What’s Next? Resources for After the Curriculum

Posted May 1, 2011 in Homework

Ways to continue learning, mutual aid, and social action

You finished the curriculum – congratulations! Your circle is now poised to embark upon the next phase of its journey together as a self-organizing, self-facilitating team. We hope you’re excited to get started.

This page is designed to give you a sense of what you can continue to do as a group. It’s only a guide – your own ideas and passions are the true determinants of your group’s future.

Here are some quick points to consider:

Keep the Go-Round: For groups that continue meeting in any form, starting each meeting with a go-round becomes a valued ritual. The go-round, which can last 45 minutes or an hour, is how you’ll stay plugged into each others’ lives and gather new ideas for learning, mutual aid, and social action. 

Blended Approach: Some groups continue to meet twice per month, where one meeting is a potluck and discussion and the other is an “Activity Day.” For example, during an Activity Day you might hold a workshop to learn a new skill such as sewing or canning, or a join an activity that is part of a social action campaign such as an eviction vigil or town meeting.

The following lists provide ideas for continued meetings, projects, and activities. Contact us or use the comments if you have feedback about this list, or ideas we should include!

  • Download this Entire Packet (Word Doc)
  • Download Sheet A: Resources for Continued Meetings (Word Doc)
  • Download Sheet B: Ideas for Projects and Activities (Word Doc)

Resources for Continued Meetings

Download Sheet A: Resources for Continued Meetings (Word Doc)

1. Session Modules

The Resilience Circle Network has developed guides for these additional sessions for your group.

A. Your Money or Your Life – This excellent tool has been used widely as a way for people to put their financial lives in the service of their true values. Try this session, and then consider reading the full book together with your club. Read more and download the session.

B. Time Banking – In this session you’ll consider how to set up a time bank, a tool that is increasingly being used to promote local economies and stronger communities.  It’s easy to set up and can be expanded gradually. Read more and download the session.

C. Supporting the Unemployed – An isolated unemployed person may lack the resources or energy to navigate the unemployment system, especially since many employers violate the law to avoid paying benefits and last paychecks. Your group can provide moral and technical support to unemployed people in your circle or community. Download the Tool Kit developed by Faith Advocates for Jobs and spend a session learning about workers’ rights and your state’s unemployment system. For details, download a PDF copy of the Tool Kit. 

D. Budgeting & Debt Reduction – The Resilience Circle Network has compiled nine ideas for budgeting and debt reduction, such as making a pact with other circle members to get out of debt, conducting “budget makeovers,” and getting together to call your credit card companies and ask for rate reductions. For details, see “Action Ideas: Budgeting & Debt Reduction.”

E. Transition 101 – “Transition” is an international movement of connected communities who are working to prepare for the impacts of climate change and “peak oil” (a.k.a., less plentiful and more expensive oil). In this 90-minute session you’ll learn about this movement and how you can help your community make the transition. Coming soon!

F. Exposing Classism – This workshop, developed by our sister organization Class Action, helps people learn about the impact of class and classism on their individual lives, communities, workplaces, and organizing efforts. It can help a group get to know each other further and enhance common endeavors. Coming soon!

G. Emergency Preparedness – Coming soon!

2. Book Clubs – Dig into a topic of interest by reading a book together. Discuss the whole thing at once, or over several sessions. You might also circulate and discuss shorter readings such as articles or essays. Some of our favorite books are: Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Weath by David Korten, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, and Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet Schor. See more book ideas here.

3. Film Discussions – Watch a movie with your circle or host a larger screening for the wider community. Some possibilities are: Inside Job; Food, Inc.; The Economics of Happiness; Maxed Out; and The Flaw. See more film ideas here.

4. Small Group Curricula – Here is a sample list of curricula for small groups developed by a variety of organizations.  See more small group curricula ideas here.

A. Personal Safety Nets – This book and workbook will help you create a web of plans, resources and people to give meaning, support, ease, safety and security to your life, no matter what the future may hold.

B. Northwest Earth Institute – The Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) is a national leader in the development of innovative programs that empower individuals and organizations to transform culture toward a sustainable and enriching future. 

C. Make > Shift: From Finding a Job to Crafting a Livelihood – Make > Shift shifts attention to the abundance of possibilities for meaningful work, even during a time of high unemployment. Participants brainstorm ideas for products and services stemming from current demographic and market trends. Read more and download the materials.

D. JustFaith Ministries – JustFaith Ministries offers extended programs that provide opportunities for individuals to study and be formed by the justice tradition articulated by the Scriptures, the Church’s historical witness, theological inquiry and Church social teaching.

15 Ideas for Projects and Activities

Download Sheet B: Ideas for Projects and Activities (Word Doc)

1. “Re-skilling” Community Workshops – Remember the Gifts & Needs exercise where you figured out that someone in your group knows how to can food?  Or to sew?  Or garden?  Or repair leaky faucets?  Hold a series of workshops to learn these skills from one another.  Consider inviting the wider community.  Visithttp://transitionUS.org for guidance on “re-skilling.”

2. Spring: Garden Prep Round Robins – A few circle members each agree to spend one weekend at one another’s helping to ready their respective gardens for planting.  Each “host” buys the needed materials and plans how to best use the crew. The team works for a couple of hours at each home, then moves on to the next.  People share gardening knowledge along the way, seeds might get shared, and more work is accomplished overall.

3. Winter: Weatherization Round Robins – In winter or fall, circle members help button-up each others’ homes for winter.  Each “host” buys materials to caulk windows, seal doors, and put up plastic around leaky windows. With a team working a couple of hours on a weekend, each household saves potentially hundreds of dollars on heating costs.

4. Community Gardens and Community Supported Agriculture – If there’s open land in your community, organize your neighbors to create a community garden. Many areas have state or local agencies that support community gardening.  Another way to improve access to high-quality produce and meats is by pooling resources with local farmers through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

5. Share!  – Visit http://shareable.net/how-to-share for a list of ideas to set up systems for sharing food, tools, chores, time, cars, child care, and MUCH more.  For example:

Dinner Circles and Cooking Exchanges: A once-a-week frozen entrée or soup exchange is very easy to organize among committed neighbors or friends.  A record-keeping system equalizes the financial costs and benefits.

Carpools and Ride-Share: Solo commuting by car is costly and frustrating. Many communities have established carpool and ride-share networking systems to help people find others who drive a similar route.

6. Keep People in Their Homes: Rent Parties and Eviction Vigils – Popular in other times of economic stress, a rent party is a fun way to say, hey, we’re all in this together. Those who can spare some cash leave what they can in the money jar for those who are having a difficult time making the rent.  Eviction vigils and blockages are another way of saying we have the power to stop banks and lawyers from putting our friends or neighbors out on the street.

7. Reduce, Reuse, Re-purpose, and Recycle – Why waste money on a new computer, textbook or blender, when there’s a good chance that someone has just posted a notice for a free or nearly-free one on Craig’s List or Freecycle?  Make a pact with a few circle members to acquire your next few purchases at a used store or though one of these online services.

8. Start a Bulk Buying Group – It’s cheaper to buy in bulk, but where do you store all that extra toilet paper?  Before your next run to the bulk store, take orders from friends or neighbors, collect the money, and buy everyone’s supplies at the same time. This way, you keep the cost savings and eliminate the storage problem.

9. Basement Cleans – Like the round-robin garden prep, get together with others to support the process of cleaning out your basement and/or attic, then help them do the same.  Freecycle what’s left after your co-cleaners sort through what you’re ready to say good-bye to.  Cleaning out old clutter makes way for new ideas, and sometimes you’ll find useful things you’ve forgotten about.

10. Throw a Block Party – Many people don’t even know the names of the people living next door. Get everyone together for a potluck or barbeque.

11. Hold a Community Forum – Forums are free and public venues for conversations on the great issues shaping your neighborhood and our planet.  Invite a speaker, a panel of speakers, or show a movie on a topic that’s important to you.  Visit http://forumorganizing.org for tips on how to hold a Forum in your community.

12. “Get Out of Debt” Pacts – Meet with others to strategize about reducing or eliminating debt.  How can you rely less on credit cards and other borrowing?  Make a pact to take debt-reduction steps together.  Consider calling your credit card companies together to request a reduction in your rates or fees.  Mention the possibility that you’ll cut up your card and they may be quicker to lower your rate! (See also “Action Ideas: Beyond Debt” for additional ideas, available here).

13. Move Your Money – People everywhere are moving their bank accounts from the big Wall Street banks to community-minded institutions.  Make a pact with one or two others to do the same.  Then, think even bigger:  where does your church have its bank account?  What about your city or state?  People in New Mexico convinced their state government to move all of its money to a local bank!  Visit http://moveyourmoneyproject.org for more info.

14. Budget Makeovers – A circle member volunteers to share information about their personal financial circumstances.  They prepare a budget that includes income, major expenses, and debts. They pass out their confidential budget and the group brainstorms ideas to save money.  At the end of the session, the person collects the copies to protect their confidentiality.

15. Social Action Campaigns – Click here for some possibilities.


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