Our Theory and Practice

Wildfire is more than training; Wildfire is movement building:

Wildfire is more than a training program; it is a movement building project that connects groups to one another in order to lay ground for a network that can respond to crises and turn them into opportunities to win the world we want. We use training and education as vehicles to push groups beyond their issue silos to build joint campaigns, find common targets, fight for shared goals, and strike at the systems that cause the crises we face. Ultimately, the Wildfire Project is contributing to the building of a powerful movement for social, political, economic, and ecological justice.

We work with groups in action:

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We work with groups that are organizing on the ground to support them in their actual work. We believe that a training and education process must ultimately be grounded in action for deep learning to occur. We prioritize groups that use direct action to fight for real wins here and now while building power for the long battles ahead.

We prioritize new formations of front-line organizers confronting crisis:

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We believe groups emerging from the many crises we face in our society – such as the climate crisis, the housing crisis, the student debt crisis, mass incarceration, and others – particularly groups outside of the non-profit world, exploring new models, and on the front lines of movement struggle. These groups need support in institution-building more urgently than others and have enormous potential to intervene in crises in ways that open opportunities for systemic change and movement growth.

Our programs are group-centered:

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For us, the group is a complex social unit that serves both as a vehicle for the collective action we must undertake in the world and a space for the interpersonal care and transformation we must all undergo as we fight for the world we want. In our programming, we treat groups not as collections of individuals, but vital units that are greater than the sum of their parts, and we set out intentionally to cultivate the kind of trust, love, and courage groups need in order to thrive.

We combine political education and skills training:

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In our programs, we always combine theory and practice, political education and organizing training. Our focus isn’t to train participants for a particular action or campaign, nor do we study history and theory for academic purposes; we train and practice to develop the tools we need to win today and tomorrow, and we study in order to connect today’s fights to a struggle much deeper and a movement much wider.

We have radical, holistic, and visionary politics:

Wildfire facilitators come from different backgrounds, carry a diversity of political theories and identities, have learned from a variety of movements and struggles, and use an educational methodology that is based in inquiry as opposed to top-down.  Still, we have politics, we think theory is important, and we believe that we must be upfront about where we’re coming from in order to open the space for real debate and growth. We are radical and holistic in the sense that we dig to the roots beneath the crises we face and see capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy as systems that work together to shape the values and institutions around us.  We open space for vision because we believe we need to know what we want in order to win it, and because the world we want shapes how we fight for it. We believe we must build movements capable of truly challenging and ultimately replacing the institutions of the status quo.

Wildfire carries out long-term programming and builds long-term relationships:

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If we’re serious about winning the world we want, we must be in it for the long haul, and we must take the time needed to build and strengthen the kinds of groups that can win. Wildfire carries out long-term processes with the groups it works with and maintains connection with them beyond the program in order to help them continue to grow and to connect them to other groups struggling alongside them.

We are committed to democratic, experiential pedagogy:

DemocraticPedagogy

Our trainers are experienced organizers, activists, and facilitators. We use democratic and experiential educational methods to draw from the experience of the people we work with because we believe the wisdom is already in the room and that real experience is how we learn and grow. We create an open, warm environment for learning in community, we open space for participants to teach each other and practice together, and we have fun while we do it.  We are principled and grounded but we’re also flexible, and our work is always guided by the groups we work with.

We stand on the shoulders of giants and we’re always in process:

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We stand on the shoulders of giants in the movement today and learn from the rich history of social movements that came before ours. We don’t intend to reinvent the wheel, but rather weave together all of that hard-earned wisdom into a story for our generation in the language of the movement being born. We owe an enormous amount to the other training groups, movement institutions, organizations, theorists, educators, organizers, writers, activists, freedom-fighters, revolutionaries, and every-day people in struggle who have taught us everything we know and who have paved the way for today. We are and always intend to be a work in progress. We are a work in progress and we intend to always be such. We are a product of the movement around us and we aim to grow along with it.