Last Week Tonight in the Anthropocene

Last week, we had some lovely visitors from NYC, Stephanie, Glenn and Clark, who have developed a community hub focused on “building autonomy in the Anthropocene” called Woodbine (woodbine.nyc). Their presentation enlightened us on their thought process behind Woodbine, the journey of actually creating the community, outlined what a “hub” is, and actually gave inspirational advice on ways to build autonomy in our own lives or even to bring the community together through the creation of our own hubs.

davies-woodbine-flyerI personally thought the presentation was perfection. A lot of the time, I feel the conversations we have in class are very abstract and post-modernist in that the things we talk about things and the conclusions we come to can’t really be applied to the vast majority of people trying to cope with the Anthropocene, so I really appreciated the creative and thoughtful way in which Stephanie, Glenn and Clark have concretized their ideas and created something real, helpful, and empowering out of their discussions.

Autonomy in the Anthropocene is something we’ve discussed, but in ways that are traditionally revolutionary—like overthrowing the powers that govern us and creating a more equal, but essentially libertarian society—but perhaps unrealistic. Woodbine, on the other hand, acknowledges our lack of real independence or freedom and the immense power that corporations and structural systems of hierarchy/control have over us and chooses to create a community-based, grassroots revolution. This revolution, instead of purporting chaos and an immediate, radical restructuring of society, says that in order to gain back our power as communities and individuals, we first need to become independent—itself a radical idea in America, where our belief in our own independence and freedom is paradoxically used as a form of social control.

Though when asked if this was their intention when they created Woodbine the founders responded no, the same idea of autonomy from those with power over you being the first step has been the basis of political and social revolutions before (the feminist movement comes to mind for me) and the skills taught at Woodbine could eventually allow people to embrace that potential. I think that in a society where not everyone feels they can connect with more artistic expressions of what life in the Anthropocene means, a community like Woodbine is an awesome way of equalizing society in a way everyone could get behind.

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