Blooming crocus captured by Wilfried Santer via Unsplash
Blooming crocus captured by Wilfried Santer via Unsplash

4. Spring Season- Cultures of kinship

From commons of democracy to seeding a culture of care and kinship

We had initially titled the last season of the CitizensLab Learning Journey “Commons of democracy” intending to learn about the principles and processes of commoning and commit to commoning in our local contexts.

When the hosting team came together to design the last season the shared feeling emerged that our learning journey had brought us to a slightly different place. What we sensed and experienced through our journey together was a lived culture of care and kinship emerging. So we decided to dive deep and explore this “commons of kinship”, a subtle, but significant reframing, rather than a set of predefined principles on commoning.

The theme of spring was woven through the season with the help of guided meditations, embodiment journeys and little rituals. The topic didn’t lend itself to wisdom holders that were invited in as with the other seasons, but to surface and nurture the feelings within each of us so we decided to go with that emergent theme and invited participants in session one to explore what this culture of kinship and care really is about, sharing stories of where we’ve experienced it in our lives. In sessions two and three we took ample time to review and reflect on our whole journey and share with each other how we intend to seed the journey as well as this resonant culture in our local contexts. Session four was a gratitude and gifting circle that left us with a sense of continuation and ideas for new CitzensLab formats and real life meetings.

How might we practice kinship? ©Molly Costello
How might we practice kinship? ©Molly Costello
So what did we learn about this culture of care and kinship?


  • Kinship is an active choice. It comes with a commitment and intentionality to nourish relationships.


  • While kinship can be nourishing it is not always comfortable and easy. It requires perseverance. It is a process full of ups and downs.


  • What scale does kinship need to flourish? From ourselves and our own microbes, to biological family,  interest group, intentional community, neighbourhood, village, town, humanity and the more than human world –  how much can we extend our commitment and care before our nervous systems will shut down?


  • Kinship can not just be felt towards humans. All living beings can be our kin. The land can be our kin. Recognising the land as kin requires our stewardship.


  • Kinship needs to be nourished. It needs time well spent together, intimacy shared so that relationships can grow and trust develops.


  • We are scared of kinship. We avoid intimacy.  We are creating frictionless cultures in which we pass each other on the streets, not having to talk to anyone. We create structures that resist the kinship that naturally wants to be.


  • What happens when we stop othering? Does everyone become our kin? Does kinship mean unconditional acceptance?  We inflict harm by judging others. Maybe we need to start with dropping our self-judgement first.


  • Kinship is reflected in our language. In India you say ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to everyone on the street. English doesn’t acknowledge the earth as our kin. We just call her ‘it’.  In India you say ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to everyone on the street.


  • Allowing our whole selves to be in relationships, not just our brains, fosters kinship. There is the potential for all our interactions to be sacred.
What will it take to cultivate a commons of kinship?
  • To practice and create new forms of kinships and relating within a social justice framework is crucial to this new way of being and culture-making. How can we do it in our daily, intimate, collective interactions?  


  • The power of having spaces to be heard / to listen. How do we create the time and space in our busy lives to do this meaningful work?


  • Kinship requires us to turn up the intensity of connections and turn down the intensity of stimulus. This slowing down frequency is counter cultural, yet what we need to embrace to escape this easy culture of distractions and numbing ourselves.


  • To reclaim ‘presence’ as a route to/act of change. We can do this through the practices of  slowing down / being in stillness / being in silence collectively, being at a different pace. 


  • If we are to create deeper kinship we need to find ways to embrace the messy, the uncomfortable and the imperfect. We need to make space for it!


  • A culture of kinship supports us to shift out of societal normative structures to not be afraid of conflicts and to deal with them in a different way, 


  • What are the shadows of kinship? Who/what misses out with this framing?


  • What are the radical actions of kinship we can do? Locally and internationally?


  • There is an abundance of ways to express and experience care and kinship, we only just scratched the surface. 

Read more