ICYMI: Imagining New Worlds: Using Science Fiction to Build a Solidarity Economy
From Nonprofit Quarterly: The cultural sector is seeking alternatives to business-as-usual. This article is the second in the series, “Remember the Future: Culture and Systems Change,” co-produced by Art.coop and NPQ. In this series, queer, trans, and BIPOC artists and cultural bearers reflect upon the unique role that culture has played and can play in activating and enacting structural change—and in building a solidarity economy.
"Another term for the systems we practice as a company and have represented through our art is solidarity economy. We at Applied Mechanics didn’t know we were moving and dreaming into solidarity economy until recent connections reflected this back to us."
"The idea of a solidarity economy resonates with our vision of liberation. Like many artists, our collective members face tensions between our dreams and economic pressures. To pay the bills, we are fiscally sponsored by Headlong Dance Theater, a Philadelphia nonprofit with an aligned mission, and Fractured Atlas, a New York City nonprofit that supports artists nationally. In Practicing Cooperation: Mutual Aid Beyond Capitalism, published last year, Andrew Zitcer of Drexel University documents the tensions between ideals and monetary pressures at Headlong, but emphasizes too the 'urban possibility of creative democracy' (203) that is core to Headlong—and to us."
"Our collective welcomes this opportunity to deepen intention. Our work is never finished. We celebrate that. We are always learning, using our hearts as our compass, our truth as swords. (Thank you, Assata Shakur). To center our value of mutual thriving for all, we must believe that “No one is free until we are all free” (Thank you, Fannie Lou Hamer). Our group’s intention, while remaining flexible and humble, is to keep moving the needle of change towards collective liberation in the imaginations of our audiences. However small that movement may be, its ripples are cosmic; it is enough, and it never stops."
"This struggle towards the next world is a work of art, one in which it is important to remain brave and vulnerable. At every step on the journey to creating this new world, there is compost—critical to building soil. Every offering—kindness, presence, art, patience—is valuable. There is no such thing as wrong or unfinished."
"Each mistake—erasure, self-criticism, tension—is an opportunity to grow closer to each other and our highest selves. Every creation is a seed. The process is the soil. The sun and rain are our joy and conflict. They are inextricable from each other and equally indispensable."
"Artists—and we are all artists—are microorganisms that nurture seeds. Whatever is harvested will be honored, and every hand that was a part of it thanked, including the Earth from which the harvest was born. This is how we find our way, together."