Laboratories of Care is a collective project that will gather a group of activists working from different areas and backgrounds to expose the way care is being managed in social organisations. After the assessment and development phase, five Laboratories of Care (small practical experiments) will happen in different organisations in Europe to test tools, methodologies and mechanisms that help to produce an effective redistribution of care and power within them. These will help to foster a diverse European community of commons and caring politics from social movements, research institutions and municipal platforms.
There will be a kickstart design meeting (November 2019) where we will gather a group of fifteen participants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives on care in the movements: experts in feminist economy, activists working in cultural and social movements from different fields and representatives of other initiatives. We will produce a set of adaptable methodologies and tools to address the challenges in different contexts. These tools will be tested and implemented during the Laboratories of Care, from January to April 2020. Laboratories of Care will deepen in the culture of work we develop, either through formal rules or informal agreements, while we are struggling for an equitable world.
In previous experiences, we have found that these topics are usually buried under the ‘productive’ side of the struggles, and that the work of people who are caring and working towards a more distributed participation is usually invisible and isolated. Exploring our current cultures of work and pushing them to develop new participatory mechanisms that take into account power dynamics and care redistribution can help us to produce deep transformations in the political and cultural sphere across Europe. The results of the different laboratories will be widely shared through the production of different replicable contents, such as short videos, articles and illustrations.
While the European political landscape is being constantly challenged by waves of anti-democratic, nationalistic and xenophobic claims; social movements and organisations in different cities of Europe are shaping new politics sustained by innovative organisational cultures that can better address the challenges we are facing as a society. By organising around grassroot political civic platforms, municipalism or commons initiatives, many of them are finding new principles for meaningful participation, tools to develop critical thinking or spaces to share learnings in a peer-to-peer way. At the same time, these organisations are usually making an effort to connect with experiences in other European countries, and to share adaptable strategies to their contexts.
While this political culture flourishes in many places, there is a need to address the material conditions that make this precious work possible. If we want to make our social, cultural and political struggles sustainable, care is a central aspect to pay attention to. We need to unveil the way care and affections are being managed in organisations in order to produce a genuine redistribution of care, which ultimately means a redistribution of power. By working to make it visible, we will improve both participatory mechanisms – allowing bigger ranges of members to participate in an equal basis – and the sustainability of the organisations producing real transformations to acknowledge its centrality.
Laboratories of Care is a project coordinated by Shelagh Wright (UK), Peter Jenkinson (UK), Igor Stokfiszewski (Krytyka Polityczna, Poland), Sergi Escribano (Commonspolis, Spain), Sofía Coca (ZEMOS98, Spain) and Lucas Tello (ZEMOS98, Spain). It is funded by a FundAction Renew Grant for systemic change initiatives and by the Democracy needs imagination call by the European Cultural Foundation.