Thank you for this report on your environmental activism and network building!
Sent from my iPhone > On Aug 19, 2022, at 8:00 AM, Claire Pentecost <cpe...@saic.edu> wrote: > > > thank you Brian! > this is a powerful nutrient! > >> On Thu, Aug 18, 2022 at 9:02 PM Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldr...@gmail.com> >> wrote: >> At night on the Parana, the stars still shine. The boatman cuts the motor; >> we drift silently under the light of a full moon. This is the end of a four >> thousand kilometer-long river, it's the "Delta front." The low islands to >> the east extend fingers of land into the Rio del Plata estuary, and those >> forested fingers grow about 70 meters longer every year, catching the last >> of the sediments carried from the Andes and the Brazilian jungle. To the >> southwest, the lights of Buenos Aires glitter on the horizon. Someday in the >> future - quite soon, in geological time - the Delta front will reach the >> city. Every month it's six meters closer. The mutability of this territory >> makes my head spin. The stars, the moon, the lights, the islands and the >> uncanny mirror of the river all come together like a wheel spinning >> weightlessly in infinite space, or maybe it's a whirlpool, a cosmic gyre. A >> homegrown joint makes its way from hand to hand, through the calm of a >> winter night that is windless by good luck, and warm by devastating climate >> change. The journey is well underway. >> >> With Alejandro Meitin of Casa Rio we're making tactical media in the >> wetlands, along a meandering path that leads from Punta Lara, south of >> Buenos Aires, all the way north through the Pampa and the arid reaches of >> the Grand Chaco to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. I wrote the paragraph >> above a week ago; now we're at the halfway point. Our aim is to reach out to >> riverside communities and build ecological awareness, while also helping to >> accelerate the process of information-sharing among a network of ecological >> NGOs called "Humedales sin fronteras" or Wetlands Without Borders, whose >> member organizations are located in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. >> My contribution as an artist-cartographer is an online map and multimedia >> platform that can display text, scientific information, photography, video, >> audio and social networks (it's FLOSS, built by Majk Shkurti to my specs, >> see info below). The color scheme and iconography of the map has been >> designed by Dani Lorenzo of Casa Rio, and most of the videos you'll find >> inside were done by Andres Irigoyen. Lots of others are involved, it would >> be long to list every one of them. As for Alejandro Meitin, he's an artist, >> lawyer, environmental activist and jack-of-all-trades who's been doing this >> kind of thing for thirty years, first with the artists' group Ala Plastica, >> and now with the broader community-based constellation of Casa Rio. We've >> taken similar journeys before, stretching back to 2014 when Critical Art >> Ensemble generously invited me to come along to Argentina for a roving >> seminar organized by Ala Plastica under the name "Watersheds as Laboratories >> of Governance." In 2019 we brought an exhibition called "The Earth Will Not >> Abide" from Chicago to the riverport city of Rosario, and Casa Rio published >> quite a beautiful book with that material. Now we're in full-on activist >> mode, meeting network members all along the river, pushing for a Wetlands >> Law in Argentina, for a halt to dredging, sand extraction and dam-building, >> and for the development, from below, of what we are calling "Biocultural >> Corridors." >> >> The notion of bioculturalism is grasped intuitively by all the people we >> meet: It refers to the changes in orientation and behavior that arise when >> human beings begin to see and feel themselves as participants in a web of >> ecological relations, such that "an injury to one is an injury to all" - >> whether it's insect, plant, animal or homo sapiens. The corridor part is >> somewhat trickier. Many are aware of biological corridors, which are >> designed by conservation specialists as safe passageways between small >> islands of habitat which, on their own, are insufficient to sustain bird and >> animal populations that range widely across the changing seasons. >> Biocultural corridors, however, are not planned or instituted by experts. >> They arise in areas where groups of people who might be engaged in >> agroecological farming, traditional crafts such as willow weaving, >> small-scale fishing, land defence and indigenous lifeways all come together >> in mutual recognition and support, building the consciousness of what might >> someday become truly sustainable productive practices. Like the >> Bioregionalists of North America in the 1970s, we are inviting communities >> to use our map in order to draw and describe the components of their own >> biocultural corridors, which someday, we hope, will extend all the way up >> and down the great uninterrupted fluvial corridor reaching from the >> headwaters of the Brazilian and Bolivian Pantanal down to the Rio del Plata >> estuary. For once, we're not necessarily kidding ourselves. Ideas based on >> grassroots solidarity spread rapidly in Latin America. All along the vast >> Parana Delta in Argentina you can see walls painted with the slogan "Pass >> the Wetlands Law already!" (It's a bit more terse in Spanish: "Ley de >> Humedales Ya!"). We are also promoting the idea of biocultural festivals, >> where people can share and celebrate the changes that they are making right >> now, in their own environments with their own hands. The fact is, many of >> the people we meet are already doing something similar under other names, so >> this transformation is definitely happening. >> >> The reception of the mapping project is overwhelmingly positive. There may >> be a bit of initial suspicion and resistance toward a Yanqui with a magic >> box, but Alejandro speaks very convincingly and people get it: This is >> sophisticated technology that can be seized by grassroots groups and used in >> political struggles as well as popular education processes, in the face of >> complex problems where all the legitimate expertise is typically on the >> other side. The editing tools developed by Majk Shkurti make it possible to >> place points and draw lines or polygons with ease, and then fill out a data >> template that yields structured text and audiovisual content - stuff that >> young people can learn in an afternoon. It's GIS on the easy and the cheap, >> it can transmit knowledge and enthusiasm, and it can be put to political >> work when it's time to stand up against municipal councils, provincial >> governments and national legislatures. The idea this time is not just to get >> spontaneous contributions from individuals - because we've already done that >> in an earlier mapping project that's still being filled out, mainly with >> denunciations of abuse. Instead, before they start drawing on the map, we >> are asking existing community groups to engage in some collective reflection >> about Casa Rio's three basic questions: Who designs the territory? For whom >> is it designed? And what would a collaborative design of territories look >> like? This is how the "laboratory of governance" idea becomes a full-fledged >> social experiment. >> >> Just two days ago I met an old fisherman who in the early 1990s had played a >> decisive role in stopping a US-backed dam project, with no resources except >> a good friend, a canoe and a pile of photocopied flyers. A regional hero, >> exactly my kind of hero. He, too, seemed a little suspicious at first. As a >> media maker I was profoundly moved when he later came up to me and told me >> how vital our work would be to the educational project and wetlands >> observatory that he's now coordinating with a local social movement. What >> they've already done is to convince the city (it's actually called Parana >> city) to pay for a bunch of wood, and then in three months time the movement >> built a dock on a small island, a welcome center and an elevated boardwalk >> about half a kilometer long through the swamp, where they bring boatloads of >> schoolkids who live right next to the river and have no contact with the >> water or the islands. Next they want to put their interpretation center in >> the middle of a huge wetland on the city's edge, which without a watchful >> eye is likely to be taken over illegally by gated communities, factories or >> other profitable enterprises. You can imagine they have a different >> interpretation of what this land is good for! These are people who know >> their environment through generations of intimate experience - and today >> that's something many others want to learn. With any luck, we're about to >> discover a whole lot of local knowledge taking form inside our magic box, >> and being shared along the entire wetlands corridor. >> >> Today's environmental conditions are helping with this good reception - >> unfortunately. In the context of a three-year drought and the arrival of >> increasingly large herds of cattle, the traditional islander practice of >> burning dry winter brush to stimulate the growth of fresh spring grass has >> morphed into an emergency situation of uncontrolled fires in the Delta, >> choking populations in urban centers with heavy smoke and even causing >> freeway pileups due to loss of visibility. For two years in a row, while >> lockdowns and pandemic anxiety reigned, a plunge in water levels revealed >> vast sandy deserts where the Parana once flowed, causing many to fear that >> the river would never come back again (thankfully it did this year). Sure, >> it's always hard to attribute local phenomena to climate change - but the >> best Brazilian science says that the atmospheric rivers arising from the >> evapotranspiration of the Amazon jungle (aka flying rivers, "rios >> voladores") are now drying up due to massive deforestation, leading to a >> loss of rainfall at the headwaters of the Parana, way up there in the (for >> me) mythical Pantanal wetlands. At the same time, it's well known by >> everyone in the region that over a mere thirty years, industrial >> monocropping (aka GMO soybeans doused in Round-Up) has devastated the >> ecology of South America at continental scale, ruining entire drainages, >> pushing cattle from bulldozed pastures into the wetlands, and provoking all >> the above-mentioned disasters, at least as far as we can tell - with a big >> push from rising CO2 levels, for sure. Now, horror of all horrors, the >> government of Paraguay is calling on the US Army Corps of Engineers for >> "help" in managing the Paraguay river, which is the major tributary of the >> Parana, directly connected to the Pantanal headwaters. In case you don't >> know, the Army Corps are the folks who destroyed the ecology of the >> Mississippi river system with a straightjacket of dams and levees. Along >> with the oil industry, the Corps is responsible for most of the land-loss >> crisis in Louisiana - not to mention what happened to the Columbia River, >> etc. Common people don't need the kind of "help" such agencies bring. >> >> To increase awareness and spread more precise knowledge of all these >> converging dangers, we have given our map of biological corridors a dark >> side, which is a topology of the extractive corridors that are threatening >> the Paraguay-Parana watershed. Here, instead of lush organic green traversed >> by mud-brown water, what you see is a dessicated cinder, like the leftover >> coals of some immense and gruesome barbecue - the frightful, yet >> increasingly predictable and literal culmination of the centuries-old >> colonial process. We focus on the heavily dredged Hidrovia, or Water >> Highway, which is what the transnational capitalist groups see when they >> look at the Paraguay-Parana River. IIRSA, which is the South American >> banking complex behind the design of the Hidrovia, has for decades wanted to >> extend their favorite transnational canal all the way to Amazonas and >> beyond. What Eduardo Galleano called the "Open Veins of Latin America" are >> in fact the waterways, which the European colonists used to carry away the >> treasures of the continent, resulting in the denomination of the Parana >> watershed as the "Plate Basin" or Silver Basin - the Moneyshed, you might as >> well say. Well, the only thing that has changed is that the major cargo is >> now GMO soybeans, and the chief destination of the ships is China, followed >> closely by the EU of course. What Marx once called the "metabolic rift" >> between the city and the country has now opened up between South America and >> Eurasia. It's a process of alienation in every sense of the word, at the >> largest possible scale. There is a tremendous amount to be learned about all >> this, and we are currently multiplying our research collaborations into the >> global political economy of extractivism, while also engaging discussions >> about how to bring the many specialized reports authored by members of >> Wetlands Without Borders onto our more popular and intuitive map of >> extractive corridors. The whole project is a work in progress with lots of >> gaps and question marks, but it's live on the net right now, and I expect it >> to remain under active development for the next couple years. >> >> Life does not happen elsewhere, in some ideal garden to which you could >> escape on vacation. Life happens right here and now, in a double world with >> an inhuman and more-than-human face. I have always felt most alive amid the >> struggles of this double world, in collaboration with all kinds of people, >> of all races and classes and stations and professions, whenever and wherever >> they are finding their own ways of resisting alienation and contributing to >> a better life - some soft and affective, some local and productive, some >> political and confrontational, or even better, political and constructive. >> We live in a time when the so-called middle classes are finally realizing >> that their seemingly higher station - their literally higher ground, in >> river terms - will not protect them. The storms, floods, droughts and fires >> of global ecological change are coming for them, or rather, for *us*, as I'd >> put it from my own middle-class position. The big question is this: Do the >> middle classes - including industrial workers attached to states and large >> corporations - go fascist under the pressure of rising threats to their old >> lifestyles and identities, or can we find shareable biocultural pathways >> toward reparative socio-ecological worlds, and through collaboration with >> other classes and cultures and races, create neo-ecosystems that can ramp >> down the causes and mitigate the effects of climate change? Please don't >> explain to me that such a swerve away from ruling norms is impossible, due >> to human nature or economic law or historical destiny or some other >> bullshit, because such self-serving explanations have long been part of the >> problem. For a metamorphosis to occur, everyone has to bring their own >> skills and dreams into play somehow - preferably right now, because tomorrow >> is always a little hotter. >> >> Therefore my dear friends, here I am in South America with some good old >> tactical media. >> >> All the best from https://tinyurl.com/jaaukanigas - >> >> Brian >> >> *** >> >> Corridors Map: https://map.casariolab.art >> >> Casa Rio: https://casariolab.art >> >> Humedales sin fronteras: https://humedalessinfronteras.org >> >> Project repo: https://github.com/crystalball-mapkit/crystalball >> >> Installation guide: >> https://wiki.timetochange.today/home/installation/terminal-commands >> >> The Earth Will Not Abide: https://www.regionalrelationships.org/tewna >> >> (Feel free to contact me if you want some tips about deployment and use of >> the software) >> >> >> >> >> >> >> -- >> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups >> "DeepTimeChicago" group. >> To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an >> email to deeptimechicago+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. >> To view this discussion on the web visit >> https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/deeptimechicago/CANuiTgwV0cWFb%2B2yOS-%2B0KvovwKdR3y1%3Dz4e8qzpEYtnpgnPDA%40mail.gmail.com. > > > -- > Claire Pentecost (she, her) > Professor, Department of Photography > The School of the Art Institute of Chicago > www.clairepentecost.org > www.deeptimechicago.org > I acknowledge and honor the original peoples of the Chicagoland area – the > Three Fires Confederacy, Potawatomi, Odawa and Ojibwe Nations, as well as > other Tribal Nations that know this area as their ancestral homeland, > including the Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Miami, Peoria, and Sac and Fox. > > # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission > # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism, > # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets > # more info: http://mx.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l > # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nett...@kein.org > # @nettime_bot tweets mail w/ sender unless #ANON is in Subject:
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