A Platform for Collaborative Research, Discussion and Creation
With ASSEMBLIES, NAVEL invests in forms of learning that are:
COLLABORATIVE + EXPERIMENTAL + PROCESS-ORIENTED + CARING
Community-led, ASSEMBLIES are learning groups which form around a theme, practice, project or experiment.
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.
ASSEMBLIES cultivates a welcoming, intersectional and empowering space for knowledge, skill and resource sharing with the belief that it increases access, challenges the individualism of capitalist culture, supports us in learning from one another, and thus generates more possibilities for all.
With ASSEMBLIES, NAVEL aims to inspire and empower our community to:
- Connect with, share and learn from one another
- Foster collectivity, knowledge and resource sharing
- Develop and practice organizing and facilitation skills
- Collaborate, experiment, take risks, and engage in challenging dialogues (Put our braver space intentions into practice)
- Center the voices of QTBIPOC and people with disabilities
- Actively decolonize our minds and bodies
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.
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
For the three month period of the ASSEMBLY, NAVEL provides:
- 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)
- AV Equipment: projector, PA system, cameras, laptop, etc.
- Video Conferencing: Pro Zoom account for online meetings
- Peer Network: connecting organizers with the NAVEL network, community members and relevant guest speakers.
- Micro Funding: All 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)
- A Facilitation and Peer-Learning Reading List & Resources
- Regular Check-ins: the program steward is available to 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 certified leadership and DEAI consultant/trainer is offered to the groups’ organizers at the beginning and middle of the term.
- An Anti-Racism/Oppression Training: with a certified DEAI consultant/trainer 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, and have the opportunity to recruit new members.
The ASSEMBLIES Program Cycle
- OPEN CALL: Each quarter, individuals/groups propose a topic of interest via an Open Call.
- PITCH MEETING:Those submitting proposals must give a short public presentation at the Pitch Meeting (formely called Quarterly Meeting) that all may attend.
- 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 facilitation training for organizers, as well as an anti-oppression training for all participants. Groups meet bi-weekly for 3 months, either at the space of NAVEL, offsite for field trips and/or online. There is a shared calendar for the space and access to resources (camera, kitchen onsite, support group on slack, etc)
- 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. Research/reading lists go online. Some groups make zines.
- 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.
Illustrations by Alice Yuan Zhang