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

Ala Plastica contacto at alaplastica.org.ar
Thu Mar 29 04:48:05 EST 2012

Brian, Muy bueno e inspirador el texto CARTOGRAPHY WITH YOUR FEET. Gracias 
por compartirlo.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brian Holmes" <bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com>
To: <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 11:58 AM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Resilient Latin America: Reconnecting Urban 
Policyand the Collective's Imagination

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
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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