Forging and Sustaining Vision. Regenerative Activism 2022.
Across contemporary social movements we often encounter the sense of a lack of vision and coherent theories of change. Living in a world shaped by the failures of utopian vision, and a loss of idealistic aspirations, what is the role of vision in our struggles for the future?
There is no doubt that the late modern collapse of old grand narratives and ensnaring ideologies can offer a sense of liberation and relief, but it can also leave us feeling directionless and disoriented. From experience and history we learn about the the always incomplete nature of our victories, and the compromises and betrayals that seem to be inherent in every gain we make. How do we sustain our vision through all of this? As William Morris wrote in 1886, “I pondered all these things, and how people fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other people have to fight for what they meant under another name.” We might not see the fruits of our actions and those we do see might not be what we expected. Amidst all this, how do we understand, forge, and sustain vision in our movements?
We will explore:
* Are we necessarily reduced to addressing immediate needs and firefighting oppressions in the moment rather than participating in an historical project?
* Can we act with a sense of direction and guiding vision that situates our action on a path to something better?
* Of course, we can value action as an end in itself. But does this absolve us of concern about the longer-term impact or the need to aspire to something different from the present in which we act?
Brooke Lavelle & Zack Walsh #
Brooke Lavelle, Ph.D. is the Co-Founder and President of the Courage of Care Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating personal and social transformation through relational compassion training, anti-oppressive pedagogies and systems and community organizing tools. Zack Walsh is a Research Associate at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany. He co-leads the A Mindset for the Anthropocene (AMA) project which integrates personal and socio-ecological transformations to sustainability.
Farhana Yamin #
Farhana Yamin is an internationally recognized activist, environmental lawyer, climate change and development policy expert. She has advised leaders on climate negotiations for 30 years, attending nearly all major climate summits since 1991. She has been deputy chair of the Expert Group of Advisors to the Climate Vulnerable Forum. She is widely credited with getting the goal of net-zero emissions by mid-century into the Paris Agreement.