Solidarity 2020 and Beyond is a global network and initiative that is truly activist-driven and movement-centered, driven by bottom-up people power, local wisdom and needs. How was it born?
Solidarity 2020 and Beyond was envisioned and developed by a team of three Rotary Peace Fellows, returning from our peace building program in Bangkok, Thailand, as COVID -19 was spreading globally. Each of us had different, but complementary interests and areas of expertise—support and training for strategic nonviolent resistance, movement building and human rights; inter-religious dialogue and peacebuilding and transitional justice; and media, journalism and storytelling through documentaries for justice and change. We had in common a commitment and life-long dedication to engaging with grassroots communities across the world working for dignity, human rights, and peace with justice.
Based on urgent requests of numerous grassroots activists from diverse struggles around the world, extensive trust relationships built over the years with these communities, and an understanding of the key “trigger moment” for change that the coronavirus pandemic was creating, we conceived of and launched Solidarity 2020 and Beyond. We organized convenings, one-on-one and group discussions, surveys, resource mappings, and data gathering to receive direction and input from numerous grassroots activists. Additionally, we did consultations and received advice from a diverse group of scholar activists and journalists working in the field.
Grounded in this knowledge, the structure of Solidarity 2020 and Beyond was developed. It is organized into two main pillars—the Global Grassroots Activist Network (GGAN) and the Organizing Committee (OC). The OC members act in solidarity and provide support for the GGAN members. The OC members represent three areas of expertise requested by the GGAN members–scholar activists specializing in nonviolent action and movement building; journalists/media interested and experienced in amplifying oppressed and marginalized voices and communities and reframing the discussion; and self-care, psycho-social practitioners. GGAN members possess deep connections to their local communities and have experience and knowledge about waging nonviolent campaigns and movements. The OC members are experts in their field and represent geographic, religious, gender, and issue diversity. We are all committed to progressive bottom-up change and a new world after COVID 19. Our work will be done through continuous working groups formed by and among grassroots activists, OC members, and other relevant allies. Solidarity 2020 and Beyond is not an organization, but a global network and initiative that is truly activist-driven and movement-centered, driven by bottom-up people power, local wisdom, and needs.
Solidarity 2020 and Beyond was created in the key year of 2020, a historic “tipping point”, but built for sustainability over many years into the future. We plan to create, implement, build skills, and document new strategies and tactics in nonviolent movements for change during COVID-19. We also plan to determine what specific skills, knowledge, strategies, campaigns, tactics, analytical tools, plans, resources and alliances grassroots activists and organizers need at the local level to take advantage of this “trigger moment” and construct a new and just world beyond. Our litmus test for a project or activity is simple—does it respond to a need, request, or objective voiced by our Global Grassroots Activist Network (GGAN) members? Will it lead to a better chance of success for their campaigns or movements? Are we acting in solidarity and supporting positive change in their communities? Is this initiative connecting and strengthening movements globally?
Overall, Solidarity 2020 and Beyond was formed at this critical time in world history to strengthen and support movement building of grassroots activists and organizers around the world. Through strategic thinking and action and mobilizing millions of people through linkage and solidarity of these grassroots movements, major structural, institutional, and systemic change can be demanded and obtained. A new world is possible.
It’s a challenging time for all of us personally and for the peace and justice work we’re all engaged in. At this chaotic time when COVID 19 is causing so much disruption and suffering across the world, many of us see the coronavirus outbreak as a global trigger moment when major structural and systemic change happens. We need to build people power and mobilize effectively to fight for change to create a world that is more equal, just, peaceful, and provides dignity for all. Many activists and practitioners of nonviolent resistance and grassroots movements I’m in touch with feel the need to be connected to others at this time to exchange ideas and support each other in a variety of ways–to share our stories and visions for the future, our struggles and challenges, and ideas for work and messaging. How can we use the current coronavirus crisis and related system break downs to mobilize for change? How do we move forward when we can’t take to the streets or plan major public events?