Radical Think Tank Members

Name: Indra Dewan

Your background/what you do: teach sociology in HE; live in community and practice participatory governance (amongst other things); involved in activism (Newham Monitoring Project, Defend the Right to Protest, Calais volunteer); researcher – currently nonactive

Why you think RTT is a good idea: it is the best thing since sliced bread – an exciting movement which focuses on participation and equivalence to bring together multiple interlinking strands – activism, community, research, academic knowledge – with the aim of furthering justice in a truly democratic and sustainable way.

 

Name: Joel Lazarus

Your background/what you do: Community educator and social scientist

Your research interests in regard to RTT: Very interested in learning and co-producing knowledge about what works best for creating successful, participatory, radical democratic movements and campaigns. I’m particularly interested in transformation and how we can help people cultivate the self-belief and intellectual power (sociological imagination) needed to transform themselves and their world.

Why you think RTT is a good idea: We desperately need ‘think-and-do tanks’. One major reason for the successful of the NeoLiberal political project has been the colonisation of ‘civil society’. This is much easier when you have state power and money, but, at this time of permanent crisis, it is vital to make a sustained effort based on a scientific, pragmatic approach to democratising civil society.

 

Name: Hugh Chapman

Your background/what you do: I’m a community artist and theatremaker. I’ve been involved in a number of grass-roots campaigning activities in Cambridge including facilitating community engagement in town planning, organising a number of hustings in Cambridge in the run up to the 2015 election and setting up a series of meetings with MP Daniel Zeichner and local experts to discuss Cambridge’s approach to addressing climate change. I was also involved in setting up Fossil Free Cambridgeshire, a citizen-led campaign to get the local councils to divest from fossil fuels. I moved to London last September to study an MA at Central School of Speech and Drama.

Your research interests in regards to RTT: I’m especially interested to explore creative approaches/formats for workshops and other events aiming to develop participants’ political agency.

Why you think RTT is a good idea: I completely agree with the need for a more participatory politics to address the social, economic and environmental challenges we’re facing today. And I think RTT is approaching this in the right way. In my experience it’s hugely valuable to be part of a network of like-minded progressive thinkers who can support and inspire each others’ work.

 

Name: Roger Hallam

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do:  I am a PhD Student at Kings College London researching the design of effective radical political collective action. I have a background as an organiser and trainer in various social movements and for workers co-ops and housing co-ops. I am now working with several campaigns and networks in London to work out ways in which they can more effectively achieve their aims. Through this work I met Dan and together we founded the Radical Think Tank.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT: I am particularly interested in the following: how to run meetings in a participatory way to maximise participation and empowerment; how to use conditional commitment to lever critical masses of people to take collective action; and how to design direct and political action to put the opposition into a dilemma as to how to respond  – and thus to win political ground. I am also interested in the design of broader strategies of bringing together groups at a macro level in ways that maintain participation but also create effective collective political power. I am therefore interested in the models being developed in Spain and various post-occupy organisational innovations around the world.

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed: I think RTT is vitally necessary to connect practical research with the growing need for activists to become more skilled and effective in their work. So much important knowledge is lost between generations of activists and there needs to be some educational organisation which can prevent this and build up an evidence based stock of knowledge about how to bring about radical bottom up political change.

 

Name: Guinevere Carter

Your background/what you do: Student Activist, key organiser of Fossil Free UCL and UCL Cut the Rent

Your research interests in regards to RTT: I am very passionate about making education more accessible and maintaining universities as a hotbed for critical thought. I am currently writing a paper on the dire consequences of the neoliberalisation of Finnish higher education.

Why you think RTT is a good idea: Activism and protesting is vital to a functioning democracy, and right now we need it more than ever: nationalism is on the rise, the climate is dangerously changing, poverty is increasing in lots of the world, and the 2007 financial crisis only served to increase power in the hands of those that caused it. The repetitive protests and AàB marches in opposition to these over how shit everything is has become demoralising and ineffective of late. This is why RTT fills me with a renewed optimism, it promises to employ more effective strategies and to apply technology in benefit of progressive goals, through crowd sourcing knowledge and conditional commitment. So far these tools have been extremely underutilised, and I am confident that they will dramatically strengthen campaigns and increase the pace of change when implemented.

 

Name: Tim Linehan

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do. I am a professional working with charities.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT. I’m interested in futurology and how social science can help us map a better future; I’m also interested in how social science can pathologise and marginalise non-conformists; I’m interested in how/whether people who do not vote, participate in democracy in other ways;

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed. I think some charities have been co-opted into political agendas through funding arrangements; I think the main political parties are sometimes more interested in marginally and trivially differentiating themselves than in representing people and rethinking their policies. I think politics is seen as something that happens somewhere else and that these issues need to be tackled through grassroots movements and that a forum to learn from others is desperately needed.

 

Name: Lynne Davis

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.
I work in participatory food systems and community organising. My work is varied, from facilitating a community goat microdairy in Bristol to facilitating the Open Food Network, working with communities to organise around food, to working on the Land Workers’ Alliance core group.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT
I’m interested in linking together the diverse social change groups and networks and exploring new ways diverse groups can make decisions. I’m interested in exploring ideas in direct democracy and exploring how they can effectively be scaled.

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed
The fragmentation of what is generally considered the left is in many ways a strength. However given there is such a sharing of values between groups on the left it feels remarkable that neoliberal capitalism has come to such an extreme. I am excited that RTT is trying to research, develop, implement and trial ideas that can help us organise. We have all the solutions already, we just need to become organised.

 

Name: James Deane
What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT? 
Working with autistic people to engage them in decisions about themselves. To support and collaborate with other concerned citizens to create parallel organisations. To explore and develop exchange and provision outside of the monetary system. Collectively develop messaging to prime and activate the populace especially those with the most to gain and who are at the sharpest end. To popularize and make real housing coops. To participate in think tank discussions, forums and debates toward practicable aims.
Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed
The situation is stark. people show little hope and understanding. courage and ability to act together is needed now.
Name: Simon Thorpe
In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.

PhD candidate at University of Warwick School of Law. Also freelance editor (of words) from time to time, and former managing editor of the Birkbeck Law Review. Researching radical constitutionalism, esp in anarchic movements/orgs. Either a historical account, or a focus on Spanish citizens’ platforms (still working out methodological feasibility).

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT

The proposed project looking at how the Spanish citizens’ platforms are doing it, basically. That’s something I ought to be looking at for my own PhD anyway, so seems like a no brainer to team up with RTT on it if possible.
Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed 

Too long the radical left has been on the back foot, fighting defensive battles in a Sisyphean struggle against neoliberal encroachment. Not without good reason. But now is the time to move beyond reaction and into action. Beyond negation and towards affirmation of the radical, new and truly innovative. Neoliberalism came from a determined think tank called the Mont Pelerin Society. Now it’s our turn to put our heads together to turn history around; to paraphrase Srnicek and Williams’ book, to invent the future. New ideas are sorely needed, and so the Radical Think Tank is sorely needed.

Name: Andy Paice

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do. I’m a London based facilitator, coach and mindfulness trainer and I’m very interested in the whole issue of how we create a grassroots democracy based on participation and inclusivity. I’m actively involved in the Assemblies for Democracy initiative and am part of a planning group working towards a Citizen’s Convention on the Constitution.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT I’m interested in seeing what areas of collaboration there might be and I’m also very interested in the How to Do It conference you are planning.

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed It’s important for academics, activists, conveners and facilitators to come together and deliberate how we create a participatory society. There is a definite change in the air and RTT sounds like a good group to help catalyse this.

 

Name Lucy Latham

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do. I work at an environmental arts charity and am part way through a Master’s degree in Social and Political Theory. I have been part of several community initiatives and am mainly interested in art and politics for progressive change.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT. Community empowerment and resilience, education and participation, environmental sustainability, progressive politics, campaigning, protest and mobilisation, art of dissent. I’m also looking for thesis topic ideas!

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed (something we can quote!) We need a collective space where we can share ideas, experience and energy; where people can feel part of something active and empowering.

Are there other individuals or networks you think we should contact and/or link up with? New Economics Foundation, COIN, Housmans Bookstore

Any other ideas about how to make RTT a roaring success!? Fundraising gig?! I’ll keep giving that some thought.

 

Name: Gail Bradbook

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.

I lead a project called the Compassionate Revolution which hosts collective acts of “art, heart and civil disobedience”-we claim: “together we are irresistible!”. I have initiated a “pledge” on the site concerning taxation and democracy: “The Golden Rule Tax disobedience” which asks for 5000 people to pledge to join a symbolic tax disobedience (it is designed around takeaways from café’s so is something everyone can do.). Our wider strategy involves encouraging further pledges on the site and supporting the ones that are there (for example to sabotage the media billionaires).

I am a mother of two boys, living in Stroud in Gloucestershire, my part time day job is running a charity (Citizens Online) and I have a  back-ground in research science. In recent years I have been a Director of Transition Stroud, Chair of the Governing body of Tax Justice Network and founder of “Street School Economics”.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT?

How best to design “conditional commitment” based actions including the current tax one and future debt based rebellions

How to bring different networks together- perhaps this needs its own conditional commitment? (I’ll work to bring in my network if 12 others will).

Planning for social change within an internet / network age. Being better prepared to respond to crisis / opportunities.

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed (something we can quote!)

We need to think strategically and tactically about seeing change- what tools and processes will work, how do we encourage people to work together, I feel this needs fresh thinking about. I have been hoping for something like RTT for a long time- I’m super happy about it!

Are there other individuals or networks you think we should contact and/or link up with?

I have put you in touch with some, there will be others but I would like a more crisp way to explain this and I feel it is important to bring people in at the right time – being clear on what they could add. (people are busy and if I ask them now / they say no the moment may be lost). Others who may be interested: Caroline Molloy (Open Democracy OurNHS, Tom Steinberg- former Director of MySociety, Rich Wilson Osca, Joel Benjamin, Debt Resist UK.

Any other ideas about how to make RTT a roaring success!?

A really cool cartoon about what it is. Different ways of being involved – using conditional commitment approaches perhaps.

 

Name: Sophie Gale

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do:

I have been a teaching assistant for a couple of years and will be training to be a teacher this September. Conscious and impassioned about the possibilities for empowerment of teacher and pupil – I am keen to explore the dynamics of this relationship in a classroom/school context and the ways in which co-learning and exchanging can facilitate and enable questioning, critical thinking, innovation and direct action.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT

Broadly speaking: environmental justice, social justice/equality, democracy

Specifically: privatisation of education, curriculum and educational policy

Why do you think the RTT is a good idea and is needed (something we can quote!)

Being part of a network of impassioned and proactive people working on disparate but wholly interconnected issues is empowering and fills me with hope!

Are there other individuals or networks you think we should contact and/or link up with?

Not sure which ones you’re already linked with (had a look on your website) – where can I find this info?

Any other ideas about how to make RTT a roaring success!?

Be as diverse and as accessible as possible! I’m sure you’re super conscious of this – but joining a network is daunting enough as it is – but even more so if you don’t see yourself identifying with its members (no matter how much you actually do have in common!)

Name John Hoggett

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.

I have am have been involved in the climate change movment since the millenium. I have a variety of participatory education experience. I have a passionate interest in countering the evils of psychiatry. I helped set up Speak Out Against Psychiatry and for a short while I set up and helped run the Rose and Thorn Theatre Company that used theatre and paticpatory discussion to help mental health service users get more of what they want. I helped set up Reading Roadbusters which supported the anti-Newbury Bypass Campaign.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT

Building a huge climate movement that is effectively grass routes led. Working with communities of interest, such as benefit claimants and homeless people, to resist austerity. Building as grass routes and effective anti–psychiatry movement. Bringing the academic research on the approaches advocated by RTT to campaigners and activists in an easy to understand manner.

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed (something we can quote!) The work of Paolo Friere seems to have laregly passed UK politics by. Leaders seem to have not learnt that to be effective, and moraly legitimate, they need to work with the people and not manage them. For example: the anti-austerity movement has pockets of people resisting eviction or working with homeless people to effectively campaign but these are isolated incidents and have not been generalised or picked up as major strategies by the major anti-austerity campaigning organisations. Yet the power to significantly have an impact on austrity policies is most likely to arrise by the kind of work that Radical Think Tank is proposing.

By bringing people interested in this approach together in a variety of ways, both formal and informal, some kind of movement to promote more particpatory and effective approaches is likely to arise.

Any other ideas about how to make RTT a roaring success!? Parties, talks, workshops, conferences, facebook pages for perticular interests and projects, offer mentoring, create a peer mentoring system for people working on both academic and practical projects, create a skill share database.

 

 

Name: Dave Downes

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.
I am a Technical Tutor at an FE College in North London. I am also a 3D Tutor at the same college. I despise what’s happening to education and know this country can well afford 3 years free education for every adult to study exactly what they want to regardless of that study being ‘vocational’ or not. Instead of which, some of our better students are turning down the opportunity to attend university because they do not want to be saddled with that debt: ‘Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to
think about changing society, Chomsky suggested. “When you trap people in a system  of debt . they can’t afford the time to think.” Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy’ Noam Chomsky.

I am also an activist, trade unionist and being robbed by a parasite landlord on a monthly basis and that rent just keeps rising – my wages do not. I am interested in the idea of a rent strike and believe that rent is theft.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT

Education, Radical Ideas in Art & Design, Rent and Property.

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed (something we can quote!)

Because people’s lives are being overwhelmed by a system that is only interested in profit, exploitation (of people and planet) and unsustainable growth. It feels like time to take a stand.

Are there other individuals or networks you think we should contact and/or link up with?
Grass roots housing campaigns – Radical Housing Network for instance. There is fantastic energy around Momentum/Jeremy Corbyn so that should probably not be ignored.

Any other ideas about how to make RTT a roaring success!?

I think energy should be put into bringing back those people who feel abandoned by the system – ie, large swathes of the working classes. Be careful though, they do bite (as exemplified in the EU vote when two fingers were shown to the entire global elite).

 

 

Name:  Matt York

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do:

I am a co-founder and a current organiser with Operation Kindness, a global family of activists, communities and grass roots campaigns. Our purpose is to imagine, articulate, implement and actualize alternatives to neoliberal globalization based upon kindness, altruism and love, which deliver:

  • Environmental sustainability
  • Equality of access to resources and opportunities
  • Restorative and redistributive justice
  • Universal access to legal rights
  • Genuine participatory democracy

We choose kindness and love as a frame of reference within which a visionary set of transformations will occur, resulting in principled and non-violent revolutionary social change. Operation Kindness activists, local groups and country groups express our core aims and principles in a variety of ways mirroring the diversity of the communities we grow within.  You can find out more at: http://www.operationkindness.net

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT:

Everything RTT is proposing is highly relevant to our work: research into grassroots campaigns in order to discover effective mechanisms to achieve bottom up transformative political change/ research into practical strategies and processes to create radical political participation.  I believe we can build capacity through such evidence, and hope we can contribute to same.

Why do you think the RTT is a good idea and is needed:

The effects of neoliberalism have reached such pandemic proportions that it is often not consciously recognised as an ideology, but accepted on faith as a natural and self-evident universal.  An initiative like RTT can begin to join the dots between radical theory and activism and play a leading role in subverting and supplanting the current neoliberal worldview whilst simultaneously providing a clear pathway for transition to the next system model.

 

Name: Alice Ragland

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.

I am a PhD student in the Multicultural and Equity Studies in Education program at Ohio State University.  I study revolutionary social movements and Black liberation movements, the criminalization of youth of color, the police state and mass incarceration, and the detrimental effects of neoliberalism on public education.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT?

Education policy, multicultural education, educational inequities, education & poverty, economic inequality, school-to-prison pipeline, policing, surveillance, and mass incarceration

Why do you think the RTT is an good idea and is needed?

I was looking  for education think tank jobs for the future, and I noticed that nearly all of them were ultra conservative and based on the neoliberal principles of school choice, competition, standards- all things that I am diametrically opposed to. It’s scary to think that the institutions and think tanks informing some of the most important policy decisions are more concerned with profit than they are with improving the lives of the people their policies will impact.  There needs to be more balance when it comes to think tanks, and there definitely needs to be a radical voice in these policy discussions.

Are there other individuals or networks you think we should contact and/or link up with?

I’ll let you know.

Any other ideas about how to make RTT a roaring success!?

Not sure if you already have a fundraising plan, but if not, a solid plan for raising funds would make it successful. Conservative think tanks unfortunately have millions and millions of dollars under their belt, so we need to be able to compete.

 

Name: Dawn Lingo

In a few sentences say who you are and what you do.

I am a congregational organizer, a Unitarian Universalist. I work for Congregations United to Serve Humanity (CUSH) which is an affiliate of the statewide WISDOM network in Wisconsin and the national Gamaliel network. I work on immigration, education, transportation, criminal justice.  In my personal time, I work on women’s and LGBTQ issues.

What areas of research are you interested in with regard the RTT

I want to be a more effective and powerful organizer. I am interested in learning more about which strategies work and why.

Why do you think the RTT is a good idea and is needed?

Organizers need a resource to help us make better use of limited resources.

 

 

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