Story of STOKE

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The STOKE Collective emerged out of deep relationship, a core belief that communities possess the power and vision to transform their world, and a shared commitment to slow, thoughtful building. 


STOKE was developed out of the collaborations and conversations of facilitators and trainers who worked together between 2012 and 2017 in the UMass Alliance for Community Transformation (UACT). UACT is a program in the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst that develops the abilities of students to engage in shifting power (organizing) and building collective critical knowledge (popular education).

We arrived at STOKE as the name for our collective with a commitment to thoughtful slowness in mind. We see ourselves as stewards tending to a fire, stoking the embers with patience, watching as a fire begins to crackle, then roar. As facilitators, we stoke the power and vision that already exists, guiding groups to see and understand their inherent strength and power-- the inherent strength and power of moving towards a more just world alongside others. We understand that we are up against so much, and we know when we turn in -- turn to each other-- we find the clarity and strength we need to fight, and win.

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The STOKE Collective is a group of facilitators, organizers, educators, and changemakers who have a shared set of values and experiences around making progressive and radical groups more relational, powerful, creative, adaptable, and resilient. We believe that this happens by fostering deeply trusting and interdependent relationships through relational practices. These practices and relationships fuel our groups and communities to stay actively engaged in the long-term struggle for justice and dignity. We have conducted assessments, accompanied groups long-term, and organized and facilitated trainings, workshops, and several large participatory events with a wide range of groups. Our collective has proudly done this work in a spectrum of justice-oriented fields that include:

  • reproductive justice and sexuality education

  • climate justice

  • educational justice and equitable access to higher education

  • public school systems

  • youth development

  • migrant justice

  • racial justice

  • worker justice

  • housing justice

  • access for people with disabilities

  • interfaith organizing

  • multi-issue social reform coalitions

  • community-based arts education

  • cooperatives & alternative economy organizations

  • prison abolition and support for currently and formerly incarcerated people

  • transformative justice

  • conflict transformation

The lived experiences and identities of our collective members as multi-racial and majority-queer, women, and trans organizers and educators reinforce our commitment to deep relationality, adaptability, and working across difference. This ethos is woven into both our internal culture and processes, and the work we do with our partners.