Hello! Thank you for opening this page and reading these words. The following is an excerpt from the preface of Press Press and Institute for Expanded Research’s Toolkit for Cooperative, Collective, & Collaborative Cultural Work, a publication that was released in May of 2020.
The materials in Toolkit for Cooperative, Collective, & Collaborative Cultural Work trace a process we have been working through from 2018 - 2020 with collaborators, mentors, and friends whom we admire. As we reached the final stages of compiling this project to share and distribute publicly, we suddenly found ourselves within the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health crisis has shaken our community, our process, every aspect of our lives, and heightened existing inequities in the United States. Against this tumultuous backdrop, a broad coalition of activists within the Black Lives Matter movement organized powerful uprisings across the world in response to ongoing state-sanctioned terror and violence against Black and Brown communities. In the wake of the pandemic and the summer of uprisings that followed, we are reminded that at the heart of our work lies the understanding that wellbeing, integrity, equity, and care is our collective responsibility. We are reminded of the teachings of our mentors and the ways that radical and effective social change movements have been organized in solidarity with dispersed communities across the globe, and more recently through digital and internet-based platforms. We are reminded that communities have survived and thrived through independent networks of cooperation, gift and barter-based economies and that we cannot and should not see our physical isolation as the limiting of our power to organize. We are reminded that in solidarity and in collaboration with others we can organize to build incredible cultural institutions, businesses, communities, and livelihoods that are essential to transforming our worlds. If anything, this moment proves exactly this: we have the potential to shape our futures.
In centering collective working methods that are so counter to the ideologies and frameworks that are encountered daily in a capitalist society, Toolkit aims to honor and embrace our fundamental interconnectivity and interdependence as human beings. We offer this toolkit with the hope that it may remind us of the strength we have together, within our communities and as a collective; that it may contribute to our practices of being together even when we are dispersed; and that it may affirm, if it wasn’t already deeply evident, just how fundamental our bonds with one another are for our survival and our flourishing. However, our toolkit in its current form is far from complete. We need you to join our effort to rebuild and adapt this work to your worlds. In this spirit, we leave you with a few unanswered questions that are on our minds: What does this period of our heightened awareness of bodily vulnerability put into focus? How can we build intimacy into our collective work over digital space? Where are you finding joy, grounding, and calm throughout this time? What does our future look like?
Thank you for joining us!
Kimi Hanauer, Press Press
Lu Zhang, Institute for Expanded Research
Read or download the full PDF at www.toolkit.press.