Creature Nature Workshop III



«Making Multispecies Communities» 25.02. – 03.03.2018

Welcome to COMUNfARE, a long-term design research project of the design collective Brave New Alps of which we will be part of for one week! COMUNfARE literally means ‘commons-making’, ‘making the commons’ or ‘making in common’. Situated in the Vallagarina valley in northern Italy, the collective explores on site what designers’ contributions can be in producing progressive change in an era when the current economic system has led not only to multiple social crises but also to environmental ones of global dimension.

The research project's approach is based on the effect of multidimensional crises through locally situated actions. In these actions notions and practices of the commons as a material and social dimension are being mobilised that empower people to nurture values and ways of relating to each other and to nature. These ways of relating differ qualitatively from those reproduced by capital, characterised instead by dispossession and consumption of the relationships themselves. Such dispossession leads to social inequalities, the accumulation of wealth in the hands of few with the exclusion of many, economic growth that is unsustainable for the global eco-system and for personal wellbeing, extreme individualisation and competition, and the perpetuation of an artificial ‘nature-culture’ divide. 

The central assumption of COMUNfARE is that commons are a building block for sustainable and happy lives for all and that they are maintained and (re)produced through collective acts of making, through non-capitalist logics that are enacted in them. These central assumptions trigger two questions which need continuous re-examination:

  • What shall we make to make commons for eco-social change? 
  • Who should (or shouldn’t) be involved in these collective acts of making?

What if we understood the ‘we’ of the collective acts of making commons as not limited to humans but extend it also to plants, animals, bacteria etc? What if we embodied the fact humans are not the pinnacle of evolution but actors within a global ecology? These two questions – when localised and situated in the Vallagarina – trigger questions such as: Who are the more-than-human actors inhabiting and (re)producing life in the valley? What interdependencies exist between human and more-than-human others, such as bacteria, fungi, animals, but also ecosystems such as rivers, forests, lakes, grasslands? How to create multi-species commons together with these other inhabitants of the valley? Admittedly, these questions are big and tricky as they imply a need to attune to actors we usually take for granted, are invisible or of minor importance to us. To tackle these questions during the workshop week, we invite you to explore some of the more-than-human inhabitants of the Vallagarina with their local and translocal connections. 

With the insights gathered, we are invited to speculate on how more-than-human actors could be engaged in acts of multispecies commoning. Through site visits and expert talks, we will be introduced to some of the more-than-human actors in the valley:

  • microorganisms (producing soil and fermented food)
  • agricultural crops (grapevines and mulberry trees)
  • habitats (drystone walls and irrigation canals)

Overview workshop weeks