PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Welcome, everyone, to today’s event, which is co-hosted by The Stoa and advaya. For those of you who don’t know, The Stoa, The Stoa is… I haven’t really actually figured out how to describe it well to newcomers, but it’s a sort of a para-academic place that has interesting philosophical events. We’ve been around for about three years now, starting when COVID came, online, actually, if you want to check out more from The Stoa, you can do so on the links I provided in the chat.
And advaya is a similar event type, in-person events, online events platform that explores the connections between ecology, spirituality and mental health, advocating regenerative narratives and economies, collective responsibility, public awakening, and mobilisation. Sounds delicious. And we both kind of did the online thing around the same time, The Stoa and advaya, and were doing in person events before that. And advaya has a lot of really great courses. And one of them’s coming up [and it’s] called Sensing Harm by Design, and it’s with the the Collective, the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective, which we have here today.
And I’m going to take in Ruby from advaya. And she’s going to introduce the Collective and then the Collective is going to present, and then they’ll be followed by a Q&A. So if you have questions anytime, feel free to pop them in the chat, and I’ll call on you, and you can ask your questions to the Collective during the Q&A portion. And this will be on YouTube. So if you don’t want to be on YouTube, just indicate that and I can read your question on your behalf. So that being said, Ruby I will take you in.
RUBY REED (ADVAYA): Thank you, Peter. It’s really great to be here.
With Azul and Camilla, also from the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective. And my name is Ruby Reed, and I’m one of the co-founders of advaya. And advaya was started back in 2015, mostly doing a lot of in-person gatherings and bringing people together to explore different ways of living in the world, and the complexity, and the times that we find ourselves in, to see better how we’re relating, and come into alignment with healthier ways of being. And over the years, our offerings have evolved, as we have also come to see things differently, and then evolved too, on our own learning journeys. And now advaya is mostly organising and hosting and collaborating with different other organisations that are doing what we see as really important work and helping to shine light into these little cracks and see things in different ways.
And Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures has been one of those organisations that have, or collectives, that have really struck me personally, and feels like a really, truly clear, loving and also precise analysis of the times we’re in, as well as a pedagogy and approach to change that I have never come across before. So it’s a huge honour to be collaborating with them, by hosting this course on our platform. It’s been fully devised and will be facilitated by their collective. And it’s a huge honour to be joined by them today as well. And they’re going to speak a bit about the pedagogy and the understanding of social cartography and speak a bit about the course, followed by questions—30 minutes will be for questions. So there’s time. And questions can be put on the chat. And something I’ve often found with online events is that we can forget the questions. So like feel free probably to put the questions in the chat as we go. So when they come to you, and then Peter can pick them out when he shares them with the Collective. And I think that’s all from my side. Something to say perhaps again, is the course starts 26th of June. So we’ll share the links to that in the chat as well. And feel free to get in touch if you have other questions or want to learn more after the session. And we offer bursary spaces. So if costs come in the way of attending, you can also reach out. I’ll pass over to Azul and Camilla.
AZUL (GTDF): Thank you, Ruby. Thank you Peter.
My name is Azul, I’m one of the members of the Collective. And I’ll be starting us off today. Peter, if you could pin me and Camilla on the screen, that will be great. And I’m going to be projecting some slides on my screen. Let me just move things around a little bit. Okay.
So in the Collective, we usually start with a land acknowledgement. This is also largely due to where Camilla, myself and other members of the Collective are located in the world. I know that in this call, we have people from all around the Earth. And so to open this space, we’d like to land into an acknowledgement of land as a living entity that belongs to nobody but to itself, and at the same time in another layer, I am located on the lands that have been stolen, the unceded traditional and ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh peoples. And that acknowledgement is very important because the stewardship and the sacred relationship between people and land has been disrupted by colonialism, and that wound is a wound that we’re going to be talking about today, but also during the course, and largely through the GTDF pedagogy. I also want to acknowledge the technology that is sustaining this call right now—my computer, the cables underwater that go through the oceans to connect us all, and the violence that is needed, in terms of extractivism, slave labour, and all the other layers that have to… that are present for us to be here today, listening to each other. And I also want to acknowledge ourselves as land, and ourselves as relatives, which is a teaching that we get from the communities located in what is known as Brazil today, their teaching we’re all relatives, “somos todos parentes”.
So with that opening, I’ll pass it over to Camilla for her to do an introduction on the Collective and our pedagogy.
CAMILLA (GTDF): Hi, everyone. My name is Camila Cardoso. I’m also a member of the GTDF Collective. And I’ll be speaking briefly, a little bit, about our approach to pedagogy, and our systems and methods that inspire our work. I’m glad to be here again with everyone, Peter, Ruby, and everyone that is here—I see some faces that I already know, and a lot of new faces. So glad to be here with all of you, and thanks Azul for the important land acknowledgement.
So we are a Collective, Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures as they call it, GTDF. We deal with questions related to racism, colonialism, climate change, also biodiversity loss, mental health crisis, and social and ecological violence. What we do is that we work on the interface of these questions related to historical, systemic and ongoing violence, and also questions related to the unsustainability of our current habits of being, from which we call modernity. So we are a transdisciplinary collective of researchers, artists, educators, students and Indigenous knowledge keepers. So we have both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in our collective and we do different work depending on what is needed. So it’s also a learning process for us to understanding which places should be led by Indigenous people, and which places, we, as white people, should be, there, doing the work for ourselves.
We are bringing—I guess you can stay in that screen Azul—we’re bringing together concerns related to racism, colonialism and sustainability, as I said before, but also the intensification of our social and ecological violence crises. We’re building together collective capacity, dispositions and stamina. The idea is that we’re building stamina to do this difficult work in the long term, in the long haul, both the self un-making, and the world un-making. So the idea is to deconstruct a lot of what has been constructed in that we feed to in our everyday lives, in the modern system, [unintelligible] practices and experiments, we try to bring people together and practice holding space for painful things without us feeling paralysed, overwhelmed, or immobilised, or even worse, in a way, without demanding for quick fixes. So understand that we have to be for longer in this difficult space together.
In terms of how we do this practice, the language and practice that we work with, we use a lot of the metaphorical language that doesn’t demand… that does not fix anything, in terms of—it’s not “fixing”, it aims to move reality. So the idea of the metaphorical language is very different from the theoretical language, that tries to fix knowledge, we try to use the social cartographies and the metaphors to move reality together. So we try to shift from moving forward, to digging deeper and relating wider, to relating more broadly. So the direction of our work is a little bit different. So we’re not going anywhere, like in front, we are trying to just move deeper and relate broadly in that new space. So the social cartographies, they help us take these conversations beyond a point where they usually get stuck. So the social cartographies are tools for us to move together through this space and hopefully, move realities together instead of trying to fix it and understanding it.
I guess with that, I’ll pass it back to Azul, who will introduce us to one of the social cartographies.
AZUL (GTDF): Yes, and I think to that point of not moving necessarily forward without the teleological, developmental, colonial way of moving forward, but relating wider and digging deeper, we’re going to bring a social cartography today that will demonstrate how to do that in a very simplified way, and this cartography will come up later in the course. And we will tease it out with more time. But here, we’re just going to give you kind of a sense of how social cartographies work.
So there’s… I’m sure many of you have heard a lot of conversation about the idea of equity, equality, inclusion, liberation, this conversation, and maybe this image is—I’m gonna make it a little bit bigger, but it’s gonna cover my face a little bit… This image might be familiar to some of you. So it’s the idea that equality, there’s people trying to watch a game, and everybody’s given the same box, the same fence, right? And then the question of equity, which is the image next to it, says, well, we need to support different folks that have… that are in different positions, so everybody can witness the game, right? And then some folks have been asking, Well, why is there a fence in the first place? Why shouldn’t we just take away the fence and allow those people to be part of the game? These questions are all valid. And in the Collective, we’re asking the question, well, why aren’t we questioning the game itself?
So from that came this cartography, which I’m going to simplify a little bit for us today, just using the example of modern education. So this cartography is the Spaces of Reform, and it was—one second—it was created by, yeah, conversation between the folks in the Collective. So I’m gonna break it down through the three ways of reforms. So let me start this way.
So the idea of soft reform is, if we think about that first image of the game, is the idea that we’ve never been healthier, happier and wealthier, but we do have some problems in society that we need to address through institutional transformation. So the idea is that we need better data, for example, in modern education, we just need more standardised testing, we need better policies and better elected leaders, but all within the same system, within the same structure, we just need to make little little tweaks here and there. So this is founded on the idea that capitalism, extractivism, heteropatriarchy, racism, nationalism, ableism, etc., they’re not great, but we are working to improve it within the structure we have. So in these conversations, we hear a lot of things like, we need more dialogue, we need more consensus, we need more entrepreneurship. And this is also sustained on the idea that the game is great, and everyone can watch and win, once everyone knows the rules, everyone learns what the rules are.
Then, if we move to the next reform, the next type of reforms, which we call the radical reform. There is in this in this reform, a recognition of epistemological hegemony. So it’s the idea that we are understanding that our ways of thinking have been colonised. And so what we need is to include marginalised populations and redistribute resources, in some way. So this reform [sits within] the idea that capitalism, extractivism, racism, heteropatriarchy and nationalism, are all a byproduct of modernity. And so here we’ll hear things like the game is rigged. There’s an understanding that the game itself is unfair, and if we want to win, we have to change the rules of the game.
I’m going to pause here just to give space to Camilla, if you want to add anything, because I’ve been going a little fast.
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yeah, thanks Azul—yeah, the idea, just relating to whoever… I think a few of you know a little bit about the house of modernity, this idea of the house that modernity built, the idea of the reforms, is that we have… just another point of view from what Azul was bringing, is that we have the possibility to reform this house. So do we have the possibility to actually reform the system? Or do we have to try to create a different house, or something like that? So in reforming the house, there are soft reforms, there are things that we’re just like, let’s fix this window, let’s make a slightly bigger window, so we get more light into everyone, kind of thing, or like, we should add a few floors or build it down to the Earth. But still, it’s a reform of the same structure. Also, at this point, I’d like to mention that all of them are needed. And all of them are necessary in different points, in different contexts. So what we’re saying here, just weaving with how we deal with the pedagogy is not fixed thing or a certain thing, or a certainty that we all should move forward to that direction, but more of how do we use this idea, or this cartography to have conversations, to have difficult conversations that can bring us to a deeper place together. So we’re kind of giving a taster here, we won’t have time for a large-group conversation, but that’s the idea and how we work. So, thanks Azul.
AZUL (GTDF): Thank you, Cammy. So, exactly. Yeah, we’re not suggesting that we all should move towards beyond reform. But it is posing those and complicating those questions about… and also working with honesty in, where is it that we’re located in the work we’re doing. So when we move towards beyond reform… Now, here in this [unintelligible], there is a recognition of ontological hegemony. And that already breaks reality, or begins to complicate or question reality in a different way, it has a different texture to it. And if we think about it through the example of modern education… what we’re saying is that, for example, modern education, but take any institution here, healthcare, or you know, the house of modernity, society at large, you can work in many layers. The idea is that these institutions, these structures are inherently extractive, relationally unethical and ecologically unsustainable. So it’s the idea that capitalism, extractivism, ableism, heteropatriarchy, etc., they are modernity, they are the building blocks of modernity, and therefore, they cannot be fixed or edited out of it.
So, the questions or the paradoxes that we’re sitting with in the space of beyond reform, is that the game itself is harmful, and it makes us immature, but we are addicted, we’re stuck playing. So it’s the idea that, you know, in this part of—one second, I got a little bit confused here with the slides… In this part of the reform, what we’re doing is we are moving away from, or we are questioning the game itself, we are aware of the game, and what we’re doing is moving with its paradoxes and its complexities, and a space where we’ve been taught by the collapse of modern systems and the rupture of the modern grammar. So this is a space where we’re talking about hacking. We’re not talking about breaking the code, we’re gonna speak in coding language, we’re talking about hacking. And so it’s a space where we’re talking about hospicing, too.
And I’ll pause one more time to pass it over to Camilla, before I move into what this means for the course we’re offering, but also what it means for the question of education at large.
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yeah, the idea when we talk about beyond reform, is that we’re bringing together a lot of things that maybe we do… perhaps we do different parts of our lives that we want to unwire ourselves from modernity. So we do want… like I feel that a lot of us that are already doing this work, we have this direction of unwiring ourselves from modernity in different ways. But then when we see it as a systemic and broader thing, we try to put together all different things that has to be done, all different areas of our lives, or of our work, of our relations, with family, of our relations, with friends, people… more than people, more than human beings, with nature… All of those relations have to be unwired, together with our like role in the world. So the idea when we try to have… to build stamina to be in this space [of] beyond reform, is that we’re thinking broadly, of our role within this game, and being like super overcautious about the game. It doesn’t mean, yeah, just like running away from the game either, we have a few other cartographies that will address that, because there’s this tendency as well, of like, okay, so I won’t play the game, like, I can just isolate myself in the mountain, or something. Like, I won’t be playing this game. But we are trying to like, be there, and to build the stamina to be there for a longer time, to be with this problem. And meanwhile, you are trying to unwire a lot of our internal and external structures that are wired to modernity. Thanks Azul.
AZUL (GTDF): Exactly. And so now we sit with the question of what this means for how we engage with our consumption of knowledge, or our consumption of information. And here, we have also mapped in the Collective, what we call the catch-22 of education—I’m going to move to this side. So what we see, cons—or often, when people are trying to engage with not only the content from the Collective, but education at large, is that there’s this common assumptions that are operating. And so it’s the idea that talking about negative things, makes people feel demotivated. So this is, you know, the climate and biodiversity collapse we’re facing, the mental health epidemic we’re facing, collective extinction, these conversations that are real and are important… We get a lot of comments that say, complexity causes people to feel overwhelmed. Exposing complicities makes them feel uncomfortable, the lack of simple solutions immobilises people, uncertainty makes people feel anxious and talking about the possibility of wider social and ecological collapse can make people feel hopeless and angry.
So from these demands, what we see is that many of us who have been socialised and conditioned within modernity and coloniality, are demanding a type of education that is short, simple, easy, light, fun, and hopeful. We get this: please make it hopeful. And so what we have mapped, is that this creates a merry go round of modern education, where—I’m going to… actually this size is probably okay—when people are demanding safe, simplistic, feel good, look good, solutions that sustain the status quo, feel good, do good, look good solutions, right? This window dressing, like the optics of it. And that causes then, for tokenistic and transactional engagements that are driven by optics, and by consumption: the consumption of knowledge, of status, of relationships. And so that causes narrow and limited imagination of what is possible, or even what is desirable.
Which takes us back to the safe, simplistic, look good, feel good, quick fixes, like the softer form, the comfortable, the warm and fuzzy, the hopeful. And so we have been asking this question over and over again, and the question is, how do we hack this merry go round? How do we break it? How do we interrupt it? Or how do we find the cracks to move otherwise? And so, through sitting with that question, we have created a course that is attempting to break some of these patterns. And that course is… we’re calling it Sensing Harm by Design, which is through the GTDF Collective and it’s the course that we… that advaya is supporting us in organising, and I’ll pass it over to Camilla, to talk a little bit more about that course.
CAMILLA (GTDF): So we chose this cartography to present to you, just getting back to what Azul was presenting, because we think there’s a lot to do with the premise of the course.
So now, I will read it with you. Because we do think it’s a very important text that we put together—the premise, it’s also online, it’s on [the course] website, we do think it’s important either for each one of you that are interested in taking the course, or that are just interested in this type of pedagogy, this type of approach to education, and to learning and unlearning. So we’ll read it together and then we’ll move to the questions that I see… that there’s a couple already in the chat. So the premise. The usual premise is that there’s a problem with the current system that needs to be solved, or the system itself needs to be replaced. And that good people—most of you, virtuous, most 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, so the system, to exist, just to be, to continuously exist as it’s been happening for years and years and centuries, it requires harm. So we have to acknowledge that very deeply. So to the next screen, Azul.
So 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—and [to] go to a few items—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.
So we will be trying to build stamina together for the long-haul work that we think is important for us to unwire ourselves from the modern-colonial system, and not to run away from it, not to demand quick fixes, not to demand or to be wanting to do just the soft reforms. That’s the idea, and I’ll pass it back to Azul.
AZUL (GTDF): Yes, I believe that is the information, the cartography we brought to share with you all. And I think Peter and Ruby, we’re ready to receive questions, if there’s already some questions on the chat.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Before I get to the Q&A, Ruby, would you like to add anything about the course?
RUBY REED (ADVAYA): Not specifically about the course. I think it’d be great to jump to the questions. And I’ll just put some of the links in the chat, so people can have a look, if they want to see more about that too.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Thank you, Ruby. So if you have any questions, pop them in the chat and we’ll call on you, and you can ask your questions. We might not go in order. But if you have any questions about the course, specifically, we will prioritise that and we have about 20, 30 minutes. Brian, you had a question. Just unmute yourself and ask your question.
BRIAN: Did you say Brian?
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Yes, Brian.
BRIAN: Hello, thanks. So I’ll just repeat it from the chat. I was just curious about how the pedagogy regards the possibility of human extinction, and whether you consider the possibilities that might be created by human extinction for all the other beings that exist on this planet, or whether it’s taken kind of as a first principle that it’s an outcome to be avoided.
AZUL (GTDF): Yeah, that’s a good question. Camilla, I can go for that one if that’s okay.
I mean, there’s different layers to sit with this question, and one of it is that, of course, we are one of the many species in the planet. And when we talk about human extinction, we’re also reckoning with the question of human irresponsibility, and not all humans have caused or are causing the current collapses that were sitting with. So when, we try to be cautious again, simplifying the idea of you know, the world without humans could enable different forms of lives, because it’s a certain quality, a way of being, a colonial way of relating with everything that is causing the mess we’re in. That’s one layer we’re sitting with.
But also absolutely. We are sitting with the realities of collapse, and also knowing that collapse is inevitable. We are sitting in a… one of the members of our Collective explains it, or likes… or thinks about it, as a train in slow… a train-wreck in slow motion, that we are in. So I think we try to stay a little bit away from… this could be… this could have positive or negative repercussions, and rather sitting with what is needed right now, what are the dispositions, and the capacities that we need, to be able to cultivate to expand, in order to hold the immensity of the collapse that we are facing today. And maybe those of us in this call who have the time and the resources to be in this call, to have a laptop, to have access to internet, we might not be facing the intensity of the collapse in the same ways that most species and most humans in the planet are experiencing it right now. So that’s also… those are some layers to sit with, and Camilla, I don’t know if you want to add something to that answer.
CAMILLA (GTDF): No, I think it’s good, we can move to the next one.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Alright. So we have a few practical questions about the course. Rachel, you had a question, if you can unmute yourself. Yep. Okay.
RACHEL: Sorry. Very happy for you to read it out, if that’s okay, thanks.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Oh, you’d like me to read it out? Okay. Can you explain a bit about the course? How the course will run and the different weeks?
AZUL (GTDF): Cammy, did you say you, or did you say me?
CAMILLA (GTDF): No, I think you can go as well, for this one.
AZUL (GTDF): Yes, of course.
The course is designed in six weeks. And in the Collective we… if you were to think about it as the pillars that we work with, we work with four denials. So we talk about the denial of unsustainability. We talk about the denial of the violence, that we’re in. The denial of the magnitude of the problem. And the denial of entanglement: the idea that we are entangled with every living system. So what we’re going to do in those six weeks is, the first week is an introduction into the pedagogy, we’re going to create agreements for how we’re going to learn and unlearn together. And then we’re going to go… each week, we’re going to go through one of the denials. And then in the last week, we’re going to do… not a closure, but a continuous opening forward, into how do we keep failing together differently, moving forward?
And there was something else I wanted to say, and it escaped me. Oh, yes, yes, I remember. An important thing about this course, and the pedagogy of this course is that the content of the course itself is your response to the course material. So we’ll give you course material, there’s going to be live sessions, but it is how you are responding to it. That’s the course material itself. So it is a course that is very demanding, we’ve been told by participants that it is a course that is demanding. And so it needs to… it needs a certain disposition of the participants that are going to engage with it, in order to make of it… really, really work with the pedagogy of the Collective that is counterintuitive, and is aiming to break that merry go round that we were talking about.
I’ll leave it at that for now.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Megan, you also had a question about the course. And if people want me to read the questions, just indicate that in the chat otherwise, I’ll call you to unmute yourself.
MEGAN: Sure, um, yeah, I’m curious about what your learning outcomes are from the course. Kind of, if you have specific things you want us to come away from the course with, maybe perhaps more in terms of actions than simply knowledge, although both I’m guessing… But I’d be really interested to hear about any learning outcomes that you expect to be actionable.
CAMILLA (GTDF): Hi, Megan, thanks. I’ll start that, Azul, you can speak a little bit more later.
The idea of the course in I guess, in general, of the practices that we bring together with the GTDF pedagogy, is that it equips people with abilities and skills and stamina to continuously be doing the work. So there are like no… like, in… like, there’s no intention to have like a very practical outcome of it, in terms of actions, so it’s not like we’re like building an action together or like trying to develop a project or something. And I think that’s a very important question, because I feel that it’s really good that there are spaces that does that, and I’m also part of that in different layers. And I think we should be like doing more practical projects as well, in a way. But this space here is to do like very intense and deep work on yourself, that will lead us… that will lead each one of you to different movements that can unfold after that. And some people get…
We, I think I’ll pause here and just mention that we did another course, named Facing Human Wrongs, a few of you might know, and we’ve learned a lot from this course. And it was very good, because we had like quite a few cycles. And now I think it’s been almost two years from the first cycle. And it’s very nice to see how the effect comes in different waves for different people. So there are like practical effects, or things that are like actually affect their lives, after you go through the course. But it’s so different, that we don’t… we don’t design it, it’s not designed to[wards] a specific outcome, unless the ones that I mentioned, to equip you to deal better with complexity, the internal complexity, the external complexity, we do have practice in developing social cartographies and experiments that will help you deal with your internal complexity. And with that, you will be able, hopefully, to carry on with the external complexity without demanding quick fixes, being able to stay with it for longer, and to do this work in the long haul, so hopefully building stamina.
And, yeah, and that I think… those are the objectives and outcomes. Azul, do you want to go?
AZUL (GTDF): Yeah, I’ll just say one… one little thing is that in the Collective, we try to stay away from the description prescription. So we’re not trying to tell you this is the problem, and this is the solution. What we’re trying to do is activate dispositions, which Camilla [was] saying, so yeah, I’ll leave it at that.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Megan, you had a follow up question.
MEGAN: Oh, yeah, um, I didn’t necessarily need to ask that live, I was just hoping that Camilla might be able to, say which movements or spaces, you’re a part of… that you were saying that, you know, you’re part of some things that do put this kind of work into action. And I completely understand what you and Azul are saying about not wanting this to be a prescriptive space. But I’m just really curious about how you take this work and see it in action, because what you’re talking about, you know, beyond reform, is obviously so radical. And I think I kind of asked this question a little while back as well, I put a slightly different question in but it’s essentially asking the same thing, which is, I was kind of saying are groups such as Just Stop Oil, XR, Greenpeace, are they significantly disruptive enough? To be considered to exist outside of what you guys have called the existing game? And if not, maybe, could you provide examples of what existing radical reform exists? And then whether there are any examples of your beyond reform term, if those exist already in the world? And if so, you know, what are they? Because that would be a really nice way to get involved in practical action beyond the course itself. But I completely understand the need for both.
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yeah, that’s a very important way to put it as well. We really try to not be the ones like putting this standard and defining like, what’s each kind of reform? And I think one of the… Yeah, one thing that is very important about the cartography that we showed, is that we understand that all of us move through those different spaces, sometimes even like, in the same day, I’m working in different spaces of reform, depending on which project or which it like, or what is my attitude towards the project, how I’m showing up towards each one of the relationships. So I would highlight here, to answer your question, the relational aspect of everything that needs to be reformed, right? So when I was talking about all the layers that needs reform, and then how we try to do anything all of them, in a way, to move actually to the space beyond reform… the relational aspect of it, I think it’s the one that may be it’s the one that I’m mostly trying to do my work on. So it’s the one that is bigger for me now.
And when I explain the projects that I’m working on, or when you explain the projects that you’re working on, I think the way that we explain those projects today in modernity, they don’t encompass the change that we’re trying to tackle. So for example, I work with Teia das 5 Curas, which is a project with indigenous people from South America—some from South, Central, and North America, but I’m more focused on five peoples, that are now living in the territory that we call Brazil, but indigenous people from South America, and what we do with them, for example, this year, our focus is on food sovereignty. So this is the main problem there. But the difference in why I consider that I’m like, trying to direct myself in that project to the space beyond reform, is the way that we are trying to build relationships and trust. And every single small next step that we do, we try to ask ourselves the question like, what’s the [next most] responsible thing to do? So it’s not in terms of, like, what’s the big project that would be categorised in terms of like, fix it, into each one of those patterns, or like ways of seeing reality or like change-making, but more of, how do you deal with everyday things, and how do you actually build and weave those relationships? So it’s a rather complicated question, and I thank you for that. You will make me think more as well.
MEGAN: Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to reply, and I completely understand what you’re saying.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Alright. Fernanda, you had a question?
FERNANDA: Yes, I was asking. I mean, what Camilla explained [just] now with those groups, already answers that a little bit, because I was asking for examples of the space [unintelligible] acknowledging harm, and I guess getting comfortable with the uncomfort. I was asking who might be involved and what form it might take. Because I constantly find this discussion groups that are almost like, from the academia or people who know how to use this language as a tool and like this, critical thinking, but I believe that it’s not a real step if the people in the actual, like colonial… like the colonialist people, if they’re not involved, in a way, like it might also just become a theory. Is it clear?
AZUL (GTDF): Sorry, I heard it more like a comment than a question. Could you reframe the question?
MEGAN: No, the question is: what might these spaces look like? And who might be involved in them?
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yeah. Do you want me to go? I read your question in the chat before Fernanda, thank you.
But what came to my mind, when I first glanced at where your question was a practice actually, so not in specific space where we try to stay with the trouble, to acknowledge harm, and feel uncomfortable with it, but we do have a practice called forest walks, for example, and those forest walks are invitations for us to stay with this trouble, to relate deeper and wider, with a lot of things that are harmful for modernity. So, I’ll just try to give a quick example, but we would go to the forest, each one on our own, and then we will take with us like an equipment, either our cell phone or computer or the television, or something. And then you try to sit with that, guided by a lot of exercises and prompts, and like texts, and both more of informational aspects of it, and also a poetic aspect of it, that we’ll try to connect in a different relational level.
But you try to sit with that contradiction of needing to have those technologies with you and understanding very deeply what the impact of that [is], both in other human lives—where like minerals that are extracted and produced, and also in terms of what we call nature. So what is it that are the impacts? So one practice that we use as invitation to stay with the harm, are the forest walks, for example. We do not create, and again, I think it has to do a little bit with Megan’s question, but on another layer, it’s important to say what we do not do, as well. We do not create, like community spaces, for us to be practicing grief together… like we end up sometimes weaving together and being that, but it’s not our main thing to be like, let’s create this collective space, or you’re holding this difficult… and like, making it into a ritual, or making it into another form of relating as a community to it. We do a lot of the… yeah, we try to do our own work. And in doing our own work, we will be relating deeper to other beings. Are they in the same room, or not? But it’s not about building community. So I think also, that’s important. There’s quite a lot of good work being done as well, in terms of sitting with the complexity, while being imbued in community. But yeah, that’s not the focus here, in a way.
FERNANDA: Okay, thank you.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Someone in the chat asked: Is this course bringing the book Hospicing Modernity, to life?
AZUL (GTDF): Good question. One way in which we think about it is we actually ask people to read the book first, before they come into the course. We will for sure be drawing from a lot of material from the book—it’s not a prerequisite. But one potential arc of learning from the Collective’s content will be to read the book, to take this course, and then from those who after taking this course want to go deeper, then we would invite them to take the Facing Human Wrongs course, which will be a deeper dive into the materials that you have done before. But of course, you can take it in any order.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Mathura, you had a [unintelligible] question. And if I mispronounced your name, my apologies. Would you like to unmute yourself?
MATHURA: I’m [unintellible] my son so I can’t read the comment out loud at the same time as speaking. So would you be able to do it?
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Sure, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like…
AZUL (GTDF): It looks like Peter is frozen for me?
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yeah, I think so as well. I’ll just take it from here. I’ll read Mathura’s question. And then Azul, maybe if you want to go. So the question was: correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds to me like one of the outcomes is to be able to develop a felt internal and embodied sense of the differences between soft, radical, and beyond reform, knowing how to discern between the three in real time within our respective contexts.
AZUL (GTDF): I would say that could be a micro learning outcome, perhaps? Because we’ll be introducing many social cartographies, during the course—we just showed you a glimpse of one, not even fully developed one. And the way we like to think about social cartographies, or any of the pedagogical material is we think about it as living entities. When we share a story, when we share a song, a poem, a cartography, these are living entities that are interacting with your own internal ecology in ways that we cannot control. So how you relate to them will be up to you. But I think, to think about learning outcomes more broadly, we’re really sitting with with trying to expand our capacity to sit with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. And we will give you tools, as Camilla said, just reiterating what Camilla said before, to engage with your internal complexity, your internal paradoxes, so that you can show up into the world and be able to hold the good, the bad, the ugly and the fucked up in ways that are more responsible, more sober and more mature, and to develop relationships that are based on trust and reciprocity and accountability, as opposed to consumptive, tokenistic and transactional relationships, to everything: to yourself, to others, to the world, to reality, to knowledge, to status, etc.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Right, I lost connection and lost access to the chat. Ruby, was there a question? You said there was?
RUBY REED (ADVAYA): Yeah, there was one question that was posted right at the start, which was: what is actually meant by the phrase hospicing?
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yeah, I think that relates to the first question that Azul was answering, when we started… when someone asked about the role of like human extinction or not, and what is it that we are hospicing, and how. And the idea that we are like in the kind of slow motion, mass extinction, going on, like it really strikes us. And we’re not trying to stop this train, of getting collapsed, like at all costs, because we also think that the project and the initiatives that are trying to stop this to happen, a lot of times are replicating the same logic and the same harm that has brought us here. So what we do is that we try to work with this metaphor, this image of hospicing something that is dying. And when we say that something is dying, it doesn’t mean that the whole world will disappear with all its species and all of human beings, we don’t think about that, like we try not to focus on that, in that way.
But we think our way of living, like our modern way of living—is what is dying. So we are hospicing a way of living, and this way of living dying, a lot of actual lives will be taken, but not all of them. And when we think about which lives are taken, right, which lives are taken first, I think that’s the most important question that we sit with, because [they] probably are the ones that are being harmed for centuries, until now. So whose life is on the line before? Like, who are the ones that have to be defending their own life every day, like now? We are still sitting here in the laptop, being able to have conversations, as in: we work, I believe, a lot of you also work with people that are not able to do these, because they have to wake up and defend their life every day, being that from natural disasters that are happening because of climate emergency, or because of neoliberalism initiatives that someone just mentioned here on the chat, or like, yeah, really violent governments and other initiatives. So whose life is on the line first? I think is one question we sit with, and we try to to address this hospicing in the most responsible, mature way. Yeah, building relationships that are based on a different way of modernity. So we try to open space to hold space for hospicing this modern way of living. That’s what we mean by hospicing, in the short line, I guess.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): And we can probably sneak in one more question. Chrys, you had a question?
CHRYS: Hello, thanks for taking my question. I recently had jaw surgery. So I apologise, if it’s unclear. I can also type. But I was asking if you could speak about how palliative care might fit into the larger metaphor of hospicing. And if that is one of the responses to sensing harm, I feel like it’s a natural human impulse, that once we become aware of our entanglement in our complicity, to want to ease the suffering of other beings. And for me, that is expressed through like palliative care practices. So I was wondering what role that might play in this course or this pedagogy. Thank you.
AZUL (GTDF): Yeah, I can take that one, to finish with the session. Thank you, Chrys.
One way to think about it in… just drawing from the cartography that we shared earlier, is that soft and radical reform are trying to put modernity on life support. We’re trying absolutely our best to keep it going. If we think about it, like a house, the house is leaking from the roof, the floors are cracking, and what we’re doing is trying to patch everything and just sustain the house at all costs. But when we move into spaces of beyond reform, or hospicing, or palliative care, what we’re doing is acknowledging that this death is happening. And so, it also comes with… we talk about being both death doulas and birth doulas, not that we are birthing something because the idea also that it takes our imagination to bring something to reality, or that we are going to birth the next thing also can be problematic, because our colonised ways of imagining and hoping, and our colonised ways of relating… And so what we’re trying to say is we need to move away for the thing to be born. The thing is dying, how can we assist? And the thing is… something else is being born already, how can we declutter, so we can pay attention to what’s coming through and assist the birth of something new? We don’t know if it’s gonna be better or wiser. But it might… it could potentially be.
CHRYS: If I could just clarify a little bit, I guess I was thinking about how, like, while we’re hospicing modernity, how are we also like offering palliative care for the Earth, and for all the animals and the more than human creatures, and what role that perspective might play in the work that y’all are doing?
AZUL (GTDF): Yeah, I can answer that really shortly. The thing that is coming to me, for the answer is that we all have different gifts and different medicines. And we’re going to be called into stepping into different spaces of interacting with this collective collapse.
But I know we’re already at 10 in my clock—so I’ll stop there, Chrys. Thank you for your question.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): So we’ll gently close here. Azul, Camilla, Ruby, any parting words you’d like to leave us with today?
RUBY REED (ADVAYA): I’d just love to express my gratitude to everyone for coming to this call. And for the many people who are watching the recording, and bringing the questions and listening to the sometimes no answers, no single answers, and being with that, with Azul, and being part of this journey of learning, unlearning, exploring together. And really hope that some will come with us, on the next like phase, from end of June. And we’ll be in touch about that.
CAMILLA (GTDF): Yes, thank you, everyone. Thanks, Peter. Thanks, Ruby, thanks Azul, and thanks, everyone for being here today. We’re looking forward to having at least a few of you with us in the course. It’s going to be a very intense and beautiful process, I guess, for quite a few weeks, I think we’re going to be able to do a lot of work together. I hope also this taster of the pedagogy, yeah, kinda made sense? You know, in a way? Though it’s very, very difficult for us to summarise our work in short presentations, I guess, with all of us. But it’s a pleasure to be here to be sharing and listening to the very, very important questions that you brought as well. So hope to see you soon. Thank you.
AZUL (GTDF): Thank you all. Goodbye.
PETER LIMBERG (THE STOA): Thanks, everyone. And I’ll pop some links in the chat for upcoming events at The Stoa, and how you can get the promo code for the upcoming course. So that being said, everyone, thanks so much for coming out today. Take care.
RUBY REED (ADVAYA): Thank you, everyone. Bye.