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The Systems Composter - Exploring our societal fabrics.

Updated: Aug 15, 2021

I like composting. I think I always have. And I use that verb in a rather expanded and much-encompassing way. I've composted what most people may consider the usual: fresh organic material—as in dead or trimmed bits from all sorts in the garden; foods; processed organic materials—as in paper and fabrics and unfortunately also plastic; metabolic waste in general—as in urine and shit; and even soil itself. But I like to think of composting as something of an elemental process: taking a "thing"—a material or a system or an idea or a even a dream—and inviting the right conditions—or approximately good conditions—for it to decompose in simpler bits that can be then re-purposed, according to the needs of the environment, or further decomposed. I like composting because it leaves very little waste. Nay, it thrives on waste. Some types of composting can even deal with very nasty human-made toxic pollutants. But that's matter for another stream.

I'll try to focus. I've been using that composting metaphor a lot when thinking about the transformation of our social systems—such as politics and economy—because I like the idea of deconstructing, of getting down to the bare bones of the matter. Which in the case of our social systems are probably going to be our needs and constrains. And then re-purposing, not going at it in an analytical way (I doubt that the composting organisms sit down and have a system's analysis before they start their essential work), but more like a kind of intuitive, meditative churning of the stuff, looking at what's there and allowing useful parts to organically fit those needs. Of course, we're not done after composting—is composting ever finished?. But it gives me a pretty rich stuff for new things to grow. Also, I've come to appreciate the need for a different energy, a different intention within our activism. I used to be against the system. For change and against the system. That forceful energy of opposition is of course needed some times. In my opinion, it needs to be handled with care, least we go through the whole trouble of changing the system just to find out that we've brought with us that destructive, oppositional, absolutist energy that I associate with systems of oppression. That forceful energy is one I've rarely found in a healthy and alive compost. Also, it produces a lot of waste...

I hope you get the gist of my metaphor...

In this Engagement Stream of Now What?! we will be composting parts of our social systems through inquiry and conversation with people who are involved in system transformation from different perspectives. Much of this stream is running parallel to Reworlding, where we're doing deep composting work of our pervasive political systems, and learning the fundamentals of preparing the soil towards "assembling a politics of the heart". Reworlding is now a partner of Now What?! and I'm sure this will be a mutually-enriching opportunity.

Much like with composting, I trust the process once the appropriately good elements are put together. And those elements are the guests and the inquiry—questions or impulses we'll ponder about. After the conversation with the guest or guests, the intention is to include about half an hour of open questions and discussion from the audience.

I will be updating this post as I get confirmation for the dates of the conversations!

Friday 23th April - Watch the recording

Sophy Banks and Yin Paradies explore the why and how of our prevalent systems of oppression with their unhealthy structures, the consequences and causes of colonisation. And the what and how of decolonised, healthy paths and strategies forward.

Tuesday 27th April - Watch the recording

Eva Schonveld and Reworlding explore the why and how of our prevalent political systems with their trauma-based, and profit-oriented structures. And the what and how of heart-centered, healthy paths and strategies forward.

Thu May 6 - Watch the recording

Vijay Kumar, explores the why and how of a system in transition, the interconnectedness of food production, community-supported decision making, and social well-being.

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