ZEMOS98 is a small team which has been playing a cross-sectoral role from the South of Europe in the last 8 years in issues such as the commons, new media and contemporary culture to achieve a more participative and inclusive society. ZEMOS98 organizes different types of processes (encounters, meetings, festivals, hackcamps, etc.) in which its mediating role takes place to foster connections and ties between civil society actors such as activists, artists, academics, journalists, public institutions and private Foundations. In all these activities there is always a priority which is connected to the mission: how to create collective intelligence, how to foster collaborative practices and how to prototype forms of open source knowledge.
There are many intangible and valuable long-term outcomes related to the knowledge exchange side of these practices, but documentation is also a crucial outcome of ZEMOS98’s mission and its Theory of Change: ‘it is imperative to document and to share many of these contemporary forms of cooperative behaviour: through videos, books, online platforms, etc.’
The ZEMOS98 team cover a heterogeneous range of skills and knowledge areas such as participatory processes, peer facilitation, storytelling, new media, political media literacy, feminism and the commons. This variety is part of the singularity of the organization as well as its weakness to be supported by traditional funders. By supporting an unconventional organization like ZEMOS98, we hope to send a message to other possible funders that contemporary activism has to go beyond a compartmentalised view of the world. Moreover, the organisation inculcates feminist values in every project it does. This is an important value which has to be cared and supported. The feminisation of politics is an unstoppable tendency which has to be maintained not only by institutional policies but by civil society agents. ZEMOS98 understands that experimentation is crucial in testing new democratic formulas which include more transparency, participation and openness.
The Guerrilla Grant
We are funding the “Caring for the Commons” project, an Interdisciplinary Research on Care Economy, Collaborative Activism and Open Source Democracy which has a main goal to map and to make visible, care practices and affective management from activists or other collective social agents. Many of the contemporary social struggles we know have a productive and a reproductive side. The productive side has been researched and it is always the main scope of the projects ZEMOS98 undertake: level of impact, advocacy level, tangible achievements, etc. But the reproductive side is always crucial when it comes to activism. How are affects being managed within a community? How are horizontality or power relationships shaped in a different way than the standard? How trust appears or how it doesn’t? “Caring for the Commons” wants to explore and to map how cooperation, mutual support and interdependence work in activist communities.
Finally, “Caring for the Commons” will not be a self-help book for activists. It is also not a hippie celebration of love and peace. And it will not be an unquestionable feminist manifesto. They will not avoid conflicts and contradictions as part of the research and will try to create a very technical and useful document for those who want to apply real changes in their communities related to their “care economy”.
Why is this Important?
Without care, life is impossible. Life cannot be “productive” without a care centered economy. If we have been “productive” in the deeply problematic capitalist system, it is thanks to the fact that we care for others, what some have labelled as an “unproductive” action: domestic work, the reproduction of labor. Without care, working life could not exist in a market economy, although these practices are not visible. This invisible work has been done by women (and here «women» can be also understood as minorities). Neither state nor market have managed to cover a fundamental need: the right to be cared for/of.
And unfortunately, even if this has been experimented by some communities, this happens also within the context of the activism. That’s why it’s so urgent to explore some of these practices in order to share recipes for a realistic and applicable care centered economy in activist & movement building contexts.