Blogs >> COMMUNITY FOR TRANSFORMATIVE POLITICAL PRACTICE: the start of a new Schumacher Worldwide collaboration with Brazil

COMMUNITY FOR TRANSFORMATIVE POLITICAL PRACTICE: the start of a new Schumacher Worldwide collaboration with Brazil

Patrica Shaw

The Yellow House is in downtown Sao Paolo, the only human scale building amid the concrete towers that press on all sides. The street frontage is narrow but the house is deep. It belongs to the family of Ricardo Young, a member of Sao Paolo's city council and a sustainability activist in Brazil. I arrived there with Riccardo and two Schumacher alumni, Izabella Ceccato and Juliana Schneider. We gained access by a side passage arriving first at the retail space filled with craftwork from all over Brazil - pottery, textiles, painting, sculpture and jewellery, all original pieces where the lion's share of the selling price goes to the maker not the retailer.  Further down the passage way is an organic coffee shop run by Ricardo's daughter and finally a gallery space, the responsibility of Ricardo's brother which houses a magnificent bequest, a collection of artefacts from the Amazon indigenous peoples, dating from before their first contacts with the rest of the world.

Today we are inaugurating this gallery as a workshop space to explore the question of how we can prepare and educate ourselves for a revitalised politics. Already the Yellow House has become a meeting place for a group of people that Ricardo has convened, inspired by a week he spent at Schumacher college in Spring this year. He joined part of a 3 week elective course I was offering for students on the Holistic Science and the Economics for Transition Masters courses where our inquiry concerned Working Live - taking a lead in the midst of complexity. As Ricardo participated with us in open dialogue sessions and in our own 'occupy' experiments as we worked to show how long disused buildings on the Dartington estate could be brought creatively to life for a day, he was confirmed in his sense that a new form of participatory politics in Brazil needed the support of an educational endeavour. When he raised this idea with Jon Rae  and myself he was met with unhesitating interest. Without knowing what form all this might take, another Schumacher Worldwide collaboration was born.

That kind of mutual recognition that says YES to emerging joint endeavours was strengthened and given further form during the workshop days at the Yellow House. Many of the people gathered there have been involved in Marina da Silva's presidential campaign which gained considerable momentum in seeking to unite people around common concerns for life on this earth, even though the status quo reasserted itself on polling day.  The people I met at the Yellow House have been drawn into politics at this level for the first time after being involved in many different sustainability initiatives and local
projects. Everyone is learning and questionning their experience – how not to fall unawares into the stale patterns and habits of existing political life. We recognised that a new community is developing; a Community for Transformative Political Practice.  We looked around and realised that we already have much practical experience, we have elders and young energy, we have a meeting place, we have the perfect platform to organise and communicate information (Eco Rede Social an initiative begun by Izabella Ceccato, now in partnership with Ricardo Young), we are already organising events, meetings, articles, lectures and experiences to support those taking a visible lead in many
different kinds of public space.

Suddenly it became clear that the OPEN SHORT COURSE AT SCHUMACHER COLLEGE IN FEBRUARY 2015 CALLED FOR LOVE OF THE WORLD: TOWARDS A TAO OF POLITICS? was already one of these events. A crowd funding campaign is already in full swing to support a whole group of Brazilians to join and contribute to that week in February.

The political philosopher Hannah Arendt says: Politics is to venture forth in word and deed in the public realm in the company of our fellows and in bonds of mutual trust.

We are looking forward to a week when we will enhance our capacities for this work.