How do you differentiate a movement from a community? How are
How do you differentiate a movement from a community? How are movement building and advocacy connected? How do you establish and sustain a movement?
To address these questions, the YPARD Representative for Uganda, Paul Zaake, and myself as chair of the YPARDs steering committee were invited to deliver a guest lecture to a Bachelor students class in International Development Management, from the Van Hall Larenstein, University of Applied Sciences.
Through YPARDs model as an international network of young professionals whose mission is to enable and empower young agriculturists to shape sustainable food systems, we discussed the theories of movement and community building and we shared concrete YPARD cases of movement building for advocacy, on a global and national level.
YPARD, with its nearly 27K members registered on the website - double that on social media and through the 72 Country chapters has characteristics of both movement and community building. We explained the choices we made with reference to Atkins theory.
Our key message is that, based on our experience, if the purpose is to create a movement that wants to achieve social change in a sustainable way and long-term, we need to make sure that we build on these three points below, although generally attributed to community building:
These three points tackle the challenge of many movements that, as expressed by Building Movement Project, fall at building strong relationships that glue people together as a movement. YPARD has at times intentionally used the term movement to highlight our common cause for social change, our agile structure and our active nature - we dont only learn and support each other; we take collective actions! In fact, YPARD fairly is a Transformational movement: one that shifts power - enabling young people to have their say -, one that has shared values and an integrated vision, and one that collaboratively creates system change on long term. System change happens at two levels here: we influence Development and political systems to be fully youth-inclusive and ultimately, we shape sustainable food systems. Yet, YPARD has increasingly identified itself as an international community for the reasons above. Meanwhile, movement building is something we do around key advocacy moments and projects.
We shared three cases of movement building and advocacy work: The Youth in Landscapes Initiative on a global level (founded by YPARD, IFSA and GAEA); and two YPARD Ugandas advocacy work around establishing school gardens and their participation at the G20 Conference.
Discussing with students around three concrete cases of movement building helped them to identify by themselves good practices. We liked that they emphasized, for instance, the crucial role of local representatives who fill the gap between those who dont have much access to internet (if not at all) and who serve as intermediaries for sharing feedback, input and information both ways between grassroots and the international community. They also highlighted that one needs to appreciate what our advocacy messages may mean for other stakeholders reality for the latter to buy into our suggestions. Indeed, they were referring to some schools not being able to implement a school garden because of shortage in land despite their potential interest. Questions arise whether future innovations can be created to engage students in agriculture including those in schools with shortage of land for example by using digital tools or vertical gardening.
We hope this exchange will help students reflect further and prepare some strong movement building and advocacy plans in the coming weeks. As for YPARD, it is a great reminder to continuously reflect on and re-evaluate the terminology and concepts we are using, to stay relevant to the work we do and the messages we deliver.
We are always happy to hear about your feedback, great theories and examples on the subject, to sharpen our work. Please leave a comment below if you would like to share any thoughts and/or references!
Photo credit: Marina Cherbonnier
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