Futures generated by the Assembly
a love letter to 2020
Thank you for joining us for this one-of a kind event.
I know you’ve travelled a long, strange way to be here and you must be so ready for a break from 2020.
I’m speaking to you from the Sovereign Yuin nation on the south coast of what you’d have called New South Wales. Since the treaty handbacks started we don’t use that name much anymore, and I can’t say anyone misses it.
So, you’ve been shifted nine years forward; it’s July 2029; which is not such a huge traverse when you think about it; 3285 days and nights. And the reason each of you have been brought here will become clearer as we go, but for me it’s really simple: it’s so I can say thank you, deeply, for all of the things you did during those three thousand days and nights.
Because we’re not so far down the timeline, a lot about 2029 will seem very familiar to you. The NBN is still absolutely shit, Fremantle still haven’t won a flag and the weather is a real mess. But you already know that the 2020s are going to be an impossibly turbulent decade so there’s a lot for us to cover.
To get the big picture stuff out of the way early, I want you to know; we did it.
It looks like we turned the ship. I know it’s hard to believe. But here we are: the last coal-burner got turned off three years ago; this is a renewable continent now; we’re even exporting clean energy to the north.
Emissions are back to where they were in about 1994 and trending slowly down thanks to a global replanting programme that I believe some people here today had a bit to do with.
So, the collapse scenarios that the doomers insisted were inevitable; turns out they weren’t, because nothing is. We’re not living in some rosy utopia here obviously, but something much more messy, and interesting, between these imaginary extremes.
Now in the time-zone you’ve just arrived from, I know it feels like you have more urgent problems than gas balances in the atmosphere. A world in the grip of the most dangerous pandemic in a century, the United States descending into fascism, and a locust economy going into cardiac arrest. In our own colonial corner of the world the white supremacist mask is slipping. It’s a big time. What I want to say is: hold on to each other. It gets weirder and harder yet, but you have to hold on; on the other side of the white water there’s the possibility of a more even flow.
That thing of history coming in lurches and lulls and stops and starts; that’s an old pattern, maybe one of the oldest there is. It never repeats, because nothing is ever the same, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rhythms and symmetries that show up over and over. That’s one of the things the pandemic taught us; tiny causes can have massive consequences if they line up with stress fractures and larger weaknesses in structures that seem outwardly solid.
So how’s this for a tiny cause: a virus particle 0.1 micron in diameter is about to wipe $25 trillion off the expected profits of the most powerful fossil fuel companies in the world; they’re going to fall like dominos, taking down exposed banks and insurance companies until finally the whole structure caves in. The corona depression breaks the spine of capitalism and opens a fleeting moment of space for something new.
A friend of mine used to say that in a crisis the first person with a plan on the table wins. For the first time in memory, the first people with a plan didn’t look or sound anything like the people whose plans we’d been following since colonisation.
This was something different; a post-capitalist uprising, leaderless and somehow everywhere, bigger and richer than our brittle nationalisms could contain. A global grassroots network called the Progressive International serving as a mediator, clearinghouse and organising lattice for social movements all over the world to link arms in common cause. This new freedom is not given willingly, it is ceded reluctantly, with spite and violence, and because we are organised for the first time, we are equal to it.
Try and imagine what happens when the media oligarchs that drenched us in race hate, disinformation and division for our whole lives hit the wall and are placed in the hands of receivers, some of them in the hands of prosecutors. You don’t realise how loud the consumerist shriek is inside your head until it’s suddenly gone, and now we can hear ourselves think for the first time. The quiet is delicious. We can hear each other’s common humanity. We can hear music and voices raised from parts of the world we’d been drowning out.
I know it sounds like a small thing but when it happens it changes everything: seamless online translation of voice and text between the world’s languages. One of the most enduring barriers to the arising of a truly global civil society is gracefully transformed into a strength almost overnight; the mass extinction of language and song is brought back from the brink at the same time as our hands in the soil are holding back the other mass extinction. Finally, we can hear each other, and that, in combination with the sudden absence of amplified hate speech swamping the airwaves, breaks the white supremacist spell.
We close the internment camps. Not by asking nicely; in a few places we show up and physically push the fences down with borrowed earthmoving equipment, but they are closed and staying closed.
It’s kind of weird that this is all unfolding almost exactly a hundred years after the 20th century Great Depression, but some form of deeply embedded collective memory held us back from making the same mistakes twice. Instead of using the tools of central planning and socialism to save capitalism and unleash it in an even stronger form, we’re using them to dismantle its predatory architectures and provide a dignified life for everyone. All the ideas that had been subsisting at the margins – universal income support alongside universal healthcare, education and housing – those were the first plans on the table in a crisis, and so they prevailed. Not by asking nicely; this takes hundreds of millions of us; by far the largest civil society mobilisations in history, globally networked and with a blissful absence of white saviour leader figures to attack and co-opt, it’s unstoppable.
I don’t know if anything I’m telling you sounds implausible or unlikely; but if you don’t believe me there are a couple of things I’d ask you to look for when you get home to 2020.
First thing is, notice emboldened voices from the margins; people the mainstream has been stepping on and silencing since forever; notice how they’ve been finding their voices and linking arms and not taking shit; it’s not that they haven’t been doing that all along, but that widening cracks in the neoliberal armour mean others can hear them more clearly. These voices are in the process of moving from the periphery to the centre, needing only that moment of historical slippage.
Second – this one’s an easy one – a mass movement of children organising their way toward a global strike. I mean it’s kind of obvious when you think about it; the movement leaders of the 2020s and 2030s had already brought six million people out onto the streets before they’d left high school. They weren’t on holiday during the pandemic, it turns out they were studying movement theory, strategy and history. They have learned a thing or two from organised labour about the power of the strike, and my favourite thing is what happens when organised labour learns it back from these kids, and rolls it out in every time-zone at once.
Third thing is, try to imagine the power you get when the world’s largest, youngest and newest social movement joins its strength with some of the world’s oldest and most storied; the original rebels against extinction who have been resisting dispossession and genocide in some places for five hundred years. Look for signs that middle class environmental and social justice organisers are hearing the Sovereignty message clearly for the first time. That’s a clue that what’s about to unfold is going to be deeper and more enduring than what’s come before it, because it’s going to be carrying the generational memory of our whole species with it this time.
When it starts to unfold that’s how you’ll know it’s the real thing; because it will wear this lineage so proudly. A movement for justice and peace, ecology and democracy, grounded in the oldest living cultures on earth. Hundreds of years in the making, carried forward now by a generation of children determined to seize their own century.
My time with you is nearly done. The reason I feel so honoured to be able to speak with you today is to be able to say to each of you, thank you, for everything you’ve done, and everything you’re about to do, to make this sliver of possibility a reality.
Whatever it is, whatever crazy project or collaboration, whatever is that thing that scares you in just the right way, when you get home, do it. You have to do it
You’ll find the others making their own way, make common cause with them. It’s 2029. Our human family is eight decades into the anthropocene. It feels like the centre is holding.
Because of you, and what you’re about to do, it finally feels like we’re home.
And Country Spoke Through Them
By Z. Cumpston
Elders Anthology of Australian Poetry, 2020-2029
(Assembly for the Future Press, Narrm, Australia, 2029)
we were all sick
left too many floating
a nether world
only skimming over the top
perched on the edges
of this island
(as though they all knew one day
they might have to make a run for it)
it hurt to be hurt and hurt more
to be told you weren’t
and then the Corona Depression
dismantled almost everything
slow at first
broke the spine
and we started to listen
and all the truth we told
got in through the cracks
pulled up the foundations
seeping into our everyday
bringing so much
and then knowing
strange bedfellows le
dismantling predatory architectures
artists and farmers in their villages
broken systems cast them aside
changed how we saw culture and Country
they fed the soil
returning what was there
no longer floating
and Country spoke through them
whether they knew or not
the truth no longer on the win
deep within our hearts
and our children
with the goodness of yam in their tummies
language in their eye
soil under their nails
are taught by Elders
and teach Elders
the truth in the soil
the sweet smell of kangaroo grass bread
signals the new day
Future generated by Christy, Sarah, David, Kirsten, Elizabeth, Natalie, Imogen and Zena
Future generated by Liesel, Ian, Louise, Mark, Carol, Jessie and Lawrence
Selected Artefacts from En-Neighbour-ling Exhibition, The Museum of Enabling, August-November 2029
Compiled by Amber Hammill
Transcript of TextTalk (live text relay) – Borough Open Door July 2029
stored at lnw://opendoor.myborough
Hello and welcome to our third Open Door for 2029. Is everyone capturing me ok? Yes? No? Yes? Yes? Ok. Great.
I’m Amber, I’m a member of the Open Door Collective this year and I’ll be hosting the session this morning on behalf of the Collective. We’re delighted to be together with you all. I know we’re all joining across a few different languages today using SimTran and TextTalk, so however you’re listening in, on behalf of the whole borough: bienvenidos; yōkoso; nau mai, haere mai.
The whole borough so looks forward to welcoming residents to our reclaimed homes. I know it seems like a long time since the rent strike and the landlord eviction, but we had so much work to do to turn these dwellings from commodities into homes. Thanks to everyone in this and the other boroughs for their vision and labour in bringing these homes to life. As you will find them now, they are clean, warm and dry. They are connected to our local grid which they draw from and contribute to. They’re efficient, they’re re-greened and they are yours for as long as you need and care for them. Welcome home.
What we’re going to focus on this morning is each other. It’s great to see you’ve all connected with your en-Neighbour-ler – I think all of you managed to meet up yesterday? That doesn’t always work quite so smoothly, so that’s a great start. Of course, the course of our Open Door sessions we’ll get a chance to look at all our co-mutiny tools – the time bank, the forum, the knowledge works, production spaces and the things and stuff library, and of course the lnw – the local neighbourhood web. But arriving here, in this place, today, gives us a unique moment of connection which we can share and cherish, a network we can hold tightly in this moment, even knowing that it can or might or must, over time, become part of the shimmering periphery of our lives in the borough.
You’ve all come from different places and will, no doubt, have your own stories of the work – the replanting and energy transformation – and of the Struggle and the Healing. We’d love to hear about those – as much or as little as you want to share. Sharing and listening is central to our living democracy and evolution as a species. The borough is, and always will be, a work in progress. It is what we make it. I know some of you have family and friends here already who are planning to join us later this morning and get out with us for a bit of an orientation walk and you can see what we’ve made of it so far.
So, in this spirit of connection and place-making, I’ll ask you and your en-Neighbour-ler to say hi around the table, meet one other again or for the first time, and make yourselves at home. We’ve got until half past, so loads of time. If you have any tech trouble, just shout, but it looks like things are working ok for now?
Ok. I’m going to get a cuppa from up the back there and come say hello! en-Neighbour-lers, do you magic!
[transmission transfers from speaker]
Future generated by Samira, Scotia, Ying, Lisa,Brendan, Caddie, Kuldeep, Sophie and Amber
The New Sun Times
July 23, 2029
The Great Awakening
By Tim Baker
Good Evening, and here is the news.
We lead this bulletin, as we have every day since the Great Awakening five years ago today, with the astonishing news that ten billion humans co-existed harmoniously today without harming themselves, each other and the biosphere they depend on for life. This number, at which the human population has stabilised, has also proven the healthy carrying capacity of the planet in this new era, in which all are able to be fed, housed, educated and allowed to flourish with dignity and humanity.
(News Unlimited, 7pm Good News, July 17th 2029)
It is hard to believe that just over five years ago, the news consisted of gathering the most awful things and events that had happened anywhere in the world that day and broadcasting them to as many people as possible, as if to convince ourselves of the inherent misery of the human condition. Today we celebrate the global rejection of this destructive folly and the remarkable elevation to a higher collective consciousness which occurred with apparent spontaneity around the world five years ago.
While this Great Awakening may have appeared spontaneous, it had its roots in the Pandemic of 2020. Forced into lockdown, stripped of the false identity and prestige of jobs, income, material trinkets and diversion, compelled to take an inner journey during forced isolation time and again, throughout the second and third waves of 2020 and 2021, it was as if humanity was being forced to repeat its lessons until it had finally learned them.
Today, as we approach a decade since the beginning of this transformative process, and five years since the Great Awakening, we celebrate some of the milestones along this evolutionary ascent.
One of the unlikely heroes of the movement was former model and widow of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Hall, who inherited his media empire upon his mysterious death in a hot tub on their private super yacht moored in the Caribbean. While many had puzzled at their unlikely pairing, Ms Hall appeared to adapt to widowhood as if her whole life had been leading to this point, transforming his global media empire from a toxic swamp of vested interests and the repeated hi-jacking of democracy, to an endless wellspring of uplifting inspiration and a daily catalogue of the world’s most positive developments. Some speculated at the time that Ms Hall had been playing “the long game” all the time, to use her inheritance for good rather than the evil it had become widely despised for.
Changing the title of the corporation her late husband founded to News Unlimited, Ms Hall led a revolution in what became known as the “good news media” and “positive journalism”, which itself took its inspiration from the Reasons To Be Cheerful website founded by former Talking Heads front-man, David Byrne. Through its various media channels, News Unlimited spread a daily diet of the most exciting and inspiring developments from around the world that heralded the dawning of a new era. Advances in renewable energy technology, insights into the traditional wisdom of First Nations people from around the world, environmental and social justice initiatives, every victory by human rights activists, every forest saved, every humanitarian crisis averted or alleviated by swift collective action, great art works created, constant updates on a new child-friendly educational revolution that was sweeping the planet. The combined effect of this avalanche of good news was nothing short of a radical shift in humanity’s self-perception, its astounding potential for good and the awesome power of acting with a united vision of the common good.
The global media market, both consumers and advertisers, soon developed an unquenchable thirst for this positivity and rapidly awakened to the fact that they had been poisoning themselves, and the democratic process, with the daily intake of misery and propaganda formerly peddled by Murdoch’s media empire. Without News Limited’s corrupting influence, a truly representative democracy flourished in his once-key markets of the US, UK and Australia, ushering in a wave of new politicians able to truly enact the will of the people for the greater good. First Nations leaders naturally arose to the fore in this untainted environment, espousing traditional wisdom that resonated deeply with an electorate wearied by the harrowing cycles of pandemic lockdowns and the unsustainable illusion of an economic model unfit for purpose. The veil was drawn back, revealing a rancid system serving the interests of a few, propped up by corrupt Government sleights-of-hand and the revolving door of corporate lobbyists and government advisers playing a cynical game of musical chairs at the expense of the people and the planet.
The other key development from the Pandemic Period was the broad adoption of a Universal Basic Income, even by reluctant conservative governments, to prevent economic collapse, which soon proved so popular and practical that it became impossible to repeal post-Pandemic. Rather than producing populations of bludgers as the rabid right-wing commentariat warned and blustered against with increasing desperation, the UBI inspired a great blossoming of the arts, local organic food production, a sense of community, rapid improvements in public health and housing, advances in technology. Freed of the constricting yoke of the economic imperative, people naturally applied their energies to their passions, interests and fields of excellence. People had not one vocation but many in parallel or in succession, shifting from the arts to farming to care and social work as their moods and interests and expertise and society’s needs directed them. The cancelling of foreign debt allowed so-called developing countries to make rapid advances in all quality-of- life indices.
The other key outcome of the pandemic was a widespread embrace of meditation. Trapped in their homes for extended periods, tapping into online resources for support, many discovered the nourishing effects of going within, finding stillness and cultivating inner peace even as their outer worlds morphed often beyond recognition. Even after restrictions were lifted, many found meditation a key coping strategy for the uncertainties of their new reality. Soon, it was being taught in schools and workplaces, regarded as essential for human health as diet and exercise. In fact, a new catchcry emerged in the post-Pandemic world, celebrating a new holistic paradigm of selfcare: “I just need to take my M.E.D.S. Meditation, Exercise, Diet, Sleep.” The savings and relief on the public purse and health care system freed up more resources for preventative and educational health strategies around the world.
Technological solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental problems flourished as a new cooperative spirit usurped the old competitive model of free market capitalism. Coal fired power stations toppled like dominos, along with the rapacious corporations which no longer had a place in this re-aligned world, their ruthless profit motives abruptly exposed as sociopathic and inhumane.
The central role of the Arts in promoting human flourishing across all societies was one of the defining features of this post-Pandemic era. Instead of pop culture super stars amassing vast fortunes while most arts workers struggled on the poverty line, artistic instincts were allowed to shine – flowing, meandering, spreading throughout society like water over floodplains, depositing a nourishing silt that enriched the lives of all community members. Artistic expression became as natural and universal as cheering on sporting teams had once been. House concerts, street parties, community festivals and seasonal celebrations became common place as natural markers of special occasions in our human and natural calendars.
One of the most sweeping transformations occurred in the global food system, where the onus of regulation and accreditation and compliance was shifted from organic to non-organic foods. Farmers who used chemical fertilisers and pesticides and other damaging and unsustainable practices had to meticulously document every unhealthy feature of their production and build them into their costs. All food was organic unless otherwise labelled, and this one simple shift made chemical-based monocultures unviable and the switch to organic farming ushered in a stunning improvement in human health, more productive and fulfilling vocations and a connection to the natural environment and seasonal cycles that soon permeated every aspect of society. Food and livestock were no longer transported vast distances for consumption on the other side of the world. People awaited the arrival of tomato, mango or watermelon seasons with relish and celebrated with local festivals and gatherings. Street and public plantings were largely food producing so that no one went hungry. A new embrace of native foods allowed food production in once unviable areas, providing meaningful employment and restoring eco-systems.
Along with all these sweeping changes, crime plummeted, prisons stood empty and some were converted to public housing, community colleges or artists’ studios. With the increased vigour and health that soon infected the population, walking and cycling flourished, roads grew quiet, air pollution became a thing of the past, marvelled at by a younger generation aghast at the crude and clumsy excesses of their forebears. The re-direction of unneeded military expenditure was ploughed into universal health care, education, housing and the arts.
In a society so radically transformed in so short a time, you might expect the populace to be disoriented, beset with anxieties over the radical pace of change, and their unfamiliar new reality, even if it appeared more humane. Interestingly, it was the elderly and the young who adapted most rapidly to the Great Awakening, an older generation recognising traces of their past in the unadulterated food and neighbourly connections, the young intuitively understanding that this was humanity’s destiny all along. Certainly, there was resistance and upheaval in some quarters, but it was relatively short-lived and ultimately futile as a new wave of people power and collective action swept the planet.
The Localisation Movement, first espoused by Helena Norberg-Hodge in the early 2000s, found its full voice and expression in this new era, what was once seen as old hippy idealism suddenly appeared perfectly practical. Indeed, the hippy movement of the 1960s was widely celebrated for laying the foundations for many of these sweeping changes, even while infused with a new progressive and technological sophistication. Visionary and writer Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible,” was stunningly made manifest in a society that had a place for all and regarded all life as worthy of dignity and respect.
It’s difficult to fathom that the world we enjoy today would have been seen as a fanciful daydream just a decade ago and that humanity suffered for so long under the oppressive dictates of spurious, economic snake oil salespeople and a hopelessly compromised system of exploitation and environmental destruction.
Today, we give thanks for the brave pioneers of this global movement who strived valiantly for decades, sometimes against overwhelming odds. The monuments to these bold activists and innovators are not bronze statues but arts and community centres, health and educational facilities, bike tracks and parks and public housing for all to enjoy. We are still coming to grips with the complex systems of shared responsibilities and support that govern this new world, but for this we have First Nations societies to thank for their wisdom and leadership, the move away from hierarchical structures and the embrace of flat, circular systems of mutual obligation. The catchcry of government public health campaigns during the Pandemic of 2020, that we are all in this together, has finally come true.
Future generated by Jodi, Emma, Ira, Jane, Susan, Rockie and Tim.
Future generated by Bree, Tara, Kelly-Lee, Pru, Ellis & Huong. Moderated and drawn by Huong Truong
Message retrieved from the crashed servers of the Rete Libera Local 433 by archivists, as part of the Federal upgrade. Timestamp 15:29 23-07-2029 Kaurna -34.90 138.85 Attribution lost.
Re: Notes on this month’s agenda
From: Jen Mills
Just wanted to share some thoughts on the draft agenda that was sent around ahead of the next meeting of the Spring Festival Committee, aka Local433 Governance Team Dinner/Workshare/Emergency Collective, or whatever we’re calling it now (see note below)
If anyone has surplus food for this please bring it, especially produce. The water recycling project is really proving its worth this year and I know we all appreciate the extra vegies etc even more after such a severe hurricane season, but I just wanted to remind everyone that the inundation hit the coast really hard this week and so whatever is left over will be redistributed by the FoodShare Collective (we need more volunteers, pls contact FSC after the meeting esp if you have WORKING transport)
Related: I still have loads of Pink Lady apples in the shed if anyone wants some.
Look forward to hearing about the Festival organising! It’s great to see the Slow Learning format that’s been working so well at the Play Station being deployed in service of such a mammoth task. Can we have ONE of each, Elders, Youth, and Teacher-Facilitator reps this time so there’s room for all our other topics?
I noticed on the Education Group chat that the students are again agitating for a 20-hour school week to give them time to pursue their festival organising. I get the sense that this will be wholeheartedly supported by staff, who are already putting together a proposal in support of the 20 hour week at the next Labour Transformation branch meeting. I just wanted to flag it as something we might want to discuss ahead of that. Personally I am in favour of it too.
I can hardly believe that it’s only three years since the 30-hour week was declared standard. Since the Redistribution it feels like that was such a humble ask. The kids don’t really remember how it was for us in the hamster wheel days but I do and I’m still amazed by how much we have all been able to slow down since then. OTOH I’m starting to feel that the hours are blurring more and more between work and non-work tasks, and so while I’m keen to see the 20-hour week adopted I’m also mindful of burnout… painfully aware I am writing from the Recovery suite at the Health Centre! Anyway, looking forward to the deeper discussions we’ll be having here and in our branch in the lead-up to the Value of Work conference next year.
We didn’t get through the list of urgent housing priorities last meeting, a few key people left the dinner early to go and fix a leaking roof and have another go at reactivating the wind turbines we lost in February (I heard the crack team of trainees from Energy have fixed it now, thanks!) There is always a lot more to get through than we have time for in the meeting so maybe this should be a separate meeting. Basically I think Housing Group needs more autonomy from main committee now that we have more resources to go around.
Thanks for all your messages of support, they really help. I am doing great now, but while I have been in here I have noticed that our lovely staff at the Health Centre seem a bit worn out. I asked around and this was backed up by several of the nurses. IMO we need to allocate some more people, resources and time off for them. 20hr week pilot? Also thinking Build Group could prioritise finishing the pool 😉
This is ongoing. BUT we had a message from Reparation Archives International (!!) who are wanting to come and record some of our planning for the ceremony, ahead of this year’s digital delegation to Memorial Earth which will be hosted by Pasifika Diaspora. A draft of the virtual space will be available at the hall from tomorrow so please go and immerse yourself in the world they have created for this, it’s part of an ongoing arts project/study tour run by RAI so it’s really exciting that it’s being shared here! They are keen to hear more from us, especially as Turtle Islanders are researching a variety of Treaty/T&RC models for their upcoming negotiations.
Related: Don’t forget we are having a History and the Imaginary discussion at the Play Station on Wednesday, I will try to be there at least via Retelink.
The upcoming discussions have been posted on the noticeboard in the kitchen. I will try to resend the schedule when the Rete is back up at our place (B thinks it could be thirsty kangaroos digging up the cables again?)
New name of committee – a few of us talked last week about inviting the children to come up with a better name, so we should probably discuss this again if we have time???
Sorry this message is so long! The Health Centre’s new Rete connection is heaps better than mine. Looking forward to getting out of here once the leg has mended and hopefully coming to the meeting in person, if so will bring that apple cake you all liked from last time.
#livinghistory #organising #deliberativedemocracy #localnetwork #local433 #reparations #redistribution #memorial #retelibera #prefederation
Future generated by Daz, Emily, Kirsten, Martin, Melanie, Warwick and Jen.
This dispatch is written to be read. Aloud. Of course, no one will know if you don’t…. It’s that leap of faith, of giving something voice, that propels ideas from the imagination into the world. Please, take that leap. It’s the first step. Then, you will hear the music.
Welcome to Harken Recruitment Channel (Harken RC), a song stream for cultural citizenry, time reflections and song-line adventures. Listen to the struggles. Hear the land sing here.
Harken RC is the result of a chance meeting in another era. Some of us were in state-imposed lockdown and others were warily navigating the different messages of the 2020 Pandemic: ‘stay inside, ‘business as usual’, ‘go out’, ‘go home’, ‘go away’. It was a baffling time.
We had all brought an object from the past that day, to keep us connected to the temporal world while we navigated our meeting via zoom. Remember that old tech? Back then we were still so unpractised at questioning the machinery that was controlling us.
Jane brought the basket that she was weaving, following instructions by Indigenous Elders from the Western Desert. Those skills have come in handy. We sensed then the extreme need for ancient weaving. It has enabled Arts and Science to become less polarised. The silos and cruel divisions that had torn apart the fabric of our culture are now blending back together into intricate patterns, in some places so tightly entwined that you cannot see the stakes from the strands.
Samantha came from Dja Dja Wurrung lands with an empty glass that had been full of water and would be filled again and again as the hottest summers we could never have imagined burnt suffering onto our lands and people. The heat has killed so much.
Pippa had a toy koala covered in patchy kangaroo fur, worn with love, that had never left Wangal lands in the Eora Nation. Koalas were facing extinction after the 2019 summer of fires destroyed so much habitat. They are still on the endangered list.
Little did we know there were so many hidden connections in that first meeting, shyly starting to reveal themselves.
Suse had a Tell Me Why cap from the Archie Roach Foundation that she still wears to shield her face from the sun. Archie Roach sang his life, gently reminding us of atrocities inflicted on First People since invasion.
‘This story’s right, this story’s true
I would not tell lies to you
Like the promises they did not keep
And how they fenced us in like sheep.
Said to us come take our hand
Sent us off to mission land.
Taught us to read, to write and pray
Then they took the children away,
Took the children away,
The children away.
Snatched from their mother’s breast
Said this is for the best
Took them away.’
Thank Nature that the authorities have stopped stealing children.
Suse was living on Guana country back then, now she is travelling on the Darug, Gundungurra, Wanaruah, Wiradjuri, Darkinjung and Tharawal countries, formerly known as the Blue Mountains. She is still patiently, tirelessly meditating to shift our dreams.
Gulsen was on the Kulin Nation and brought a lady Buddha. Did she know that Suse was a practising buddhist? Honestly, Harken RC was Gulsen’s plan all along. She knew that a force of people would be needed to get us out of our trouble, to honour our hope and longing.
Shannon was also on Kulin Lands and brought a guitar that day, part of a growing collection of dormant instruments in her house. It didn’t take long for her to take up the challenge and step out from behind her camera, learning to pluck those strings to unleash uncertain melodies.
Hers is a beautiful allegory for the journey our culture has taken since 2020, stepping out from behind the mobile cameras and selfies that perpetuated cultural distancing. We stopped selling ourselves and stepped in, resumed creative practice, took risks and engaged. Slowly these practices moved from the periphery into the centre of our days. Our children and young people practice creative citizenry easily and with pride, it’s just part of who we are now. Harken RC is inspired by them. But there is still a great need to engage some of the older ones, mostly Boomers, Gen Xers and some of the Millennials, coaxing them to uncurl their grip on a heinously wasteful past, to centre them for now and what is still to come.
Because despite the hardship, the heat and the violence of transition, we managed to maintain resolute determination in simple low-fi creative action.
Through that determination came the music.
Between our divisions
I’ll reach out to you, will you reach out to me
With all of our voices and all of our visions
Friends, we could make such sweet harmony
That simple ancient round found voice at the Women for Life on Earth camp, sung to those housing nuclear missiles at the Royal Airforce base at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England in the 1980s.
We were fearful in 2020. The summer of fires and then the Pandemic ripped us from lives we knew were unsustainable but couldn’t quite see a way out of. It was 2024, when the violence was completely out of control, that a new awakening started to take hold. Thank Nature that some of the enlightened ones remembered to sing. There was plenty of singing in the late 20th century and early 2000s but it was so packaged into the noise of competition and transaction that it rarely cut through. Soulless chewing gum for amplified vocal chords drowned out the cries of suffering of endangered creatures. We couldn’t hear then.
Thankfully on the streets, here and across the world, people resisted the violence, reclaiming old songs to give voice to their fury, disaffection and hope.
El derecho de vivir
Sin miedo en nuestro país
En conciencia y unidad con toda la humanidad
Ningún cañón borrará
El surco de tu arrozal
El derecho de vivir en paz
Written by Chilean composer and singer-songwriter, Víctor Jara, in the 1970s, this song was inspired by the Vietnam War and once stood as an anthem for resistance against the brutal regime of Augusto Pinochet. It was revived in 2019 during anti-government protests in Santiago sung by a million people and went on to be used throughout the decade calling for the right to live in peace.
In the early 2020s, almost everyone was talking about the importance of story, regardless of which side of politics or which sector of work. Marketing machines smudged lines between fact, fiction, spin and lies. Social media spat it everywhere. It took a few years before we could start clambering out of the dystopian mindset to find different stories for our yarns to find the weft and warp of meaning. Stories are still important now, no question. Song and dance help them find form and connection.
Ancient song knowledge had always been here in Australia, of course. Like anything deeply true, the signs were all around us and had been for centuries. When First Peoples finally wrested the toxic colonial British and American systems and thinking away from the rest of us, suddenly there was light and breath. Long slow breath, straight to and from our bellies. The birds started coming back to our balconies and yards. It was sweet relief. Truth and reconciliation gatherings helped so many Australians understand the importance of listening, even when the truth is hard to hear. Back then, the powerful thin-lipped white men of few words and the puffy, arrogant white men of so many empty words strutted their power. They couldn’t imagine it would give way to millions of voices, black voices, children’s voices, women, people of colour and uniquely able voices, rising together.
And that really was a revelation, that we could join together, in one voice. Australia had no history of doing that, not since invasion. Most people connected their ancestry to places far away and mumbled their way through the national anthem, it just didn’t sit well. A few people had a go at revising the words and a new version was adopted officially in 2023. But to really own it, first we had to bravely open our mouths, twist our tongues to new sounds and embrace the divided world within Australia. Unable to travel for years, we were forced to be local and eventually we found each other. We learnt that creative endeavour shrinks distance and loosens the burden of rules and hard borders.
Perhaps that’s why, over time, Harken RC became necessary. We built it slowly, many of us in our local places. Now as we follow the songs through pilgrimage by foot or on cycles, it’s crazy to think about how people once lived on speed and waste in that ‘globalised’ world. Since new laws were passed in 2025, travelling rhythms are more balanced, fewer people in cars pay more attention to the huge number of walkers. You can hear them in this old Estonian folk song, sung during the singing revolution of the 1980s when 2 million people joined in a line of song that traversed three countries and over 600kms in a peaceful end to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Rändaja, rändaja, rändaja laula Laula mulle oma, laula mulle oma üksinduse laulu Ma kuulan, ma kuulan, kuulan ja laulan Sinu üksindus on minu üksildus, su nukrus mu kurbus Kuu tõuseb, kuu tõuseb taevasse üles Päike loojund, päike loojund teistpoolde ilma Rändaja, rändaja, rändaja laulab Laulab mulle oma, laulab mulle oma üksinduse laulu
Traveller, traveller, traveller sing, sing me the song of your solitude, I’m listening, I’m listening, listening and singing. Your solitude is my loneliness, your sadness also mine, the Moon rises, the Moon rises up to the sky, The Sun has set, the Sun has set to the other side of the world, the traveller, the traveller, the traveller sings, sings me the song of his solitude.
Around 2028, we saw signs that country was starting to heal and that coincided with growing numbers of songs in traditional languages, filling our ears with ancient strength and purpose. More people notice how these songs change as we cross country now and have reshaped old ideas about states and regional centres with river and land rights and travelling wildlife.
We realised that those of us who had benefited from the time before transition had been too comfortable in the thirty years of warning.
We had stolen so much resource from the future.
We needed to pay back in order to pay forward.
Harken RC is designed with the hard-to-reach in mind. We know there are some who will never be recruited, hellbent on resurrecting a past we can never return to. Our intention is to raise voices to achieve the nearly impossible and keep singing together.
Today we remember the past, hope to recruit new listeners for the future and welcome you. It is this process and practice that keeps us in tune.
So, welcome to Harken RC, our song-stream for cultural citizenry, time reflections and song-line adventures. It is a space to think, to know and dream through learning our country’s songs. It is our commitment to Australia. Our journey lasts a lifetime and through joining others, in all places, a creative force is growing.
Our first offering of this inaugural song-stream is from our northern friends, a beautiful Mandarin melody to be sung when authoritarian forces are drowning out the sound of human suffering.
The Moon Represents My Heart (with guitar chords)
Ni (C) wen wo ai ni you duo (EM) shen,
(You asked me how deep my love is for you) —
Wo (F) ai ni you ji (C) fen.
(I love you to the utmost).
Wo de (Am) qing ye zhen,
(My feeling is also true),
Wo de (F) ai ye zhen,
(My love is also true):
Yue liang (Dm) dai biao wo de (G) xin.
(The moon represents my heart).
With thanks to Gulsen for the seed, Jane for weaving some magic, Samantha for quenching our thirst with questions, Suse for her devotion, Shannon for the lens, Pippa for scribing and the many unheard voices who kept singing through dark times.
Future generated by Gulsen, Jane, Samantha, Suse, Shannon, and Pippa
Future generated by Maya, Kimberly, Gavin, Leanne, Phillip and Sophie Moderated and written by Sophie Hyde.
Once a journalist…
On 15 Jul 2029, at 9:55 am, Narita Vernacki <N.V@AFTF2029.node43.zone.au>
Text deleted on request of author
Re: where did you go?
Thank you for your e-letter.
I’ve had a number of inquiries like yours over the years, although they are fewer and farther between as our story becomes more widely known.
I’m always grateful and surprised that my writing as an environmental journalist resonated with readers. You never really knew despite (or maybe because of) all the noise on the old social media. It’s only when you receive a personal note like yours that it seems real and genuine and the work that we did worthwhile.
As you know, I spent the early 2020s as a freelance journalist covering the environment. Not an easy role in any respect given my reports, essentially, documented the decline of our natural world.
I never felt as if I was able to do justice to the rapid changes occurring. I did feel – or was made to feel – that people just weren’t interested that more species of plant and animal life became extinct each and every day. Everyone spoke of media saturation; that audiences weren’t able to consume any more dire news, but that was all I really had to offer.
Extinction events, rising seas, extreme weather, drought – this was the material of my world and I would drown in anxiety, trying so hard to find a way to articulate such loss and devastation to a media cycle that seemed more determined to ignore the truth than communicate it. Had I listened more to voices of encouragement like yours than the doomsayers, maybe I would not have become one myself. But I felt like I did.
The Pandemic of 2020 changed everything – it was the beginning of the unravelling of that world. The Depression that followed hit global economies in an unprecedented way and the chaos of climate change intertwined with this collapse to create massive shifts. My industry – which was already in peril in the move to digital – just could not survive. My work, which had become piecemeal, dried up completely and, like many, I was unemployed and unemployable.
I was very lucky that I was living in a strong node that had been organising for some time – we had dedicated growers, cooks, builders, support people and carers who lifted us all up during this time of fear and panic. Food was dropped at the doorsteps of those who found themselves without income and our neighbourhood bonded in a way that had seemed unimaginable before. We didn’t have much, but what we had, we shared.
My contribution to the node became clearer over time with a need for communication, firstly, to get everyone informed and safe and, later, to start sharing deeper stories of our experiences and our world. As you know, we don’t have journalists anymore, we have storytellers, and there has been so much to document and share in the last decade – not just about our environment – but the huge social changes we have seen.
I am one of a small group of storytellers in our node – we are diverse in culture, age, gender and abilities – we share stories from our place but also filter and connect with other nodes across vast networks. We bring a range of deep and complex stories to our community in a way that we could not have imagined in the media framework that existed before. We don’t just share “news” we present culture and knowledge beyond the monological narratives of the past.
We continue to experience loss in extremity – kindred species, Country and people. But we are stronger than we have ever been. We have more hope. We are more connected. And we are (mostly) free of the world we lived in that divided and oppressed us. We lost many along the way. The pain of this loss will always be with us, but we are repaying their sacrifice with our commitment to building this better world and I am grateful to be one small part of this change.
I hope this satisfies your curiosity.
If your inter-nodal travels ever bring you close to mine, please feel free to give me advance warning and I’ll arrange the necessary permits.
Future generated by Yana, Claire, Jo, Dasha, Grace, Yagan and Gen. Written by Genevieve Grieves with David Pledger.
Summer Issue, November 2029
We live in experimental times.
We are publishing this Special Edition to celebrate nearly a decade of incredible feats of courage and healing. Some would argue that the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia probably saved our country from ruin and from becoming the world’s largest solar farm. Experimental Times Editorial Staff are aligned with this thinking. In this Special Edition, we have compiled a collection of stories, highlighting how far we have come as a nation since then, and to inspirationally remind us that we have more purposeful work to do to dismantle over 240 years of ecological degradation and colonial oppression.
I am often reminded of a cartoon published in The Guardian in 2020 (I wish I had saved it). The cartoon depicts a personified earth staring down at a group of politicians. The humans are crying out ‘We can’t shut down the economy! We can’t end fossil fuels…etc.’. In response, earth says ‘Here’s a pandemic, try’. Throughout Covid-19 crisis, we learned that change can come quickly where there is willpower and ingenuity…and, it can come in once unimaginable forms.
The forced stillness that the Covid-19 crisis brought, to the most privileged amongst us, was the recognition that our faulty human systems could no longer be upheld. We lost livelihoods and our secure footings. Many aspects of our lives that mattered, no longer mattered. At some point, ‘normal’, in its original form, became unrecognisable especially in the second wave where loss of lives mounted and fear set in. Sourdough cultures died. Vegetable patches wilted. We retreated and in the depths of grief, we wept.
We experienced what is now recognised as ‘anticipatory grief’, a deepfelt anxiety about our uncertain futures and the collective loss of normalcy. When we could no longer distract or medicate ourselves, our captivity pushed us toward self-reflection where we questioned institutional dependency, our comforts, conveniences and complicity. What more were we prepared to give up? And, what were we willing to fight for? Especially in relation to our well-being, kinship and our future generations.
We yearned for meaning to transcend the suffering.
We have heard countless stories of hyperlocal community mobilisations around water protection and food systems, rapid technological innovations to advance inclusive communications, and strategies of refusal against dinosaurian institutions and disaster capitalists. On page 8, artists Mauri Sha and Carolyn Ames share a story of trauma and recovery by taking us on a journey around the country with their incredibly successful community-led, land steward project, Gigatonnes. To date, everyday Australian ‘Protectionists’ have successfully reforested nearly 0.9 billion hectares since starting along the Merri Creek in 2021. The Gigatonnes Ecological Charter passed in 2027 protects these lands from any form of natural resource extraction, pollution or financial gains. This project leaves a legacy that will endure beyond lifetimes.
As months passed attempting to contain Covid-19 outbreaks, we began to grasp the scope of suffering beyond our own to those in other communities. We could no longer look away at the injustices. From the sudden lockdown of the Melbourne housing estates to the long food relief lines of stranded international students, everyday people mobilised and acted. On page 16, Aaden Farah tells the story of two disparate communities coming together during Covid-19 in solidary and mutual aid support. Through mobilised rent and debt strikes, they successfully decommissioned high rise public and insecure student housing in Australia, and helped transition the University of Melbourne into an equitable public knowledge research and learning institute with a focus on social inclusion, public health and community resilience.
The pandemic woke us from sleepwalking into extinction and at the same time made us face our mortality. A collective awareness mounted that the climate emergency was bearing down on us. In doing so, our existential crises made way for existential choice. Through the pandemic, those of us who lagged behind climate change attentiveness quickly learned to trust scientists and act with purpose. There was an unspoken acknowledgement that we are the last generation to halt extinction and in doing so, hopefully secure a legacy for future generations. On page 24, activist Alice L. Hannan’s article Secure enough to be brave talks about how platforms of public value, normally privileged for the dominant classes, were handed over to children to have a voice in advocacy and decision-making around issues directly affecting future generations. In 2026, the Children’s Right to Vote Act was won permitting young people over the age of 15 to vote. Prime Minister Lidia Thorpe’s momentous speech on the day accompanies the article, translated in English.
The centre spread Acts of Refusal/Acts of Mutuality celebrates the moments of solidarity between Aboriginal communities, leaders and allies leading to the signing of the Aboriginal Treaty Act of 2024. Authors Claire G. Coleman and Alexis Wright discuss how the Treaty helps us all to reconceptualise our ways of living and learning in relation to the land through ceremony, land-based ethics, song and language. The Treaty enables the collectivisation of skills and resources to dismantle settler ecologies and halt the colonisation of the future.
We honour the bravery and are proud to bring this edition to you.
Jen Rae and the editorial team
Future generated by Jess, Jacqueline, Gabrielle, Kata and Jen
BEYOND THE FORCE
Blue Dissolution: Leaving Power Behind
20th October, 2029
Proudly and freely transferred by Neo-Web RetroActive
Beyond The Force is a 12-part documentary ZoneDrop series that first streamed from August to November 2029. The series incorporates vivid, often personal interviews and stories from people involved in the End Policing campaigns of the mid-to-late 20s.
Over 12 episodes, Beyond The Force maps the major global events that led to the abolition of the police force in most Western countries. Widely acclaimed for its honest and rigorous journalism, the series was celebrated as a sensitive portrayal of a rapidly changing society.
The year 2020 saw international mass uprisings against racialised police brutality. These uprisings were led by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the Former United States of America. Immediately following an enormous BLM uprising on their own country, First Nations legal and community activists and campaigners in The Former Australian Colony successfully led a campaign to Raise The Age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 16. Building on this major institutional success, newly realised coalitions between activists, scholars, unionists and community campaigners gave rise to a freshly galvanized and emboldened Shut Youth Prisons movement, as well as to the early stages of the Abolish All Prisonsmovement, both of which were courageously supported by the Australian New Left. With parallel anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-policing and anti-prison movements spawning in over 100 countries, 2025 saw the emergence of the global End Policingcampaign – the biggest civic movement in human history, one whose roots and successes can be traced directly to the demands, principles and direct action tactics of the Black Lives Matter movements that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officers.
‘Beyond The Force is essential listening for anybody yearning to see behind the empty rhetoric and finger-pointing that still dominated popular public and commercial media in the early 2020s. This series looks deeply and compassionately into the human faces and, sadly, the human costs, of a system in crisis. But most importantly, it showcases the solutions generated by a movement with clear visions for social transformation’
Cornel West – Philosopher, Scholar, Elder and Movement Builder
Episode 9 Trailer
This trailer features a story from a former Australian police officer, one of thousands who conscientiously withdrew their labor in the mid 2020s as part of the Blue Dissolution.
Warning: This extract contains mild-to-moderate references to police brutality
TEACHING NOTES : SOCIAL TECH HISTORY – 2020s
Below are selected excerpts from:
FROM “A.I.” TO TRANS-HUMAN INTELLIGENCE: A DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF INTER-RELATIONAL TECH EVOLUTION
Published by Global First Nations Universities Public Press (GFNU Press), 2029
A ZoneDrop is a publicly available media work that people can access through their Zone. Zones gradually replaced ‘smartphones’ between 2025 and 2029. A Zone is best understood as a small USB-like device worn by the user on a lanyard, keyring or armband. Zones employ technology that evolved from the Bluetooth of the late 2010s. A Zone connects users to the global cloud and securely holds their encrypted personal data, information, communication, passwords (everything that a smartphone once held). A Zone sits the user in an invisible, spherical personal data cloud. Actions such as sending a message or watching media are executed by users with mental, gestural, ocular and verbal commands. As Zones were developed, screens were replaced with private quantum-retina displays similar to contact lenses, and earbuds were replaced with neuro-quantum in-ear phones.
Neo-Web is a world-wide, collaborative A.I./Human media movement (also known playfully as The Real Web). Neo-Web has its political, technological and ethical roots in Wikimedia and other similar open-source services from the early 2000s. It was borne of A.I./Human collaborative relationships, is 100% capital-free, advertising-free and directly democratic in terms of both content creation and audience engagement. In 2029, 90% of people worldwide now access their media and communications via Neo-Web. All Neo-Web services have non-profit, anti-authoritarian firewalls coded into their Direct Network Access (DNA) scripts.
3 Neo-Web RetroActive
3 Neo-Web RetroActive is a quantum-temporal networking system that allows data to be transferred across neuro-temporal locations; ‘back through time’ for example.
This work was conceived and realised, in part, on Unceded Aboriginal Dja Dja Wurrung (Jaara) Land.
Aboriginal Political, Ecological and Spiritual Occupation and Sovereignty has always and will always negate colonial theft, violence and occupation. We are Still Here.
This future was generated by –
Writing and Concept: Declan Furber Gillick
Sound Design, Mix, Production: Aaron Cupples
Performers: Declan Furber Gillick and Cath Ryan
Contributor: Zoe Scoglio