Relational Uprising is a training and coaching institute with a mission to build resilient, interdependent, relational culture within communities working for social change. We work with frontline organizers from diverse movements, as well as with educators, facilitators, healers, young people, and community builders from all walks of life.
Our residential training series is designed to give teams a deep experience of a culture of connection, belonging, and inclusion.
We believe it is time for a new era of social change work in which we bring an intentionally humanizing relational culture to our lives, organizations and movements.
Our work presents a nuanced approach to issues of identity, intersectionality, power and ontology using an embodied, relational practice of narrative and somatics.
Our Theoretical Roots
As our name implies, we teach a radical relational perspective on change work. As a change approach based on a relational/ecological orientation, we view individuals, communities, organizations and movements as a LIVING RELATIONAL ENTANGLEMENT. This view holds that relationships between these entities are more fundamental than the entities themselves. That is, these living entities emerge, develop and thrive through their meaningful, inclusive and enduring engagement with each other. A standing contrast with the view of our dominant capitalist culture, which sees the world as based on isolated, self-made individuals and entities that are selfish, materialistic, and utility-maximizing, with no primary relationships nor meaningful engagement with community, land, history, religion, gender, age, class or ethnicity. We push against this dominant culture view of organizational entities as machines, people as cogs and management systems as a control process. Our approach is grounded in social constructionism and relational phenomenological theory, and integrates Gestalt philosophy, social neuroscience, somatic perspectives and many indigenous peoples’ relational ontologies which see humans as radically prosocial animals and culture as a vital site and field of intervention to generate ecological, social and individual resilience.
Our approach is embodied (i.e., asserts that attending to the quality of our physical-emotional or somatic experience of connection to “what is” is a reliable way to allow change to emerge); it is developmental (i.e., assumes people are always becoming and striving to grow even in the midst of emergency, collapse, suffering, illness, hardship, oppression or poverty ); it is existential (i.e., understands each human identity to be emergent, fluid and responsive to the compelling relational tasks confronting us in each given context and culture). It is also grounded in public narrative and public dialogue (i.e., assert that human contact and relating through appreciative dialogue and values-based narratives are the most reliable methods for gaining access to others’ perspectives and experiences, to be influenced and changed by them, and also to construct and organize a collective narrative for social change and shifting culture). Lastly, it is also grounded in deep ecology (i.e., asserts the need to cultivate a culture that remembers and reclaim our role as living beings and stewards that rise to the challenge of embracing diversity and complexity in a living interdependent Ecosphere).
Hear us on the healing justice podcast!
"What makes a community or individual resilient is not self-mastery or will - it is the quality, strength, intimacy and inclusivity of our relational bonds.”
The inspiration for Relational Uprising was born from our 15+ years of learning at the intersection of deep social justice organizing work and somatic healing and education.
Since 2012, before launching as Relational Uprising, the core curriculum for the Relational Culture framework was incubated, developed and launched in collaboration with Mark Fairfield, relational & Gestalt scholar with groundwork being laid since 2000 in group development, harm reduction and shared leadership, and founder of the Leadership Institute at the Relational Center, an innovative Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to building capacity for a shift in culture toward one that values empathy, diversity, and interdependency, and that sponsored in 2012 our inaugural project called the Culture of Radical Engagement.
In the Fall of 2016, the Relational Uprising training project was launched with the sponsorship of The Watershed Center in Millerton New York, a social justice retreat center for changemakers, where we currently hold our foundational residential training series.
Cedar Landsman is a heart-centered community organizer, trainer, and consultant committed to deep community building for the purpose of radical social, economic and cultural transformation. She has worked in the field of social justice for over 15 years, from the global justice movement to the low-wage labor movement to the fight for a just and fair food system. She currently serves as Co-Director at Relational Uprising. Cedar holds a BA in globalization theory and social movement history from Hampshire College and Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Latin American Studies from UCLA.
Lucién Demaris has been a Somatics-based coach and trainer for over fifteen years in the US and internationally, rooting his work in deep ecological values of mutual support and stewardship of the Earth. He was born and raised in Ecuador, and roots his work in the values of indigenous Kichwa and Shuar healers from his native land. He currently serves as Co-Director at Relational Uprising, where he developed a Relational Somatics frame for culture change makers. A contributing chapter about his work was recently published in the book “Embodied Relational Gestalt: Theory & Applications.” Lucién is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner of Somatic Education and a Gestalt Practitioner in Community Engagement & Leadership. He is also a practitioner of the Art of Transformational Consulting, an Acupuncturist with a Masters in Chinese Medicine, and a Nationally Certified Bodyworker.
We are deeply inspired to be in relationship with many visionary movements, organizations and communities that are embracing and adapting our relational culture tools and principles as integral to their organizing efforts and “DNA.” We value our interdependent relationships with IfNotKnow, Movimiento Cosecha, Sunrise Movement, TightShift Laboring Cooperative, ECG at Hampshire College, Momentum, Healing Justice, The Peace Poets, Ayni Institute, Real Food Challenge, and Schaghticoke First Nations among many others.