Adonis Papadopoulos for Fine Acts
Adonis Papadopoulos for Fine Acts

Practicing Regenerative Cultures in Community

Our Enquiry into Care and Kinship

The CitizensLab has partnered with ULex, a training centre for social movement impact and resilience in the Spanish Pyrenees. This allows us to send 18 social change practitioners and activists from our network to a range of training programmes spanning the themes of regenerative activism, transformative collaboration and intersectional organising.

We’ve taken this opportunity to form a Community of Practice (CoP) which meets throughout the year to share the learnings and practices from the trainings and explore a common action-research question:

How can we co-create regenerative cultures that nurture mutual care and kinship to ground our social change work in?

For us regenerative cultures, are ways of living and working that acknowledge the cyclical nature of life, allowing for rest, allowing for wintering, allowing for things to die so that new things can be generated. The theme of ‘nourishing cultures of care and kinship’ emerged in our seasonal Learning Journey we hosted last year and has since then become the frame of our action- research.

The CitizensLab’s shift from working on participatory democracy towards more culture change work came from a desire and need to go beyond the systems change work we’d been engaging in so far and work on a deeper level, shaping new cultural narratives and paradigms that our systems are rooted in. We acknowledge that there needs to be a transformation from inner to outer realms.

For us, kinship acknowledges that at the core of everything are relationships. We are all deeply entangled with each other and all of life. This understanding comes with a responsibility to care for each other. Care, kinship, community and reciprocity are the core values in matriarchal societies but have been replaced by individualism, greed and power over dynamics within the patriarchal societies we find ourselves in. So there is an aspect of re-introducing feminine principles and matriarchal systems of organising to our work.

In our action-research approach we will reflect and gather practices and resources that intersect across the four lenses of enquiry we developed in our CLab seasonal Learning Journey: Living Systems View, Power Dynamics, Decolonising Self, Care and Kinship.. These four lenses can be seen as building blocks for the regenerative culture we would like to nourish.

Bojana Boncheva
Kinship with each other and the living world
Bojana Boncheva

The Community of Practice

A Community of Practice (CoP) can also be defined as a system of collective critical enquiry and reflection focused on letting collective intelligence garner over time to explore a question and advance a practice. For us the core practices we are interested in advancing is making kin and radical care.

The purpose of the CitizensLab CoP is to:

1) Collectively enquiry our question with a diverse and intersectional group of social change practitioners

2) Map and experience practices and tools that can support us in our work as change practitioners to nourish cultures of care and kinship

3) Identify powerful questions we have to ask in our diverse contexts and struggles

4) Explore the potential of becoming a community of local mutual-support across the diverse struggles we are active in

It was important for us to curate a group of people from diverse backgrounds and social movements to invite in a wide range of perspectives, practices and ideas. In our CoP we see ourselves spread between the following three dimensions of change work/ activism (inspired by Joanna Macey)

The 3 dimensions of activism :

1) Resistance and holding actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings

2) Creating new systems and structural alternatives

3) Deep cultural shift and change in consciousness

In our kick off session it became clear that these dimensions compliment each other and many of us are actively engaged in all of them. It’s interesting to note that our positionality and privilege certainly does play a huge role in what kind of activism we are mostly engaged in. If we belong to an extremely marginalsed group we might feel a stronger urgency to go into holding actions than someone who has not experienced the same level of oppression and marginalisation.

You will soon find the profiles of all the wonderful CoP participants on the CLab network map here.

Our own culture of care and kinship

As we are entering an enquiry into how regenerative cultures of care and kinship can be lived, it seems obvious that we start experimenting with our own group. So, in our CoP kick off session we created a common cultural Manifesto, addressing the following questions:

How do we want to be together?
What do we need from the group to flourish?
What do we want to bring into the group for it to flourish?

This is what we came up with, let yourself be inspired! We will have 8 more meet ups over the year and report back more on our learnings, so stay tuned!

Our Common Culture
designed by Jessica Ziada Korp

The access to the Ulex training is funded under the Erasmus+ program.

Funded by the European Union.
Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

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