“We think we’re different, but we only appear to be different. We are not different at all. We are all exactly the same. We just do different things, we think different thoughts, we are involved in different ideas, but we are all connected. (Bon Proctor 2019)
In recent years and throughout many regions of the world, there is an intense growing awareness of how we are all connected and dependent on nature, environment, and one another. The relationship that objectifies nature or environment to us, is shifting with the realisation that we are both objects and subjects in these relationships. Many cultures have and maintain this awareness, but with changing times, values, ways of thinking; such knowledge which is defined as indigenous is relegated to margins of knowledge production. However, with the growing realisation that there are particular problems generated from the intersections of current social interaction and activities, that cannot be addressed without the incorporation of indigenous knowledge has led the initiatives and ingenuity from the grassroots to standout. Usually such initiatives stem from the solidarity and cooperation of those at the grassroots (who feel it most), key actors who apply and incorporate indigenous knowledge to provide new, innovative, creative ways or hyper knowledges for survival, preservation and progress.
This usually occurs within space that is conceptualised to be enabling for entities to create networks of relationships, interconnections, and interactions for survival. Like the converging vines of a sycamore tree, that create networks, connections between the tree, nature, and the environment. This grassroots indigenous movements forge interactions, different types of connections that affect the environment (space) to either better or worse conditions for all that is found within that space.
The grassroots movements and activism are as such. Like the sycamore tree and its vines, important for knowledge production, paradigm shifts, progress among other things. Considering that they are the ones who are at the margins of society who first experience any slight shift within the society be it natural or economic phenomena. Such vulnerability steers these communities to create alternative ways of thinking, doing, living for survival. Thus, produce new knowledge and ways of survival. They are the same who when fed up, arise, and push for inclusion, change, equality, and peace.
However, in many instances such knowledge production is not take seriously unless its content is made palatable for those with power, security, and privilege. Thus, stifling the voices, policing of language, and often changing the meaning. Therefore, loosing this knowledge created from experience for the benefit of all.
For this reason, like the sycamore tree and its vines. It is important to converge such knowledge, holders of such knowledge within an environment/space that is conducive, to strengthen vocalise, archive, express, share, encourage and generate was to work in solidarity to create a collective ability like the vines, to act for sustainability and transformation a sustainable, liveable earth depicted as the Yggdrasil, sycamore or “Mugumo” (tree of life).
It is against this background that the conference “Power from Below: Gender, Nature and Survival”, aims to bring together scholars, activists, and community leaders from the global North and South. To catalyse the borrowing, exchange, and the creation of new innovations and knowledge. This conference also aims to overtime produce a booklet consisting of the contributions from key actors: To document the sharing of these different knowledge: To produce a series of podcasts: An exhibition titled “our way the tree of life” in moving art and a moving art documentary depicting how each culture valued solidarity, nature and the tree for survival. An exhibition similar to the “Hope, friendship and nature”.
The conference was to be hosted by the Gender Studies at Åbo Akademi University. However due to the Corona pandemic it has had to be postponed to a later date which will be advertised.
This conference was to precede the conference ‘Power from Below: Gender, Grassroots and Peace' taking place in Kenya in 2021 October 14-16. However, due to the Corona Pandemic the dates have been pushed back to be advertised later.
Augusta Dwyer, Broke but Unbroken (Fernwood Publishing 2011)