I for Interstice


‘Interstices’- divergent places, alive with another way of being.


IntersticesThe extraordinary embodiment of real ingenuity in practice. Slowly but contagiously, they cause cracks to appear in the established modus operandi. They fracture, splinter, deepen and spread, until suddenly: a resounding SNAP… The status quo ante is replaced. Something new takes over.

In his book Crack Capitalism John Holloway (author of How to Change the World without Taking Power) discusses the idea of interstices and provides several incidences of their manifestations focusing specifically on the participatory democracy method of the Zapatistas in Mexico and the worker cooperatives in the Reclaimed Factories in Argentina. It is worthy to note that both of these studies can be considered grassroots undertakings and arguably representations of a “citizen’s control” style of acquisition of power.


DEF. Oxford American Dictionary: “…an intervening space, esp. a very small one: sunshine filtered through the interstices of the arching trees”


light_shining_through_the_branches_by_lightningball-d5rx0id

A poetic metaphor that neatly illustrates Holloway’s vision.

Though these interstices may seem small and of trifling importance when seen as isolated fragmented entities, their steady glow can spark the initiation of similar ventures. As they multiply, the light they emit brightens, bursting through the existing barriers to illuminate the darkness.


Key Phrases:

  • “Be the change you wish to see in the world”
  • “Lead by example”

 

Case Study:

Los hijos del fin del mundo (The Children of the End of the World)

hijosfindelmundo

See trailer: http://www.loshijosdelfindelmundo.com/

Activist and documentary film maker couple Geraldine Ovando and Emiliano Longo come from La Paz, Bolivia. Together they have traveled around the world filming the stories of people living in places with “alternative” visions for development. In many of the sites they visit, human beings work together using creative strategies to systemically address ecological and social dilemmas. In these innovative spaces, people have found ways to collectively improve their livelihoods and care for the environment. In other words, their documentary explores ‘interstices’.

Throughout the film a wide range of examples are investigated. Their documentary begins in Spain, in a self- made natural building housing project. Then, they see two communal urban agricultural projects including “Esta es una plaza” in Madrid and a sprawling urban garden for Airport taxi drivers in Barcelona. In Egypt they explore Sekem, an integrated multifarious community which is also working to reverse desertification by growing crops in extremely arid region northeast of Cairo. Members of the sustainable ‘peace research’ community of Tamera in Portugal teach them about the value of traditional knowledge, which they feel is increasingly being lost or forgotten in much of Europe. In France, they see a community supported agriculture (CSA) organic farming project as well “off-grid” sustainable housing venture.

Each one of these projects demonstrate successful community efforts to think differently about urbanization, public spaces and housing questions. All of them involve high levels of participation and anti-hegemonic methodologies. In other words, people are naturally drawn to the logic and appeal of these unique ideas and so they join voluntarily. Not because anyone has forced or coerced them into doing so.

loshijos_2The full documentary can be seen on youtube.com or additionally “The Children of the End of the World” is occasionally screened free of charge at the Casa Espejo (Mirror House) in La Paz. Now that their film is finished, Geraldine and Emiliano have essentially transformed their home into a community center where many types of outreach programs are taking place. They host everything from a film club (always followed by invigorating discussion groups), to cultural events (including dance and art exhibitions) to permaculture workshops (which teach people how to compost and maintain an urban garden of their own). Moreover, they have compiled a list of emails and are constantly radicalizing their supporters by promoting local events related to their interests.

By reaching out to share their knowledge and lessons learned, engaging local youth and other community members through Casa Espejo, Geraldine and Emiliano have constructively blasted an ‘interstice’ of their very own into their hometown of La Paz, Bolivia.


 

 Further reading:

Collaboration
Elemental – a design and building company in Chile
Favela Painting in Brazil
Hábitat para la Mujer, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Rímac Reborn Project

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