Preface: These are my general and personal reflections, as I have been processing in the last couple of weeks since our convergence in Brussels. I do intend on following-up this post with the efforts I'm joining as a result of meeting members of this community: @winnieponcelet, my deep gratitude for introducing me to Edgeryders and the festival.
One of the certain effects that my attending the Open Village Festival was that it brought me out of my bubble. My geopolitical/social bubble has been very specific in the last few months, even though I inherently knew that experiences of care were universal. However, in the day-to-day, even with intention, we have operational acts to carry out, to make rapid decisions, and maximize our lean resources. As a first timer to the festival, I went in with very few expectations, but with a salient sense of hope that we could all learn from each other on how to give and receive care (sometimes tactically, sometimes organically).
To learn-contribute to a myriad of projects under the umbrella of autonomous care, I understood, in a tangible way, that whether it is mutual first aid with migrants in Serbia, Calais; collaborative civic and maker design for universal access in Milan; biohacking femme/queer bodies in Spain and beyond; working with, in, and without institutions can be liberating. Fueled by creative interventions, we can freely imagine better futures at the margins, but actuate at the present core.
There is immense beauty in that. I witnessed in practice at the festival, parallel actors, movements deftly furthering a shared culture of care (I recommend reading Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy for my frame of reference). I expected some really bright moments where there would be aha’s and some other awed moments of commonalities among the attendees. In the past, these have been magical for me for co-creation with others. What I was equally, if not more, thankful for, however, were the moments of discomfort, where I was challenged, where I had to slow down, digest, and reframe. And I know that there were many moments in which I knew that was necessary.
The earnestness that I felt in any given room was palpable, underscored by the whole selves that we each brought to Brussels for those days, to the collective spaces, not just one aspect of our personae, a major strength, I found, in searching for resilient, multi-dimensional systems-based solutions. In a few short but intense days, I learned, we have the potential to advance and/or to expand our capacities, write new biopolitical narratives, imagine different cognitive maps, and restructure current extractive economic systems. And with that, I am impelled to action as an individual, and now someone who is part of the ER fabric.