"...[W]e are good at resisting. We are good at fighting for the world we don’t want. We are good at analysis ...We are skilled at naming what we don’t want. I think we are less skilled at naming what we do want; our visions for liberation. And not just vague things like, “ending white supremacy and heterosexism,” but how are all the children going to get fed? Who will clean the toilets? Who will take out the trash? Who will cook the food?"
-Mia Mingus, Remarks from the closing plenary, “Revolutionary Organizing Across Time and Space,” at the INCITE! Color of Violence 4 Conference, March 26-29, 2015, Chicago, Illinois.
Re-storyation is a term I use to illustrate what I study/the work I do. Actually, it's work we do, as communities and socio-ecosystems. I am humbled and made hopeful over and over by the activist work I get to learn from and about, witness, and participate in. I study the ways that really big, often invisible culturally rendered stories are taken as given and unquestionable truths, and what happens when we change and re-design not only our systems (physical and cultural), but the stories that engender and reinforce them. Today, I am so excited to invite you into the first seed stage of a collaborative re-storying project I have been slowly pondering and dreaming about for 3+ years.
Come on in, makers, wonderers, poets, cooks, activists, humans! Are you into these questions and ideas? Do you want to collaborate? Send in some things for the zine! Come to one of the community events (to be announced soon)! Tell me what excites you, or if you want to collaborate on zine-printing parties, crowdfunding campaigns, brainstorming, website building, or something else going forward.
The project is called
Index for the Next World.
Here is what it's about:
Index for the Next World is a collaborative collection of stories, art, poems, maps and other rich, nitty-gritty visions for the next world.
Whatever stories we tell will shape the world. What shape do you imagine in a world that thrives? What do you imagine in your wildest dreams?
What would the specifics of that world we are both grieving and longing for look like if there was no “but we can’t because_________?”
The intent of this project is to collect and cultivate work/art/play that is curious or concerned about, for example, how we're going to simultaneously meet our needs for community ritual and durable dishware (stuff to eat off of), what we're going to do instead of policing and surveillance, how we're going to throw dance parties and feed the children, what community justice looks like, or how we might replicate the important things about the internet, in a post-scarcity, post-petroleum, post-extractionist, post-domination, pro-abundance, pro-resilience, closed-creation-loop (i.e. no mines as sources no landfills as "final resting place") world.
We are tired of being told that art and imagination are impractical luxuries or hobbies and not revolutionary acts. At the heart of "business as usual" live invisible stories of scarcity, separation, and domination, a long-standing status quo with a momentum and an inertia that are threatened when we come together to imagine the specifics of something different out loud.
The point here is not that ending white supremacy and heterosexism (as Mingus mentions in the quote above) aren’t important- they are essential. The point is that honoring their importance and possibility includes getting down to the specifics of what our lives and communities look and function like while and after those things are ending/ended.
Currently in its seed stages, the Index lives in the world right now as a zine and community event, and behind the scenes as an upcoming online-resource-to-be.
SUBMIT TO ISSUE 1 OF THE ZINE! Poems, maps, recipes, stories, art, photos (just know that this is currently a low-budget b&w zine), instructables, diagrams, songs, hybrid forms. Submissions should be attached to an email as either a .docx, .jpg, or .pdf file, and sent to rachel.nextworld [at] gmail.com. (Deadline for Issue 1 TBD)
CRITERIA: This project aims to be as inclusive as possible. Work should be on the shorter (zine-appropriate) side in these beginning stages. The length of the zine will be limited by the printing budget for a while.
PLEASE AVOID: “Color blind” language (‘we don’t see race in the next world’). This framework does not meet the needs of this publication for creative and respectful justice and anti-oppression work. This goes for all forms of oppression and identity. "Getting rid" of diverse identities, now or in the future does not solve oppression, it reifies it. It can lead to blaming the oppressed for their oppression, identity erasure, and failure to acknowledge the injustice and harm, and diverse offerings, gifts, and cultures, of the past and present. Also importantly, ecology teaches us that non-diverse systems are not resilient systems. Most of us do not and will not have the option (and many of us do not have the desire) to “forget” our identities, affiliations, heritages, or oppressions. Our histories and identities don’t magically disappear in the next world, so submitters please meet and weave them in your work creatively, abundantly and respectfully.
This is a call to all creators (that means you!) to imagine the next world now. We've been told that our visions and stories are impractical precisely because they are impactful and therefore dangerous to the entrenched status quo, but also because they are so hard for us to prioritize in the face of immediate suffering. So let's not prioritize them over current needs- let's care for the current needs and map our deepest, most mundane and miraculous visions of where we are going, of what our interventions seek to build in place of the old world.
Here, we treat storying as the deeply practical work that it is.
Many cultures have carried and protected so much knowledge and story of how to live, through crises, colonialism, ecological and social violence. Many organizations and communities are modeling and prefiguring next-world practices right now, right here. This is not a request to reinvent or appropriate the wheel. This is an attempt to connect and honor an abundance of stories in one place, to honor and make visible and accessible some of the work that art and storying do in shaping the world. To create an interactive repository of stories and visions that we can refer to and build from.
Imagine that we're already there. And show us the rich specifics of what it looks/feels/tastes/sounds/smells like, paint us the details of how we, as communities, meet our needs and give our gifts.
Ecosystems with no place for the yields (gifts), and no way to meet the needs, of their elements and agents tend to get sick (when you dump fertilizer in a stream and it gluts with algae that is an issue of not having a big enough need to match with the yield in that particular place). The same process happens in our social webs and ecosystems. Too much individualism hurts. We are here to match back up our needs and gifts.
If each need is met in multiple ways, if each gift has multiple places to go, our systems become more resilient in the face of impact or extreme events, ecological and cultural (picture a farm with only beans that is suddenly descended upon by a bean-eating insect vs. a farm that also has 15 other crops to eat). So six people can write six different poems about how we might produce clothing in our next worlds. We're not looking for a universal map, which could disastrously dishonor those most fitting local maps that come out of local wisdom.
What we're going for is an abundance of imagination, so we have plenty of things to get excited about, to try in different scenarios and contexts, to build, to aim towards.
Here is a list of universal human needs from BayNVC, a an organization that continues the incredible work of the late Marshall Rosenberg's in Nonviolent Communication (NVC). In NVC, we are taught that there are many strategies to meet each need. Instead of deciding that, for example, we have to nix video games in the next world because ________(insert tirade against video games here), what happens when I look at "video games" as a strategy that many people currently engage to meet deep needs of _____ and ______? How exactly will we meet those needs even more richly in the next world?
Every element or need, large and small, is fair game. Talk about carrots. Paint about conflict-resolution. Draw about kids toys. Write about back massages. Sing about safe consenting sex. Diagram about books. Photograph about currency.
Any need or gift you can think of, any intersection or identity or history or crop or practice that you want to see honored in the day-to-day of the next world, imagine it onto paper and send it this way.
"...We were never perfect.
Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.
We might make them again, she said.
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.
You must make your own map."
- From "Map to the Next World," by Joy Harjo. This poem and this humblingly powerful poet partially inspired the Index project. (read the full poem here)
Mingus, Mia. "Still Choosing to Leap: Building Alternatives." Remarks from the closing plenary, “Revolutionary Organizing Across Time and Space,” at the INCITE! Color of Violence 4 Conference, March 26-29, 2015, Chicago, Illinois. https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/still-choosing-to-leap-building-alternatives/ Accessed April 26, 2015
Harjo, Joy. "A Map to the Next World" from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems:1975-2001 Norton. Copyright © 2002 by Joy Harjo
"Universal Human Needs." Bay NVC. http://www.baynvc.org/materials/UNIVERSAL_HUMAN_NEEDS.pdf Copyright 2009 by Inbal, Miki and Arnina Kashtan.
All photos taken by/copyrighted to blog author.