ASSEMBLIES is a platform for collaborative research, discussion and creation, through which NAVEL cultivates a space for communal learning that centers:
Community-led, ASSEMBLIES are learning groups that form around a topic, practice and/or project, and which critically and creatively engage with social, economic and environmental justice.
For 3 months, NAVEL provides each ASSEMBLY with space, community, support, tools and resources—including access to our equipment, peer network, a facilitation and anti-oppression training and micro funding. At the end of the term, each ASSEMBLY is asked to present about their experience and/or project. Projects can take whatever format feels most appropriate, be it a presentation, performance, publication, field trip, object, website, physical structure, etc.
NAVEL launched ASSEMBLIES in 2019 with the belief that fostering welcoming spaces for knowledge, skill and resource sharing:
→ Increases access
→ Challenges individualism
→ Supports us in learning from one another
→ Empowers us to resist oppressive structures
…and thus generates more possibilities for all.
ASSEMBLIES are about…
♡ Connecting, sharing and learning from one another in ways that foster care, compassion and vulnerability, and center the voices of QTBIPOC and people with disabilities
♡ Engaging in challenging, generative dialogues across difference (Put our braver space intentions into practice)
♡ Developing and practicing organizing and facilitation skills
♡ Actively decolonizing our minds and bodies
♡ Experimenting with how to be together otherwise
To name a few, the first round of ASSEMBLIES saw groups form around topics including black ethics in rap music, anti-colonial media literacy, decolonizing augmented reality and revolutionary wealth redistribution.
Learn more about all the previous ASSEMBLIES from Spring 2019-2020:Peruse the ASSEMBLIES
Our Guiding Principles & Values for Braver, Caring, and Collaborative Learning
By braver, we mean an inclusive and compassionate environment where we feel empowered to take risks, make mistakes and engage in challenging discussions.
♡ We all have something to share and to learn from one another.
♡ We value transparency, knowledge and resource sharing, with the belief that what we share increases access, challenges the individualism of capitalist culture, supports us in learning from one another, and generates more possibilities for all.
♡ We center care, compassion and vulnerability with ourselves and in our interactions with others.
♡ We are curious about different ways of thinking, being and making. We are also curious about other living and non-living beings with whom we cohabit.
♡ We privilege process over outcome. There is always more to learn and things can be revisited. Never failing, always learning.
♡ What we trust becomes trustworthy. We trust ourselves, our peers and our process.
♡ We are honest about our own privileges and power. We recognize that inequity is systemic and are mindful about the space we occupy in relation to others.
♡ There is a time and place for everything. We prioritize listening and welcome discomforts, mistakes and disagreements with an open heart and mind, as opportunities to learn, grow, reach deeper mutual understanding and develop more empathetic relationships.
♡ We use a facilitative approach. We empower and invest in each other, share responsibility and practice collective decision-making.
♡ Our bond and collective agreements keep us accountable to each other and our learning goals.
♡ We respect each other’s privacy and boundaries, including confidentiality. We ask permission and understand that safety, accessibility and personal boundaries mean different things for different people. We allow space for ourselves and others to enter and leave according to their needs.
♡ We are grateful for our learnings, for what we could have only created and learned together, at this moment, in this space.
♡ We remember to have fun and enjoy ourselves.
The ASSEMBLIES Community & Resources
NAVEL provides each ASSEMBLY with:
- Organizers: propose, organize and facilitate the ASSEMBLIES
- Participants: members of one or more ASSEMBLIES
- Steward: point person on the NAVEL team coordinating the ASSEMBLIES.
- NAVEL Space in Downtown LA (amenities include a kitchen, modular seating and furniture), (Due to Covid-19, the NAVEL space is currently closed and all ASSEMBLIES are meeting online)
- AV Equipment: projector, PA system, cameras, laptop, etc. (Due to Covid-19, there will be limited on-site access to the equipment)
- Video Conferencing: Pro Zoom account for online meetings
- Peer Network: connecting organizers with the NAVEL network, community members and relevant guest speakers.
- Stipend for organizers: ASSEMBLIES organizers receive a $700 honorarium per group (since Fall 2020)
- Micro Funding: 85% of collected participation fees are evenly distributed amongst the groups, who decide democratically how to use them. (The amount varies each term according to the number of total participants in the program)
- Facilitation and Peer-Learning Reading List & Resources
- Regular Check-ins: the ASSEMBLIES steward is available to support organizers throughout the term.
- An Information Session: where logistics and knowledge from previous ASSEMBLIES and facilitation practices are shared with organizers.
- A Facilitation Training: with a leadership and DEAI consultant/trainer from Freedom Verses is offered to the groups’ organizers at the beginning and middle of the term.
- An Anti-Racism/Oppression Training: with a DEAI consultant/trainer Freedom Verses is offered to all participants at the beginning of the term.
- A Peer Group: organizers get to know one another during presentations, info sessions and training, and are connected via a group chat where they can share best practices, tips and resources throughout the term.
- Promotion: NAVEL promotes the groups through our extended networks.
- Documentation & Archiving: NAVEL archives and publishes the groups’ research, content and presentations on our website and other online platforms.
- Public Presentation: NAVEL organizes and promotes a public presentation by the ASSEMBLIES at the end of term, during which groups share learnings with each other as well as the wider community.
The ASSEMBLIES Program Cycle
♡ OPEN CALL: Each quarter, individuals/groups propose a topic of interest via an Open Call.
♡ PITCH MEETING: Those submitting proposals give a short public presentation at the Pitch Meeting.
♡ COMMUNITY VOTE: A smaller subset of the proposed groups are accepted based on a community vote.
♡ SIGN UPS: There is a signup period during which folks can join the chosen ASSEMBLIES.
♡ TRAINING & RESOURCES: NAVEL hosts an information session and a facilitation training for organizers with Freedom Verses. All participants are asked to attend an anti-oppression training also with Freedom Verses. Groups typically meet bi-weekly for 12-14 weeks, either at the space of NAVEL (closed due to COVID-19), offsite for field trips and/or online (currently all ASSEMBLIES are meeting online). At the moment, there is limited on-site access to the equipment.
♡ GUIDANCE + PEER SUPPORT: Organizers receive ongoing support from the ASSEMBLIES steward at NAVEL and stay connected via a group chat on slack.
♡ ARCHIVE KNOWLEDGE: The groups’ research is archived on are.na. Some groups make zines. Info about the groups is published on the NAVEL website.
♡ COLLECTIVE SHARING: At the end of three months, each ASSEMBLY gives a short public presentation on their research and findings. All presentations at the public event at the end go online on vimeo, linked from the NAVEL site.
Some groups end, while a small subset may apply to continue their work for one more term or morph into some other form that grows out of NAVEL.
ASSEMBLIES Fall 2020 is made possible in part by a grant from the Wilhelm Family Foundation.
Illustrations by Alice Yuan Zhang