Apart from these days, the Thursday and Monday are optional social days to allow Gathering participants to get to know each other better, and to allow any other interested person to attend and get the flavour of the Network. Participants can also arrange directly with Commonground to come early or stay late.
Although the Annual Gathering is the peak decision-making and planning meeting for the Network, past decisions and our experience have enabled us to shift the emphasis of the Gathering away from more conventional planning to activities that help us to define and develop a culture of nonviolence. This means, for example, that more of the Gathering time is devoted to activities - such as support groups, story-sharing, music, drama, games, relaxation, and discussion groups - that allow us to get to know each other better. By doing this, we can network more effectively throughout the year.
An important feature of this year's Gathering will be the discussion about gender-based structural oppression, and other forms of structural oppression. So far, several people have offered suggestions about how this discussion might be structured and processed. You are welcome to add your thoughts as well. The suggestions so far indicate that this discussion should take about one of the three days (should it be more?), and there has also been a suggestion to have two-day workshops (one for men and one for women) before the Gathering so that people can better prepare (and feel safer) for this discussion. Would you be willing to organise a workshop for women/men before the Gathering? Would you participate?
The 1996 Gathering is going to be challenging, but a lot of fun. As always, it is open to people who consider themselves active participants in the Australian Nonviolence Network.
At the Gathering, we will need to share the venue preparation and cleanup work, but we still need more volunteers to undertake cooking and childcare. Would you be willing to volunteer for either of these? Or do you know someone who might?
There will be a group cost-sharing exercise to cover venue and catering costs for the Gathering. Every effort will be made to keep these costs as low as possible. The exercise will ensure that no-one will pay more than they can afford. Although travel costs cannot be paid for through this exercise, we will encourage interstate participants to consider these costs when deciding their contribution.
The Network Facilitation Collective is pleased to be organising this year's Gathering and looks forward to seeing people from as many bioregions as possible.
See you there!
Robert J. Burrowes