Thoughts on Eco-Anarchism at the SSC

Hi folks,
In lieu of proper note taking, please see below some of my thoughts on the fantastic session on Saturday on eco-anarchism at the SSC!
The topic for discussion was anarchism and specifically the social ecology and libertarian municipalism of Murray Bookchin. The concept of assemblies where all members of a community can vote, as well as a higher level of groups of assemblies holding each other to account to some degree on issues that impact multiple communities appealed to me, although there was a discussion of what this would look like in practice. In particular we discussed the idea of what anarchism means, with many definitions aiming for the abolishment of the state, and all forms of hierarchy. We discussed whether this is feasible and whether Bookchin’s theory abolishes hierarchy or simply certain, unaccountable, forms of hierarchy. Is this enough?
Particularly interesting for me were discussions of what we can draw from this mode of thinking and how we can apply it to our lives, in Lincoln, today. The school of thought does not offer an exact blueprint for a utopian society – rather perhaps ways of organising and approaching collective problems. Perhaps attempting to run for positions or influence the structure of local councils is something suggested to us by Bookchin, although within anarchism this is a controversial topic.
We also saw a video of the Zapatista movement in Mexico, getting a glimpse of how they operate along these lines and what life might look like for them (the video has been emailed out to the group). In particular we discussed how there is a connection to an understanding of the land and the produce that comes from it and is then worked with and consumed by the community there that is very different to the relationship we have with food and other products here in urban Lincoln. How would anarchist organising look differently for us in our different context here in Lincoln?
We also discussed the pressing issue of climate change, and how ‘time is running out’. How do we respond to this? And how might Bookchin’s thoughts help us with this? We also discussed how for some parts of the world time isn’t running out – it’s already ran out and climate change is a daily reality for them.
We discussed a lot more – this is just the stuff that stood out to me!
I’d welcome reflections from anyone else there too ūüôā
Hope you are all well,
Bradley

Communities of the Future

Notes from the first meeting of the new SSC term ‚Äď Communities of the Future

Saturday 15 September 2018 commencing 10am at Mansions of the Future, Lincoln

Pleased to welcome four new scholars taking the total attendance to eleven.

We discussed the format of the fortnightly six sessions to follow and the change of dates to ensure we gave maximum publicity to capture the interest of the new students arriving in Lincoln. Bradley agreed to check with David regarding change of date for his session = Bradley

Flyers will be produced for scholars to print and distribute where they think most appropriate = Phil/ALL

If we gain a much larger attendance for a session, we will request use of another room to allow suitable space for learning = Phil

The SSC overhead projector will be collected from Mint Lane to enable its use for anyone proposing a session = Fen

Session format: We discussed whether the person(s) providing each session should have a definitive title such as Teacher, Facilitator, Animator, Guide and so forth; there was no overall agreement, but we agreed that each session was primarily about learning from each other.

Although each session will have a particular subject, and scholars may have no prior understanding of the subject, it was discussed that future sessions should not follow entirely the same format as last term e.g. the ubiquitous ‚Äėjug and mug‚Äô method where there is simply an hour-long lecture and then questions afterwards.

The SSC promotes a co-operative experience of education and does not wish to replicate the standard structure of learning via lectures alone. A new scholar (Annie) whose initial education was provided in China explained how students were given an interpretation of a concept in order to answer and provoke questioning that then enabled improved skills and a personal understanding of different philosophies. For SSC scholars, it was proposed that a much more interactive way of learning via the new term sessions is preferable such as short introductions of the subject, questions put to scholars by the session ‚Äėinterpreter‚Äô and vice versa, instant feedback, visual interpretations, shared reading, debates, workshop methods, etc. It was also proposed that an additional session could be arranged to pit one philosophy against another i.e. ‚ÄėSocialism and Eco-anarchism on trial‚Äô in a Citizens‚Äô Jury-type session which would be open to all to attend. Date and time = TBC

Those in attendance who will be delivering a session discussed how they expected their session to unfold and the conversation led on whether prior reading would be available to potential scholars. This then expanded the conversation to whether the course should be guided by a¬†particular principal book. Mike helpfully suggested ‚ÄúThe education of radical democracy‚ÄĚ by one of the SSC scholars, Sarah Amsler. Laura agreed to contact Sarah to gain her permission and seek her advice on one chapter to focus upon for those with limited time to read the whole book or gain access to it = Laura S

Further discussion on suggested reading culminated in a whole host of potential reading i.e. Emma Goldman, Naomi Klein, Rene Eddo-Lodge, Rachel Carson and so on. It was proposed that each scholar could recommend one or two books that other scholars would enjoy. This could be included as part of their personal profile ‚Äď a new aspect to be added onto the SSC website to help with engaging new scholars. The profiles are not mandatory, but for those wishing to join the SSC, an insight into the diverse background of current scholars may act as an incentive. Personnel profiles and recommended reading can be sent to Phil for updating the website = All/Phil

In referring back to how scholars engaged with learning and studying in the early days of the SSC, Fen remembered that Lucy had recalled that she felt more involved when she produced either a piece of writing, poem, joint collage or artwork – something constructive – at the end of the sessions/term to share with others. It was then suggested by Laura that each session should have a dedicated ‚Äėnote taker‚Äô to not only record our learning but share with those scholars who could not physically attend. The ‚Äėnotes‚Äô did not necessarily have to be lengthy or even written, visual or pictorial representations, etc., of the sessions would be encouraged. Laura called for volunteers to ‚Äėnote take‚Äô each session and these are recorded below.

It was agreed at the end of the term – the sixth session: Emergent Learning – all scholars would be requested to bring along a 500 word summary of what they felt they had learnt over the 5 previous sessions. The summaries would be anonymous and shared in a group discussion. As part of this session, it would also focus on what was missing from the previous sessions and also discuss what topics scholars would like to cover in the next term. The session will also possibly be more of a celebration with a chance to enjoy a nibble and drink. Time and date TBC = Phil

The new session dates are:

29 September   Ownership                     Led by Bradley                      Notes by Mike

13 October        Co-operative Lincoln   Led by David and Karolina    Notes by Laura W

27 October        Permaculture                Led by Lucy & Laura S          Notes by Fen

10 November    Eco-anarchism              Led by Philip                         Notes by Bradley

24 November    Women’s Struggles       Led by Laura S & Laura W   Notes by Lucy

TBA                   Emergent Learning        All Scholars                          TBC

Scholars agreed that the new term appeared interesting and were looking forward to the six sessions.

Laura S helpfully produced a visual representation of the discussions during this format session (as attached).

Fen agreed to contact Sarah regarding the outstanding matter of exploring group dynamics and to include power relations, conflict resolution and creating a common vision as part of the SSC Constitution. On a lighter note, scholars said they would be very interested in hearing of Sarah’s recent workshop adventures in Mexico = Fen

The next Planning and Reflection meeting will be on 6th October at 10am at the Mansions.

We hope you will join us.

Ends