Sensing Harm by Design — Advaya

Sensing Harm by Design

Course Website: | Sensing Harm by Design, by the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective, is a six-week course designed to support participants to activate dispositions that can expand their capacity to navigate increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) and to hold space for what is difficult and painful without feeling overwhelmed, immobilised or demanding quick fixes or rescue from discomfort. This course is for those who want to be better equipped to navigate the times we live in; to learn how to build different relationships and to build relationships differently, and to weather current and coming storms together without relationships falling apart. Decolonial practice and radical systems change need to begin now—and this starts with ourselves. The course runs from 26 June to 31 July, on Mondays, 5–7pm UK.

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This is a six-week course designed to support you to activate dispositions that can expand your capacity to navigate increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) and to hold space for what is difficult and painful without feeling overwhelmed, immobilised or demanding quick fixes or rescue from discomfort.#

The Premise#

The usual premise is that there is a problem with the current system that needs to be solved, or the system itself needs to be replaced and the “good people” (most virtuous, woke, moral, righteous, deserving, enlightened) are the ones to do it. We start from a different premise. Our premise is that the current system requires harm by design.

The system requires violence towards other beings and the planet in order to exist, and thus it is intrinsically harmful and unsustainable—we have reached the tipping points and we are headed to the end of the viability of the current system. We are both harmed and implicated in reproducing harm, consciously and unconsciously. This happens because the current modern-colonial system:

  • has kept us tied and addicted to its promises and comforts;
  • has limited the ways we can see, feel, relate, desire, heal and imagine;
  • has led us to deny the violence and unsustainability that are required for it to exist, as well as our interdependence and the depth and magnitude of the mess we are in;
  • has encouraged us to create narcissistic delusions about our sense of self-importance and our perceived entitlements, keeping us in a fragile and immature state that leaves us unequipped to face the challenges of our times; and
  • has untethered us from the realities of the planet, and the fact that our modern-colonial mode of existence can cause our own extinction.

It is immensely difficult (but not impossible) to interrupt these patterns and let go of the harmful attachments and co-dependence we have developed with the system itself. Without doing this, we will only be able to want and imagine different versions of the same modern-colonial system.

This course offers a container and methodology for developing this—identifying and interrupting the usual patterns, and committing to a process of cognitive, affective, and relational “decluttering”—as a continuous practice.

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The Deal#

Your part: for the next six weeks, you commit:
- To invest as much time and energy as possible in learning dispositions that can help you: 1) to expand your capacity to navigate volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity; 2) to hold space for difficult things; 3) to unlearn relational patterns that prevent you from doing that;
- To practice healthy skepticism towards your narratives, and to temporarily suspend your desires for quick fixes, certainties, universal answers, stable authorities, innocence and community building;
- To relate to your resistance to this un/learning process as a teacher;
- To authorise facilitators to redirect you to the un/learning process if you get lost, if you are caught in a trap/loop, or if you are distracted.

Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures’ part: for the next six weeks, we commit:
- To offer you unconditional regard. We lovingly do not care about the content of your responses at a specific point in time, but we do care deeply about your capacity to “stay with the trouble” and to dig deeper and relate wider.
- To accompany your process: to redirect you towards the commitments you agreed to when you signed up for this course, and to offer suggestions for other processes or resources that may be useful for you.
- To treat you as an ordinary member of humanity, as opposed to as an exceptional human being.
- To not tell you what to think, or what to do. The course is diagnostic and offers you tools to map and to layer the dynamic patterns of the internal and external realities you are entangled with. This will activate dispositions that, with practice, can turn into capacities that are extremely useful in the collapsing times we are living in.

The Process#

This course is not teacher-centred, nor learner-centred: it takes a depth education approach. It tries to centre the harm we have inflicted on each other and on the planet—by design, albeit often unintentionally.

Your own responses are the actual “content” of the course, not the course materials. We are inviting you to sit with and to ask what you are learning by observing them.

The course draws your attention to how you are processing things and supports you to identify “shit” that needs to be composted and patterns of denial and refusal, deflection and distraction from dealing with shit. In order to do that, it has to bypass the defences of your ego. When ego-logical defences are active, you will resist the process.

Remember to meet resistance as a teacher: observe the defensiveness as to what it is teaching you about yourself.

About the GTDF Collective#

Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures (GTDF) is an arts/research collective that develops artistic, pedagogical, cartographic, and relational experiments that aim to identify and de-activate colonial habits of being, and to gesture towards the possibility of decolonial futures. GTDF is about hospicing worlds that are dying within and around us with care and integrity, as well as with attention to the lessons these deaths offer, while also assisting with the birth of new, potentially wiser possibilities, without suffocating them with projections. GTDF is about facing our complicity in violence and unsustainability and its implications with the courage of really seeking to connect with the collective pain, past, present, and future.

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