Below you will find reports, videos, photos and other visual material from our annual workshops since 2011.
Agora for the Great Transition, Paris, 21–23 March 2018
When planning the event, we thought that the current political context required special attention: Our observation was that the world was polarised and that different tribes lived in increasingly separate worlds, with little knowledge about the motivations and realities of the other tribe. Social media algorithms bring out the worst in humans by activating our ancient tribal circuits. We are operating in ever soundproof ideological echo chambers, where we only listen to opinions that we already hold. We develop and strengthen closed ideologies that become difficult to break though.
Pathways to the Great Transition Workshop, Barcelona, October 2016
The purpose of the Smart CSOs Lab is to learn about, and experiment with, fresh strategies for civil society organisations and activists, aimed at catalysing a Great Transition to an ecologically sustainable and just political and economic system. We do this through connecting lessons from theory and practice and developing a network of diverse activists and researchers. Our annual gatherings support our efforts in both of these aims, providing input for our research work, and directly connecting activists and researchers from a wide range organisations, backgrounds and places.
Thirty-three activists, researchers and funders from 12 countries joined our 2016 workshop. We met at the inspiring venue of the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona. For the two days between October 13–15, we worked together around three core themes:
Smart CSOs Conference, November 2015
To effectively support the Great Transition to a truly sustainable and just society, our activism needs to be re.imagined coming from a different level of consciousness. Between November 5–7 2015, social change leaders and activists from a cross-section of NGOs, grassroots, think tanks, academia and grant-making organisations met in Berlin to reflect on their own worldviews and to co-create new, concrete ways for our organisations and networks to advance deep system change.
We were lucky to have with us filmmaker Rui Veras from the International Water Association. He interviewed some participants and filmed impressions and views that participants expressed about the discussions at the conference.
Smart CSOs Workshop, October 2014
At the end of October, we — 36 Smart CSOs members and friends from 12 countries – met in a civic centre located in the beautiful gothic quarter of Barcelona for our annual workshop. This time we dug deeper into two aspects: Getting closer to a common vision of the Great Transition and exploring concrete practical steps how to get there.
Civil Society in Transition Workshop, June 2014
From June 23 to 25, we held a Smart CSOs introductory workshop at La Bergerie, an eco-farm near Paris. It brought together activists / civil society change agents with a common inquiry about how to ‘break out of the system trap’ and work effectively towards systemic change.
Civil Society in Transition Conference, October 2013
On October 9–11 2013, the Smart CSOs Lab hosted the Civil Society in Transition Conference in Cologne, Germany. Change agents from civil society, academia, and the funding community came together to share and develop new approaches and strategies for how civil society can become a driving force for the Great Transition to a truly just society living within ecological limits.
Smart CSOs Storytelling Workshop, November 2012
On 20–30 November 2012, we held the Smart CSOs Storytelling workshop with Jonah Sachs in Cologne. This was with the aim of the Smart CSOs Lab on supporting civil society to develop effective strategies to enable a cultural transformation towards the Great Transition.
Smart CSOs Workshop, May 2012
On 14–15 May 2012, a workshop was held as part of the Smart CSOs Lab learning process. In this learning process we aim to foster new connections and relationships between change agents, get inspirations for new CSO strategies toward the Great Transition, align our strategic thinking as well as develop ideas to start experimenting with in our own organisations.
Conference in London, March 2011
In March 2011, the international Smart CSOs Conference in London convened around 100 CSO leaders, academics and funders to collectively take the Smart CSOs thinking to the next level and to develop practical ways forward.