DiEM25 Academy in Lisbon

On Thursday June 6, the day before the official start of the Academy, participants gathered for a welcome evening meet-up in one of the most diverse areas of Lisbon’s downtown, Intendente. Getting to know each other a bit in a relaxed atmosphere set us ready to go for a busy but promising next day.

The morning of Friday, June 7, saw us gather in the lovely event room of the Escola Secundária de Camões, one of the oldest city’s secondary schools. Members of the local DiEM25 Spontaneous Collectives (further in text DSCs), Lisbon and Oeiras, kicked off the morning with a Speed Meeting exercise, so we have the chance to make our introductions. A “Back to Basics” – Q&A workshop followed, during which we covered the internal organisation of the movement and its functioning bodies, with an open floor to all participants.
This paved the way to the next workshop, “Brainstorming & DSCs,” focused on the engines of ideas and action: the DiEM25 Spontaneous Collectives. We started with a reminder on how DSCs are created, what can they do and how can we join existing ones. The participants were split into groups in which they provided concrete proposals especially on how to help more members join into DSCs and how to apply some good practices in fostering fluid activity of their members.

After the lunch served in the sun-bathed school yard, the “Movement Building & Grassroots Mobilisation” workshop ran in two parts. During these two sessions we discussed the challenges and perspectives on action in a horizontally organised movement. Examples of experiences of the present DiEM25 members were presented and we learned techniques to reaching out to the new and already existing members, turning ideas into proposals and actions and building the movement further.

To make the best out of the fact the city of Lisbon is in the month of “Festas de Lisboa” (Santo António street celebrations) we went to the Lisbon old town Mouraria neighbourhood for a street party dinner organised by a local NGO. Working for a better future, we all learned, must be done with joy and in great spirits.
Academy’s second day, June 8, started with a workshop on “Municipalism and Rebel Cities,” where we had a chance to learn about ways of organising and acting on a city level. Members also formed groups to brainstorm and present their ideas “Gender and Diversity” workshop that followed spurred a very interesting and much needed debate, guiding us through real life stories and implications of the way our societies act and react regarding the session topics.

“Environment and Climate Change” was out next hot topic, in a workshop that combined thought-provoking presentation with audio effects, helping us locate ourselves as a species in the wider natural system and recognise the responsibilities we must assume in this respect.
We concluded the working day with “Migration and Refugees” workshop, going through actual individual cases depicting the migrant crisis in Europe and its consequences, both from a personal and a wider perspective.

We continued to exchange on various topics touched during the previous days at our dinner which took part in another Lisbon old town neighbourhood. From there, we headed to more local celebrations, mingling through the smell of sardines and jolly street parties
Our last Academy day, Sunday, 9 June, brought us to the lovely Gulbenkian park – an open air green oasis within the city, where we shared part of our picnic food with the local residents, the ducks, and attended a meeting with activists from different organisations acting locally: Consciência Negra (focusing on discrimination of persons of African descent, Climaximo  (climate changes activists), a relatively new Union of Call Centre employees, some members of Extinction Rebellion Portugal, and Rede 8 de Março (Feminist network platform). Participants in the academy had a lot of questions and made close contact with the activists present.
After the exciting morning and picnic it was time for the Teambuilding & Wrap up session – which brought us very useful techniques and concepts to be applied in our future activities within our work groups – It couldn’t have ended any better!
To continue the good vibe and to digest all the acquired in this intense prolonged weekend, we joined the Outjazz festival party in yet another beautiful garden, allowing once more for our discussions to continue in a more informal manner.
All workshops in the academy were organised by grassroots members interested in a certain topic and the teamwork done proved to be even better than initially expected!
Grateful for all the experience and exchanges gained, we are looking forward to the next fruitful gathering,
Carpe DiEM!
DSCs Oeiras & Lisbon

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