On June 5, you are invited to meet Deceleration. Join our co-editors and community advisors to learn more about what we do, what we aspire to do and why, and how we can support collective efforts to create buen vivir para todxs: a good life for all.
Greg and I started Deceleration several years ago out of a desire to imagine new ways of responding to ecological, political, and personal crisis. For his part, Greg sought to move beyond a climate journalism dogged by the despair of cataloguing an endless accumulation of catastrophe. And I had been chewed up and spat out by a certain reactive mode of community organizing which internalizes oppressive logics of productivity and self-sacrifice, jumping from fire to fire without rest or reflection.
In the face of crisis, both of us wondered: How do we create collective space for analysis and reflection as well as action? And how do we then direct that praxis—the coming together of thought and action—beyond just saying no? How do we redirect some of that vast, often wheel-spinning energy we expend on fighting back and use it instead on what the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative calls fighting forward?
Ultimately, we asked, what do we want to say yes to? And how can we begin to build what we long for, together, compelled by desire and pleasure rather than despair and anxiety?
For a deeper dive into the embodied theory/praxis that informs Deceleration, see this essay, originally published in Academic Labor: Research and Artistry. Or, if you prefer, click the play button below to listen to a recent interview I did for “No Alibis,” a radio program on UC Santa Barbara’s KCSB. My segment starts at 20:33, but I’ve included the full broadcast because the second part–an interview with UCSB Global Studies professor Charmaine Chua and UCLA musicologist Shana Redmond on abolition and the Cops Off Campus Coalition–is so critical right now and always.
And yet for many years, Deceleration remained something we did on the side of everything else we were doing—working, parenting, writing, organizing. But in the upheavals of 2020, something shifted, both in the world and within us. We’d been talking for awhile about doing Deceleration full time (or, at least, full time between the two of us). But in 2020, we finally decided to try for real. At the end of the year I left my day job. We gathered together a group of folks we respect to join us as community advisors. And we filed for nonprofit status.
All of this was done with the goal of finally getting on a regular production schedule to reliably deliver environmental justice news and analysis for the South Texas bioregion. We’re not there yet, but we’re closer.
Earlier this spring, when we met up with our advisors for the first time, someone suggested we introduce ourselves to the community in an official way, maybe coinciding with Earth Day. While an April timeline proved too ambitious, another annual celebration, equally apropos if lesser known, soon presented itself: Global Degrowth Day.
As described by its organizers, Global Degrowth Day is a way of highlighting simultaneous public efforts around the world to create “alternatives to a growth-based society” and demonstrate that “a good life for all is possible!”
As they explain here:
A good life for all requires a way of doing business and a form of society that aim at the well-being of all people and fellow creatures and protect the ecological basis of life. This can only be achieved by a fundamental change in our current mode of living and production as well as a comprehensive cultural change. For us, the values of such a society include mindfulness, deceleration, solidarity and cooperation in order to make possible a self-determined life in dignity for all. As necessary further steps we see among other things … the orientation towards sufficiency and a reduction of production and consumption in the Global North. We also need to develop more democratic forms of decision-making to enable genuine political participation, and to reduce global structures of domination and exploitation, such as racism, sexism and neo-colonialism, so that everyone can actually participate in the good life. Such an approach is also called degrowth or post-growth.
Though we took our name before degrowth began to make a mark in US environmental movements, the passage above makes clear that “deceleration” is a key degrowth-inspired value. Rather than the drive for endless expansion, profit, and speed that characterize our experience of time within capitalism, we aim to slow down to the pace and scale of ecological time, organizing economies around wellbeing, care, and respect for each other and for planetary limits. This is the horizon, then, for which we fight forward.
As it turns out, care is also the theme selected by organizers for this year’s Global Degrowth Day. As they write:
The COVID-19 pandemic has made all the more evident what feminists have long argued: care work is the foundation of our economy and society. This work is not only domestic or provided via the market or the state, but it is also communitarian and ecological work. Care work is essential to the well-being of people and ecosystems in all societies. To recognize this means to accept and honor our dependency on webs of relationships to others, near and far, and to ecosystems. To transform society, care for humans and the environment must be at the center of degrowth’s political vision.
So, this Global Degrowth Day, join us for a virtual meet and greet! Learn more about our vision and plans, and share with us what you work on. Pitch us a story idea. Ask us a question. Let us know what you want to see on the site and how we can support your efforts to create a good life for all. Sit down for a spell. Slow your roll. Eat a snack.
As far as we can tell, this is the only Degrowth Day event organized for this hemisphere, so come thru!