“[…] we were a cloud, a crowd, a forest, a school with no principal.”
Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser describing a seminar preceding their publication ‘A World of Many Worlds’
FO.R.E.ST is an experiment in learning together and outside the educational industrial complex, attempting alliance with the more-than-human.
FO.R.E.ST wants to expand modes of activism to acknowledge the agency of each of us to agitate transformation with any participation in world – based on processual reworkings, rethinkings, reconfigurations.
FO.R.E.ST aspires to constellate a situation and living entity in which we all have knowledges to share – like a forest: a dynamic, ever changing, interdependent assemblage. A forest is a collective body constituted by multiplicities of living entities; conspiring as forest whilst each body has their particular experiences, modes of being and knowing, subsets of relations, needs and ways of manifesting these. Like a forest: FO.R.E.ST is sympoietic, coming into being and kept alive by its multiple conspirators.
There will be no lecturers, students or staff. Instead, study and practice are driven by Conspirators who come together for 6 weeks at a time (one season) to study, work, live, and world together. Co-conspirators and Complotters are also part of the constellation as practitioners, theorists and activists, who join the seasons for shorter periods. They will invite deep dives and stimulate experimentation.
The idea is to collectively produce knowledge, to be changed by knowledge – and also to unlearn – and not to follow canons, transmit facts and expertise.
FO.R.E.ST inhabits a perspective on ecology, in which the ‘natural world’ or ‘environment’ is inextricably intertwined with domains of society and its organising structures – geo/politics, science, technology, economics, law, culture, and so forth. The starting point is an insistence that there is politics in nature and nature in politics.
In order to radically change, we need to look to the roots of the problem, which point towards ways of knowing and relating based on othering, dominating, and exploiting, and which cannot but re/produce a damaged planet. When approaching ecological questions, we need to rethink our operations, starting with questions of how we know and relate, and how we make worlds. ‘Ecological thinking’ (for lack of a better word) informs how we interact with and relate to the institutions and communities we are connected to – be it family, kinships, work, education, science, economy, state, etc.
The living together as a research community, embedded in and interacting with the surrounding living world, figures a particular ecology that converges various registers of re/production: social, environmental, domestic, pedagogic and ‘professional’. As such FO.R.E.ST offers a rich situation for questioning and reconfiguring the ways we come to know, how we embody what we know, how we participate in world, and what realities we produce and reproduce – on a daily basis.