Compass Youth Training Day: Reflections on political organising

Kirsty Styles, a dedicated Compass Youth activist, tells us about its inspiring political action training day.

As a growing youth movement, enthused to bring together and support young people to build a Good Society, the Compass Youth team arranged an exciting political action training day on Saturday July 16th. Around 25 people came to participate, from the Labour Party, the Greens and those with no party at all.

As ever, Neal Lawson, Compass Chair, opened proceedings with some often needed inspiration. In a room full of bright and enthusiastic under 30s, he emphasised that working for the ‘Democracy Industry’, making the case for change and then actually creating it, can take a very long time, “but if you never give up, then you can never fail” and that “It’s not what party card you hold, but what’s in your heart.”

Three of our most committed campaigners were then reconised on the day for their contribution this year for making space to debate and making positive change. Lewis Dagnall won the award for Campaigner of the Year, James Whitaker won Most Improved Campaigner of the Year, and Jack Wilson won Compass Youth Ambassador of the Year. All received letters of thanks from Neal Lawson.

Next, we had an inspiring workshop by Jamie Audsley (a former Compass Youther) and Jim O’Connell on political organization. We did a Power Analysis to work out where Compass and Compass Youth could seek to influence the national debate and ways to engage people. Jim said, “if you find people who are angry, ask the right questions and use your sense of humour and you can build the kinds of relationships that are necessary to help you join together and make a difference.” Jamie went on to explain how we could create hubs in community centres and schools, to take our message further.

After a bit of a break, we had a group discussion on issues of generational politics which sparked some great conversations. Zain Sardar from the Young Greens and Deborah Grayson, contributing author to the Regeneration book of the Radical Futures series gave some great insights as did our Chair, Will Cass. We explored ideas around generational identity politics, discussed the main issues facing young people now and over the next 20 years, and look at questions of intergenerational justice.

Deborah said that it is easy for young people to feel angry at the raw deal we’ve got from some of our parent’s generation and that this should only compel us to ensure that we don’t do the same thing to our children. We should also, she argued, use this as a reason to justify our right to speak. Zain went on to quote the BBC journalist Paul Mason, ‘the whole option for self-betterment has been withdrawn,’ but, he pointed out, this is the UN Year of Intergenerational Solidarityand a time to work with all generations against a common enemy.

We then were invited to get up off of our chairs when we had a practical session by Lyn Griffiths from Monkey Boat Facilitation who explained some basic principles for holding a meeting. This included the power of not having any tables, having chairs in a circle to make communication easier, how to make a clear start, listen, and ask good questions.

Then Jake Coleman then got us to explore Consensus Building. He explained that in a world that teaches us to be competitive, we should use this as a tool to make decisions that takes everyone’s views into account to create common goals. Sometimes, that means being realistic in accepting that you have to accept conflict.

The day was an excellent introduction to framing and building the discussion around how to make a Good Society a reality and how to make the case for change. Thankyou to everyone who helped to organise the day and we look forward to the next one!

We will be having many more events similar to this one over the coming year. For more information email, like us on facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Written for Compass Youth and first published here:

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