Revolutionary Care: Building Health Autonomy- Call for Submissions for OpenVillage Festival

Everywhere we feel it; the spreading anxiety, the growing precarity, our social media feeds enclosing around us. The news haunts us, a new crisis is ever arising, our jobs take over our lives.

And we’re so tired, all the time busy and tired.

It’s the air we breath and yet no one ever talks about it. So we become depressed, use drugs, spend money on “wellness practices”, individualize ourselves, focus on dead end careers and retirement plans. Or worse, we’re arrested, assassinated, become refugees, become displaced. This is no way to live and we all know it; we all feel it in the deepest parts of our spiritual being.

How are we then to live in this world? We must go back to our physical beings. We want to be free from physical want, we want pleasure and connection with those around us, and we want purpose. We want to laugh over good food, to have the time and mental space to enjoy a sunset, to feel good about our children’s future, to take care of our loved ones and to be taken care of in turn, to relate to the natural world around us. And we must be clear, these desires, in their true, uncommodified and non-exclusionary form, are inherently revolutionary. They cannot be compatible with the dominant capitalist world view that atomizes us, makes us sick in body and mind, and places the luxury of time and wellness out of the reach of the vast majority.

The question is not why, it is how. How do we build a life with those around us? How do we create a world in the ruins of the old?

To invest in the question is to become revolutionary.

Help us build this path together. We want to hear from you. Share what experiences you have undergone.

At Woodbine, we have been working to create the material conditions for autonomy and revolution in New York City. Through the OpenVillage festival, we want to connect with you, build networks together, hear your successes, your failures, and everything in between. There are already so many examples, from the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Asimong discussing communal care, Cosain talking about peer based mental health practices, John examining decades of communal living, Calafou’s post-capitalist eco-industrial colony, and The Reef project in Brussels.

Building a life together means we must examine every aspect of our lives. Our urban gardens, our communes, communal dinners, elder-care, child-care practices, mental health practices, the riots, the side hustles for money, manipulations of institutions, shoplifting habits.


How do we deal with money? How do we create beauty?

How do we struggle through patriarchy and oppression within ourselves?

How do we provide care? What structures do we need to create?

What lessons can we learn? What inspires us? What are we scared of? How do we stop being so scared of each other?

How can we create optimal conditions for our children and our elderly?

As the indigenous around the word have been showing us, we must call out our own “Basta ya!” (“Enough is Enough”) and fight for a “world in which many worlds can fit”.


Reflecting on constructive wording for #openvillage

This draws on our email conversation @Woodbinehealth . By being a festival Fellow and curator, your take on working and living well together will shape the narrative of the event. I’d like to raise the question of which (essentially ideological) language is most constructive for what we want to showcase. This is relevant in so far as the formal event theme is concerned, not this call which is your personal voice.

I am aware that there is a sort of “in group” deeper understanding of the phrasing “Living communism, spreading anarchy” - think I found the original work here.

But by making a statement about anarchy do we risk alienating some community members? personally I prefer “collective health autonomy” as it points more clearly to community care.  I would argue that it’s great to convey the idea of being revolutionary about care, but with a connective layer, the sense of ecosystem and infrastructure. I dont think revolutionary = political in the sense of the ideological spectrum though.

Anyone care to help us find a formalised narrative? Do you have feedback/ advice?

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Communism has a painful ring to it

Hi guys, tuning in quickly from the road. I’m looking forward to this and will try to scout for more initiatives.

Im curious what you associate communism with?  Am partially of Ethiopian descent where it is associated with the red terror"

“Thousands of men and women were rounded up and executed in the following two years. Amnesty International estimates that the death toll could be as high as 500,000.Groups of people were herded into churches that were then burned down, and women were subjected to systematic rape by soldiers.[19] The Save the Children Fund reported that the victims of the Red Terror included not only adults, but 1,000 or more children, mostly aged between eleven and thirteen, whose corpses were left in the streets of Addis Ababa.”

I do not mean to engage in an ideological debate, just to understand what it is you mean and how to articulate it with clarity and exactitude. 

Hey, thanks for the comments and looking forward to this conversation developing. One of the things we are going to do in the next week or so is to work to develop the main ideas we hope this title expresses. So I will attempt to do so here, but more in-depth work will come out. I think the points that are raised are very valid and I think fundamental to our collective development of what it would mean to live and work together as the original title described.

By communism, we are not referring to the ideals of communists, most of whom were essentially socialists vying for state power to then institute some utopian form of communism. So that communism was only possible after some transition period, and the accumulation of power. Both of which are false assumptions, proven over and over again by history. Be it Ethiopia, USSR, Cuba, or China, these leaders took power by whatever means, in an attempt to take over “means of production”. But the problem is not who owns the means, it is the means themselves. What we mean by “communism” is the ancient form of communism. The form of communism that arises in close knit neighborhoods, the form that Occupy, the Squares movement, and historically, the Spanish anarchists all exemplified. It is the development of common needs and the sharing of resources and property to meet those ends. I would argue that communism is our natural form of life if we consider the indigenous ways of life as well as the natural trend towards communism that occurs after natural disasters. And so when we say “living communism” it is a nod to this way of life, having nothing to do with state power and the crimes committed in its name.

As for the strategic use of rhetoric, I absolutely agree that there is a strategy around that selection. When we argue for “spreading anarchy”, it is not necessarily the “Black Bloc” that we are supporting. Nor is it the adolescent who wants to do “whatever they want” mentality of some so called anarchists. Rather what we are arguing is that anarchy as a form of organizing is fundamental to how we live. OpenCare is working to highlight decentralized groups that self-organized, most without any state support and that will aim to provide their services or goods for minimal costs, separated from the capitalist model. I would argue that this is in form “anarchist” in that there is autonomy within groups to create their own rules, there is a lack of hierarchical structure, and the goods produced are for the commons.

Interestingly, the terms “communism” and “anarchy” have both been painted so negatively by liberalism, which I think is even more potent at this juncture. Here in the US, there is a feeling of complete polarization. It is becoming impossible to be “middle of the road”. And from what we see in the UK elections, it seems that people are tired of liberalism’s vague “hopes” for freedom and equality. That people can say extreme ideas and those ideas can begin to be taken seriously. Unfortunately this works for both sides, as we see fascist language becoming more commonplace. But inevitably, I see this as a result of capitalism, not as a reaction to the left. In fact, because the left here in the US is so weak (mainly because they have been trying to “compromise” with capital), they have no power to struggle against the far right. I would argue that this is a time to recapture our language and our ideas. We are not fighting for the autonomy of Silicon Valley or the global development ideas of the World Bank. We are fighting for a new vision of the world, and I don’t see how that vision of the world is compatible with capitalism. If we believe that, then we must openly admit that we are calling for a revolutionary way of living. And to push our vision forward, we must re-appropriate the words. So maybe using strong language will push some people away. But as has been shown in struggles around the world, it has the power to attract even more. Its a gamble, but so is wanting a different way of life.

Hello @woodbinehealth,

How are you?
What is your project doing now?

In the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we would be very interesting to hear how you and the communities you work with react.
Are there any ideas or contacts from the Health Autonomy project that could be helpful now?

Is there anything you need help with?