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Participatory Session: Degrowth and community-led sustainability initiatives

Linking local action and global analysis

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ECOLISE is the European meta-network for community-led initiatives on sustainability and climate change. Its members are mostly national and international coordinating organisations for movements such as permaculture, ecovillages and Transition, who collectively represent thousands such initiatives and projects across Europe. Members also include a number of organisations who do not directly represent community-led initiatives but offer specialised skills in areas such as research, education and communication in support of their work. Swedish national members include Permaculture Sweden and Transition Sweden, both directly represented among the session organisers.

ECOLISE member networks and initiatives are all to some extent influenced by several decades of ecological, social and economic critiques of the growth paradigm. They are all thus engaged in narratives related to degrowth, in some cases since before emergence of degrowth as a movement. All undertake practical action towards the creation of alternatives to growth-based models of production and social organisation, often inspired by natural systems and their capacity for self-regulation in response to internal and external feedbacks.

At a movement level, ECOLISE members currently lack either a coherent political economy of growth and its consequences, or robust general theoretical frameworks, based on systematic examination of relevant academic fields, through which to inform action. Both of these are clear strengths of the Degrowth movement. An invited presentation at the ‘Dialogues on Degrowth’ symposium at Lund University in May 2016 concluded that great scope for constructive collaboration exists in the combination of ethical and political common ground with complementary relative strengths in practical experience versus academic analysis.

This session will explore that scope for collaboration through lightning presentations and focused discussion using participatory formats such as World Cafe or Open Space. It will involve contributions (as facilitators, moderators and/or discussants) from members of the ECOLISE Knowledge and Learning team and affiliated Swedish organisations and networks. The exact discussion topics will be set during the session, but may include questions such as:
∞ To what extent do ECOLISE member networks and initiatives provide appropriate general models for degrowth in practice?
∞ What relationships already exist between degrowth and community-led initiatives (whether involved with ECOLISE or not)?
∞ What issues (challenges, contradictions, paradoxes...) arise in taking practical action towards degrowth while living and seeking to achieve political traction within the existing growth-based system?
∞ What qualities can our respective movements provide to help navigate and resolve the above issues?

Advance preparation, documentation during the session and reporting following the conference will all use resources for collaborative knowledge production, a knowledge commons being developed by the ECOLISE Knowledge and Learning team. Conference participants and others not physically present at the session will also be invited to contribute via these resources. By employing collaborative open-source methods, this project seeks to subvert conventional growth-oriented academic practices that favour and reward individualistic outlooks and competitive behaviour. In this way the session will address contextual questions of how research can become a tool for community-led societal transformation, and how degrowth, as an academic movement, can build constructive linkages with relevant communities of practice such as those involved in Ecolise.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 16:00
Duration: 02:00
Room: ABF204
Track: Organisational and Organising Practices



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