Sapna Agarwal – artist, educator and community organiser

Sapna Agarwal (she/her) is an artist, educator and community organiser. She runs the Woodlands Community Anti-Racist-Library and is the founding member of Glasgow’s longest running home education group, a non-hierarchical, all ages, social group based on mutual respect and support. She is also a partner at Aye-Aye Books, a radical bookshop based in the CCA, Glasgow. She initiated the children’s section there which stocks books featuring children under-represented on the high street and in mainstream media.

Sapna’s memories:

Activism to me means intentional action. It can be the bigger actions involving mass movement but it can also be much smaller actions. Even resisting constant activity in a capitalist society that insists on never-ending productivity is a form of activism to my mind. Sitting still or lying down with the thought of disrupting capitalism or white supremacy is as powerful a form of activism as locking onto the gates of the nuclear weapons base. This is equally valid when done alone or in community. Educating can also be a form of activism, whether that’s educating yourself or helping others to educate themselves. Similarly, bringing people together, or being part of a gathering, that is about mutual support – participation as opposed to consumerism – is also a form of activism as it is an antidote to capitalism and can break down hierarchies and foster understanding. It therefore pushes against the dominant narrative. So to sum it up, I think I would say activism needs to be something done with focused intention and that acts in opposition to the dominant ways of operating. It is necessary in my life but also stirs up feelings of hope and therefore also always holds some excitement for me. 

– anything by Adrienne Maree brown spurs me on to be honest. I especially return again and again to “Holding Change” and “Emergent Strategy”. Both offer practical and theoretical advice, suggestion, guidance on how to be in community, how to acknowledge the world as it is but also hold thoughts on how to move forward into better, more equitable ways of living. There is joy, love and playfulness as well as a really fresh outlook entwined with respect for the insight and wisdom of those who have come before us. This reading lead me to reading Octavia Butler and Grace Lee Boggs, both incredibly insightful, almost prophetic women. 

– “Dirty River” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha is Leah Lakshmi’s autobiographical tale of survival and self-discovery. Her journey to self-acceptance aided my own and her astute understanding of the world and how to navigate it really opened my eyes 

To me, it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting and knowing Sapna. I commend the way she makes the people around her, individual and community wise, seen and involved and she’s a great listener! I am very grateful to my supervisor Caroline Gausden who introduced me to one of her workshops at the Woodlands Community Anti-Racist Library. Before my words draw the finishing touches on my blogs, a big thank you to Caroline, Naomi Brown (our digital and marketing officer) who has been this energetic and enthusiastic individual right across from my first project, Mattie Roberts and Rachel Thain-Gray for being two lovely supervisors on my first project – digital evaluation strategies for Three Decades Anniversary projects. I hope to see you reading my finishing blogs and will be curious for some comments!

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