Organising tools and guides for municipalist initiatives in Sweden

Proposal abstract

The municipalist approach to politics and movement building is starting to gain attention in the general leftist debate and within popular movements in Sweden. Building on our previous work we want to strengthen the ties between groups and individuals interested in municipalism, and help transform this growing awareness into organising efforts and local initiatives.

The challenges are twofold: Firstly to produce material in Swedish and to contextualise ideas from the municipalist movement into a Swedish situation. Secondly to create meeting and learning possibilities for groups and individuals interested in municipalism.

With this proposal we therefore want to facilitate the formation of local study/action groups by a series of interlinked activities: a winter gathering; a study guide and recurring online and offline study discussion meetings; a webportal serving as a library of tools and ideas for municipalist initiatives; a how-to-guide on municipalist organising and practice; and, finally, a summer gathering.

Who we are

Demokratisk Omställning (Democratic Transformation) is a Swedish organisation with a focus on public education and on developing ideas and programs for radical, democratic social change. We are inspired by and collaborate with municipalist movements around the world. We work for a social ecological analysis, cooperation between popular movements, participatory democracy, and inclusive dynamic local communities. In the last five years, the muncipalist movement and what we can learn from it have been at the centre of our attention. We have arranged, and helped arrange, a broad variety of conferences, public talks, workshops and courses on the subject. We also helped translate the book Fearless Cities into Swedish and are now promoting it to the best of our capacity. In the activities proposed we want to build upon these efforts and plan to collaborate with many different local groups and organisations in Sweden interested in the municipalist movement and its approach to politics.

What we want to do and how we will do it

Our proposal can be summed up in six interlinked steps: 1. Production of a study guide (January) – Based partly on the Swedish translation of the book Fearless Cities, but also on the Municipalist School videos on the EMN site (swedish subtitles to be made) and other materials. The study outline will consist of thematic sessions with readings, exercises and questions. 2. Establishment of local study/action groups (February-May) – Using our already existing network we will encourage and facilitate the establishment of local study/action groups and invite those to recurring online discussion sessions (in addition to local face-to-face meetings). Individuals without a local group can also use the study guide and join the online discussion sessions. 3. Municipalist winter gathering (February) – A weekend gathering to take place in Österfärnebo in the middle of Sweden. Main purpose would be to build community and to kick things off for the spring. 4. Development of web portal (Febrary-) – An online hub or library of thematically arranged resources: articles on prospects and possibilities for municipalist interventions in Sweden; translation of articles or other resources on municipalism (ie subtitled videos); step-by-step guides on what you can do on the local level, how to organise and get people involved etc. 5. Production of a how-to-guide on municipalist organising and practice (April) – A guide in booklet format on local municipalist activism, collecting the best ideas and examples on how to organise and move forward in a Swedish municipality. 6 . Municipalist summer gathering – Probably to take place after the project has ended. A three to eight days gathering where we reflect together on the municipalist paradigm and how to move forward. With all this we hope to strengthen and expand the municipalist network in Sweden, spark the evolution of different local initiatives, and establish municipalism as a dynamic political alternative.

How much money do we need and what for?

Most of all we need to free up time for one of us to work part time with this. The main tasks for this person will be to lead the production of the described materials (to develop the web site, translate texts, compile and edit the study guide and the how-to-guide), but this person would also work to coordinate the process, keep contact with local groups, welcome new people into the organisation and help them find a fitting role. Draft budget: Web domain registration and hosting 200€ Printing and postage costs 200€ Salary for one coordinator/editor/translator 2600€ (about 170h á 15€) Total: 3000€

Why / How does it contribute to /reflects the municipalism principles

The growing interest of municipalism in Sweden seems to be yearning for organising efforts and local initiatives longing to be part of a support network where they can reflect together on how to translate and make practice of the municipalist experiences in a Swedish context. We – a collective of activists with a broad network of supportive and interested groups and individuals – are eager to develop our organisation and to meet those needs. We have the knowledge, the skills and the contacts, but are mainly constrained by lack of time. If we get the funding to realise this project, municipalism in Sweden will certainly take a big leap forward! The resources built through this process could then also be translated and used in other nordic countries with similar cultural and political settings, not least Finland where we already have strong connections.