Flaming Awesome Questions!
Why did you start Bloom Network?
Many of the local organizers and participants in Bloom met each other online through a social network and web magazine that existed from 2007-2012. We were blogging there and talking in a forum about the experiences we were having with plant medicines and other transcendental awareness practices. Many of us were sharing insights about how society could be different and healthier for people, and about gaps in the political landscape where real issues were not being tackled. We were talking about permaculture, alternative economics, conflict resolution, how childhood education could be different, and so much more. The experiences we were having in our journeys were really deep and beautiful, and we were discussing how to integrate our visions into society itself.
There wasn’t another space most of us could go to where we could freely talk about so many topics we cared about. Many activist groups are focused on single issues, or they had political bents that felt constrictive to us. The electronic music festival scene was a lot of partying and not enough real-world action. We saw a lot of potential in a more open space that was friendly to transcendental experiences and arty, but rooted in practical action.
After connecting online, we wanted to meet each other in person, to share skills and start making the visions we were having real. Sean Parker, the guy who started Napster, gave a donation to the social network to start local chapters, and within two years over 200 cities stepped forward. At the time we called the local chapters Spores! In 2016 the local chapters formed Bloom Network, since the online social network had pivoted its focus and left the local initiative behind. With Bloom, we’re now able to run a peer-to-peer network. It is led by the local chapters and the tremendous wisdom and creativity that arises from our relationships with each other and the places we live. It’s difficult to describe what Bloom communities are like, but it’s very special, cosmic, grounded, and tends to be multicultural.
What do local Blooms do?
Most commonly, local Blooms focus on food sovereignty – stuff like urban gardening, regional food coalitions, planting food forests, and educational ecovillage centers. The next most common thing is that local Blooms manage an art gallery that is also a community gathering space for events and networking. Social equity is another type of activity – projects and events that help people in a place have autonomy over their health, housing, and economic well-being. For example, one Bloom does a lot of mutual aid coordinating and meetups, and another Bloom does a yearly social entrepreneurship festival. There is usually an aspect of spirituality to all this, though we’re not any specific religion. It comes from a spirit of responsiveness and connection with the places we live, and each other. And a heartfelt motivation to nurture that together.
For Blooms that want to do a single project, they doing things like create beautiful public park or courtyard spaces for people to connect with nature and each other, and inspire each other. Often these projects have a housing and health component too, to help residents maintain ownership over place and feel empowered to nurture each other and flourish. Another type of project people are doing is soil restoration plots in urban and suburban places – to provide water retention to mitigate flooding, and to remediate soil that has been contaminated by lead or other toxins. Those are usually what’s called citizen science, where people are measuring aspects of the soil health and contaminants.
If you want to get something started but aren’t sure what exactly, you’ll find an abundance of inspiration and ideas through Bloom Network.
Can I start a Bloom if I already have a project with its own name?
Yes. The differentiation between an organizational member of Bloom, and a local Bloom chapter, is usually the degree of comprehensiveness in overlap of values and goals. Local Blooms have significantly more responsibility than an organizational member. Usually if a crew joins with a name for their collective already, we talk through how to handle the naming, and what the requirements are.