Who Are We? #7 eco-feminism and the forest

On April 29th, 2022 we met in the Waldraum, a space for public activities of Brücke-Museum, designed and built by Constructlab. For the realisation of this hybrid building, which consists of a rough, raw wooden shell and a glass industrial greenhouse, the process focused on situational thinking and a locally-oriented mode of working: the wood is sourced partly from the garden of the Brücke-Museum itself and the surrounding forests, while the greenhouse is a recycled industrial product. What better place to share visions and tools to inscribe our work in an ecofeminist perspective?

The term “ecofeminism” was coined by the French writer Françoise d’Eaubonne in Le Féminisme ou la Mort (1974), in which she argued that oppression, domination, exploitation and colonisation by Western patriarchal society have directly caused irreversible environmental damage. The first part of the session was dedicated to understanding this idea from its theoretical framing to its possible practical applications.

We did so by reading together starting with an introduction by Julie Gorecki to the English edition of D’Eaubonne’s “Le Féminisme ou la Mort”, published in 2020 by Verso.

“An era of ecofeminism would begin with what d’Eaubonne called a global “mutation,” the author’s term for an ecofeminist revolution. D’Eaubonne was critical of the masculinist connotations surrounding the term “revolution” in the 1970s, what she called “our daddy’s” revolution. A mutation on the other hand, would enact a “great reversal” of mancentered power. Yet, this grand reversal of power would not mean a simple transfer of power from men to women. Instead, it would mean the “destruction of power” by women—the only group capable of executing a successful systemic change, one that could liberate women as well as the planet.”

After that, we read from Silvia Federici’s “Re-enchanting the World. Feminism and the Politics of the Commons” (2019)

“No common is possible unless we refuse to base our life and our reproduction on the suffering of others, unless we refuse to see ourselves as separate from them. Indeed, if commoning has any meaning, it must be the production of ourselves as a common subject. This is how we must understand the slogan “no commons without community.” But ‘community’ has to be intended not as a gated reality, a grouping of people joined by exclusive interests separating them from others, as with communities formed on the basis of religion or ethnicity, but rather as a quality of relations, a principle of cooperation, and of responsibility to each other and to the earth, the forests, the seas, the animals.”

Finally we tried to contextualise ecofeminism in urban practice, reading from the brochure “Ecofeminist Proposals to Re-imagining the City” (2021) by the Observatori del Deute en la Globalització.

“Urban design is the political practice of ordering the city, of observing how its physical side relates to its inhabitants and their daily lives, and the activities which take place there. This focus must respond to the diversity which exists in our cities, and be accompanied by feminist, environmentalist, social, intersectional and public-centred perspectives. It is urgent that we start to value and strengthen the right to housing and the right to the city, and promote transformative neighbourhood-based projects with residents’ participation. If we do so, it will be easier to move forward towards and consolidate a model of a caring city.”

Inspired by the readings, we shared our ways of perceiving and practicing ecofeminism: How can we deal with the climate crisis in our work and how is it affecting, driving and overwhelming us as women, citizens and professionals? How can we think about the crisis from an intersectional perspective and work/collaborate in ways that give justice to our surrounding environments and beings? Accounts which oscillated between critical self-reflection and inspirational practices of everyday life and professional determination.

We then left the Waldraum to Grunewald for a forest bath accompanied by Sabina Enea Téari from the collective La Foresta. After an exercise of embodiment, she recounted the tale of the bird and the tree and invited us for a silent walk in search for more than human stories that we shared back at the Waldraum, where Paula Erstmann from the Zusammenküche delighted us with a forestal Abendbrot.

Part of the project:

Who Are We?