The Ecodharma Centre is a Triratna retreat centre in Catalunya, Spain. Since 2009 an important strand of Ecodharma’s work has been the development of Dharma-based courses for social and environmental activists.
Now Ecodharma is running “Training for Trainers” courses for people who want to provide similar training for grassroots activists in their own countries across mainland Europe.
“Our work with social activists is a secular reworking of much of the Buddhist-inspired material we have developed within our Engaged Buddhist Training,” explains Guhyapati from the Ecodharma team. “There’s been so much interest in the work that we can’t do it all ourselves. So now we’re training facilitators in the skills and perspectives needed to carry this work to more countries.”
Last month Ecodharma worked with activists in Madrid and the Dutch-speaking world; in October the course Sustaining Activism – Training the Trainer will see facilitation groups from Poland, Germany and Romania joining the Ecodharma team.
Guhyapati explains that the work in Madrid involved groups connected to the 15-M and Indignats movement, which inspired the Occupy movement in the USA and other parts of Europe in 2011. 15-M has recently spawned a political party in Spain, which won 8% of the national vote in the European Elections. “It’s great to find ways to inspire people connected with M15. Some of us at the Ecodharma Centre joined the occupation of Placa Catalunya in Barcelona during the first days of the M15 movement a few years back. We could feel there a huge energy and community spirit and we’re excited to help add strength and capacity to their work.”
Similarly, his team is enthusiastic about training up facilitators in Northern and Eastern Europe. “A key aim of this project is the empowerment of people. So it’s an obvious step to train people to be able to run the kind of courses we offer for themselves in their own networks,” Guhyapati explains.
The Ecodharma Sustaining Resistance course provides methods of working effectively with the personal and inner dimension of activism, equipping people to avoid burnout and to better empower themselves for action. It also offers tools to support more skilful inter-personal work in groups and networks.