WEAVING ALTERNATIVES #13: A periodical of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives

WEAVING ALTERNATIVES #13: A periodical of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives

On Weaving: Threading Realities and Possibilities

Editorial Note

The origins of the word ‘weaving’ comes from old English wefan, of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek huphē ‘web’ and Sanskrit ūrṇavābhi ‘spider’, literally ‘wool-weaver’. In Spanish a closer word is 'tejer', a noun used to express the connection of threads, but also of words, “tejer la palabra”: to weave the words, the meanings. Directly related with the latin word ‘texere’ (again we find connection with idea of ‘text’), and this with older Proto-Indo-European form of ‘teḱ’, which is the source of many rich derivations such as té-tḱ-ti (“to create, produce, cut, hew”), tḱ-éy-ti (“to settle, live, dwell, cultivate”) and the Ancient Greek form of τίκτω (tékhnē, “craft”, the base of the English ‘technique’). Therefore, it should come as no surprise that for many communities around the world, weaving is a source of identity, meaning, meaning-making and way of life. Many folklores, songs, myths revolve around weaving as if it holds the entire fabric of the community.

Within 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., weaving is thus both metaphorically and literally a crucial element. Weaving is what communities have been doing for the longest time, both in the loom and in our communities of human and more than human life. We use weaving as metaphor to articulate that there are many diverse threads existing & responding to the crises we face today. Weaving of these threads in all their diversity could lead us to a tapestry of alternatives. Weaving is a practice with the warp threads running the length piece and weft running horizontally, which speaks of a practice of interconnections. Each thread is valuable in its own right yet also contributing to building a larger project of life. Weaving is a counter-political (personal and collective) behaviour in respect to the current system which tends to both fragment us and requires conformity from us in order to dominate us in a better way.

Weaving is a practice of everyday life trying to build possibilities together. GTAGlobal Tapestry of Alternatives is a network of networks and each of these networks in different parts of the planet are (re)creating, living, and dreaming, and at the same time, also documenting, identifying, connecting and weaving a tapestry of alternatives; hence we are the weavers, weaving together a global tapestry.

Within the GTA, we define a ‘WeaverA local, regional, or national network or organization that connects or consists of multiple Alternatives on different themes/spheres, in an inter-sectorial way. A global network cannot be a Waever, neither a thematic one. It should be a collective process of some kind, rather than only a single individual or single organization. By being a "weaver", they are committed to participate in the GTA, developing ways of dialogue, interconnection, collaboration and solidarity with other Weavers. GTA promotes the interconnection of the Weavers, identifying [[:weavers:criteria|a series common criteria for the weaving of Alternatives]]. Examples: Vikalp Sangam and Crianza Mutua.’ as a local, regional, or national network or organisation that connects or consists of multiple Alternatives on different themes/spheres, in an inter-sectorial way. Our current weavers- Vikalp Sangam- Alternatives Confluence, India; Crianza Mutua Mexico; Crianzas Mutuas Colombia; and Movement for Alternatives and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (MASSAMovement for Alternatives and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (South East Asia)) are weaving ways of dialogue, interconnection, collaboration and solidarity with other Weavers. In addition, there are several other organisations and networks who are weaving alternatives in their respective regions - some as our ‘Endorsers’, and some who are movements we are in solidarity with but not (yet) part of the GTA. We honour the action of weaving that is happening everywhere and which is more important than the names we give to different groups.

The GTA weaving experience informs us that the macro-transformation does not happen from individual initiatives acting alone; large shifts become possible when a critical mass of movements for radical resistance and constructive alternatives is able to coalesce through horizontal networks. It is not about the replication of successful initiatives (or simply copying from one to another, which different contexts and territorial realities make inappropriate), nor is it about upscaling (since making one initiative bigger and bigger tends to lead to bureaucracy, lack of nimbleness, and the weakening of original values), but rather about outscaling. GTA through its activities aims to stimulate horizontal weaving of networks and platforms where they exist and also stimulate weaving where it doesn’t yet exist.

Hence, in different contexts people are weaving differently in ways that are locally appropriate. However these radical alternatives are grounded by common principles such as autonomy, self-determination, cultural democracy, cooperation, solidarity, peace, and respect for all life forms, among others that celebrate life. All the weavers of GTA emphasize visibilising grounded practices of communities, peoples, and networks who are resisting the oppressive systems by creating different ways of knowing, being and doing things. Another important element of praxis is creating the spaces of exchanges, learnings, cross-sectoral dialogues, and solidarity. In addition to nurturing such encounters, some of the weavers also focus on creating alternatives collectively among diverse groups of people. If we could look at the Alternative Tapestry, it would be filled with different colours, threads, textures and patterns but would be collectively threading a tapestry of possibilities, made stronger by each thread and more beautiful and richer than we could have dreamt individually.

Given how central weaving is as a practice within the GTA, we are delighted to have weaving as the theme for this issue of the periodical. Through this periodical, several contributions explored the idea of weaving conceptualised and practised by different members who constitute the GTA. The contributions to this periodical come from Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America, and Europe. They are also in multiple forms including, poems, videos, reflective articles and analytical pieces. These contributions include our Weavers as well as Endorsers. Collectively we explore questions like what do we mean by weaving? What does it signify for us? What does it look like in everyday life? What do we mean to achieve? And what does a tapestry at both local, regional, and global levels look like? What are the challenges to weaving across scales? What could be the process of common envisioning among these radical processes that can transform the systems at local to global level? How does weaving deal with questions of plurality, hierarchies, and transnational solidarity?

As the editorial team, we had the wonderful opportunity to learn from reading and engaging with all of these pieces. This periodical has been put together with the collaborative efforts of Shrishtee Bajpai, Mugdha Trifaley, Franco Augusto, Vasna Ramasar and Xochitl Leyva Solano. We invite you to engage, reflect and dialogue on these essays.

Updates from the 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:

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

Recent Events

Marine ecosystems and climate fiction from South Asia - Episode 3 | 06/04/2024

Accelerated anthropogenic climate change poses a serious existential threat to dwellers in the marine world, besides the fisherfolk and inhabitants of coastal areas. The melting of land ice in Antarctica and Greenland, leading to rise of ocean levels, besides the deleterious effects of acidification on marine ecosystems, may soon reach a tipping point if adequate mitigation is not undertaken soon.

In this episode, writers and activists from South Asia shared their creative responses to this ongoing crisis, which may eventually lead to biosphere collapse if such trends are not reversed.

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Antecedents to climate change fiction: Utopian and speculative narratives from South Asia - Episode 2 | 28/02/2024

In the prior session, we focussed on conceptual and narrative antecedents to contemporary climate change fiction in the region. The focus is thus on the archive of imaginative responses to the alienation of humans from nature in the wake of the introduction of the colonial and post colonial development paradigms.

Utopian, visionary and speculative narratives from South Asia have sought to engage with consequent environmental degradation and the ecological crisis in different ways. In this context, the panelists tracked the possibility of critique and sought to trace the genealogies for the recent turn to climate change fiction in South Asia.

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World Social Forum 2024 - Kathmandu, Nepal 15/02/2024 - 19/02/2024

The GTA participated in the World Social Forum 2024, as co-organizer of two events, along with some Facilitation team members also taking part in various activities. Our Weaver Vikalp Sangam co-organized two events as well.

GTA's two sessions on 'Radical Democracy and Autonomy' were aimed at first presenting existing practices of radical democracy, and followed up with principles of radical democracy emerging from ground experiences, along with exploring what can be done to spread, deepen, and strengthen radical democracy.

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Updates from our Weavers

The Global Tapestry of Alternatives is a “network of networks”. Each of those networks acts in different parts of the planet by identifying and connecting Alternatives. They are the Weavers. In the following section, our Weavers, the networks that currently weave the Global Tapestry of Alternatives, from India, South-East Asia, Colombia, and Mexico shares updates from their recent activities and actions.

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Updates from our Endorsers

May First Movement Technology (MFMT)

Following member chosen priorities related to relationship building, continuity and sustainability, in the recent period May First has been involved in numerous movement building gatherings and activities based on criteria we developed this past year, focusing our work intentionally to reflect our priorities and mission.

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The United States Solidarity Economy Network (USSEN)

The United States Solidarity Economy Network (USSEN) has been a powerful force in movements in the US left over the last two decades, especially those working toward cooperative and postcapitalist economies, democratic governance, social and racial justice, sustainability and climate justice, and electoral justice.

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On Weaving

By Sutej Hugu

Sutej Hugu recently translated an Indigenous poem by his old friend Elder Bukun. It is written in the Isbukun dialect of Bunun language spoken by about 20,000 people who live in central to southern mountainous areas of Taiwan. It presents the diversity and vitality of custodians for territories of life around this planet who have gone through all the historical and contemporary discrimination, marginalisation and destruction to survive and revive. ayoy!

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Weaving struggles, grief and hope: A letter from South Africa to Gaza

By Vasna Ramasar

Weaving a tapestry of alternatives is the hope-filled work of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives. But often we see and know each other first through our struggles, our pain and trauma. In this short piece, I want to reflect on this weaving from pain and in particularly, how we live through the genocide in Gaza. As I write this at the end of March 2024, every night and every morning I go onto my social media and bear witness to the atrocities happening to the people of Palestine. Privately run corporate media has shown itself to be a biased source of news. And there is something authentic and raw to shed my tears looking into the faces and hearing the voices of civilians trapped in Gaza.

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The Arropamientos: Memories, Denunciations and Hopes in a Weaving in Movement

By Deissy Perilla and Virgelina Chará

The “Union de Costureros” and “Asomujer y Trabajo” (Unio are citizen initiatives aligned with the understanding of the fabric from the Global Tapestry of Alternatives, that is to say; they are networks that facilitate processes and access to local knowledge. These initiatives also understand weaving as a way of engaging with ideas, facilitating collaboration and initiating processes of co-writing, learning and dialogue. Both processes seek to be part of a broader network of solidarity and strategic alliances, such as the one proposed by the GTA to create alternatives to capitalism and dominant regimes that for decades have created social inequality and environmental destruction.

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The power of transformative communities to build other possible futures

By Juan del Río

Humanity and the planet are facing an unprecedented climate, ecological, social, economic and political crisis provoked by extractive and exploitative institutional systems and practices, a structural dependence on unconstrained economic growth and unsustainable lifestyles. We are in moments of deep transformation, urgency and opportunities, and we need to combine strategies of resistance with strategies of building new alternatives. In that context community-led movements have a pivotal role in fostering the transition towards more regenerative, resilient and just futures. But how do we connect, support and catalyse the existing diversity of initiatives?

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Weaving ReExistence

By Marco Andrade

A few years ago, I was in Mexico, surrounded by people from each of the continents on Earth, from all age ranges and very different ancestral lineages… I had the opportunity to interview and talk with many of the participants. Obviously each one answered my questions in a different way and had its own particular richness… however, at the same time, they had deep similarities and very similar DNA; as if millions of years ago our molecules had belonged and orbited harmoniously in a particular constellation of stars, and despite the fact that our terrestrial origin was very distant, in the depths of us the same essence lived within us. At least that's what I felt that night, looking up at the starry sky and easily seeing the Milky Way vividly above us.

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Tending to the Lōma

By The Emergence Network

‘Loom’ can be traced back to the Old English words lōma or gelome, meaning a tool, utensil, or implement of frequent use. It invokes the themes of braiding, tapestries, weaving, webs, materials, and networks – all of which have been central to the imagination, practices, and life of the organism called ten (The Emergence Network).

The etymological origins of ten gestures towards acts of stretching, holding, extending, spreading, diffusing, spinning, weaving and composing. Honoring our deep entanglement with the loom, this piece is a patchwork of stories, reflections, and meanderings from participants in the ten organism.

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Weaving: A radical activist method against, through and beyond capitalism

By Ana Cecilia Dinerstein

Weaving is a timeless and worldwide practice usually connected to the sensuous world of free human association… Like any other free gathering around a manual activity, these are moments of unspeakable peace, freedom, and joy, moments when the world's troubles seem to stop at the door and cannot interrupt the experience of love and connection…

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Threading Life and Futures

By Shrishtee Bajpai

…the movement of Warp and Weft in weaving is used as a metaphor for the process of growing in the womb for 9 months. And then, when the fabric is woven, is a form of a human body it is imbued in the colour red which is a colour of divinity…

Sant Kabir used weaving, his occupation along with thousands others in his community and elsewhere, as a metaphor. It was used very often to speak of spiritual, political, and social issues. The working class in India, including weavers, craftsmen, cobblers, ironsmiths (often from marginalised and oppressed castes) related to this democratisation of knowledge. Local communities who didn’t have access to elite knowledge spaces articulated their worldviews through their everyday occupations. Their expression of meaning of life was not based on any abstractism; rather, it was woven in everyday practice and learning. Several of these communities have led counter spiritual, political and social movements in India over the ages.

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How to weave? Reflections from the history and experience of Crianzas Mutuas Colombia

By Crianzas Mutuas Colombia

The process of weaving in Crianzas Mutuas began in 2017, and has been going on for six years now. This time has brought us very valuable learnings… During this time, we have strengthened ties between processes located in three different territories or bioregions: 1) The Geographic Valley of the Cauca Region; 2) Kumanday (Manizales); and 3) the Black Line-Sierra Nevada of Gonawindua (Santa Marta).

… In Colombia, weaving has been an alternative for the defense of life, and there have been weavers before Crianzas Mutuas. Tapestries are not the result of an academic or activist project, but the result of webs (entramados) nourished by women, artivists, collectives, peoples and academics.

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A few notes and meditations on the notion of weaving

By Carlos Tornel

…Weaving enables a radical pedagogy between worlds. It creates conditions under which a dialogue between those that have been othered by the hegemonic view of the world is possible thusly. First, weaving goes beyond a mere dialogue of knowledges as it places practice and lived experience at the center: only through sharing the world (i.e. not just knowledge or the logos) can the possibility of a dialogue become possible. Secondly, weaving can also encompass a plurality of political horizons and possibilities. Bringing the matter of size into the debate, weaving places direct democracy, autonomy and dignity as the basis of political organization, a project built from the ground-up, from a collective defense of the territory…

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