[-empyre-] Resilient Latin America: Reconnecting Urban Policyand the Collective's Imagination

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 01:58:43 EST 2012

On 03/28/2012 04:52 AM, Ala Plastica wrote:

> In contrast to this idea of natural understanding, an intervention in
> the environment is often conceived as an occupation based on the idea of
> transport corridors. In this way, zones are divided according to
> economic interests and the imagery is guided by commercial means of
> communication and financial institutions with only a few spaces of
> brilliant modernity. This can be defined as an ego-system, a system that
> generates social and environmental toxicity affecting life quality and
> health conditions seriously.

This is exactly what we wanted to poke fun at when we started talking 
about the Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor! It's what my friend Angela 
Melitopoulos calls "corridorical thinking." But this notion of 
"ego-systems" is more clear, it goes straight to the heart of the issue. 
The world is now full of huge, top-down infrastructures, carried out 
through state planning processes, just to support the illusion of "ego" 
cut off / freed from the others. Mind you, I am not sure that all the 
projects Teddy talks about really fall into this category, I think it's 
important to look closely when people (even politicians) really try 
something different...

> Unfortunately, what is not included in this matrix is the point of view
> of desirable social human relationships that links the economic and
> social system with the place vocation. To a great extent, the
> development of "ego-systems" occurs in societies due to the break of the
> flow of social doing -the ability to do things. When this social flow of
> doing fractures that power of doing turns into the opposite, the
> power-over who conceives but does not execute, while the others execute
> but do not conceive.

This whole text is beautiful, and what's more, spot on. Thanks for this, 
Alejandro. Did you write it? In what context does it fit?

In echo I am going to paste in a text which our group (the Compass) used 
as a kind of invitation or "convocatorio" for people going to the US 
Social Forum in Detroit in 2010. We wanted to meet people and hear their 
stories, to enlarge the process of co-creation. The echo is very strong, 
you'll see:


Driven by the pressures of corporate competition, Midwestern capital 
elites envision a network of high-speed trains linking the scattered 
cities of flyover land into a dense urban grid. Oblivious to 
territories, histories, and peoples, you whisk your way from center to 
center like a roulette ball spinning through the global casino. What 
gets lost in these dreams of power are the connections between the city 
and the country, the earth and the sky, the past and the future.

What kinds of worlds are installed on the ground by the neoliberal 
planning processes developed in the technocratic universities? Why do 
these projects fail even before they begin? How to start building a 
cultural and intellectual commons that can seep into the fabric of 
everyday existence? The Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor is a call for 
longer, slower, deeper connections between the territories where we 
live. It’s a cartography of shared experience, built up by those who 
nourish lasting ties between critical groups, political projects, 
radical communities and experiments in alternative living. Why not help 
build the commons by overflowing your usual daily routines? Why not make 
the journey to the US Social Forum into a chance to discover the worlds 
we can create right here in our own region?

This workshop draws from the inspiration of Grace Lee Boggs and the 
travels of the Compass Group on our Continental Drift through the 
Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor. The idea is to propose an act of 
collective discovery and creation, to be carried out by anyone who’s 
heading to the Social Forum. Multiple caravans each chart their 
particular pathways and organize their own activist campaigns, artistic 
exchanges, skill-sharing sessions, solidarity dinners or whatever else 
they desire on the roads to Detroit, then converge at the Allied Media 
conference and the US Social Forum to share stories, images, and 
artifacts from their detours through the Midwestern labyrinth. 
Meanwhile, those with different priorities can invent their own forms of 
travel and exchange, explore diverging temporalities, set up “stationary 
drifts” in the neighborhoods they inhabit and continue the projects 
they’re pursuing, while the moving worlds pass through them.

By taking the time for a conscious experience of the territories we are 
continually traversing, we can build up what Stephen Shukaitis calls an 
“imaginal machine”: a many-headed hydra telling tales of solidarity and 
struggle, daily life, and outlandish dreams in the places that power 
forgets, leaving their inhabitants free to remember living histories and 
work toward better tomorrows. The Compass Group will present images, 
narratives, and documents from our Continental Drift in 2008, then open 
up the concept to input and debate. With the help of anyone who’s 
interested, we hope to lay the basis for a collaborative process of 
self-organization and convergence at the Social Forum in Detroit and to 
sow the seeds of future meetings and projects.


For anyone who wants an idea of what actually did happen in Detroit, here:


best, Brian

More information about the empyre mailing list