#3 Catch the Momentum
"Instead of the exhaustion from constantly paddling against the tide, I could see a clearer pathway forward."
The writer Paul Gilroy recently said, “I don’t think we can afford the luxury of pessimism.” Being overly skeptical can put up roadblocks that are just not necessary at this moment. We can still make room though for sorrow, anger, grief, strategy and contemplation. For example, we should not blow past the devastation in the Philippines after they got hit by their 21st tropical storm this year. I encourage you to read this account from Chuck Baclagon about living through Cyclone Ulysses ”It is in these uncertain times that we are forced to contend with holding on to the contradicting feelings of despair and hope while we gather ourselves to persevere in this protracted uphill work for climate action.” It’s ok to feel the weight of the lives lost during COVID and the ongoing hardships of more lockdowns and more jobs lost. However, there is a line between that and doom that freezes our inability to move forward.
On the day my body acknowledged that Trump would be defeated, it felt like a great unhooking of despair. Instead of the exhaustion from constantly paddling against the tide, I could see a clearer pathway forward. We can set our sails and ride strong winds to fast tracking real climate action for the U.S. There seemed greater possibilities to protect immigrants, steer a new course on COVID and so much more. There’s no doubt that things will still be difficult, and the government will not get us to where we need to be without strong mobilizing from people everywhere. And surely, we can’t forget - it was the hard work of local organising that won the victory. But now, the momentum feels tangible.
People celebrating Biden’s win
Momentum looks like what’s been happening in Poland. For weeks, millions of people marched against new harsh bans on abortion. It was also a firm call out against patriarchal culture and it’s heavy involvement in women's lives. Eventually, the government had to backtrack on the controversial law, though the fight is still ongoing. In Chile, there was immense joy as the country voted for a new constitution, tossing out the old one leftover from the military dictatorship. This referendum only came about because of mobilizing that began last year. What started out as frustrations over fare hikes in Santiago’s metro grew and expanded to express many people's desire to stand against inequality. We’re seeing creative resistance all over the world. And in the case of the rubber duckie touting pro-democracy movement in Thailand, the leadership is not your usual faces- “It’s good that this movement is not only led by tough, strong, male leaders anymore, it’s a lot of queer people and women.” Let’s honor the deep pain of 2020, and at the same time chart a new course forward in 2021. Winds are already blowing, so let’s ride them.
Love this poster for JASS’ annual One Day, One Voice (ODOV) Southeast Asia regional campaign to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Poster by Shubhangi Singh of Survival Media Agency.
Reimagine technology: Often when people imagine the future, it is tied to an evolutionary vision of technology. So many of us see now the dominance technology has on our societies ( especially software and platforms like social media). The tech world though, like so much else, is not a determined force, but can be shaped by us. Tech expert Richard Forno recently stated that “the future internet will reflect future humankind.” This is why the work of groups like the Electronic Frontiers Foundation to defend the right to repair is so crucial, especially given the enormity of electronic waste. We should have a right to fix our technology if it gets broken, and not just toss it for something new. Some governments in Europe are even now starting to look at adding “repairability” scores to electronics. Technology can play a more positive role in creating sustainable societies - check out these visions (have you heard the term solarpunk before?). To be sure, technology won’t save us - but we can shift it to be a help instead of a hindrance to building a better world. Listen to Aaron Benanav talk about how we shouldn't be afraid of automation and how it doesn’t have to be dystopian. And if you’re ever skeptical that a better internet is possible - I encourage you to check out all these incredible cyberfeminism projects. Also want to give a shout out to Lourdes Vano who was one of the youngest candidates to run for the New Zealand elections this year (and she used social media to widely educate people on social and political issues).
Reimagine Cities: Especially in the wake of the pandemic, many places are working to reimagine how we build better towns and cities. In Kenya, Olivia Adhiambo speaks about developing county specific policies that are post-carbon and then building out from there. The city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil already had established 20 interconnected programs to make sure that no one in the city goes hungry. So now even during the time of COVID - there is healthy, accessible food for all. Barcelona is converting ⅓ of its central streets into car-free safe public spaces. And a huge shout out to the young Nigerians who are fighting against police brutality - read more about the women leading the powerful EndSARS movement.
Gabby Rivera’s amazing podcast called “Joy Revolution” which is all about prioritizing joy, “because we were meant to thrive, not just survive.”
“50 Years of Imagining Radical Feminist Futures” - an incredible conversation between Angela Davis and adrienne maree brown.
Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s piece “Skywoman Falling”- guiding connections between Native American stories of Skywoman and risking uncertainty to create something better.
Shout out to the community in Wagina Island in the Solomon Islands who just won a huge victory to block a massive open-pit bauxite mine. It’s proof that people can win against extractive industries and protect their homes.
And if you want to learn more about building a practice of hope in the face of climate anxiety - check out this piece in the Generation Green New Deal site.
Thelma Young-Lutunatabua is the Editor of Radical Reimagining
Global editorial support provided by: Rebecca Solnit, Brianna Fruean, Louise Hazan, Nathalia Clark, Zeph Repollo, Lerato Ngakane, Rukiya Khamis
If you have stories that you would like to share, please reach out to us on Instagram at @Radicalreimagining or email us email@example.com
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