GTA's 2020 activities report

GTA's 2020 activities report

During 2020, GTA positioned itself strongly at a global level, particularly among anti-systemic movements. We started with a clear conceptualization and the support of a solid group of individuals and organizations sympathizing with our intention. After a year of intense activity in global scenarios we have a strong public presence and recognition and we consolidated our grassroots organization in three countries. Our facilitation and coordination team allowed us to consolidate and organize the process.
Our initial conceptualization generated strong support from various organizations and individuals who are doing exemplary work in various fields and we already had a loose network of ‘alternatives’ in Colombia, India and Mexico. Today, we are carrying out networking, events, documentation, publications, technology development, and many other projects, and we began a fruitful international interaction of the grassroots organizations in our network. GTA has acquired impact and visibility in the global debate, as was evident in the virtual World Social Forum in January 2021. We got additional financial support for our process, whose growth has multiplied its action fronts, the people involved and the necessary resources.

In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have been able to autonomously design our collective work processes, creating some of our own digital environments using open source tools; to get the support from many more collectives and individual referents and to incorporate new people to the GTA core team with diversity criteria. We continue with the dialogue we started with seven global processes, working on a roadmap for 2021.

Dialogue amongst global change processes

In November 2020, the GTA core team initiated a dialogue amongst 7 global processes that are seeking systemic, fundamental transformations towards justice. These include, other than GTA:

  • World Social Forum (WSF),
  • Global Dialogue for Systemic Change,
  • Global Working Group Beyond Development,
  • Global Green New Deal,
  • Progressive International, and
  • Grassroots to Global Assemblies.

This initiative came out of the feeling that all these processes had crucial objectives in common, and there needed to be some synergy amongst them for mutual strengthening and to achieve more critical mass.

Since GTA core team members had participated in meetings of most of these processes, it got in touch with them to seek their response to the idea of such a collective process. All responded positively, and in the first dialogue in late November, confirmed that they would like to be part of it.

Broadly, three areas of collaboration have been agreed on:

  1. Joint sessions at relevant meetings, such as the WSF in January 2021, which will take place in virtual format.
  2. Dialogue on different understandings of how each of our global processes thinks macro-change can be brought about, at systemic/structural level; what are the challenges, what opportunities exist, and so on.
  3. The possibilities of joint statements on some key aspects, such as what a COVID recovery process should look like, and use of these in advocacy at our own levels; perhaps on issues like racism, Palestine, climate justice, etc.

Subsequently, in 3 further meetings, some joint activities leading up to and at the World Social Forum virtual meeting in the last week fo January, were decided on. This will be the first set of collaborations, and subsequently a plan for the year beyond that, will be worked out.

Webinars

Post the Covid crises and dramatic change in our plan of activities, GTA initiated online sessions with activists, scholars, researchers, mobilisers and practitioners across the world who have engaged in exploring systemic alternatives to the dominant regimes, contesting its roots in capitalist, patriarchal, racist, statist, and anthropocentric forces. The fortnightly conversations were aimed at collectively exploring a range of initiatives for a just, life-centered and respectful transition into the future. It is important to explore not only what can be done, but also the tough question of how, and by whom? And where possible, to make the discussion relevant to the current global crises.

In 2020 we featured the series called “Dialogue on Alternatives in the Time of Global Crises”, with collaboration of the Global Dialogue for Systemic Change. This series includes 16 sessions that covered many different topics such us: Just Transitions; Feminism; Zapatismo and Indigenous responses; Commons; Technology Transformations ; Workers cooperatives; Kurdish Movement; Community health responses to COVID; Wellbeing Economy; Degrowth; Urbanism; Traditional food production practice; Alternatives to Capitalism; post-development initiatives; among others.

Some key relevant global actors participated as guest speakers, with a diverse background, gender and location, like Ana Margarida Esteves, Xochitl Leyva Solano, Alejandro Argumedo and Potato Park Community, Kali Akuno, Patrick Bond, Rehad Desai, Dilar Dirik, Iokine Rodriquez, Anitra Nelson, Katherine Trebeck, Farhad Mazhar, among others.

Almost 2000 participants registered from 87 countries, reflecting a a wide-range of cultural and geographical diversity, including Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

During the second half of 2020, ten of the webinars were text transcribed to ensure a written record of the webinar - both for those who are audio-impaired but also for further analysis and use of the material in the future. The transcriptions are uploaded to the webinar pages on the GTA website and are an available resource for weavers to use.

All the recordings and information are available at: https://globaltapestryofalternatives.org/webinars:2020:index

The success of our first series of webinars has given rise to a new series, which will take place in 2021 under the title “Alternatives in Pandemic Times: Resistance, Recovery and Re-Existence”.

Collaborative mapping of Alternatives

Mockup main screens

The GTA started the development of a software platform open technology aimed at collaborative mapping and documentation of Alternatives. This platform will include experiences, practices, organizations and processes. Each registry would be created and enriched by GTA's core team, but also collaborators, endorsers and observers of the process. It applies an asynchronous collaborative model, enabling the collaboration of multiple users applying a commons-based peer production model, similar to a wiki. This software tool is called GTAMap.

The development started in October 2020, and the software is in alpha stage. The first internal beta version is expected to be available early in 2021. The first public beta release will be available during the second trimester of 2021.

The GTAMap it's being developed and made available under the political, ethical and technical principles of Free Open Source Software. It's built as a web service, self-installable, allowing multiple distributed implementations. Current alpha version already supports multiple languages.

At the first implementation level and user experience aspects, the main features already include:

  • Centered on the documentation in text with audiovisual elements, allowing geolocalization of a diverse datasets, mainly the so called “Alternatives”.
  • Possibility of multiple users with the ability to create and edit all contents.
  • Record changes of each content, being able to reverse changes and track changes.
  • Flexible structure of categorization and semantic data that allow customizable search of all types of data and represent it in multiple formats (lists, tables, timeline, diagnosis, RSS feed, among others)
  • Multiple forms of navigation according to flexible criteria and structures (hierarchical, transversal, sequential, etc.)

In a more advanced stage this platform would assume a distributed appraoch, allowing the creation of autonomous platforms for each network that is part of the Tapestry. Each of the weavers/networks will have its own version adapted to its own identity/need but will have the ability to interoperate and exchange information with the others through the GTA meta-network. This will allow:

  • that each network promotes a process to identify, map and document the alternative initiatives that comprise it
  • Implement self-training meetings to reflect on the practice itself, collective cartographies and produce documentation making them available on the platform.
  • Compatibility and integration with other mapping efforts, such as EJAtlas, Karten von Morgen, TransforMap and/or Transiscope.

Reports on case studies

Following the success of the webinar series during COVID-19, the GTA initiated a process of capturing resilience stories from different communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first step of the resilience case studies focused on short stories that captured the actions of different groups to operate collectively and support resilience in times of multiple crises. Each of the stories explored the process that led to the community being resilient (Pre-covid): how resilience that was established has helped during the pandemic and the lessons learnt for radical alternatives.

The first report of resilience stories is completed in draft format and will initially be shared on the GTA website. This report incorporates stories from Bolivia, Peru, South Africa, Portugal, Finland, Hungary and USA. A second report is planned to be completed during the early spring 2021.

The reports are seen as a step to sharing the experiences of weavers and the intention is to develop more interactive materials with the communities who shared their stories.

Dialogue between Weavers

Crianza Mutua is a network process that takes place in Mexico and Colombia. It's founder and weaver of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives. It's inspired by Zapatismo and emerged within the autonomous Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, Mexico. It seeks to identify, document and connect groups through communal webs that are actively dismantling hierarchies in everyday life, putting principles of sufficiency into practice and constructing and extending their autonomy from the market and the State.

In Colombia and Mexico, Crianza Mutua has been formed during a process for a couple of years. The initiative took the name of Crianza Mutua, inspired by the practices and philosophies of the peoples of Lake Titicaca and Valle del Cauca; in the relationships between peoples and the beings that inhabit the earth, because that is the main intention - to raise each other back to the communal connection with the earth. But we also want to knit together to offer each other solidarity. And the idea has arisen that we should also have some visibility, so that the millions of disaffected can be inspired by our practices to take similar initiatives.

In Colombia, from the Tejidos between peoples, communities and processes in Colombia –Tejido de Colectivos-UniTierra Caldas and southwestern Colombia, Tejinando sentipensares, pluriversidades de a pie, Tejido de transicionales, Campaña Hacia Otro Pazífico Posible– came the idea of ​​getting in touch to learn from each other. In Mexico, we also started various collectives, groups, communities. In both Mexico and Colombia we have linked the fabrics, although we have been meeting, each in their own way.

Motivated by the advancement of these twinned processes, on December 19, 2020 we carried out the first international dialogue of “Crianzas Mutuas”. We are summoned by topics such as: Food and eating; Knowledge and learning; Healing; Audio-visual autonomies; Writings and editorials; Intergenerational weavings and Defense of life and territory. We met approximately 40 processes of territories of collectives, families, local movements weaving borders between bioregions of Mesoamerica-Mexico and South America-Colombia Abya Yala (Oaxaca, Sierra Norte, Sierra and Valle de Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Yucatán, Michoacán; Valle del Cauca, Pacific and territories of the snow-capped Kumanday-Kakataima) towns, rivers, valleys and mountains, mountain ranges and snow roads that weave and link us confronting of the maps erased by official geopolitics.

During the dialogues we identified some of our main common problems: capitalism and its development megaprojects (mining, monocultures of sugarcane, pineapple, avocado, coca, of the construction companies that demolished our houses, of the wind, hydroelectric, drug logics) and all of them that maintain the dominant model of dispossession. We have lost aquifers, fauna, flora and the pandemic is a continuum of the collapse that we envisioned, and the alternatives that we have been directing between peoples and between worlds constitute one of the emerging alternatives for caring for the earth, for life.

These exchange processes will continue during 2021, with the aim of deepening the relationships and joint actions of the various processes taking place in the territory.

Include our involvement in talks, conferences, webinars as GTA representatives as well as any related publications

Franco:

  • From 22/2 to 24/2 participated in the annual gathering of Mushuk Away, a national level network of alternatives of Ecuador. Presented and disseminated the GTA concept in various activities, considering this a potential new Weaver.
  • On 29/7 participated in Decentered Web Meetup: “2020 Community Views Around the Globe”, presenting Alternatives in the field of communication from a Global South perspective.
  • From 4/12 to 6/12 participated in the Ecoversities Virtual Planetary gathering. This network have strong connections with GTA and it's already an Endorser.

Shrishtee:

  • 26th September presented GTA's work to Youth Alliance network, a group of young people in India.
  • October 8th participated in Global Green New Deal meeting to share perspectives on alternatives from GTA's experience.
  • October 30th- Interaction with Students of University of Santa Barbara, California on GTA and experiences of young people working on alternatives.
  • From November 19 – November 16, 2020, part of panel discussion on “Confronting the Climate Crisis with Systemic Alternatives in the Age of the Corona Crisis”
  • November 15th - COP26 Coalition’s ‘From the Ground Up’ online gathering to present and share GTA's work and experiences.
  • 5th Jan- “Preparing Assemblies at World Social Forum, to start popular education and declaration process towards assemblies at World Social Forum . Presented on behalf of GTA and several global processes.

Ashish:

Newsletters

In the latter half of 2020, the GTA launched its newsletter series to bring out news, perspectives, thoughts, ideas, reflections, and dialogues on alternatives to the current dominant regime. It is a humble attempt to bring together the collective envisioning of these pluriversal alternatives by creating a space for sharing and dialoguing. The newsletter is produced every two months to share perspectives, news on activities being seeded through GTA, as well as perspectives/news/thoughts/questions from tapestry weavers and endorsing organisations and networks. We do not see it as a newsletter that is simply a conglomeration of news/updates but rather as a process of knowing each others' work, engaging with ideas and prefigurative processes, facilitating collaborations and initiating co-writing and co-learning processes.

The newsletter aims to create sharing, reflecting, dialoguing, healing, and envisioning spaces. In the three newsletters to date, we have perspectives being shared by our weavers, endorsing organisations, and core team members from all around the world.

To access the newsletters, use this link: https://globaltapestryofalternatives.org/newsletters:index