My skin is vibrating with the power of all that is moving here. All your projects, your ideas, your courage, your gestures of care, your incredible initiatives of change… WOW. Simply being with this is nourishing.
And so in an aligned way, there are multiple pathways in which I’m experiencing care to share. While some of the language may seem a little abstract at times, the essence is practical and inclusive. So I invite you to walk with me a moment through some of my explorations of care and towards a shared possibility at OpenVillage…
An apt start are the personal practices, such as what I call “tending to the fray” : : the act of witnessing myself falling apart. The acceptance that fraying at the edges can be generative and liberating, and that sometimes we just need to give space to our unravelling in order to grow.
Through to my research in shifting our thinking around what “care” actually is
: : referencing post-feminist psychoanalytics and decolonialism to explore an “expanded self” rather than you-me power dynamics that drive so much of how we understand care.
On to practicing commons-based living and a refusal of neoliberal mechanisms of power
: : where collaborative initiatives unleash sustainable pathways, where the many facets of care cycle around and where people of all walks of life can move beyond the limits of capitalist “labour” towards individual, collective and planetary wellbeing.
And through and with much more of how care is lived in the worlds I encounter.
So as a part of Open Village’s “revolutionary care” theme, I wanted to offer an evolved version of a project I experimented with at Elsewhere: a living museum last year. If our community and the festival curators agree, then it will be a simple and subtle installation that festival go-ers can engage with at their own pace and within their own limits.
“Caring through uselessness” is a shared reflection on how in order to reimagine postures, mechanisms and systems of care, we sometimes need to render what we know useless. The experience of letting go of what one knows in order to move into a new paradigm - both at an individual and systemic level - can be disruptive, divisive and induce paralysing fear. It refers to “use” not in terms of resourcefulness but rather how the dominant frames of reference for “useful” are based on unjust capitalist notions of utility. Caring through uselessness offers itself as a companion to this process of moving beyond outdated notions of care.
It appropriates a psychological notion of the “transitional object” and “transitional phenomena” developed by D.W. Winicott. Examples are teddy bears, thumbsucking, rabbits, the mother’s breast, the mother herself. Winicott talks about the ‘transitional object’ as the first not-me relation, as the first possession, as the comforter. I believe that as changemakers we need to make sure we care for ourselves as we care for change. Akin to much shared in other stories and the festival’s whole framing, I believe that as changemakers we have the opportunity and indeed responsibility to engage in practicing new paradigms of care as we address new mechanisms of care.
If accepted as an apt and quiet offering at Openvillage, Caring through uselessness will install a curated selection of hand-held found objects - discarded pieces deemed useless - for attendees to pick up and take with them to the talks, panels, conversations, walks and encounters of the festival. Think a tin, a keyring chain, a plastic fork, a battery, a bracelet… These objects are offered as care companions for you. A little, quiet, personal and mobile site to host you in your own process of care and the many movements of Openvillage.
Regardless of what unfolds with Caring through uselessness, please feel free to introduce yourself to me here or at the festival if you’d like to share in some space with these ideas and practices.
With care, in solidarity