Recently adrienne maree brown published a very personal and insightful reflection of her study of what works in centering social movements + inspiration from black, feminist science fiction, titled Emergent Strategy. She speaks the language of design naturally. I picked up the book on an impulse because the subtitle speaks to the goals of Transition Design, “Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.” And I am thrilled because she explains many of the Transition theories that Tonkinwise, Kossoff, and Irwin describe— but she is presenting them in simple structures, helping me to understand them further.
I find that this book is informing four critical things for me at once:
1. Describing why Transition Design is necessary and possible.
Let me summarize by quilting together her own words:
“I would call our work to change the world, ‘science fictional behavior’ —being concerned with the way our actions and beliefs now, today, will shape the future, tomorrow, the next generations.We are excited by what we can create; we believe it is possible to create the next world.
“How do we create and proliferate a compelling vision of economies and ecologists that center humans and the natural world over the accumulation of material?
“We embody. We learn. We release the idea of failure because it’s all data. But first we imagine.
“We must make JUST and LIBERATED futures irresistible.” – amb
2. Offering a point of view on the best approach to changing a massive system [Emergent Strategies]
“Our tendency is toward hierarchical and capitalistic and growth at all costs. But it is the adaptive and collaborative practices that are more sustainable. Those are the beings that survive through change.
“What we practice at the small-scale sets the patterns for the whole system. To see our own lives and work and relationships as a front line, a first place we can practice justice, liberation’s, and alignment with each other and the planet.
“We are microsystems. We must create patterns that cycle upwards.
“Emergence emphasizes critical connections over critical mass, building authentic relationships, listening with all the senses of the body and mind.” – amb
3. To look at everything with LOVE is the best, healthiest way to be personally resilient enough to tackle these difficult challenges.
“Where shame makes us freeze and try to get really small and invisible, pleasure invites us to move, to open, to grow.
“I am listening now with all my senses, as if the whole universe might exist just to teach me more about love… This practice lets me connect to the part of myself that is divine, aligned with the universe, and the place within myself where I can be a conduit for spiritual truth.
“Nothing is required of me more than being, and creating. Simultaneously being present with who I am, who we are as a species…and creating who we must become, and within that who I must become.
“…a pendulum swinging between curiosity, possibility, and hopelessness.” -amb
4. Notes on current day, American issues
“Americans don’t know how to do democracy. We don’t know how to make decisions together, how to create generative compromises, how to advance policies that center justice. Until we have a sense of how to live our solutions locally, we won’t be successful at implementing a just governance system regionally, nationally or globally.” -amb
The lack of comfort with, and trust in, politicians makes me think of the newly-realized sexual assault accountability for (some) politicians. And a recent Ezra Klein show podcast that presents the idea that Congress is not debating enough– within each party. Republicans especially are afraid to disagree with each other, and therefore BEST solutions don’t emerge. James Wallner, author and political scientist, makes a case for more discussion, less suppression.
The Democratic Party needs a redefinition.
“What happens when we succeed? New problems? Detroit filmmaker Oya Amakisi once shared with me the words of General Baker, a Detroit labor organizer and leader, who said, ‘You keep asking how do we get the people here? I say, what will we do when they get here?’” -amb
If we impeach Trump— will we be ready for a well-thought-out next step? What will we do differently to be a better option as a Democratic Party?