Individual Paper: Degrowth in places and practices in Latvia
Degrowth is a concept that so far has made very few appearances in Latvian public space and runs the risk of being criticized as many would claim that Latvian economy ‘has not grown enough yet’. Therefore people are not motivated to oppose that more economic growth (meaning GDP) is needed while simultaneously being frustrated with the status quo. Unfortunately the public and economic imaginary in Latvia remains very colonised by economic growth. Both politicians and scientists are struggling to acknowledge the increasingly visible side-effects of neoliberal development since 1990.
Degrowth thinkers are providing systemic explanations why most of the widely-shared beliefs about growth and strategies for development are very likely to fail in long-term perspective. Most often on the individual level this is a complicated mental exercise to accept that many aspects of our societies are impossible to continue sustainably if to continue at all in the future. In addition, it is difficult to motivate people to action or mobilisation when the risks are so distant and invisible from an individual perception. However, as Bruno Latour recently vindicates his famous phrase ‘we have never been modern’ – we will never modernise whole planet in the Anthropocene.
Within the Marie Curie network SUSPLACE (www.susplace.net) I have been able to re-emigrate to Latvia and develop an in-depth involvement in environmental and sustainability activism in Latvia. I am also the chairman of Latvian Permaculture Association which leads multiple events and unifies a movement towards practical and applied regeneration and degrowth. In 2018 around ten people made the first moves to establish an explicit ‘Degrowth Latvia’ group that will further focus on degrowth practices in our diverse engagements on the way to the Degrowth 2018 conference.
I hope to report, reflect and celebrate in Malmo the regenerative transformations that are arising in Latvia by:
a) showing reflections from my research that co-creates regenerative places and practices in the context of Latvia as well as the opportunities and limitations for a sustainability scientivist (scientist and activist) in Eastern European context
b) explaining how permaculture movement grows and responds to needs for alternative lifestyles of a low-income society like Latvia
c) showing what challenges lie ahead of degrowth alternatives in the Latvian context of upcoming elections in October 2018 and colonized imaginaries of our politicians
Start time: 11:30
Room: Nöjesteatern (Piano bar)
Track: Expanding Geographies of Degrowth