Glossary of the City of Social Ecology

Anno 2022, Amsterdam, full of muddy building sites, is in full swing of construction of new realities and narratives. And with it comes the radical erasure, disconnection, and ‘cleansing’ of spaces, species, territories, cultural practices, and social bonds. While embracing these efforts, we critically reflect on the possibilities of another city living simultaneously with us, a city within the city: The City of Social Ecology. It is both physical and imaginary, feasible and desired, and accompanies us daily. How can we sense or identify it? How can we cultivate it? Does it make us get our hands in the ground or forage? How can we find connectivity in this swampy territory? How can we stay messy? Embracing the ‘trouble’ of multilayered realities, the incomplete glossary looks into notions of care, pleasure, friction, territory, kinship, and breakdown.

— The city of social ecology is rooted in care.
Care is in the act of tending relations with others, human and non-human. It is mutual, and it is permanently active. Care involves energy and commitment. Care involves all acts of conservation and maintenance, formal and informal, ingrained in our daily lives.
TCSE acknowledges all acts of preservation and conservation (formal or informal). TCSE acknowledges traditions of women's work, reproductive and domestic labor.

Venserpolder with Linda

poster - letters crowd-sourcing the glossary by traditional mail. (an challenge)

— The city of social ecology strives for pleasure.
Pleasure evokes change and strives for freedom. Pleasure invites us to move, open, and grow. It invites us to connect with feelings of joy and satisfaction as individuals and collectives, engaging in acts of love to build joyful spaces for democratic participation and radical engagement.

— The city of social ecology cultivates friction.
Friction is the essence of cohabitation. It is conflict and negotiation. It is relational and generative, and it implies connection. It is tended by many hands; it makes us vulnerable and able to cultivate common grounds. It moves us out of stagnation. It is painful and transformative.

— The city of social ecology breathes with its territory.
Its energy comes from the soil, air and underground currents. It invites us to get our hands on the ground, forage, touch and sense its messiness. It blooms and gets rotten. It is porous, and our built world is part of it, but not all there is—holding spaces for all lives to grow lusciously.

— The city of social ecology feeds kinship.
Feeds networks beyond our kind. Feeds interdependence. It is the city where multispecies relations flourish. It is the spaces where all beings exercise embodied being together—holding space to share different realities, spending energy and time learning together, working together, being together.

— The city of social ecology hosts breakdown.
Acknowledging breakdown opens the possibility of thinking and acting on hidden dynamics, processes, and powers. The breaking is generative and productive; it opens space for repair, improvisation and adaptation. Breaking our current ways of living holds the opportunity to make space for those without a voice, human and non-human.