During the co-creation of the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution, the group of Grassroots Changemakers highlighted that activists need informal spaces to connect among peers beyond their work agendas, cultivate relationships, unwind, support their individual and collective well-being, and exchange knowledge and skills. They proposed to schedule a few meetings outside the co-creation process, where there would be space to meet the people behind the activists, play games, sing, dance, practice relaxation exercises, and explore new ways for collaboration. They call them Jam Sessions.
The team enjoyed the Jam Sessions so much that proposed to promote them as part of the campaign, inviting other activists to host their own events.
Since the launch of the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution campaign in 2021, we have provided guidance and financial support to 14 activists in different countries around the world to host Jam Sessions for other activists within and outside their groups and movements.
The guidance consisted of sessions to familiarise the Jam Session hosts with the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution, the Jam Sessions’ concept and share ideas and tips to host these events. They also received stipends to compensate the time invested organising and hosting the sessions and to cover other related expenses. We acknowledge that the lack of resources can be a limiting factor for activists who want to host similar events.
These activists hosted both virtual and in-person events. In 2021, most sessions happened online as many countries still faced pandemic-related gathering restrictions. In 2022 and 2023, most events were in-person. Some hosts organised one Jam Session, while others held up to three and the number of participants varied from 10 to 85 per event!
This is a Jam Session
Jam Sessions are informal, intimate, and vibrant spaces designed by and for activists to promote human connection, joy, collective healing, and well-being. These are also spaces to explore and reimagine new organising realities and visions, share skills, and establish collaborations.
A Jam Session can be a virtual or in-person event and can be as short or as long as your group needs and wants. Hosting a Jam Session should not always involve a lot of preparation work and planning (therefore the name), but it is good to have some plan and activities in mind to be sure that everyone enjoys and values the experience.
Stay tuned because we will soon publish a Jam Session toolkit for those interested in these types of spaces!
Why are spaces like Jam Sessions important to grassroots activists?
- While activism is all about human relationships, activists spend most of their time planning, organising, mobilising, doing lobby, looking for resources, and many also have other jobs to earn a livelihood. This grueling pace often limits the time they can spend among peer activists connecting beyond the day-to-day activities and urgencies related to their activism.
- Grassroots activists have very limited resources for their activism and most receive zero support for activities that are not related to projects, including team building, skill building, mental health, and well-being.
- Grassroots groups and movements lack opportunities to connect with others, build alliances, and create shared visions.
It is therefore imperative to facilitate more support and resources that enable grassroots activists to organise spaces for peers that nurture them at an individual and collective level.