Why Common Ecologies?
We embark on this endevour to help weave struggles for socio-ecological transformation, and to step up our collective thinking and action. What we know so far: the pandemic, war, and climate crisis are making the connections and limitations of current capitalist systems clear. We also know that the ecosystem crisis will produce disasters and transformations. We live in critical, unprecedented times, and there is much to learn.
We need to transform both how we produce and how we care – that much is clear. To replace the ecocidal dynamics of endless accumulation and growth with communal wealth and joyful sufficiency. But how may we engage in and shape these processes in a just and ecological direction, while fighting against disaster capitalism and nationalism? We need to produce and circulate tactics, strategies, and ideas appropriate for the ecosystem crisis – and to work out ecological practices, policies, and institutions that can align the reproduction of human societies with the capacities of the web of life.
With Common Ecologies, we set out to contribute to foster learning processes across movements out of a desire to learn ourselves and an immense sense of potential of current struggles. Many movement knowledges are ripe and ready for synergies, others push us to ask difficult questions together and overcome limitations of past practices and ideas. We offer this space to movements as one of translation, discussion, inspiration and allying.
Why we need movement learning platforms
We often find ourselves caught between quick seminars and online events on the one hand, and movement summits and bilateral contacts on the other. Important as they all are, they rarely lead to the sustained exchanges, learning, and relations we may need. For these reasons, we want to build a movement infrastructure open for others to use, to build the strength and power we need to overcome the current impasse.
Today, only social and ecological struggle will give us the education we need to face the ecosystem crisis. Mainstream education generally fails to recognize the urgency of the moment, and when it does, it downplays the importance of struggle and antagonism, and the necessity of radical transitions and transformation. Social and ecological movements focus much of their energies on the urgencies of day-to-day organizing and struggle, often producing incredibly rich lessons, strategies and concepts. However, these often don’t travel far, and movements often don’t have the capacity to engage, in a sustained way, with what lies between them.
As an independent school and space of research and thinking, we can focus on what is in-between movements and their issues: here we can think about overlapping concerns and possible alliances and articulations, about tensions and how they can be overcome or made productive, about distances that need to be bridged.
So, as Common Ecologies we offer to facilitate training, research, and transferable knowledge production – as a part of a wider network of past and present movement schools.
What is the purpose of Common Ecologies?
- To connect and learn in order to recognize and defend, repair and construct common ecologies, in the face of planetary disaster.
- To create open spaces of ongoing exchange and encounter between movements in different struggles (transversality and conviviality). Without the pressure of reaching common positions or actions characteristic of social forums and counter-summits, and without the pressure of performing brilliantly or polemically so characteristic of academic and political debates. We start from where we’re at, learn from silences and contradictions, and practice mutual solidarity, respect and support.
- To facilitate learning and solidarity across different localities (translocality and planetarity), taking seriously how problems of ecology and capitalism are planetary, yet situated, and how action in one place must be articulated with action in other places. This entails a fair bit of translation and trafficking of knowledges, and inspires us to forge concepts and demands that can link us across bounds. In the struggle against ecosystem breakdown, everyone is, at least potentially, a student and a teacher.
- To facilitate mutual exchanges and knowledge production between activists, collectives, organizations and researchers (bringing together experience and expertise), in a space of mutual recognition and political-strategic urgency. We greatly value transgenerational exchange, knowing of the importance of movement elders, radical youthful energies, children’s spirits, mid-life critters and all those other moments in our bodies’ and struggle’s life cycles – we need a cocktail of all those energies to blast the capitalist deadlock.
We facilitate online courses and embodied encounters, as well as building an online platform for movement knowledges in the form of texts, podcasts, videos and toolkits. We’re linked into a web of different struggles across Europe and beyond, accompanied by a series of amazing advisors as well as teachers, and look to learn from the many generations of activists that are powerfully pushing for transformation.
We engage a host of different facilitation tools and techniques, learn from collective processes (success and failure), and work towards making Common Ecologies interesting for others to use – for courses accompanying your campaigns, organizing, research, educational or political work. Our activities will be run via a solidarity-based contribution model as well as via cooperations.
As someone who has been operating in the often contested and sometimes divisive interstitial spaces between various food systems movements, I’m thrilled to see efforts like this. I’ve come to similar conclusions in regards to the way forward: creating and holding space for conversation and learning that leads to greater self-determination and solidarity. That has certainly been a motivation in my decades of work with and for libraries, a form of “social infrastructure” ideally suited for this purpose.
I encourage you and others to check out a relatively new transdisciplinary approach being developed by Prosocial World, which focuses explicitly on this challenge, helping groups of groups work together more effectively in support of shared and collective goals: https://www.prosocial.world/the-science. It’s based on part on the work of Elinor Ostrom and her students related to successful commoning. Perhaps a topic for a future Common Ecologies course? PW is launching a new “Prosocial Commons” to help foster these kinds of explorations: https://thisviewoflife.com/introducing-the-prosocial-commons/
I look forward to following your progress, and participating/contributing where I can. Cheers!