Ethical Consumer Week 2020: Journey to Nourish

Anna Clayton speaks to Mama D Ujuaje of Community Centred Knowledge about their immersive and interactive workshops and the upcoming Journey To Nourish session at Ethical Consumer Week 2020.

Can you tell us a little bit about Community Centred Knowledge and your work?

Community Centred Knowledge (CCK) is an open collective, which aims to invest in minds and hearts, attitudes and practice, by exploring and repairing the subconscious prejudices, conventions and habits that destructively divide our worlds.

Our experience to date has evidenced that our interactive workshops have been impactful because we work with bias to support attitude change. We do not sidestep the existence of individual or collective trauma and dissonance that is widespread throughout society, but rather we take it into account in designing, often together with participants, approaches that can help in developing healing modalities.

We support self-exploration and community led research into self-discovery and working towards a solution orientation of the many challenges which beset us on a daily basis, and which often have become institutionalised into ways of socially or culturally expressing ourselves. We recognise that we need to build our capacity to capitalise on the initial impact of this work and to engage more effectively with more hidden parts of the food system to bring about sustainable and equitable change.

The voices, perspectives and knowledge of communities that are affected by lack - and in some ways we all experience lack - are a vital contribution to the larger narratives around food as nourishment.

To ensure our collective well being, these voices must contribute to the formulation of policy and shaping of institutional practice. We offer a pathway for this to happen in ways that also encourage mutual exchange through our encouragement of the listening to a wide variety of perspectives as part of our journey making.

We work towards systemic and lasting social change for the better. We work towards justice for all through reciprocal action and development of the whole being.

Can you explain what lies behind the name Community Centred Knowledge?

Knowledge is often considered to be predominantly in the domain of 'experts' who are not viewed as arising from the community.

We contest this in two ways:

Firstly by asserting that everyone comes from a community: from the lowliest and most marginalised in society, all the way through to the most elite and entitled academic 'expert' and all those that lie between or surround these 'types'.

There are ways in which we all have relationships: extractive or not, nurturing or not, with other members of communities of geography or interest. There is benefit in recognising this as a reality.

Secondly by promoting the idea that we all contribute to the stock of knowledge that exists within communities or across society. Knowledge manifests out of everyday experience that may be reflected upon in everyday ways, such as the route to the bus stop or the best place to buy nails.

All age groups possess and make regular use of the knowledge that suits their lifestyles and survival or thriving. We often do not surface this knowledge, identifying only that which passes through particular institutions. Lets face it, there is a lot that life teaches us which is not in a school curriculum. Lets value this.

Mama D

For Ethical Consumer Week 2020, you’re going to be holding a ‘Journey to Nourish’. Can you talk a bit about why you think this journey is important?

People talk a lot about food: food sovereignty, food justice, food inequalities, food security and foods in terms of nutrition and diet - and dieting! We understand that foods have histories and people have foodways, food allergies and intolerances and food habits and addictions. We also talk about basic needs, such as shelter, water, clothing and energy, human rights and the fulfillment of human desires for peace, security and an education.

CCK also understands that, as humans, all of these things and more contribute to a sense of being nourished: being in a emotional/spiritual/mental/physical place of feeling that most or all of one's needs are met and that one is in the position to support the meeting of other's needs. This is what nourishment means.
To be in a Journey to Nourish we play on the word 'to' as meaning being en route as well as 'to become'.

We recognise that we have a deep, human need to be useful in each other's lives, so we are always Journeying towards meeting that goal of solidarity with others. We are also seeking to optimise our own fulfillment, hence our becoming fully in a state of nourishment.

As long as we are alive we can always keep on improving our Journey's towards meeting these 'realisations', so we are always on this Journey. The work of CCK is to shine a torch to brighten your path, knowing that it will also illuminate our own.

A lot of your work seeks to create immersive, experiential learning performances. What led to this focus?

We, as human beings do not exist as merely physical automata in a sterile world, rather we are sensitive, responsive, emergent bodies, hearts and minds, held in time and space. CCK wish to acknowledge this in the ways in which it interacts with other sentient beings, encouraging the bringing in and drawing out of  palpable, somatic experience to the fore, to support our shared learning from our environments and with each other.

Children - and our inner child - yearns for and learns from interactive play with its environment. It is natural to us. It is how we learn best. We feel that an environment focused upon the constraints of text alone, often in a uni-directional flow, does nothing to enhance learning and remembering what one might have learned just previously.

By using as many of our senses we enhance our learning and recall and offer ourselves the joy, the pleasure, of interacting more deliberately with our whole environments, including each other and the small, overlooked parts of ourselves and our lives.

This is how we have gained the pleasure of learning and sharing knowledge and experience in our worlds and we can do no other but to pass it on as part of co-nourishing.

What role can such journeys play in supporting us to build more resilient communities?

When we grow our capacities to act collectively, such as we can do in Journeys of Nourishing through co-production, we inevitably grow closer and more aware of each other. This is what CCK wishes to encourage and cultivate amongst all that we engage with.

As we learn to function by drawing upon a wider range of capacities than we might normally be inclined to, we cultivate in ourselves a broader set of living strategies. These strategies are interconnected with different aspects of our own selves in time and space, with others over times and spaces and with time and space itself.

This confers resilience because it supports us to become more adaptable by being able to access the nourishing connections we have built both within ourselves and  between ourselves and others. Why would we not desire for this to be the state of affairs for all people, across all times?

By Journeying, and recognising ourselves as 'Journeypeople', constantly growing in one way or another, even beyond our own imagined limitations - those of death, sickness or marginality, we become agents of progress and thriving-in-situ.

We become beings of wider, deeper, more resourceful capacities because it has become natural to us to be fed by our whole environments; as well as to offer 'feeding' to all that surrounds us in a myriad of ways. We know that all we take in and give out, in integrity, is food - is nourishment.

Being in co-productivity of this way of nourishing creates and maintains community - that of geography, interest, but above all, the great community of Earth-beings, who can express the collective, intelligently nourishing expression of thriving to enhance the collective nourishment of all life.

About Community Centred Knowledge

Community Centred Knowledge curates immersive, experiential learning performances to renew a deeper communion with the Earth and draw us closer to the understanding of ‘Ubuntu’: the Bantu concept of life’s inter-dependence. Each soul encountered brings richness and insight into the complexity of how coloniality shaped not only by place, but also bodies and how we choose to nourish them.

We develop our learning to shape our understandings and teachings around systemic justice and to process feelings which arise when souls awaken and speak, recognising the deep interdependencies upon which we increasingly rely to co-create ecologies of knowledge and practice to affirm our shared Earth.

Community Centred Knowledge at Ethical Consumer Week 2020

Sunday 25th October - 2pm – 5pm

A Journey to nourish

What would it take to help you feel fully nourished? When we speak of values and ethics, these are often framed in terms of lack or inability. We wish to offer a different way of engaging with these ideas that holds the possibility of building your relationship with the planet and each other; that supports a transformation of all that you would like to change for the better of all of us. Join Community Centred Knowledge  on this experiential  journey to explore the different ways in which we can respond to what is abundant in the Earth. 

This session is limited to 20 participants and will involve some preparatory work, so please register two weeks in advance to support with planning.