Nature’s Spirit Speaks Through Art – June 2021 Theme Call

This Quarter’s Community Call featured two incredible Nature Artists, each tapping into World Gaia wisdom to share messages through their paintings. Introducing Luis Tamani and Jon Ching.

You can watch the video of the call on Bloom Vision, our Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/_wkN0tcCPec Or read on for a summary.

Luis Tamani

https://www.luis-tamani.com/

Luis Tamani is a globally recognized visionary artist from the Amazon rainforest of Peru. Luis spent his childhood rising at dawn and helping his father carve dugout canoes by the riverside. Luis is the transmitter of visions, sharing messages of communion with the earth. He believes there is unlimited teaching that nature can offer us and that every human has a potential to develop a deeper relationship with these worlds.

Through a Spanish interpreter, Luis shared what he is learning through his art practice, and what he would like us to learn from his paintings.

“Life is short, but we still have the capacity to learn from nature in our lifetimes”.

The first painting Luis shared was the one that kicked off his understanding of the depth of the work his hands were creating.

“This painting opened my eyes to an ability to understand not just art as an artist, but be able to receive information from nature that is divine from God. We can all receive that information and understand it”.

elder female Shipibo healer with jaguars, moon, jungle and snakes
Guardianes by Luis Tamani

About a week after he completed this painting Luis went back to it, and noticed there was something different there. He said he had a super strange feeling like he was not really the one who painted it… like there were other artists involved.

“There was a vibration, a very distinct vibration that I felt about this painting. I discovered new things from this painting.”

It was also the first painting he took to a Transformational Festival – Boom in Portugal. This painting opened a lot of doors or portals, so it became a professional gateway of sorts, leading him to Burning Man and travelling internationally with his work and workshops.

Luis’ paintings usually begin with a lot of ideas that need to be filtered down. His ideas come sometimes from dreams and sometimes from plant ceremonies. Nature has a lot of organic aspects that Luis feels speaking through him in texture, colors – like eye colors, certain animals… He added that he feels one of the characteristics of his art is that it translates what nature is saying to us.

Shipibo healer with plants, geometry, and a snake
“Cuando las Plantas” Cantan by Luis Tamani

When posed the question “What does art know that science can’t?” Luis said that science and art have commonalities because both are practices that you undertake in your life. However, art has a more spiritual aspect. Art is more real, whereas science is searching for something concrete. Science seeks to help you understand with logic. A painting can touch you directly without the need of an explanation. The message gets into you, and it is immediate and ephemeral.

Luis says his message or voice as an artist is not necessarily promoting to take ayahuasca or to remove a sacred plant from the jungle where it lives. Instead, he wants to remind us that in every location where we live, every plant, every bug, every animal, has a song or an intelligence to share. His overall message is one of cherishing and protecting nature, and Luis invites everyone to hear secret call to protect nature and to become guardians of our natural world.

painting of an elder healer with eagle, tobacco, snakes, ayahuasca and other jungle animals
“Fluer de Tobacco” II by Luis Tamani

About “Fluer de Tobacco II”: The radiant flower is representative of the powerful medicine of tobacco, and the character is connecting to that medicine. The flower is transmitting sacred geometry and all the songs and histories and stories that it knows. You feel this knowledge when you smoke it.

painting with a man receiving a blessing from a bird, with horses, heaven, ayahuasca, and a boy
“Lost to Heaven” by Luis Tamani

About “Lost to Heaven”: A self-portrait about a day of Ceremony with friends. A blue bird from the rain forest called tsutsui came to Luis while he had been observing the moon. The song of the bird was brought inside him. It is an ancient song and it made something inside him younger, bringing him back to his youth and it changed something inside him. The horses are very forceful animals and in this painting, you are connecting with heaven and horses are sort of carriers. They are helping this beautiful vibration from heaven to arrive.

Jon Ching

http://jonchingart.com/

Jon Ching from Oahu, Hawaii, brings to the world a fusion of flora and fauna, and his unique style that he has dubbed “flauna”. Using oil paint as his medium, he creates hybrids that show the overlaps and mimicry between species, serving as a visual reminder of the interconnectedness of life forms on Earth.


The paintings that made Jon realize his work was not just for his own entertainment or practice, were painted around 2011 when he was living San Francisco. This was the time when lot of gentrification and change was transforming the city, moving from a free spirited, artistic community and being replaced by more tech centric work.

“These are the two pieces that started me on the path that I’m currently on, using animals and plants as a way to convey ideas that I have about society and our relationship with nature, which obviously dips into climate change and mass extinction and all of those that we’re trying to fight together.”

mother hawk feeding baby wolves in her nest built by fish. the second image is a crane being strangled by beautiful vines.
“Modern Convenience” and “Fresh Coat” by Jon Ching

Jon described the first piece, “Modern Convenience”, as conveying the idea of the tech kids coming into the city and having everything delivered via an app – their house is being built for them by fishes, even though it is a nest. In the second painting, “Fresh Coat”, the vines are feeding it, but also slowly, kind of strangling it and taking over. Jon says “On a real building or a tree, the vine looks really pretty, but the vines are actually suffocating the host. This painting conveys the idea that we are covering up something that is already beautiful with a monoculture.”

melting polar bear floating above the sea, and a lemur sitting on bleached coral
“Melting Point” and “Insatiable” by Jon Ching

Talking about the shift his work has taken, Jon says his work changed from wanting to paint the problem, shaming or forcing people to look at the destruction we are causing, to finding a way to help people remember that nature is beautiful. He wants to spark the love of nature and the natural world in others. This led him to finding connections in nature, the colors, shapes and patterns that mimic each other across nature, in the hope that others will have that connective understanding sparked in them also.

Jon is trying, in his newer works, to show the divine essence of nature.

“I’m trying to represent God, the idea of God, the divine, the spiritual through my ‘flauna’ creatures as a physical manifestation of God. So many Indigenous cultures saw and see God in nature. And if the rest of us can see God in nature as well, we have no choice but to protect it. If we can see that it is God, then we inherently have a love for it and an obligation to preserve it, protect it and worship it.”

Jon was also posed the question, “What does art know that science can’t? What are you accessing through art that we can access through science?”

“Like Luis was saying, I think art is a language and science is a way of understanding. I think they complement each other. I find science intriguing and inspiring. And oftentimes, I’m trying to convey ideas that science has shown us. I think that Indigenous cultures have figured those things out too. Science just likes to take credit for it because they found a way to measure it.

I think art can be a bridge, from what science has measured and discovered, translating that knowledge into an emotion or feeling.

This series of paintings has the theme of exploring what the natural world looks like, post-Anthropocene (the current ecological time that we are in). Humans have transformed the face of the planet and are now gone. This opens the door for a big boom of evolution where different species will adapt to the new world. To the left is Jon’s “Little Oracle”, the owl and the butterfly combining to give an ability to foresee this future. Watch this YouTube video where Jon talks more about this series.

When asked “Are there any daily practices that you do to bring messages through or anything you’d like to recommend people to hear nature more?” Jon said,

“Taking the time to look at things. As a painter, I spend hours and hours and hours looking at the little, tiny details, of coral, or of birds’ feathers, and that has given me so much appreciation for their form, and how perfect it is… Slow down and get your eyeballs up close to something like moss and see how complex it is… Modern life is very busy with a lot of distractions. So I think it requires more intention than it used to. But that’s the challenge. It is our attention which is being challenged.”

Inspiring love, hope and admiration for the unique beauty of our world is Jon’s ultimate goal. And he works to bring awareness to mass extinction and climate change.

“Ultimately, everything on this planet is connected, we’re all carbon based life forms, we all came from a single cell, you know, and so there’s, of course, this deep physical connection that we all share with every other living organism”

red and white striped guppy with red and white striped flowers, and to the right, a hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower that is also the tail of a guppy, in matching colors of purple, pink, and peach.
“Razzle Dazzle” and “Liminal” by Jon Ching
Nudibranch Dance deferred to September!

Nudibranch Dance deferred to September!

A blog from Hannah, Community Support for Bloom Network.

Community Calls with Bloom Network in 2020 were an epic series of great topics and guests, ranging from Future Economies, Distributed Manufacturing & Bioregional Production, introduced people to the Decentralized Web and Bloom Network’s DAO and having conversations around “Flipping the Mainstream Narrative” – Alternatives to Climate Change. In 2021 we will continue to have interesting and brain-stretching calls, using our megaphone to teach people about different Regenerative topics.

Our call for February was to focus on the amazing world of Nudibranchs, and their unique place in the ocean’s systems. This call has the plan of taking some of the learnings from creating online experiences and online Burns and creating a more immersive experience that helps promote and lift up the Nudibranchs.

Doing Regenerative work on the side of life means that sometimes a whole bunch of road-blocks are thrown in the way of fulfilling unpaid work. For me, a double bout of illness and having to pack and move house have jumped in the way.  

Bloom Network has made the decision to postpone the The Nudibranch Experience until September. This will be a fun experience, deep diving into the Nudibranch world. On this call you can expect:

  • To buckle up for our simulated submarine ride as we journey through the ocean to the nudibranch habitat.
  • Learn about the nudibranch unique biology.
  • Design your own nudibranch.
  • Learn the nudibranch dance.
  • Find out what is going on in their ocean home.
  • Work out what you can do to help them and their ocean habitat.

We are sorry for the delay in this excellent adventure. If you want to sign up for the Nudibranch call you can do that here, with reminders of the call to be sent in August.

Our June 2021 Community Call is about Art and Nature (June 21, 2021 5-6:30pm EST) and you can sign up this on our Community Calls page here.

Merry Christmush Art Exchange

Merry Christmush Art Exchange

This Christmas we are initiating an art exchange, on the theme of Mushrooms! Merry Christmush to everyone! The idea is for people around the world to make mushroom art, and send them to other Bloomers as Christmas presents. In a way we are activating our own mycelial networks by creating a worldwide mushroom art exchange. To add your name to the art exchange, email your postal address and your name (if you want to), to community@bloomnetwork.org (we figure this is better than setting up a google form). Make your art, and we will send you others’ addresses to send the art to.

On December 21st we’ll host an interactive video call to share our appreciation, wonder, and nerding about these magical lifeforms. Register for that here.

THE ORGINS OF MERRY CHRISTMUSH 

Merry Christmush was an art project initiated by Australian Bloom newcomer Lumi Ricardi (they/them) after learning about the influences of Christmas from a Scandinavian perspective. 

“I found the story of the Sami noaidi (shamans) and what they did over the winter solstice period fascinating. They dressed in red and white like the Amanita muscaria mushrooms found in that area, and went to visit the World Tree, a large old pine tree. There they would eat mushrooms and gain wisdom to take back as gifts to their people, as well as blessings and gifts for the coming year.”

I created Merry Christmush to help people connect people to what Christmas time is about, and where the origins of our traditions have come from.”

Last year Lumi made 30 mushrooms from sun-dried clay and painted them all different colours of the rainbow. These were then given out to both friends and strangers, and conversations initiated about Christmas and people’s thoughts about this time of year.

Two of the Christmushes made by Lumi last year.

“A fun part of the story is that reindeers would ingest the mushrooms as well. This would give them a lot of energy and they would leap and jump about the forest, giving the illusion that they were flying. People were quite amused to hear the stories from Scandinavia and most people didn’t have any idea of where the origins of Christmas come from.

I think it’s a beautiful thing to encourage people to contemplate where we are now and where we have come from. It’s important to think about how meanings and symbolism changes through the ages, and pieces of the original symbols still remain, like the reindeer, the tree and the red and white colors of Christmas.”

Finally, Lumi invites everyone to enjoy the opportunity to be creative with Merry Christmush, and encourages people to hand make their christmushes. This way each one can be unique, made with care from their own hands and created with the intention of gifting it to someone else.  

“A great part about Merry Christmush is that you are creating the christmushes yourself. This ties into the idea of the World Tree and the gifts that the shaman brings back to his community, and to reflect and enjoy the gifts we give and receive from others. It’s important to acknowledge the interconnectivity of our communities. It’s the mushroom thing to do.”

Bloom Network has strong links with mushrooms via Mushroom City Arts Festival, an annual festival about mushrooms in Baltimore, which has been running for 8 years. This year, Robin Gunkel lead of Bloom Baltimore, convened the arts festival online, which featured a number of mushroom inspired artists. If you want inspiration for your mushroom art head to check out the following artists.

Arty books and zines about mushrooms

Join us in this fun art exchange to people around the world! 

HOW TO BE PART OF MERRY CHRISTMUSH

  1. Email community@bloomnetwork.org your postal address and your name if you want that shared.
  2. Make some christmush art (we are hoping 3-4 exchanges per person).
  3. Send your christmush art to the people whose addresses you are sent.
Dancing to DisCO!

Dancing to DisCO!

Future Economies II – October 2020 Focus Community Call

LINK to raw transcript – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RedQsPEqZLGh9AzbWf7pfhB-J5hihFvDaIuHqTrNQTY/edit?usp=sharing 

VIDEO of this call

SUMMARY KEYWORDS: DisCO(s), cooperative, people, commons, work paid organization Lisha Sterling, geeks, collective, DAO, Open source Guerilla Media Collective, Geeks without Bounds.

Important Links: https://disco.coop/   Guerrilla Translation Collective        Geeks Without Bounds

Introduction

What if your community had a way to organize itself, so that it better represented ALL the work that was happening? Not just which is deemed “economic value” but inclusive of commons care work and mutual value exchange, within a tight group of trusted friends.

DisCOs are Distributed Cooperative Organizations, a framework that stems from the peer-to-peer movement and work of the Guerrilla Translation Collective. DisCOs are a playful, artful feminist alternative to the patriarchal and top-down economies we are familiar with. Going beyond time-banking and DAOs, DisCOs are a way to organize and create communities that recognize and support the importance of labor that nurtures people and the commons alongside any particular mission or product the group is producing.

Centralisation and trust have been growing issues as networks grow, and layers of tech have evolved to try and solve some of these problems. However, the “solutions” usually do not include all the layers of care, that as women, we know we are fully immersed in.

“We need a cooperative, feminist, commons-oriented alternative to DAO (decentralised autonomous organizations)… DAOs are based on blockchain technology where there is a techno-optimistic idea that if we can program things correctly, we can create zero-trust situations where we don’t have to trust each other as humans. The problem is though, those algorithms are created by humans. The trust issue doesn’t disappear.”  – Lisha Sterling 

Bloom Network is a DisCO!

Bloom Network rests in-between the spaces of a nonprofit – a corporation – and a grassroots decentralized effort. Because Bloom has a different perspective for how organizing needs to happen, preferring decentralized ways of caring for community, it has made it difficult to plug in with the existing institutional structures to raise money and apply for grants. Discovering the DisCO model has been a revelation, and this model has been articulated well and in a fun way. We hope to work with and refine this model of working over the coming years so that Bloom is a living, dancing example of a DisCO.

Introducing our guest – Lisha Sterling

Lisha Sterling is the executive director at Geeks Without Bounds, a USA, non-profit, humanitarian organization of technologists, first responders, policymakers, and volunteers who work toward improving access to communication and technology. The aim of Geeks Without Bounds is to help people transform their bright ideas for civic and humanitarian technology into sustainable living projects using open source technology.

The Guerrilla Media Collective asked Geeks Without Borders to help develop software for DisCOs. GOB is deeply interested in this work, because like Bloom Network, GOB is in that in-between space, listed as a non-profit (which cannot be called a cooperative under legal definition in many states in the USA), and using a cooperative model internally.

The Origins of the DisCO

The Guerrilla Translation Collective developed the DisCO concept via lived experience which  began in 2013. Literally a translation volunteer collective (working for activist causes) they needed a way to organise the workers and work involved, while trying to address imbalance between paid labour and the invisible work required to keep the project healthy. Maintaining relationships with allies and customers, time-consuming background work and maintaining good internal communication are all important to an organisation, but do not directly bring in monetary value. In 2018, the collective reviewed lessons learned and established a more explicit governance model. Thus the DisCO was born.

“If I Only Had a Heart” – Organisations and networks that value all types of works

How do we combine the need for trusting humans with the reality that humans aren’t always trustworthy? Guerrilla Translation Collective and the https://disco.coop/ have a wealth of helpful resources to help understand these concepts.

In a DisCO, there are four main elements:

  • The Commons and P2P (peer-to-peer)
    • Self organising systems that meet human needs and leverage the power of networks.
  • Open Cooperativism 
    • Connecting with open source and commons principles within cooperative and social solidarity movements.
  • Open-Value Accounting
    • Enabling value sovereignty by rewarding meaningful contributions to projects rather than just wage labour.
  • Feminist Economics
    • Challenging ordinary economic abstractions that devalue or outright ignore reproductive and care work.

“Not only can we trust other humans, but we actually need to trust other humans.”
– Lisha Sterling 

 The picture below shows the evolving nature of cooperative and distributed design.

Platform cooperatives are cooperatively owned, democratically governed businesses that are established with a computing platform. It is a cooperative organization with a digital layer that facilitates the sale of their goods and services. Nathan Schneider who spoke on Bloom’s first Future Economies call is part of a successful platform cooperative.

DisCOs are similar because software is used as a layer to help with trade, managing value flows within and between DisCOs. 

What kind of a revolution would it be without a disco ball?” – Lisha Sterling

Three Core Types of Work

Guerrilla Media Collective has established three core types of work/credits, to ensure that everybody gets paid for all of their hours:

Livelihood Work – Agency work that pays in monetary value.

Care Work – work that holds the organisation together, administrative work, taking time for people care, including mental and physical health.  

Love Work – Pro-bono work that adds value to the commons (eg translating something with permission for free and making it freely and publicly available). This gets GMC noticed and often generates Livelihood work.

GMC has an equation that works out how many hours people have given each month. The model tracks the value whether it be commons oriented pro bono work, ethical market livelihood work, or reproductive work to create a fair distribution of income. If your work is unevenly distributed, you can top up the other types the following month. 

The Seven DisCO Principles

The seven DisCO principles are adapted from the seven principles of cooperatives, which have been statutorily oriented towards the common good, multi-stakeholder in nature, which is tied into a locally oriented global network (eg GMC coordinates with different printers in different parts of the world, so that things can be printed locally and shipped a shorter distance instead of shipping from a centralised location). Head to https://disco.coop/ to read in more detail.

  • Socio-environmentally oriented 
  • Multi-constituent
  • Commons-creating 
  • Transnational 
  • Care work-based 
  • Value reimagined 
  • Federated

DisCOs dancing together

Each individual DisCO is a group of anywhere from two to 20 people, but preferably not more than 20 people. By working with small trusted groups it is easier to wield the organisation because you are working together every day. You have a way to manage the income and the values you have together. 

When DisCOs then want to work with other DisCOs, this is where technology like a DAO can be useful. Trade, or working on larger cooperative projects together means that the trust levels are different so DisCOs might choose to put more into using digital contracts.

Trading does not have to be in monetary terms either. You might choose to trade based on the value of something else, bananas, or an hour of massage therapy. 

“One of the ideas is that we can create different types of economy or tap into the many different types of economies that already exist for these different cooperative partnerships. And we’re primed for Federation, with your local disco, and also being connected with all of these other groups that are also discos and being able to do exchanges and work collaboration”.

– Lisha Sterling

Questions from the audience

Outside of the initial organization, have there been other organizational use cases that you might be able to describe?

There are projects just starting and piloting this concept, but there is no project going longer than 2 years, because that’s how new this concept is. 

Two pilot programs are Cooperation Jackson working with Mondragon University, in Spain. And in Zimbabwe, there is a hackerspace called Multi-talented Maker Space, which is in the early stages of establishment, and are starting right from the beginning as a DisCO. 

In the last month both GMC and Geeks Without Bounds have received grants to run a number of pilot projects, with GMC developing training materials, and writing a research paper about how these pilots are developing, and Geeks Without Bounds to build more software.

What software are you developing?

The main part is an accounting software that is very specifically tailored to DisCOs, built in a distributed manner on top of something called Commons Pub, which if you’re familiar with Activity Pub, Commons Pub is built on top of Activity Pub. 

We’re using Commons Pub together with Interledger, to create an accounting software that also can move value around. So that within a single DisCO you can manage both units of value, whether that’s widgets that have been made, or man hours worked, or whatever your widgets of value are, with whatever the exchange for that is, whether you’re paying in bananas, or Bitcoin, or Euro, or dollars, or whatever. That software needs to be something other than ‘off the shelf’ existing software, because it allows the individual DisCO to define its governance, and its value equations.

Using that DisCO’s value equations, the money is divided, and percentages of your wages every months is split between love work, care work and livelihood work. 

And if your work that month does not achieve the percentage the DisCO values are set at, the the software adjusts so that the extra love work you did this month goes into future credits. If I did all love work one month, then livelihood work the next month, and the month after that I’m doing all care work, the software understands what the split is and makes sure that across a period of time things get evened out out according to their equation.

There are other parts of the software that are not part of this grant, but we’re also working on an open source tool that will help teams to do their collaborative work. We’re building it on top of Next Cloud, which gives you something kind of like the Google Apps environment where you’ve got email and shared documents. Think of it like an open source replacement combo for Trello, Whiteboarding software and Google Drive.

Many thanks to Lisha Sterling, Geeks Without Bounds, DisCO, and Guerrilla Media Collective for bringing this model forth and making the time to collaborate with Bloom Network.

Distributed Manufacturing // Bioregional Production – August 2020 Theme Call

Distributed Manufacturing // Bioregional Production – August 2020 Theme Call

With panelists Kevin Carson, senior fellow of Center for a Stateless Society & author of The Desktop Regulatory State
Josephine Watson, a researcher organizing regional food system networks
Lorenzo Kristov who facilitates transitions to localized renewable energy grids.

2020 has been a year of impetus for localised production to start happening, and we have seen across the USA, and indeed the world, people with 3D printers creating much needed Personal Protection Equipment for their local hospital using open source designs. We have also seen a surge of interest in and support for regional food systems. This emergence is known by a few names, distributed manufacturing, localised or bioregional production. Our August call discusses theoretical and real world examples of this work. For a fuller version of the text head to the truncated minutes here.

Localized production is a form of production that gives people control over their own livelihoods and the material preconditions for life. It keeps materials, production and consumers within the local context of a bioregion. It uses less materials and has less overheads compared to traditional mass production. It follows a ‘just-in-time’ production model and doesn’t need to invest in marketing or shipping because consumption stays close to the point of production. Because it has evolved in a resource constrained context, needing to extract maximum value out of every unit of input, localized production usually has less waste and tends not to engage in planned obsolescence.

‘Common Space’ or the ‘commons’, is often discussed with distributed and relocalized manufacturing. This is because capitalism purports the artificial idea of abundant materials that are ‘free’. Common space means the local economy is reintegrated into the natural surroundings and production is oriented towards local resources and watersheds and what it can handle. There is more incentive toward things like circular economies, recycling materials, cradle to cradle design.

Open Source is a big part of micro-manufacturing. It actively facilitates the rapid diffusion and use of knowledge, cooperation and collaboration with no monetary exchange. This more agile response can rapidly change and adapt. When new innovations arise they can continue to be shared rapidly, because there’s no intellectual property and other legal monopolies to create barriers.

Examples of Open Source production: Open Source Ecology and their Global Village Construction Set uses open source 3d printers that can be built for $500 worth of materials. Routers, cutting tables, laser cutters, drill presses, farm and construction machinery that can be built for less than $1,000, much cheaper than their commercial counterparts. It is now possible to build a garage factory in six months, instead of building giant factories with million dollar mass production.

 “The old mass production economy is like a T-Rex floundering around in a tar pit. It’s just dead.” – Kevin Carson

Open Source Ecology’s DIY farm machines

Every aspect of the regenerative movement would like to see more citizen and community participation shaping the policy and the law that governs the way they live. Bioregional conversations are at the core of this and are going to be important in our future.

Whenever we’re talking about bioregional distributed manufacturing in a farming context, we are talking about giving communities agency over the food that they’re eating, which is such an intimate part of our lives… working towards a feedback loop, that connects with the way communities would like to eat and how they would like to have relationships with their land” – Josie Watson, Northeast Healthy Soil Network

Bioregional conversations can be tricky without a level of coordination and shared values. Josie shared about the response of the Northeast farmers to the pressure of the government subsidizing monoculture growing. This flow of cheap food to the Northeast is making it tough for local and organic growers. Many collectives, associations and networks have sprung up at local, regional and state levels to address this problem. Inadvertently, multiple movements have formed without communicating with each other, and each of them hold a piece of the puzzle they are trying to solve.

The Northeast Healthy Soil Network was formed focussed around Healthy Soil, to help bring all these groups together, because healthy soil  is a common goal across the organisations.

“We wanted to incorporate working with soil as a living complex entity with millions of microbes. This is something that was not studied during the Green Revolution. We didn’t ask how the soil system lives and breathes and functions. We need to relearn and embrace these things rather than focussing on pure food output”. – Josie Watson

You can read more about the Northeast Healthy Soil Network here 

a map of 1/3 of the Northeast bioregional food system actors

Often State policies and ownership models need to be changed to achieve bioregional success. Lorenzo Kristov has been working hard at shifting State structures to allow local energy planning and production to take place at the neighbourhood level. This planning would be tailored to the energy needs of that neighbourhood. The plan also utilises existing energy companies to provide funding and expertise to teach local neighbourhoods how to plan and run their own power grids and/or develop resilience requirements when the grid goes out. Shifting ownership models enables the revenue that would normally flow to monopoly structures to stay in the neighbourhood.

“Rethinking how we do energy becomes a critical enabler of just about everything else we want to accomplish… When I think of bioregional, I think of the many local communities and neighbourhoods that participate in that bioregion. Part of this transition is to go beyond the economic dogma of the individual household as the unit of analysis, and shift to a neighbourhood as the core unit of analysis”. – Lorenzo Kristov

Lorenzo firmly believes that neighbourhoods, and the relationships that people have in them, are crucial to the next step of bioregional production. In those relationships we can develop collaborative projects that make our neighbourhood better and stronger. Neighbourhoods is where we will start to create the alternative to what’s happening. Lorenzo encourages us to get out and build relationships with the people that live around us, and see what projects flow from that.

“Neighbourhoods are seeds for creating a successful way around the extractive dysfunctional systems we have now. Rather than obliteration, of seeing the systems failing and going through their end of life and self-destructing, we can view them as compost, which becomes fertilizer to grow the new thing.”  – Lorenzo Kristov

There were mutual calls to make sure that people of colour and Indigenous nations’ leadership is visible in helping lead the way in these transitional times. It is recognised that it is a difficult time to reach out to Indigenous communities and ask for aid and research when they’re so financially strapped. But we know that Indigenous groups throughout the world are bastions with the most important knowledge about how to steward ecosystems. Josie reminded us that the United Nations perpetuates this idea that members of Western academic institutions are the ones to create global policy and law. Media groups need to bring Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour leaders to the forefront and put spotlights on their knowledge and projects.

The FAO has a project called World Agricultural Watch (WAW), which is creating a database of collected knowledge and setting members of indigenous groups who are willing to engage as the experts that they are.

Bloom’s wiki article on local production lists more projects who are actively working in the areas described in this blog.

Predictions for the next 15 years

2020 has sprung upon us an incredible number of Black Swan events; no one could have foreseen that and the incredible impact they have had. There is also no way of anticipating what other unforeseen crisis events are going to happen over the next 15 years.

In the last 15 years we have had two major recessions, both of which were the worst at that time that the United States has been through since World War Two. Kevin expects to see more of these tumultuous events over the next 15 years. There has also been an arc of movements like Arab Spring, then Occupy, the anti-pipeline movement and Black Lives Matter movements. Large left-wing movements are on the rise, as are right-wing ones. The municipalist movements across Europe are interesting trends to watch as well, and these are expected to continue. 

“We’re going to see continuing chronic unemployment and underemployment. That makes it a matter of necessity to turn to all these economic alternatives that we have all talked about today”. Kevin Carson

All the panelists agreed, there is a lot of work to be done, but it can be done. Moving from thinking in the old mass production capitalist mindset is what needs to be shifted, and necessary relationships and economic alternatives need to start being understood and worked on by more people. 

Being Part of Bloom Network allows you to be part of this process. Sign up for our newsletter, and consider being a financial contributor to help regenerative culture ripple around the world.

Additional Comments of Interest

Kevin’s Observations about Federated Cooperatives around the world:  

  • The Mondragon system and the Antigonish both have a federal structure with their own financial arm that provides capital for enterprise incubation.
  • New municipalist movements are springing up all over Europe, in Spain formed by post-M15 and activists, Barcelona and Madrid.
  • Bolonia has had a really strong cooperative economy for the last couple of decades.
  • In the United States, Cooperation Jackson, and the Evergreen project in Cleveland which was influenced to some extent by the Mondragon system.

Anarchism is something Kevin Carson is well known for, so we asked him “How does anarchy sit with bioregionalism?”

“The importance of distributed manufacturing and relocalized economies leads to anarchism in a sense, at least that’s true the kind of anarchist model that I subscribe to. How real localization takes shape, will inform the direction that post-capitalist and post-state transitions are going to take. We are seeing commons-based institutions (like community gardens, neighbourhood workshops, local currencies, co-housing projects for sharing costs and risks, pooling income and localizing energy production) forming out of necessity right now and these are basically the seeds of a successor society. But they are forming out of sheer necessity for survival rather than any particular ideological motivation. I think it is important for anarchism as an ideology to be moving in the same direction that people are spontaneously moving in already out of material necessity and do things to facilitate that”. – Kevin Carson

Cover image by Ane Eline Sorenson and David Hodgson