WEAVING ALTERNATIVES #12: A periodical of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives

WEAVING ALTERNATIVES #12: A periodical of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives

Reflecting on the GTAGlobal Tapestry of Alternatives Encounter in Kenya

Editorial Note

Dear readers, It is our pleasure to share the Global TapestryThe weaving of networks of Alternatives of AlternativesAre activities and initiatives, concepts, worldviews, or action proposals by collectives, groups, organizations, communities, or social movements challenging and replacing the dominant system that perpetuates inequality, exploitation, and unsustainabiity. In the GTA we focus primarily on what we call "radical or transformative alternatives", which we define as initiatives that are attempting to break with the dominant system and take paths towards direct and radical forms of political and economic democracy, localised self-reliance, social justice and equity, cultural and knowledge diversity, and ecological resilience. Their locus is neither the State nor the capitalist economy. They are advancing in the process of dismantling most forms of hierarchies, assuming the principles of sufficiency, autonomy, non-violence, justice and equality, solidarity, and the caring of life and the Earth. They do this in an integral way, not limited to a single aspect of life. Although such initiatives may have some kind of link with capitalist markets and the State, they prioritize their autonomy to avoid significant dependency on them and tend to reduce, as much as possible, any relationship with them. twelfth periodical with you. This space seeks to build bridges between networks of Alternatives around the globe and promote the creation of new processes of confluence. You can know more about the process in our introductory note.

In this periodical, we end the year with reflections from the first physical Assembly of the GTA. Since the early days of dreaming of a global confluence, the GTA has been a vision, a process and a pathway followed by Weavers, Endorsers, a facilitation team and funders who have all supported its development. With the physical gathering in Kenya, this was the first real opportunity to see the myriad threads of the tapestry come together. With 60 people converging in Nanyuki at the base of Mount Kenya, we felt that the weaving of the pluriverse was becoming a reality.

It was a gift to bring together representatives from different parts of the GTA process. Resource constraints limited the number of people that could be present but we carried the spirit and ideas of many others from the GTA with us. In the rest of the periodical, we have reflections from different perspectives about the gathering. From Simon Mitambo, who together with the Society for Alternative Learning Transformations (SALT), were the gracious Kenyan hosts who shared what it meant to root a conference locally to Xochitl Levya Solano who shared thoughts about hope and barbarism and challenges us to think about weaving in these moments of urgency. Shrishtee Bajpai offered a summary of the Assembly whilst Rachit shared an evocative poem inspired by the gathering. We are also pleased to share a collective reflection from our weaver, Crianza Mutua Mexico.

In coming together in Kenya we gave life to the Global Tapestry of Alternatives. We learnt that this is about hearing, seeing and feeling each other. In a world of fast-paced change and information overload, being able to make real connection to each other and the more-than-human life around us was vital. We did this through talking, listening, drawing, cooking, praying together. We allowed emotions of joy, rage, fear, anger, loss to come through and we held each other, strengthening the bonds. This fundamental aspect of inter-relation has stood out as a necessary lifeblood for how we want to weave together within the Global Tapestry of Alternatives.

The four days of deliberations allowed for participants to share from their movements, their struggles and their alternatives. We jointly deliberated on different aspects of life-making from food sovereignty and agriculture, peace and conflict resolution and solidarity economies to radical democracy, alternative learning and education, health and healing. We heard from the rooted initiatives across different bio-cultural contexts and considered how to develop greater solidarity.

And we moved forward in our common purpose of building the GTA through honest and important discussions about aspects such as what constitutes an alternative; how we distinguish weavers from endorsers, and how we will relate to funders. There was unanimous support to continue weaving the GTA and for weavers and endorsers to become more responsible and accountable. This is beginning to develop through thematic and working groups. It was agreed that we would continue to build encounters through the Assembly process. Proposals to have regional and thematic assemblies as well as the general assembly every 2-3 years were put forward.

So we end 2023 with a lot of excitement for how we continue the work of the GTA. We also end the year with even greater violence and hardship in the world. This makes the need for solidarity and alternative pathways even more vital. I end this editorial with a very short story I was invited to develop in response to a cue to imagine the world in 2119. It was inspired by the Global Tapestry of Alternatives.

In solidarity, Vasna

In the year 2119…

We took power but not through fighting the system but through turning our backs on it. We found each other, saw and felt each other’s despair. And then the elders and children came – with love and caring and open arms. They showed us the way to embrace each other. Slowly, slowly word spread and we wove alternative ways of being in the world.

And then one day, all of those people with the little fire in their hearts, rose up. Suddenly we starting acting a radical democracy. We took over the farms that had no people just machines and monocultures, we moved our collective organizing into second and third holiday homes, we founded time banks and sharing and financing schemes based on our collective resources.

Ironically, the motto of the army was queered and “no life was left behind”. The forest took over the urban jungle. Respect for life was centred.

There was violence and loss but like in the genocide of 2023 when Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef jokingly reminded us that our people are hard to kill and we keep rising up. He reminded us of our resilience. So we picked ourselves up and gathered in numbers.

We created songs, stories and art to share the value of life. International laws were thrown out as meaningless – they only worked for the law-abiding.

A lot of hate spilled but we wove our tapestry of life. We built the pluriverse we had been dreaming. It came to life in front of our eyes. And there was so much joy!

Now, as the Zapatistas reminded us, we are making the path as we walk it. It’s hard work. So much to unlearn. But we hold each other in love and care as we experiment. We practice and we create – and – we stop and reflect and learn together as things fail. We are nourishing life.

Updates from GTA

Working and Thematic Groups emerging from the Assembly

There are a number of Working and Thematic groups emerging from the Assembly; including Toolkit for Weaving, Pluriversal Dictionary of Concepts, and Solidarity Economies. Some of these groups have already met, and some are planning to meet soon. Please contact the following people if you would like to participate:

  • Vera Kozak, Priscilla Trinh and Mugdha Trifaley for Pluriversal Dictionary of Concepts
  • Shrishtee Bajpai for Toolkit for Weaving
  • Melanie Bush and Suzan Joy for Solidarity Economies

Please do volunteer to co-facilitate any of the other groups as well!

Recent Events

Acknowl_EJ Book Release and Webinar

“Just Transformations: Grassroots Struggles for Alternative Futures”

is a webinar in which co-authors from Argentina, India, Turkey, Belgium, Canada, Bolivia, England, Venezuela and Lebanon have shared the results of the ACKnowl_EJ (Academic and Activist Co-produced Knowledge of Environmental Justice) Project. ACKnowl-EJ was one of the first three Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) international research projects funded by the International Science Council (ISC).

Access to Details

The Assembly of Hope

By Shrishtee Bajpai

Sixty of us from 25 countries stood under the sacred tree where the famous Mau Mau rebellion against the British took place from 1952-1960 arguing for land, freedom and self governance in Eastern Kenya. We were at Bantu Mountain Lodge in Nanyuki, Kenya for the first general assembly of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA). A process seeded in 2019 after series of international & regional dialogues to visibilise the emergence of an immense variety of radical alternatives to the dominant regime, contesting its roots in capitalist, patriarchal, racist, statist, and anthropocentric forces.

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In-person assembly of the GTA in Kenya, through 6 Mexican voices

By Crianza Mutua Mexico

In general, everything we experienced in Kenya was a reminder and a confirmation of the verbs that sit at the core of GTA, and therefore of Crianza Mutua Mexico: eat, learn, heal, inhabit, defend (life), communicate, thinking-feeling. Every day we witness and experience these verbs as a guide and path forward.

We recognize that what happened at the GTA assembly was not at all minor: we came together to continue creating and nurturing the many local alternatives resisting the multiple ways in which the ongoing civilizatory crises pierces through our bodies, minds, spirits, territories, struggles, movements and the networks that we have been weaving for a long time with others from many parts of the world.

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The Gathering of Alternatives Initiative in Kenya at the Land of Bees, Tharaka Nithi County

By Simon Mitambo

Tharaka traditional territory in Kenya, is known as Nthiguru iri Njuki (The Land of the Bees). The story goes that when Mwenenyaga (Creator) was delivering his people from captivity by the Nguu Ntuune in Misri, he handed over a magical stick of Mwegere plant to Mugwe so he could hit the water for the people to pass. Mugwe is the Spiritual leader of Tharaka who was instructed by the Creator to take people to the land flowing with honey – thus the land of the bees. It is also very interesting to find that this same land that has no bees owing to use because of bad spray chemicals that kill all of them. As I grew up, I used to go to harvest lots of honey with my father and every homestead had the bees around because of barrels of the sweet natural food. Now, this is history. Very little or no honey at all is found.

It is this same land that on 12th August, 2023, a group of about 60 people coming from around the world from more than 25 countries. These were covering all populated continents. They represented a wide variety of groups: ecological, feminist, youth, Indigenous, workers, farmers, educators. They converged at the foot of the small hill known as Mutaranga to learn from the work of the Society for Alternative Learning and Transformation (SALT). SALT accompanies communities to assert their rights to autonomy by recalling their community ecological governance system and customary laws and, and with it, their ancestral responsibilities to protect their territory, community led-conservation and livelihoods. The team were under the umbrella of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA).

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First face-to-face assembly of the GTA: between the globalization of hope and barbarism

By Xochitl Levya Solano

The first face-to-face assembly of the GTA took place between the “post-pandemic” relief and the rise of new waves of violence, wars and deaths on planet Earth. In that August of 2023 we felt that we had emerged from the worst phase of the civilizational-pandemic crisis. The joy of being able to meet face to face leapt out of the more than 60 people from all continents who met in Africa. While those feelings were real, the shadow of the ongoing wars in the different territories never fully dissipated form the background.

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Sunsets in Kenya

By Rachit Sharma

A free verse offering to the Kenyan sky and the noble company underneath

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