On 19 January 2022, Camille from CoLET joined Njera Keith of 400 + 1 and Liz Barry of Public Lab in conversation with Rayya El Zein of the Digital Infrastructure Incubator of Code for Science & Society in "Visions of Mutual Power", a wide-ranging and illuminating conversation about radical visions for building and holding power.
For those of us, the fortunate ones in the western world, the pandemic propelled us online in a major way in order to maintain some level of livelihood and connection.
Whether over Teams or Zoom, Jitsi or BlueJeans, our touches become imprints of bits and bytes over the wire.
For many of us in the tech workforce, the video work meetings were nothing new even when we worked in physical offices, It was the everything else beside work that was eerie — familiar but not. From church to school to therapy to educational seminars, it all started to map uncomfortably onto each other and in some ways become too much.
Though there are at this point lots of articles about videocall burnout, little of them point to what’s been gained in terms of connection and accessibility to various populations as well as where we need the technology to go next. How do we squarely and fairly think about this move to port all of our previous fleshspace contacts to digital space? And how do those of us who are radicals connect it to a longer radical history of meeting spaces, meeting practice, and our evolving political and social praxis?
What follows are a few questions to chew on with your people.
- What are the origins and meanings of the fleshspace spaces we already inhabited? What are we/ have we been saying intentionally and unintentionally with the spaces we create?
- What were the flaws and benefits of the fleshspace spaces we already inhabited?
3. What positives did we carry over from those spaces into digital space?
4. What flaws did we simply port over into digital space?
5. What does digital space offer beyond fleshspace?
6. What are the narratives, guidelines, and ceremony — both conscious and unconscious— of our current spaces?
Things To Read
Anarchism, Geography, and Queer Space-Making: Building Bridges Over Chasms We Create by Farhang Rouhani
Haudenosaunee narrative, constitution, and ceremony
What Is Candomblé? Beliefs and History
Worship takes place in temples which have indoor and outdoor spaces as well as special spaces for the gods. Prior to entering, worshippers must wear clean clothes and ritually wash. While worshippers may come to the temple to have their fortunes told, to share a meal, or for other reasons, they typically go for ritual worship services.
The worship service starts with a period during which priests and initiates prepare for the event. Preparation includes washing costumes, decorating the temple in the colors of the Orixa to be honored, preparing food, conducting divinations, and (in some cases) making animal sacrifices to the Orixas.
We at CoLET see this moment as ripe with possibility to begin forging new alliances as well as deepening and more clearly defining our bonds of solidarity, and we are excited to have you at the table to explore this with us.
- What role does tech play in your work?
- What challenges did you face last year?
- What opportunities are you exploring this year and what help do you need?
What Came Up:
- How do we share information between organizations and generations? There are many current and historical “wins”; where do we put them so everyone has a chance to see them?
- People struggle with the idea of alternatives to mainstream commercial software. It seems neutral, almost like a public utility. How do we start planting seeds so people can think about making the transition?
- Someone made the point that we are killing the planet, but in honesty we are killing ourselves (and taking out several species with us). The planet will go on. How do we think about that? How do we process not just growth but also death?
- “If you’re gonna fight the good fight, you gotta know who you’re fighting.” – It’s important to know your enemies!
- How concerned should we be about mass surveillance? Are our solutions particularly freeing? Even Signal’s servers are hosted by Amazon.
- How are people and groups dealing with/combatting doxxing
- How do we work at a human scale?
- Many of us want to talk about black liberation, queer liberation, women’s liberation. How can we create spaces where people can come as their whole selves, representing all of their concerns?
- Examples of how groups creating a nurturing space include: cooking together, group exercise, going dancing together, providing food and childcare at gatherings, providing translation services
- People seemed to be divided along lines of “techie ” and “non-techie”; how do we bring down the barriers to tech literacy?
- Some people rely on Facebook or Slack for vital resources like work or housing info, how do we begin to move these privileged networks off of proprietary platforms?
- Camille mentioned that MACC has started a mutual aid network – link here
- Does everything we share need to be permanently shared or can we embrace the temporary?
- How do we regain our attention from these apps and devices?