We Weave and Heft by the River

We Weave and Heft by the River is an all night event by the Coastal Reading Group (Bibi Calderaro, Christos Galanis, & Margaretha Haughwout) that explores ways to grieve the tremendous loss of non-human species that are passing away and being actively killed during this specific historic, geologic, cultural moment in time. It premiered at the Landscape Language and Sublime Symposium and Creative Gathering at Schumacher College in Devon England at the end of June 2016.

Massive environmental shifts are usually described to us in terms of data or through curated images, such as a polar bear on a piece of ice. For this event we wondered at how to even begin holding an affective space for species we might not even know.

In a relational, all night vigil conducted around an outdoor fire we talked and listened and worked our hands around materials sourced from animals and plants nearby. Processes were tried, conversations and questions absorbed us.

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A shared inquiry for us was whether this kind of collective grieving has any halting effect on capitalist progress at all. Grief slows everything down and highlights what is most important. Capitalism relies on a blur of speed and forward motion to avoid the ever accumulating loss.

Our schedule:
Part 1:
08:30p
– Begin fire
10-1p
– Introductions
– Coastal Reading Group speak / read / weave
– Participants share stories/memories and speak with seed beads, plants materials and wool

Part 2:
1-4p
– Active listening by the fire, small groups/ napping

Part 3:
4-7a
– More weaving of materials and stories, words and silences
– Bury seed beads, plant materials and wool in meadow near event site
– Close

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There were many stories and memories of plants, insects, humans and animals from the different decades that participants lived through. There was what Virginia Mackay, a participant in the event, calls “welling”; there was also despair, anguish, appreciation, silence and reckoning — all threads to and from grief. Our questions deepened.

At dawn we buried a co-created object that was made amidst our memories and silences in a meadow near to where we held our conversation.

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