“[…] 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 to understand how we can navigate socio-environmental struggles.
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 multiplicity. 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 are no lecturers, students or staff. Study and practice are driven by Conspirators who come together for 6 weeks at a time (a season), to study, live, and practice worlding together. Co-conspirators and Complotters are part of the constellation each season. They are practitioners who take part in the study for shorter periods, inviting deep dives into particular matters and stimulate experimentation. The idea is to collectively produce knowledge, to be changed by knowledge – and also to unlearn; not to follow canons, transmit facts and expertise. FO.R.E.ST wishes to undo hierarchies and disciplinary limitations that are common in professionalised knowledge production.
FO.R.E.ST inhabits a critical 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, like the habit of knowing and relating through logics of othering, domination, and exploitation, which re/produce a damaged planet. When approaching ecological questions, we need to rethink how we operate, starting with how we know and relate, and how we make worlds. ‘Ecological thinking’ 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, nature, earth, etc.
Conspiring in FO.R.E.ST means living together as a research community that is embedded in and interacting with the surrounding living world. It is a particular ecology in which various registers of re/production converge: 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 the world, and what realities we produce and reproduce on a daily basis.
The wish for FO.R.E.ST is to cultivate a pedagogy together that reaches beyond the 6 weeks per season and beyond FO.R.E.ST altogether; to be able to grow something collectively (tools, practices, questions, lenses, fora, etc) that each can take into the communities and institutions they are related to and agitate for transformation; to grow networks along which these knowledges, practices, tools can travel and propagate; and along which Conspirators can support one another. A non-local forest.