participate in raffles for books, or offer donations toward two worthy causes: The End Immigration Detention Network, which works toward an end to deportations and detentions, and full immigration status for all migrants, and Justice for Hassan Diab, which opposes the unjust prosecution, extradition, and imprisonment of an innocent person.

Much of the action will be outside, under a covered area accessed via a wood-chip path that has worked for wheelchair users. Access to the house is up three stairs; there is a bathroom on the ground floor about ten feet from the back door, and there is a gas station with a wheelchair accessible bathroom a block away, on Somerset at Bronson. We don’t have any pets, and the house is normally a low-scent space.

From University of Ottawa, take any of the buses going down the transitway (the 8, 87, 94, 95, 96, 97, or 98) and get off at Bay and Albert, then walk up Bronson. Or catch the 2 or the 4 from the Rideau Centre and get off at Bronson and Somerset

bookmark_borderAll In: Worker Organizing Beyond the Mainstream Labour Movement

Featuring POWER, Justicia for Migrant Workers, and the Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union!

7:00pm SHARP (Doors at 6:30pm)
Monday, April 27th
Nepean Room, Bronson Centre
211 Bronson Ave, Ottawa

Childcare available during event

The Punch Up Collective is excited to announce our contribution to this year’s Mayday events in Ottawa! With workers of all kinds under increasing attack, and with the ability of conventional union structures to defend and expand worker struggles increasingly in doubt, this event looks to some of the models of community and workplace organizing happening outside the boundaries of the mainstream labour movement.

Below you’ll find details on the event, a call for endorsements, and an invitation to local organizations to submit their own stories of how they have successfully brought people together and increased their ability to demand justice and dignity.

CONTENTS

  1. All In: Worker Organizing Beyond The Mainstream Labour Movement
  2. Call for Endorsements
  3. Call for Submissions: How Has Your Organization Brought People Together?
  4. Call for Financial Support
  5. Event Details

1. All In: Worker Organizing Beyond The Mainstream Labour Movement

Workers of all kinds are under increasing attack, but the mainstream labour movement frequently seems unable to defend even its own previous victories, let alone expand worker struggles into new and necessary areas. Yet workers continue to come together collectively to demand justice and dignity in the workplace and wider society. Indeed, some of the most vital contemporary workplace struggles are taking place outside the boundaries of the mainstream labour movement, which is often handcuffed by a strict adherence to labour law, a lack of real internal democracy, and an inability to adapt to the changing realities of work.

Please join us as we hear from people speaking from the following organizations:

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is a grassroots advocacy group based in Toronto, Vancouver and Mexico City. Composed of migrant workers and allies, they fight for the interests of workers in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program, including workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and the NOC C and D Agricultural Stream.

Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work Educate, Resist (POWER) is a non-profit, voluntary organization founded on February 17th, 2008. Membership is open to individuals of all genders who self-identify as former or current sex workers, regardless of the industry sector in which they work(ed) (i.e. dancers, street level workers, in and out call workers, phone sex, etc.) and to allies who share their vision. They envision a society in which sex workers are able to practice their professions free of legal and social discrimination, victimization, harassment and violence and in which sex work is valued as legitimate and fulfilling work making an important contribution to society.

Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union (THRWU) is an organization of Harm Reduction Workers who are united together in solidarity, to improve their working conditions and to strengthen equality in the workplace for the betterment of the workers and those who access the services. They are a union of employed and unemployed workers committed to harm reduction with a range of skills, education and lived experience. They have come together in their common concerns to form a non-hierarchical democratic labour union with a commitment to mutual aid, social justice and the principles of harm reduction.

2. CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS

We’re really excited about this upcoming event, and we’d very much like your help in spreading the word. To that end, we’re seeking endorsements for the event from local organizations.

An endorsement would mean your name would appear on promotional material for the event, such as posters, emails, and our website. Your endorsement will greatly increase our ability to make the event a success by getting the word out to as many people as possible.

We intend to begin promoting the event widely in the very near future. If you’d like to endorse the event, please let us know as soon as possible.

And please note: you’ll see below we’re also seeking some financial support. Don’t worry if your organization isn’t able to donate or doesn’t want to – we would still love to have your endorsement for the event.

3. CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: HOW HAS YOUR ORGANIZATION BROUGHT PEOPLE TOGETHER?

As part of this event, we are encouraging groups to reflect on solidarity and the power of organizing by submitting a short written answer to the question: “How has you organization successfully brought people together?”

These short submissions could highlight any event, action, or occasion your organization feels was successful in bringing people together and increasing their ability to fight for justice and dignity. Did you hold a powerful demonstration? Carry out a winning campaign? Host a successful community meeting? Fight off an attack by political opponents? Collectively advocate for someone’s right to justice and dignity? These are just a few examples of things your organization might consider ways for bringing people together, but it’s really up to you.

We’ll have these submissions on display during the event, and we hope this will help encourage discussion during the event, as well as highlight some of the brilliant methods groups are using to strengthen organizing power.

If your group would like to submit an answer for us to display, please send it to us by Monday, April 13.

4. CALL FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT

If your organization is able to contribute even a small donation to support this event, it would be appreciated. The main expenditure will come from the travel costs from Toronto for two of our speakers, but there are a number of other costs, as well, including a venue booking fee and honorariums for the speakers and childcare workers. We will be finalizing a complete budget in the very near future.

If your organization is able to support this event with a donation, it would be very much appreciated. Even a small amount will go a long way towards making this event a success.

5. EVENT DETAILS

We’re still finalizing a few things, but the event will be held on the evening of Monday, April 27th, 2015, in the Nepean Room of the Bronson Centre. Doors will open at 6:30pm, for some hang outs and snacks, with the talk itself beginning promptly at 7:00pm. Each speaker will have 12 minutes of to speak, followed by time for questions and discussion.