Oaxaca || Forms of R-existence
Autonomy and Forms of Economical r-existence / Regeneration as a Way to Rethink Development & Sustainability
February || 2020
On February 18th, in a hot day of a rather long dry season, at a half–hour ride from the center of Oaxaca City, a burning question brought together a disparate group of 25 people joining from 9 Mexican states and a few global north locations. Ambassadors of communities of agro-ecologists, indigenous land and human right defenders, political self run publishers and urban spirulina cultivators, organic chocolate micro-producers and film-makers, radical buen-vivir entrepreneurs and liberal academics, community organizers of Escuela Campesina and socially engaged artists reunited in the open restaurant of a compa (latinoamerican for: companer (-o)/ (-a)/ (-x) - comrade, someone involved in the struggle), to discuss forms of autonomous subsistence and re-existance.
compas at the gathering
El Primer Semillero Autogestivo Mexicano (the first Autonomous Mexican Seedbed) was called by Edgardo Garcia of C.A.C.A.O. (Coperativa Autonoma de Convivencia y Aprendisaje Oaxaca) a family-based initiative for the production of the organic Chocolate y Rebeldìa. The gathering was supported by a germinator seed fund made available by the Ecoversities Alliance, an informal network of more than 100 Ecoversities supporting the rhizomatic movement of learning communities, promoting different ways of being, knowing and relating; as well as by Musagetes.
The questions were quickly put on the table:
- How do we sustain our initiatives?
- What are the means of our production and reproduction, and how we can imagine a way to be economically autonomous, resisting the commodification of life, and imagining ways to transition away from the existing exploitative, extractive, unsustainable capitalistic system?
rebellious books of El Rebozo from Monterrey meet rebellious chocolate of C.A.C.A.O. from Oaxaca
People started to share how in their work and their different contexts personal, familial and communities resources are activated to provide means of existence, tools that work (or failed to), relations of mutual support and collective forms of sharing, methods for transparent accounting, horizontal decision making, away from notion of individual leadership, concentration of power and exploitative profit making.
Alessandra brought the example of Free Home’s ongoing collaboration with Casa delle Agriculture (Castiglione d’Otranto) and their methods of commoning the land and other means of production; organizing educational and cultural events; redistributing their harvest; diversifying their initiatives through a cultural organization, a cooperative, and informal convivial community design.
political art is literally on every wall of Oaxaca
Navigating the current system in which most of the people here hardly survive, what can be done?
- How to establish and reinforce existing alliances?
- How to plant seeds not only to resist, revoke, reclaim but also to exist differently within our human and more than human relations?
- How our interconnectedness in the ecosystem we are part of can be the base of a different economy, growing deeper rather than larger?
- So, what can be done, for real?
Proposals appeared after hours of discussions and reflections. Questions of autonomous economic models and self-sustainability strategies for eco-oriented agri-cultural-educational enterprises is very central also in the Ecoversities Alliance, and the members attending the gathering (Gerardo Lopéz Amaro, Sergio Beltran - also with Herramienta del Buen Vivir, Kelly Teamey and Udi Mandel - also faculty of S.I.T., Alessandra Pomarico and Nikolay Oleynikov - also Free Home University) took the cargo to reformulate the proposals emerging on a trans-territorial level within the global alliance.
El Primer Semillero Autogestivo Mexicano
The question of sustainability and the critique of development-as-we-know-it, marked all the encounters, conversations and visits to local collectives and organizations in Oaxaca during these days, also in the frame of the field research of S.I.T. program unfolding around Sustainability and Regeneration in Oaxaca (that took place on the 1st-15th of February).
The course designed by Kelly Teamy and Udi Mandel for the group of S.I.T. students examined the centrality of agriculture in the field of Development, exploring the significance of the Green Revolution in re-shaping agriculture worldwide. During the two-week residency students were also focusing on migration, borders and transnational communities within the field of development. The impacts of migration on individuals and communities was addressed in this course through visits and conversations with a range of key people and organizations such as M.A.N.O.S. (Migrantes Apoyados, No Olvidados. *spanish for: migrants supported, not forgotten) - a relatively young local NGO that is sustained by two courageous women experienced in human rights, protection of migrants, and international law. This visit happened within the learning program on the question of migration that was formed by Alessandra Pomarico together with Manolo Callahan.