Gardens. The cooperation of neighbours, cultural institutions or local authorities can create a real effect in the form of a friendlier environment, including community gardens. Many gardens currently operate at cultural institutions, such as the Powszechny Garden at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, the Common Garden at the Służew Cultural Centre in Warsaw, the Open Garden at the Górna Cultural Center in Łódź, and the Theatre Garden at the Zagłębie Theatre in Sosnowiec. The aim is to create a green space for meetings, talks, recreation, joint cultivation and use of goods, and at the same time getting to know your neighbours, exchanging experiences and mutual help. The meeting of a cultural institution with its neighbours around a joint activity is an important gesture from the perspective of strengthening the sense of agency – it tangibly confirms that together we can create an environment we desire. Activities of this type do not have to be based in a particular place, they can also take the form of intervention, such as the joint planting of trees or regular initiatives related to the joint discovery of the local ecosystem, such as local ecological paths, walks or nature workshops.
> Get acquainted with one of the many community gardens in Berlin, which aims to grow plants organically in the city and share the results with others > Prinzessinengarten (source: Visit Berlin) and a British example of a community garden which transformed from a Todmorden neighbourhood initiative into a global movement > Incredible Edible
> Read about a social garden in Warsaw Motyka i Słońce, source: Sztuka krajobrazu
> Find out about Porta Posnania’s project consisting of ecological educational path and discovering the local ecosystem: Porta open onto the river
Interspecies communities. Humans are not the only species residing on Earth. Therefore, when we talk about building a good community, we must not ignore flora and fauna. Our co-existence, which is customarily conceptualised as a binary opposition of culture and nature, is in fact a permanent form of cohabitation. Therefore, as pointed out by artists and activists, the relationship with other species, so far based on power and exploitation, requires transformation into a more equal and empathetic one, while the non-human perspective requires empowerment. This is connected with searching for new project possibilities, not focused solely on humans but taking the needs and rights of plants and animals into account as well. Some initiatives transfer the issue of a fair approach to nature onto a legislative level, fighting for amending the international law and recognising ‘ecocide’ as a prohibited act. Questions about whether such an extended community is possible and on what foundations an interspecies understanding should be built, brings together people and initiatives from many fields: artistic, activist, ethical, legal, scientific, design, and speculative.
> Read about selected artistic work of Cecylia Malik–opposition against mass tree felling and artivist actions in favour of protecting the last natural rivers of Europe > Polish Mothers on Tree Stumps source: smoglab; River Sisters
> Read an interview with Diana Lelonek by Marta Jeleń ‘People and their neighbours’, source: Polisemia and ‘Interspecies Manifesto‘, created by Diana Lelonek and Anna Siekierska, source: Obieg
> Find out about Forensic Architecture website and its Centre for Contemporary Nature, which deals with the relationship between breaking human rights and violence against nature. See an example of an exhibition dealing with the topic of ecological crime > Race and Forest, source: Biennale Warszawa
> Become acquainted with an example of an exhibition on non-anthropocentric design: Zeopolis: Design for plants and animals, source: BWA Wrocław and the lexicon of basic terms associated with this topic prepared by the curators of this exhibition Monika Rosińska and Agata Szydłowska: Design for plants and animals, source: NN6T
> Find out about ideas and examples on how to facilitate the transition from the industrial age to the ecological age by translating solutions functioning in the world of animals and plants into design that is good for humans: Biomimicry Institute, Ask Nature
Understanding and empathy. Programme activities are a space for exercising care, developing the ability to communicate without violence, also with people representing other views, and caring for the inclusive language of dialogue. Provide support to people who feel anxious and stressed about the scale of the climate crisis. Feeling overwhelmed and helpless can lead to climate grief, withdrawal and becoming passive in the face of the scale of the challenges. Participating in group initiatives which bring together people who see the threats, but also see the possibilities of preventing them and act for change can be helpful in counteracting such situations, i.e. the feeling of loneliness and lack of agency.
> Find out about initiatives connected with empathy development in the cultural sector such as Congress of Empathy, source: Art Museum in Łódź.
> Read about culture’s responsibility for language and about how words and definitions impact building respect and a sense of social representation: Words Matter: An Unfinished Guide to Word Choices in the Cultural Sector, source: Tropenmuseum.
> Get to know about Climate Support Group, source: CzujCzuj.
Activating your imagination. Culture has enormous potential to change thinking patterns, activate individual and collective imaginations, anticipate phenomena, experiment and test alternative scenarios of functioning together in the world. It is a space for bold utopias, speculative action, ‘impossible’ projects which, by boldly shifting the horizon of questions, may help in ‘shifting’ reality. First, we need to imagine a possible better world in order to be able to pursue it. As Naomi Klein asserts: “we must dare to dream big and out loud.” Even if the proposed utopia exists only in our imagination, pursuing it may turn out to be an effective generator of real events.
> Read Naomi Klein’s text Let’s Demand Utopia, source: Przekrój.
> Read Ida Ślęzak’s text about ecological imaginarium in the theatre: Nature is not decoration, source: Dialog.
> Find out about the speculative Museum for Future Fossils, based on the idea that plastics become a new fossil layer.
> Get to know the speculative project The Parliament of Things, which draws on the philosophy of Bruno Latoura to create a vision of a common parliament of humans, animals, plants and things.
> Reach out for the resources of the Apocalypse Reading Room – a collection of books relevant in the context of the environmental and social crisis, encouraging a discussion on fair future