Thursday — Food Sovereignty, Housing Activism, and Climate Justice within a Common(s) Horizon

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Thursday — 09.18.14 — Food Sovereignty, Housing Activism, and Climate Justice within a
Common(s) Horizon

0. About Thursday
1. Invited Groups
2. Thursday Afternoon Potluck
3. Reflections to Guide the Evening
4. A Parting Note

0. About Thursday

What: Collective Discussions, Around the Convergence Weekend
When: Thursday, September 18th, 7:00 [potluck at 3:00] & [follow-up next Wednesday,
September 24th, 7:00]
Where: 16 Beaver Street, NY, NY
Who: Free and Open

This Thursday, you are invited to participate in a conversation ahead of the Climate
Convergence, March, and various actions this upcoming weekend.

Before the evening’s meeting, there is a pot-luck which is being organized at 3pm (for
details see further below).

The evening’s meeting concerns attempts over the summer, which build on efforts over the
last years, to bring together trans-local-solidarities on the level of our everyday
reproduction and struggle.

Much of the work that we have engaged in this summer is to provide a framework to
overcome separations between different projects within the city, to think a horizon of
“trans-local solidarity” (even between different geographical areas in a single city,
regimes often defined by class, gender, and racial separation as much as by processes of
gentrification or spatial control).

Thursday we would like to put this conversation in relation to the context of the events
for the weekend, articulating the concrete ways that aspects of climate justice
activism, food sovereignty and the politics of food, and struggles for housing are
linked within a field of translocal solidarity practice, one whose constitutent
component includes community control of and access to land.

The processes (collective processes always) that occur in these spaces and times of
struggle contain within them the keys to overcoming any “crisis” that a systemically
biocidal political-economy imposes on all life forms and their environments. But the
tendencies within the movements to isolate different aspects of the problem — from
policy perspectives or administrative or political ones — corral struggles into
specialized ‘silos’ or contexts, sometimes reducing efficacy to a juridical result or
reducing the disagreement to a legal or scientific matter — and by doing so —
reproduces our distance from the problem or “crisis”.

A crisis at a distance is one that will be perpetuated.

A potential mode of overcoming these tendencies comes in the form of the reclamation —
by a conjunction of affinity groups, associations, and through communal alliance — of
the means of the reproduction of our existence.

This, we could suggest, happens or begins at a local level, in all fields of struggle —
struggles for climate justice cannot be separate from struggles for housing, struggles
for decommodifying land, creating community gardens, engendering spaces for different
social relations, and struggles for liberating space and time to engage in forms of
local resilience and experimentation.

Extending or empowering this autonomous resilience requires that we work to form a
trans-local solidarity horizon — of “commoning the city” and access to social
reproduction — through instances of collective cooking, gathering, living, making,
thinking, and speaking. Artists engaged in these political processes can play a critical
role, representing the inherent power of revoking, making, unworking, revisioning,
seeing, and the “autopoetic” or “syn-poetic” character of social reproduction as a whole
(e.g. growing food is a form of art as much as “art-making” is, both are processes which
exceed our understanding).

Thursday will be followed up by a meeting on Wednesday the 24th, as a report-back from
the events of the Convergence and the March, and to articulate steps forward: how can we
continue or solidify this common effort in the future? How can we build new
infrastructures and relations to empower solidarity practices?

1. Invited Groups

Groups invited or tentatively scheduled to participate include:

Umang Kumar, a Cambridge-based activist who will present footage and perspectives from a
food sovereignty tour of Venezuela, where dual-power ideas inform the integration of
housing projects, urban farms, and the university.

No Rockaway Pipeline, whose work this summer resisting the building of biocidal
infrastructure in the Rockaways integrates direct action with local community

Picture the Homeless, whose work of analysis and providing adversarial intervention and
support for communities within both the NYC shelter system, and those effected by the
NYC policing system.


Friends of Brook Park
Take Back the Land
Anti-Eviction Network
WeAct for Environmental Justice
Brooklyn Solidarity Network
1882 Woodbine
The Base
New York Year Zero
Free University

Thanks and hope to see you!

2. Thursday Afternoon Potluck: 3:00 p.m.

At 3:00 p.m. on Thursday there will be a potluck at the space. Description below:

Climate Change Is Not an “Environmental” Issue: Connecting Anti-Capitalists for the
Climate March and Beyond

This month, the People’s Climate March will draw thousands of activists to NYC from
around the region, expressing a wide range of political perspectives. Among student
environmentalists, fossil fuel divesters, anti-nuke activists (and more!), there are
those of us who believe climate change can only be addressed by overturning capital and
the state, and creating an egalitarian society. Let’s talk.

This lunch and discussion will provide a venue for anti-capitalist, anti-state
participants in the People’s Climate March to meet, greet, and strategize for the
People’s Climate March weekend and beyond. Free meal provided, with time for facilitated
group discussion as well as socializing.

Co-organizers (who may do brief presentations) include:

– Joe Shortsleeve, from Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice
– Yuko Tonohira, from Sloths Against Nuclear State
– Josh, from Black Rose Anarchist Federation, on the No Rockaway Pipeline coalition

3. Reflections to Guide the Evening

* Creating a solidarity horizon for a struggle that has many facets means overcoming the
temptation to isolate (through specialized languages and contexts) “climate” from a
process of social or everyday reproduction.

* Not to see the struggle for climate justice as separate from a struggle for housing,
the resistance against biocidal infrastructure, or the concrete ways in which people
come together to ally, inhabit, and reproduce their lives.

* The material impact of an ongoing capitalist expropriation of the common(s) leads to
palpable ways in which our access to our own social reproduction is increasingly

* From a negative standpoint the system that this is tied to — the biocidal practices
of consumption — necessitates our solidarity horizon (in terms of a subtraction from
it, or adversarial or creative resistance) as much as a positive form does.

* The problem is the entire ontology of consumption and individualism which reinforces
biocidal practices. ‘Climate’ cannot be dissevered from this: and within this politics
and autonomy there are no separations here between scientific and policy regimes (which
reproduce our distance from the ‘crisis’) and the actual reclaiming of spaces and the
reproduction of the means of our existence.

* In a certain sense the political implication of this is the formation of a
“destituent” power, a power of subtraction and direct use: the “use” or reclaiming of
space, collectively, where the labor of reproduction becomes immediately apparent.

* What we are subtracting from is a biocidal life-practice based on consumption, private
use, and exploitation, which the entire reproductive apparatus of capitalism supports.

* This perspective — this common(s) perspective — transfigures our relation to land.
Land under capitalism is a series of enclosures designed to channel resources into a
negative commons, that of speculative expropriation, one which produces dispossession,
segregation, and inequality as its reproductive mechanism. Subtracting from this is no
easy task — it requires the formation of alliances, affinity networks, and entirely
transformed distribution. Food sovereignty practices and struggles figure prominently in
such a transformation.

4. A Parting Note

We are experiencing the decline of an empire and its entire planetary apparatus. It
appears that a struggle is being waged over the control of this empire for this current
century. And the wars know no limits. The fields of operation traverse our
correspondences, communications, to our imaginaries, from our refrigerators and what is
inside them, to our computers and what gets shared across them, and the fields extend to
the resources which make them and the labors that assemble them, the oil that fuels it
all, the forests and ecologies consumed to make it ‘real’ and the lives disposed of
without pause in its fulfillment. We are implied, after all, in this logistics, in this
chain of general equivalencies, and this chain of fulfillment.

And it is difficult not to lose our heads within the folds of these concurrent wars
unfolding on all fronts. But the clarity is that these wars, the ecological degradation,
the limitless surveillance, the desperate attempts to reassert familiar narratives, the
debt, the bombs and weaponry, the language, the security measure, the molar politics,
top heavy and arms heavy politics, are the reassertion of means which states and capital
have wielded since their existence.

Three years ago tomorrow, Wall Street was occupied for a reason. Those reasons have not
stopped. But for all of those who lived fully within these movement of squares, it is
evident, what was occupied was neither the square, or here in New York, Wall Street or
the park, what was occupied was life, itself or common life and what was left of it.

The wars know no limit and they unfold at the most intimate levels. They graft
themselves onto our lives, feed on them, and are in turn conducted by them. We conduct
these wars and become instruments of their fulfillment and their reason for being with
each day we perpetuate and multiply the contradictions which capitalist reality has put
at our door steps.

Three years on, after the occupation, we continue to struggle to understand the
pervasiveness of these wars and their inter-connectedness. Maybe what we have realized,
especially in the context of these recent struggles is that we are all occupied by Wall
Street (surely, some more than others and surely in many different sense and modes).

Maybe what was the absurdity, novelty, and impossibility of that year (2011-2012) was
this attempt to occupy the occupiers. The struggle is being waged at the level of life
and the occupation transpires there.

Without a radical shift and communalization of that life and the reappropriation of the
material conditions it is afforded and survives on, it is difficult to understand how
Wall Street’s occupations and livelihoods (afterlives?) will come to an end.