Cultivating response-ability amidst the trouble

Ahead of advaya's upcoming online course: Re/membering our Rooted Selves, we speak with co-curators Naida Culshaw and Maria Clara Parente on what it means to cultivate response-ability in transitional times. How does making kin and relating differently, re-storyation and shapeshifting, and reweaving ourselves into the threads of the past, help us continue to be present to the trouble, in resilient and continuous ways? This timely and timeless conversation traverses ideas of world-endings, narrative shifting and re-writing, connection through stories and art, and the importance of slowing down, which may not be what you think it is.

Tammy (Advaya): Welcome everyone to this conversation recorded ahead of time, with Naida and Maria, ahead of our upcoming online course with advaya titled Re/membering our Rooted Selves, which is starting in 2024. Once this recording goes live, it will still be 2023. So in case anyone's watching from the 2024 future: Hello. We are recording this from the past. And we'll get into a lot of themes of time and past and present and future today. So exciting to be on theme for that. The course is a six-week course. And it is subtitled unearthing ancestral ways of being to shift collective futures, which gives you a good sense of what it's going to be about. But in this conversation, we're going to just kind of dive into some of the ideas and content that we will be covering through the course. It is a multi-teacher course, so Naida and Maria are the co-curators of it, but we will have many other voices; just to say you can also find that information on our website, where all of the bios and the session descriptions can also be found.

Yeah, and so today's conversation is grounded, as we—the three of us—have discussed, grounded in the idea of cultivating response-ability. So that's response, dash, ability. And so focusing on this partly because this conversation is a response to our current moment that we are living through together, but also not just this moment, like a collective longer look at what has happened and what is happening, what we are looking at and what we also are not looking at. So wanting to be aware of that as well; that while this is a conversation that is timely, it is also very timeless, in that sense? Yeah, so... but I think before I go into all of these questions, and we start dialoguing a little bit, Naida and Maria, I would love for you both to introduce yourselves, and maybe a little bit about your intentions and hopes for the course and the participants who will be coming on board. Yeah. Maybe Naida you want to start? Since you're unmuted?

Naida Culshaw: Sure, I can. So yes, Naida Cushaw. My interest in doing this stems from my curiosity and my research, so the research was, I'm a Doctorate of Business Administration student candidate. And one of the things that have come up in my research itself was: what does it mean to resource yourself by re-turning to the past, and re-valuing, or re-seeing or shedding light back on? Much of the learning knowledge and ability that people had to live in harmony on the planet for millennia? How is it that we—many—on the planet have forgotten some of these connections, through many processes, both forced and spread around the world? And so because I started to do this research, I also asked myself, what would it be like to remember some of these elements of these journeys, the journeys of our elders of the past, journeys of communities that still exist and who have fought to try to keep those connections over time? And so what would it be like to talk about those, but more not in a historical sense, but in a sense of how those could resource our journeys moving forward? And so this is a little bit of my intention, but also the inspiration for why I was very excited to collaborate, co-curate, with Maria, on this project.

Maria Clara Parente: And yes, I'm Maria Clara, I'm speaking from Brazil, from Rio de Janeiro. And I have been working with stories in very different ways. I started working as an actress, and then journalist, and then filmmaking. And then somehow, after going to Schumacher College, with a friend, I started a project that was about how the ways we tell stories create the world that we live in. And the name was, THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. So the idea was to question the truths that we are so deeply immersed in. And after that, I started researching this in my master, that was very connected to Donna Haraway's, the future of fabulation that she has in the last part of her book, Staying with the Trouble. And so in a sense, like my research was connecting that to some what it is speculative fabulation made by women in Brazil in the last decade, especially in films. And with that, I met Sophia and Patrí, that are one of the teachers of the course, that they they have a film—they created a film together, that is kind of a symbol... or about what could be speculative fabulation, because it's like, two Brazilian women, but one is an indigenous, Mbyá-Guarani woman, so she has another identity in that sense. And Patrí is an anthropologist, and in their encounter, that is not a common one, they discover what it could be, a meeting like that, and what is the difference and also the similarities of being a woman in that sense. So it's not a fix of the problems of decolonisation, and everything, that this meeting carries, but it's a possibility of creating something else with this different encounter, what Haraway would call some kind of making kin. Making kin in strange ways, and this is something that I feel that is very important to these times, and this course is a way of making kin with strangers, somehow, that we probably would never meet, but we can meet and be able to create stories together in a way.

Tammy (Advaya): Thank you for that. Yeah, I love the idea of meeting strangers. I think a lot of the advaya courses are a meeting of strangers in that way. And I think the good thing that's come out of online courses in this format, as much as there is a lot to be desired also within this format, the possibility of meeting kin across the world is something that is very precious and special. And a way of coming together that has emerged from modernity, right? As problematic as it can be. But we are in this moment, and in this moment together, and for that I'm also very grateful. So there's that. Thank you both for your introductions. I'm going to spring some questions. I have prepared the questions, but they're also loose collections of thoughts in response to the materials that you both have shared. So to those who are watching, this conversation will be grounded in, like I said, the idea and the theme of cultivating response-ability, which comes directly from Donna Haraway's work, but also it is situated within many other authors, thinkers, feminists, artists. And so we will be referencing, specifically that chapter, alongside other quotations here and there, which will all be listed below. So, do read more into it if you're a keen.

But yeah, so... I wanted to open up with expressing a few thoughts about cultivating response-ability, and why at this moment it's especially apt. So I think one, we're watching the emergence of injustice with a kind of, I guess, greater intensity than many of us watching have ever experienced, or have ever witnessed. And it's demanding a lot of resilience from everyone who is watching, and demanding a lot of staying with the trouble, staying with the grief, and the frustration. And also, this moment is a lot of tuning in and paying attention. And that being one of the greatest actions we can take at the moment. And finally, also, this is really apt because within the framework of cultivating response-ability, there's this idea that it's a two-way listening, which doesn't dehumanise the person that you are "paying attention" to. Lots of things to get into, but before we get into the intricacies of that, I would love for either of you, or both of you, to situate us by speaking to what cultivating response-bility means... so I read a little bit, but you both have studied it much more than I have, so I would love for you to bring some opening thoughts. You don't have to directly respond to what I said, you can add more things into the compost heap, and we can see what emerges.

Maria Clara Parente: For me, what I get from the thing of response-bility... Two things are very important. One is the idea that "make kin", is not to everyone, it's not being linked to everyone and, it's being linked in some special ways, to this being and to that other one. So when you create these connections, you also know where to care, because I feel that in these moments, where there's so much collapse everywhere, it's not that we will have, Oh, I care more for this, but if you have some linings, and relations, that guide you, and makes you connected to some issues now, and you can also feel the pain but also the joy in that fight... but fight is not a good word. You can also have other coalitions, but you have some friends and people that are with you in some of this trouble and staying with you together. Because I feel that there's a sense that response-ability would be like responding to a doll, but this is not possible because we are humans when we live somewhere, and we have connections to some other beings, humans and not humans.

And that's why I come back to the film that I just mentioned, because in that creation of relationship there, they understand paradoxes of being women, and also prejudice that was before, that you don't know before, and then you can create something else. Sophia, although she's not an indigenous woman herself, by blood or something, or perhaps everyone... she could be but not her mom and dad, but she created together with them a collective of women that work with film, Indigenous women... That is a network connecting all of these women all over Brazil. So I feel that this is an example of creating response-ability and going together, and continuing the work, and it grows, it's kind of a garden, and you are also together in the struggle, but also in the celebrations possible in this time. And also another thing that this was to create something... to create these lines and strengthen these lines—sorry for my English, but—to make them bigger.

And the other thing is... it's not specifically to responsibility, but this idea of feeling that everything is very heavy, and like, world is ending now, you know? There's a quote, it's not specifically that, but from Aiton Krenak, Indigenous leader from Brazil, he said, the world's been ending for us since Portuguese came here. So, now you start noticing what I've been telling. So when we reframe this idea of the world is ending... it's ending to who? Where? It's been ending to so many people for so long, so I feel when we have this in mind, we can shapeshift this idea... Yeah, I think from response-ability, these two things come to me, when I speak to that. What do you think Naida?

Naida Culshaw: Well, I can add a little bit on the response-ability, and also link it to something that I've been reflecting on deeply. I have the sense of the word that, as it's divided into the two pieces, response-to, and so I found that also very helpful, because it's an action, it's being proactive, and it's seeing what can you cultivate within your sphere of influence, and not specifically thinking I have to have the solution for everything, which is a little bit connected to this idea of response-ability, and to take on the response-ability and here, it's response-to—very similar to the example that you gave, about creating the film collective.

When I think of that overwhelm feeling, I also connected to the idea of considering that you're here in a moment of time, and that our moment in time is connected to those who've come before us and that are going to come after us. And we're here in this moment in time to do what we can in this moment in time. And when you don't think that you're supposed to have the solution before you pass away, then it offers you a little bit of grace and opportunity to focus on what can you cultivate while you're here, because if you can cultivate something that you are passionate about, that you care about, and through those ripples, can touch other people, then that is this legacy that you might leave behind, in the sense of seeding ideas, seeding, caring, seeding, dot, dot, dot, and fill in the dot, depending on what it is that you're working on, and that you're passionate about.

The other component that I would just add in here is the idea of re-storyation, which I get into the narrative. And that comes from Robin Kimmerer's book, Braiding Sweetgrass, and in that book, she mentions re-storyation, and this idea of whose story are we speaking of, and whose story do we continue to repeat, and do we share other stories, this narrative, this importance of shifting the narrative, it doesn't mean forgetting the narrative, because that's also something that is not possible. But it is also thinking about, well, which narrative do we want to continue saying and repeating, and which ones have not been spoken about, which might, again, help us as we journey forward? So these are two—my response, but also a component on the narrative that I would like to add.

Maria Clara Parente: Yeah, so I think that it has much to do, response-ability, with relation, right? So it's another way to think about the way to create relationships.

Tammy (Advaya): Lots already, metaphorically, I feel like the heat of the compost heap, is really increasing, in a really exciting and also generative way. There are a few threads, but I think I want to continue on with the thread of shapeshifting, and also, to what Maria said, and to what Naida said, about whose stories are we speaking of... I think there is a connecting thread there about when we are present to multiple different narratives and multiple kinships, we're able to see and hold different perspectives and different stories at the same time, and also recognise our own reality, and our own perceptions alongside other people's realities. So to make that more concrete, Maria, you were mentioning, the world is ending, but to who? That kind of sitting with other people's narratives, or realities, that are not necessarily your own, doesn't deny your own position or your own reality, but it allows you to see other things at the same time, and I think that's really key to response-ability, a very specific type of listening, that isn't just a person to a person, but holding your own reality while holding and making space for someone else's.

And then that relates to the idea of the question of, Naida, whose stories are we speaking of, and the idea that you're not forgetting by making space for other stories... Yeah, I would love to pull that apart a little bit... And I guess, maybe something to hold on to—I'm recognising that I'm putting out a lot of ideas, but—what is this kind of possibility of shapeshifting, while holding on to different realities? Like what is it about paying attention to other realities, at the same time, that allows you to, I guess also relating to the course, be in this moment, but also be in an imaginary, at the same time? I don't know if that's enough to hold on to... but...

Maria Clara Parente: Woah, it's a big question. But I guess, when you have this, you are able to see in a different way, you cannot come back. And this is something that kind of changes everything. And it's not a "good" thing, because sometimes you are with your shadows, and you are with what it means to... like, all the privilege that it comes, in a position of like as me, a white woman in Brazil, this comes from from a past, and things that were unseen before, they come to life, but you can't pretend that you don't see anymore, so you make choices, regarding to that, whenever, is inviting people to something or being able to just... I think it's a difference in the way you see things, and the things you bring to this world, and also the way you speak changes, sometimes even regarding to non-human right, like, more-than-humans—and then you perceive how the narratives are so anthropocentric, and then you can't don't see that.

And then when you are saying about, how to envision things that are not there, I feel that art and language, are ways where we can bring this life... I also write poetry, and it's one of the things I like most... in the film that I directed, I also talk about dreams, and I feel that all of these things that we start connecting our souls and realities with that... they are already with us, in a way, in an invisible way, sometimes, and they have a power, although we sometimes feel that... there's this, you know, people, they are doing this visionary thing in art, or something else... But no, that's why the extremist governments, they don't like art and culture. Like here in Brazil, we suffered a lot with the last government, in culture. That's why. Because they want to finish that, because this creates a spark for something different, for a different reality. In the last year, that there was a very beautiful film, here in Brazil, that is the story of a Black boy that wants wants to go to Mars, in a Mars expedition. And the film is so beautiful, in so many ways... he has a queer sister. And the end is something so uplifting. And people were like clapping in the cinema. And this brings joy, in a way that's not out of reality, it's together with it... It changes together. So I feel that in this course, we're also going to go into bring this. People that are thinking about cultural shifts, and that has totally impact on direct reality... things are together. And I don't know if that was your question, but I feel that it's a way of addressing that I feel that's very connected to reality. What do you feel Naida?

Naida Culshaw: Well, in my work, and in the research, there's a word that I love, which is the pluriverse, and the pluriversality, of how you can see the world and be in the world. I think that recognising the larger humanity, and the larger connection that we have to what is called nature... however, we are nature, we are part of it, we are inside of that ecosystem, when we are breathing the air, we are breathing what the Earth has created. So it's also to find those connections back without it being, what I would like to say, not something that is idealised or utopianised... It's more about, in the space, where you are and who you're with, how are you moving through the world? And are you considering all of the strengths that you are bringing to the world, but also how the world has gotten to where it is, and the reality of the spaces that we are working in and working, the people that we work with? Are we seeing the full repercussions, the interconnections, the complexity, if we can see those things... which can be very difficult, if you are used to, "this solves this, and then we're done". It's like, No, we're in a really complex system. It's always been complex, and it's always been a system. But we've done a really good job, in the last couple 100 years to make it a little bit more like we're in control and that we have all of the answers, which a lot of this work has been very, very helpful. But it's also to see how else can we see the world in its complexity, and recognise that we do have a place in it and that we can nudge it, that we can encourage it, that we can feed it in the way that we would like it to journey on. Again, not an end but a journey.

Tammy (Advaya): Thank you for that. I would like to continue that thread—and move a little bit though, to talk about I think, as we're moving into thinking about, holding multiple things at once, and being cognisant of how it's always been complex, right, like you said, Naida, it's just that we've been able to not see it, and now we're seeing it. In that spirit, I think, something I really would like to talk through is the idea of The Great Turning, which is something that we are going to be talking about in the course, and that relates to response-ability, because, as Donna Haraway says, the response-ability is like a collective knowing, and it rejects the metaphysics of individualism, as she says. And part of that is turning to this, seeing our efforts as part of a wider consciousness, a wider change, a longer history, and I also want to put here the mythical bird, the Sankofa, I hope I'm pronouncing that right, that was also part of the description of the course, the idea that that it is not a taboo to return and fetch it when you forget. I really love that metaphor, and I think there's so much there. But I think I would like us to talk about why it's so important to look back collectively and individually, and also how that connects: how when we look back individually, we are also doing the same collectively? Yeah, so just opening up that can of worms, and seeing what unfolds.

Naida Culshaw: Well, I can add to that, build on that, a little bit. The concept of considering yourself as one moment in time in a long history of time. So part of this is this idea that you are connected, whether you may consciously think about it or not, to the past of which has led to you being alive, and on the planet. So there is particular connections, and larger connections to community, and this is one of the tensions that happen, often in these conversations, is: how much do I need to take on, the historical issues that I had no control over, or that it wasn't my fault—if that is a point of view and a perspective. And I think, at least the way that I like to think about it in this course, or in my research, is that all of the past has validity, and it is important to just see it, recognise it, speak to it, and then see where are you going to go from here. And I think that that is also part of what I would like to encourage in the course, is to be able to sit with that. Because sometimes sitting with that, no matter maybe from which perspective you're sitting, there may be good stuff in there, and maybe not so good stuff in there, and it's to also recognise that there are both, and that's where re-storyation comes, because if you pick up a narrative that is very one-sided, it's actually not helpful for the individual to process what may have happened, in a collective in the past. So it's to think about these stories, and how they inform how you as an individual, and also how a community might be acting or doing at this moment in time.

So the idea of returning, and remembering, and this is the reason why the word remembering is in the title, is that to remember, is not a intellectual process of the memory, not in the way that it's being used. The concept is that you're going back, like members of your body, or members of your community, and you're going back to find pieces of ourselves, or pieces of our communities that have been left behind, maybe on purpose, for safety reasons or defence reasons, maybe for whatever other reasons, and to say: what are those pieces that would be very helpful as we move forward? What are the things for me, that I can resource myself, by putting that part back into how I see myself, or how the community sees itself? This is a reason why you see many communities currently, who are very focused on returning to their native languages, to encourage language re-acquisition in their youth, because language makes a huge difference on how you see and view the world, because you were defined by this language, it informed the culture, so you're starting to see many, many different signs, where this type of remembering is happening. And so this course is really to invite all those who would be interested in having these types of conversations. And so yeah, this is where I would stop. Maria, what do you think?

Maria Clara Parente: That's so beautiful, this, carrying the members, it reminded me of a part of my research where, I think it was Canadian Indigenous leader, that the explanation of carrying stories was because they needed to move, and they needed to carry their stories, but they couldn't bring their houses and everything, like objects that carry the stories, so they started telling stories, and this was a way to carry their own their own ancestry. So stories were this way of keeping something and bringing for a future generation. And yeah, it's just that the stories are a way: when you are not able to bring your home, you bring these stories... that they become a home. And stories were, for a long part of our time, something that changes a lot. So even the Bible, it was something that was already changed, but then the colonisation made that the thing has to be written, and this changes everything, because things got stuck. But so I feel that we are bringing in this course also, stories that move, stories that are alive. And in this ability of changing the stories we are possibly helping changing narratives that are very stuck.

Tammy (Advaya): Maria, I don't want to put you on the spot, but I would love to hear—and maybe this is something that we should keep for the course, but whether now or on the course I would love for you to talk a little bit more about that idea of stories being in the past, for longer than we've been alive, like, stories have been passed on, and have been moving and shifting, and only when you write it down, and the practice of writing things down, then produced this idea of a fixed narrative and a fixed story, and then, from there, you can go on to see how a lot of problems in the world emerged from fixed stories and fixed ways of remembering something that doesn't update and doesn't move according to the times. Yeah, something to think about, I don't know, Maria, do you want to add anything to that? If not, that's fine, too, because it's kind of a...

Maria Clara Parente: Yeah, there's just a big noise here. But I feel that this is so interesting. Also, yeah, the Jewish Torah, it was something that was passed. Also, Sophie Strand, I think she also gave a course, and she has a big research on that, and also, I was talking to Bayo Akomolafe about this, because the idea of the mythology is something that really works on but it's different, has different ways of being told, and with modernity, we fixed things. And even before that, like also regarding to something that's not exactly that... but I was doing a course about how films are also a way of fixing patriarchy: female characters are in certain ways. Of course, there's a reason. That when you investigate who are the ones creating the stories... but it's unbelievable.

There's the femme fatale, there's femme fragile. It is a very beautiful course by Manuela Cantuária which is a scriptwriter here in Brazil, and it's a course about only archetypes and the mythologies of filmmaking, and regarding to the femme, and how they fix patriarchy. And, there's also a Black feminist woman, Mariana Paiva, also telling about how they fix some ways of having female Black characters in films. And this is how we started thinking that people are, because we don't have other references. So that is very important for creating a mural or reference of how we see the world. And that's the power of stories and myths. And if we just have the archetypes, but they are not complex, they are not vulnerable, they just have one side, that's what we see in these narratives, we become less complex, we think the world is less complex, and it's more like this or that, but it's not. All of these characters, originally, they have complexity. So yeah, I think this is a subject to speak, and we have the examples and how this develops, but everything it comes to the synthesis that stories are so important to us in so many ways. And if we think that stories are just stories, we can't go from here to anywhere.

Naida Culshaw: And I'd like to just add, the concept of fixed, and writing, history, and whose history, what is history? Is it a recounting of the reality? Or is it how we would like to remember it? There's lots of arguments within the historical academic spaces of what does it mean to see, and are we rewriting, are we correcting, are we...? When there's a conversation about, No, but, maybe that was very one-sided, maybe there should be another narrative? And that becomes actually very sensitive in those spaces. And so in my approach to this conversation, the conversation is to just open up the dialogue to say, how much have you not questioned, but how much have you... investigated, the stories that you see and understand? And have you given the same space for others, that either seems strange, different, or for some other reason, impossible, in your mind, which actually may have validity, from the perspective of those who are telling those stories? And to at least, that two way listening, is what you were saying... are you able to hear? Are you listening, is one thing, but are you hearing the message? That's something different. And are you able to do that? Are you open to doing that?

And I think the course in my, again, intention is more of an exploration to support individuals who are interested in being curious, and are open to being curious, and are open to maybe not knowing, and having a question even at the end, because that's also the nature of complexity, is that we do not always have the answers for everything. This is not a, after you finish the course you will have ten steps of which you will be able to do. It's more like, after you finish this course, you're going to have probably a long list of reading that you would love to do. You might reach out to certain communities and become a little bit more active, you might have different conversations with your family members, it might just instigate more reflection for yourself, but it also might challenge you to maybe want to see and be in the world slightly differently.

Tammy (Advaya): Wow. I love that. For a moment there, I thought you were gonna say you're gonna leave with ten more questions, and I was like, that's already a lot. And honestly, I have ten more questions already. But in the interest of time, I will ask them one big question, and then one small question, and then we will close. So my big question, and it is a little bit of a big question, but I would like to kind of circle... I hate the term circle back, but I would like to come full circle, back to the idea of staying with the trouble. And sitting with discomfort and learning how to be in that space. I was trying to think through why anybody would want to do that, or why you would choose to stay with the trouble... This is coming from somebody who hasn't really fully went into Donna Haraway's work, so I'm really just going off my own thoughts here.

But, when I was reading the piece that you sent over, about staying with the trouble being an act of resistance against normalisation, that really stuck with me, because I think at this point in, I guess, collective history, being normalised, being desensitised, is actually so much harder than staying with the trouble. Ignoring it, knowing that it's happening, and then closing your eyes to it, and then normalising the fact that, this is happening and just being like, Yeah, whatever. That, to me, is so much harder than staying with the trouble, and really trying to hold that together with other people, and hold that within yourself. And so for me, that seemed like being attentive and opening up yourself to ways in which you can be affected by this moment seems almost the better option, than just pretending that nothing is happening. Yeah, but but I would love to hear from both of you about your thoughts about staying with the trouble and maybe also, bringing in a little bit of Haraway's work, and grounding us in that long line of research, of why sitting with the discomfort is so important, and is ultimately going to be something that leads us to collective liberation? Yeah. Big question, but the small question is after this, I promise.

Maria Clara Parente: What Donna says is that we have two quick responses, and one is the denial and saying we are done, it's an apocalypse, we shouldn't do anything, there is nothing else to do. And another one is the techno-fixes. And then there will be the hero solution and techno solutions, that will save us. And she discusses how both of them are harmful. One because both of them, you don't do anything, because you say someone, sometime, will fix, or I have nothing else to do because I'm just a small human here, alone. So the idea of staying with the trouble is to be able to jump back in this and to understand that you are small, but also big in a way, because you will make the connection, so that comes back to the relations that you create. So you create relationships in a way that is impossible to forget that you are part of that system. And I feel that in a way, we are all kind of denials at a moment at our life because although we couldn't brush our teeth in the morning, I don't know if it's Latour, but he says something like that, that there is a part of us that is denying the situation of the extinction happening, and all the other crisis, because otherwise we would be in depression.

But I feel that with the relationships you create, in the staying with the trouble idea, you are able to jump into the feelings and the joy that is possible to cultivate. So, it goes to the idea that there is no utopian future, because things are already in a kind of destruction that is too bad but we should understand what regeneration is possible. I don't know if it answers any questions, but I think she comes from saying these two sides are very bad, if you just go to this other ways, and in staying with the trouble, you have the possibility of creating other stories, that's why she comes with the chthulucene, that she proposes, like a time where you come back with the earthly ones. And she says that we should make the Anthropocene very thin. And we should make these times with a lot of storytelling, and should add the plantationocene, the Capitalocene. And so, all of that is creating stories to populate these times, and possibly create new stories, other stories, and to investigate stories from the past. And that's why in the end, she creates a story that is a five-generation story, where the first butterfly human hybrid has connection with The Great Turning, in a way, because the first generation doesn't complete the work. And this is something that is for us too, probably we won't see Earth regenerated, or something like that. But we are in this thread. And I think it's the idea of being one in a big line. And this is response-ability, in a way.

Naida Culshaw: Yeah, I connect to this when I think of an image that was given to me in a conversation. And the idea was: imagine if you look at the ocean, miles away, out in the ocean, there are waves that are being created. And if you think of yourself in this moment in time, as out there in the ocean, as part of wave, you're being generated from the energy and the momentum of those before you, positive and negative, and that movement towards the shore is what the energy of the planet does, based on the movement, this and that, and gravity. And so I'm moving towards the shore, but you as an individual, the question is, where am I in this journey? Am I about to crash on the shore? Is it the end? Or am I way out there, kilometres or miles out into the ocean, and just starting to make my movement towards? Because all waves can be stopped, shifted and moved, because of other things. So I kind of think of staying with the trouble, kind of as this long distance swimming, it's being out there and knowing that there's going to be trials and tribulations, and there's also going to be joyful moments, and to sort of keep going and to keep contributing, to recognise that, again, through collective energy, things have in the past, recent past, had some very huge social changes, but those social changes were all created because hundreds, thousands, of individuals decided it was necessary, and that takes time. It is not something that happens in two years, one year, but it takes collective energy, to want to keep going, to be curious, and to take those next steps. And again, that's how I would add to this piece of your question or in response to your question.

Maria Clara Parente: And one thing to add more, is just the idea of not wanting to fix things. So staying with the trouble, is to be able to hold the grief also, of those times, and that's why also the collective is needed because how do you understand in your heart that a species is not here with us, so the idea of like the waves, I don't know dolphins create stories in the world, this is also dying with their dying. So how to live in a world that where this being is not here anymore, and at the same time we don't have the language to understand deeply their feelings... So that's why I also feel that Haraway, and also Vinciane Despret goes with the idea of having stories about what these beings are saying are poetry of the... that animal that is very smart on the sea, like, what's the name? That being, like Little Mermaid, Ursula, she is a...? Like the antagonist of the Little Mermaid. Octopus! Yeah, of course, octopus. Tentacles. Yes, so, sorry, but Vinciane Despret has this book about the stories of the octopus and the poetry of the octopus. And so I think that's why their storytelling goes also in creating that kind of dreams, for the times that we live, because we are losing not only them as a species, but as stories.

Tammy (Advaya): Beautiful. Love that co-curative moment of finding which animal that was. And now I will think about the octopus and stories about the octopus for the rest of the evening. So thank you for putting that in my head. And also, it connects so beautifully to the image, Naida, of the ocean, and I'm gonna sit with that longer as well. And now that we've come to the end, the final small question... This is really, really small. But also, expansive. It doesn't necessitate a super long response, but yeah, so I think we come back a lot to Bayo Akomolafe's work. And in the course also, one of the assigned readings is—or I'm not sure whether it was a reading or not, but it is a link, and Bayo has written a lot about this, the idea that times are urgent, so let us slow down. And I think that relates nicely as well to Donna Haraway, who, in the interview, Maria, that you sent, talked about the word urgency and how she feels about the word urgency. To me, the course and engaging in the course, is a way to slow down in response to urgent times. And, of course, there are things to do now, actions to take, but how are we all going to collectively stay with the trouble and collectively be with each other? And I think the course is a really beautiful way to come together to grow our capacities together, right? So yeah, I wonder what advice you may have or thoughts you may have about the idea of times being urgent and the importance of slowing down?

Naida Culshaw: Well, I think, to say slowing down, does not mean that you're not doing anything, because this is actually very interesting, the concept of stillness, or slowing: it means that you're not moving, and therefore you're not being productive. And in fact, if you move from a space and a place that has been informed by reflection and consideration, usually the things that you do, implement, design, create, have a little bit more direction and intention. And for those who study and read up on intention, you may also notice that when you are more intentional, the actions can have—doesn't guarantee but can have—the ripple effects that you're hoping it's going to have. And so by the slowing down, is almost and this is where I say it's the resourcing. If you want to climb a mountain, you don't actually try to do it all in one day. I mean, that's not what the pros do. You go to a base camp, you acclimate, you get prepared, you do the next step, and you go up slowly, but you stop as you're going. And I think for myself, I think of this course, as one of those moments to slow down enough, to gather resources, to gather the equipment, to make sure that you have what you need for those next steps, and to also meet people along the way, who could inform you, could become part of your community, as we are all a human and non-human community on the planet, just to be part of that collective, because it is also very helpful in individual but also community and collective processes.

Maria Clara Parente: Yeah, it's this for me also, but just adding a little thing is that, for me times are urgent, let us slow down, is much about attention. So, the situation can be the same, but the way you are there is different. And so like, Naida said, the intention that you put on, it creates something that can be different, you may have a different question. So it's to be able to make different questions, and that won't probably fix things, but that's not the intention, but just to create another possibility that with time that can create other ways of living, right? I think it's that. And also be inspired right? For so many people that are going to participate in the course, because they have a lot of work and in many different places on the Earth, and at the same time, they connect in many different ways, so I feel that it's going to be very interesting, to have them in conversation, and with people that will join, I think that will be very interesting.

Tammy (Advaya): Beautiful place to end. I think a lot of what we unearthed during this brief conversation is quite a wonderful kind of peek, and also a quick tour of what we will be talking about on the course, and it is really exciting to be embarking on a multi-teacher course. We've been running a couple of courses, recently at advaya, and they are single-teacher courses. So it's nice to weave in a lot of different narratives as our first course of the year. And it kind of, I think, sets the tone really beautifully for the kind of collaborative work that we hope to be engaging in not just at advaya, but also just hoping that the energy pushes out into the rest of the world as well, as we enter into the new year, I think what we need more than ever is this kind of collaborative work and this kind of conversation that spans continents, and spans countries, and histories and people and weaves all of those together and seeing what emerges.

Yeah, so to everyone who's watching, thank you for joining us. Although it's so funny to be thanking people who don't know. But, thank you to whoever is watching this, and reading this transcript perhaps. And I really hope that you will be joining us on the course. We have six weeks and seven sessions of really exciting material, really exciting conversations with I think a total of 11 teachers or something like that, all coming from different backgrounds and bringing different types of expertise to this compost heap. So really encouraging anyone who's interested to join us on this course, which you can register at Yeah, so thank you both for this conversation.

Naida Culshaw: And thank you for hosting. It's been fun.

Maria Clara Parente: Thank you, Tammy.


Maria Clara Parente

Maria Clara Parente is a Rio de Janeiro based writer, artist, journalist, and film director who researches other ways of inhabiting this planet towards decolonial futures.

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Naida Culshaw

Naida Culshaw is university lecturer and Doctorate of Business Administration candidate at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) in France, as well as a coach and consultant.

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Tammy Gan

Tammy (she/her) leads on content and storytelling at advaya.

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