RCJGC Panel 10

Utopian Practices in Action For Urban Socio-Ecological Justice

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Panel Introduction: Utopian Practices in Action for Socio Ecological Justice

Noa Cykman and Elisa Privitera (Lizzy), UC Santa Barbara

“If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth.” Carl Sagan
How can local ongoing experiences inspired by socio-ecological utopian principles provide insights to address the current global cascading crises, to assess the kinds of movements that we have or need now, and to trigger a radical change for a more just future?

In order to discuss possible answers to these questions, we invited presenters to share and dialogue about inclusive urban regeneration practices—those that challenge our unjust socio-ecosystem/reality, and generate imaginaries of alternative futures.
We welcome experiences that dance around and with agroecology, food justice, ecosystem restoration, community building, squats, commons, cooperatives, seedings and transitions in energy, water, soil, the nourishing and multiplication of life in beneficial cycles.

On this panel, you will find the stories of: i) an Agroecological City Councilor Mandate operating in Brazil; ii) houseless people planting gardens with the Agro-Street (AgroRua) collective, in Brazil; iii) the conservation and restoration of Ecuadorian forest ecosystems through participatory research and community-centered projects, led by the Fundación Cambugán – Mushuk Tukuy Agroecolocial Network; iv) the occupation/formal squats of over 30 abandoned real-estate in Brussels, Belgium, by the Communa organization; v) the Eco Vista Food Forest that’s planting food security, social justice, and ecological regeneration in Isla Vista, CA, United States, f) the Monarch butterflies who are returning and multiplying on occupied lands where agroecological farming is restoring ecosystems, in the Bay Area, CA, United States; vi) wetlands that are offering sanctuaries for birds and seeding sustainable agriculture in Sicily, Italy, with the work of the Geloi collective; and vii) the research on energy transition and envisioned futures of Netherlands citizens.
By bringing together the stories of these collectives and communities dedicated to promoting a transition from socio-ecological collapse to justice, sustainability, solidarity, resilience, affect, and care, we wish to open a space for sharing practices of utopias of justice and joy. Utopias that feed our actions with the strength to break through concrete and seed new shapes for our relations and livelihoods.
Utopia? We think of utopia as the association between a critical vision of the status quo, and an imaginative projection of better worlds. Widening our vision, utopia inspires and informs present action. We are here to hear and dialogue with practitioners of utopia about the utopian visions populating our horizons, and about how concrete, ongoing, daily practices are unfolding in relation to those desires.

Since urban spaces typically host deep inequalities and systemic violence, among humans as well as in relation to other species, to the ecosystem, and to the planet as a whole, we brought into conversation a variety of social practices oriented by an alternative vision for the city and all its dwellers – humans and more than humans. We want to hear and learn from in-progress utopias working toward making cities inclusive, healthy, and prosperous: integrated ecosystems.

Please, feel more than welcome to join our conversation with your comments, questions, ideas, provocations.

“Live Talk on Utopian Visions, Practices, and Ecologies”

Noa Cykman, Elisa Privitera (Lizzy), Jussara D’Agostim, Margot Jeanne, and Cole Rainey

Collective Agroecological City Councilor Mandate / Florianópolis, Brazil

Marcos José Abreu, Florianópolis City Council, head of the “Agroecological City Councelor Mandate”

Fundación Cambugán – Mushuk Tukuy Agroecolocial Network / Ecuador

Margot Jeanne Cohen, Carmen Mariscal, and Ana Mariscal

Communa ASBL / Brussels, Belguim

Maxime Zaït, co-founder of Communa and STUN

Eco Vista Food Forest / Isla Vista, CA, United States

Tony Barbero, Ash Valenti, and Noa Cykman, UC Santa Barbara

Land Occupations & Butterflies / Berkeley, CA, United States

Cole Rainey, (Berkeley Agroecology Lab, Berkeley Student Farms, and Gill Tract Community Farm)

“Social Aspects of the Energy Transition”

Simone Haarbosch, Maria Kaufmann, and Sietske Veenman, Radboud University

“Collective Closet / Florianópolis, Brazil”

Jussara Dagostim, Federal Institute of Santa Catarina (IFSC)

1 reply
  1. Noa Cykman
    Noa Cykman says:

    Hi everyone!

    After watching these amazing videos, I have a few comments and questions to start us off…

    One thing that caught my attention is the repetition of political authorities’ resistance to the implementation of regenerative projects, despite their previous agreement, and despite consistent evidence of the benefits. That was the case with AgroRua (AgroStreet), Gill Tract and Oxford Tract, the Eco Vista Food Forest, and probably others. Except of Gill Tract (which came to life in direct confront against institutions), all the others have been conceived in dialogue with public purties, having received their initial support. A while after the project starts, the public parties seem to draw back. Out of fear? Fear of what? What cracks their sense of control, given that they start as collaborators? What makes their authority feel threatened by regenerative projects? Perhaps a vaguely, intuitively sensed understanding that such authorities eventually dissolve in utopia? that they will become progressively unnecessary as utopia comes to life?

    I’d love to hear everyone’s takes on this. What are your thoughts on the practical aspects of this situation, and/or on the philosophical/dreamy hints it gives us? I’d also like to ask @Max in particular for visions on this, given the notorious success Communa has had in collaborating with public authorities (which now reach out to them, asking for their services).


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