Activist Ashram Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why did you choose the name Ashram? Aren’t you appropriating that word?

In a world where cultural appropriation within unequal power relations is rife, we are conscious that we are “remixing” and, some would even say “appropriating” the word “Ashram”.

Many see an Ashram as a physical space, but our intention is to invoke the original Sanskrit meaning of the word; “a place of effort” or “place of being”; as something that is beyond a physical space or even a virtual space – ‘Ashram’ as a state of mind, soul and physiology.

We chose ‘Activist Ashram’ as a decolonisation of language, to reflect the cultural diversity of /The Rules community and to honour this as a ’place of being’ for activists.

We want to pay homage to the cultural lineage of the word and the deep Vedic wisdom from which the ‘Ashram’ was born.

 

Who can apply for this fellowship?

This fellowship is open to activists, community leaders, organizers, bloggers, artists & other deserters of the capitalist system, age 18 & up.

 

Is this fellowship paid?

/The Rules will be be providing a modest stipend as part of our wellness practice.

 

How long is the fellowship & is there an in-person component?

The fellowship will last for one year, from February 2016-February 2017. There will be an in-person retreat for the fellows convened by /TR in February 2016 where we will bring together the cohort to share experiences, learn from each other, & help us develop what this #ActivistAshram looks like in practice.

 

Will the fellowship accommodate non-English speakers?

While /The Rules aims to be inclusive in all aspects of our work, unfortunately there are still challenges we face due to available resources; translation & multilingualism included. At this time, the fellowship material is only available in English & the retreat will be convened with English as the main language.

If you believe you have the ability/resources to help us address this issue, please contact us at contact@therules.org.

 

How prestigious is this fellowship?

If you think this is a prestigious fellowship, we discourage you from applying. We have no formal affiliations with anyone. We try to be at the liminal edges of all our relationships, and we hope you do too. There’s a system to be dismantled and remade. How can one look for establishment approval during this revolutionary process? Our responsibility is to our communities, our families, our comrades, and to Mother Earth. And we recognize that these are choices that we have made.

Our aim is not the longevity of our organization or job security. If we become Amnesty International in 20 years, we have failed ourselves, our generation, and generations after us who will inherit the planet we have destroyed. We must delegitimize the current system and help build the better world we know is possible. For now, this means that we are trying to get enough resources to help connect various struggles and ‘remove the veils’ at this critical moment in our planet’s history. At some point, this will also require the implosion of /The Rules as an organization. We look forward to that moment. And hope we go out like a supernovae.

In short, not at all.

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Trump: Join us in connecting the dots

The election of Donald Trump has left millions, maybe even billions of us in shock. Although we may be looking with bewilderment at the US today, we should remember that he is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a symptom of a sickness that is raging all around the world. People are hurting, disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at a neoliberal economic system that is destroying lives and the planet with increasing ferocity. And in their desperation they are willing to consider extreme measures to make themselves heard.

Demagogues thrive amid fear and insecurity, which is why they paint the world in such dark terms. It’s a strategy that has put right-wing populist leaders in power in an Axis of Egos: from Brazil to Turkey, the Philippines to Russia, authoritarian strongmen like Trump are on the rise. Meanwhile, many centrist liberals, like the Democratic Party in the US, have been so intent on rejecting left-wing populist solutions, and so sure of their ability to beat anyone running on a white supremacy platform with its misogyny and homophobia, that they opened the door for Mr. Trump to walk straight through. Their preference is always to maintain the status quo that has served them so well.

As dangerous as the election of Trump is for the world, we can also see in this moment the truth that we simply cannot rely on the electoral political system to save us, because it is designed to prevent the fundamental change we need. Its own survival is at stake and it will marshal all its champions and resources to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. But when we work, or continue working for change from the ground up; when we build or keep on building new ways of living and being with each other where we live; when we construct or keep constructing the future we know is possible with our own hands, rather than hoping distant leaders will build it for us, we find our true power. Finally, when we combine that with the unbending hope that has powered change through the ages, we know our power has meaning.

A 400-year-old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. Change on this scale is not going to be smooth or easy. We should not be surprised, then, that moments like this — where the establishment is dealt a body blow — become more and more common. We can despair when that blow comes in the form of right-wing extremists, or we can step-up. We are the ones we are looking for, who can and must grasp the opportunities in these crises that are undoubtedly there.

So it’s time to come together, taking time to remember the earth. Remember all the successful struggles for justice that came before us, and imagine all those to come. Remember that social movements are growing all over the world and realising the common struggle. Remember life. Then, organise. Find each other and help midwife the inevitable transition that brings forth from the ashes of neoliberal capitalism a system that works for the good of all life on Mother Earth. This is not just activism; this is our responsibility as human beings alive as this all unfolds.

This is why we are here.