Utopian Practices in Action for Urban Socio-Ecological Justice
Noa Cykman and Elisa Privitera (Lizzy)
“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 concrete proposals and 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 a panel aimed to think and dialogue about inclusive urban regeneration practices that challenge our unjust socio-ecosystem/reality, and generate imaginaries of alternative futures.
By bringing together the stories of different projects, social movements, collectives, and communities dedicated to promoting a transition from socio-ecological collapse toward justice, sustainability, solidarity, resilience, affect, and care, we propose to open a space for sharing ongoing practices of utopias of justice and joy that feed our actions with the strength to break through concrete and seed new shapes for our relations and livelihoods.
We think of utopia as the association between a concerted criticism of the status quo, and an imaginative projection of better worlds. Widening our vision, utopia inspires and informs present action. As we invite utopian practitioners, we are curious to hear and dialogue 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 want to bring 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 as an integrated ecosystem. We invite the participants to explore the existing relationship between the construction of utopian imaginaries for a better, more life-affirming and just global commons, and the concrete lessons and challenges met on the ground of the ongoing experience.
We welcome experiences that dance around and with agroecology, food justice, ecosystem restoration, community building, community land trusts, squats, commons, cooperatives, transitions in energy, water, soil, the seeding and nourishing and multiplying life in beneficial cycles.
Noa Cykman is a graduate student in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), supported by a Fulbright fellowship. She holds an M.A. in Political Sociology and a B.A. in Social Sciences from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, where she founded and coordinates the Utopia Lab (Laboratório da Utopia–Luta). She is part of the Eco Vista Community and of the EJ/CJ Hub, linked to UCSB. Her work is oriented towards the proposition and experimentation of new socio-ecological practices, based on a theoretical framework that includes utopian studies, society-nature relations, decolonial, postcolonial, poststructuralist, and feminist epistemologies. She is currently focused on agroecology and urban food forests as ecological utopian experiences oriented by a more-than-human ethics.
Elisa Privitera (Lizzy) is a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Catania (Sicily, Italy). She is an urban planner with a Master’s Degree in Building Engineering and Architecture (University of Catania), and a specialization post master’s degree in Local Participatory Action and Public Debate (IUAV, Venice). Her Ph.D. research explores the hybrid field between engaged community planning, environmental justice studies, and political ecology and proposes a “slow small street approach” to construct collective knowledge in all those risk landscapes in which the health and socio-ecological risks and slow violence have occurred gradually over time and diffused in the space. She was C.M.Lerici’s foundation visiting fellow at the Environmental Humanities Lab of the KTH University in Stockholm. Currently, she is a Fulbright visiting graduate student researcher at the Department of Environmental Studies at UCSB with the goal of deepening the environmental justice movements and studies under the supervision of Prof. David N. Pellow. Since July 2021 she started to collaborate with EcoVista Project and in particular with the ECoVista Planning thematic working group. Before moving to UCSB, she had years of experience with the LabPEAT- an action-research community eco-design lab in Catania. She is also a co-founder member of the social cooperative “Trame di Quartiere”.