AltShift - a Degrowth Festival - Round Three
Hey there, degrowth academics, eco-socialist strategists, artists & activists pushing for a brighter, more just world and those of you who are just discovering the groove of degrowth!
We are ShiftSlow, an association creating celebratory, transformative and critical degrowth education since 2021. We are an international and interdisciplinary group that became a team while organising the 9th International Degrowth Summer School in Barcelona. When meeting again at the Degrowth Conference in The Hague, we noticed that the degrowth movement needed educational sharing spaces that were less formal and would be more in line with degrowth values of care, conviviality, grassroots democracy, autonomy, and queer-feminist decoloniality. And just like that, the AltShift Festival was born!
And… what the heck is AltShift?
The Alt Shift Festival is a degrowth festival that offers critical and creative educational content on post-growth cultures and eco-social strategies. It is a space for experimental, playful, artistic, and emotional knowledge creation and sharing on topics related to degrowth. It is also a community of care and solidarity that promotes sustainable and inclusive practices and contributes to the local community and environment. We have had the privilege of hosting two wonderful and successful festivals and are riding the momentum to co-create a third!
Co-Creating & Convivial Celebrating
A unique aspect of AltShift is that the programme is almost entirely co-created by all participants! Participants sign up for the festival beforehand with an idea of a workshop they would like to bring to the space. Topics-wise, the workshops revolve around post-growth cultures, eco-social strategies and emotional introspection. The formats are non-formal, participatory, experimental, exploratory, playful, artistic or creative. The same principle of co-creation holds for the evenings when we enjoy concerts, dances, theatre performances, sports tournaments and movie screenings from all the wonderful creatives at the AltShift. For the chillier nights, we light bonfires where we share our favourite protest songs and secrets about the revolution.
AltShift is also a place where community flourishes. We camp in the Austrian woods, cook, clean & build together, learn from each other and enjoy convivial artistic performances. All of this happens in the forests of lower Austria, and more specifically at Kunst in der Natur (Art in Nature), which provides us with ample camping and workshop spaces. The local ecosystem gifts us with wide meadows, chill areas in the safe havens of the woods, a little pond and a river nearby to cool down and a house with a big kitchen to collectively get delicious vegan food into everyone's bellies. During this week, we make care work common, which means that everyone takes a shift cooking and cleaning the various shared spaces. There are designated areas to chill and be quiet, as well as a safe space for BIPOC folks. With a buddy group system, we want to make everyone feel included. The organising team is always ready to implement participant suggestions in real-time, places careful attention to social cohesion and attempts to resolve conflict quickly.
Co-cultivation is not just a metaphorical concept within our minds and bodies, but it's also actively happening at a very tangible and practical level at the AltShift Festival. Our neighbour Tristan runs an organic Community Supported Agriculture (BioSain) less than a 5-minute walk away. During the festival, participants can get first-hand experience in permaculture gardening, the bio-construction of greenhouses, or the excavation of ponds to assist in the regeneration of the local ecosystem. Also, the veggies and fruit we eat at the AltShift are almost all from BioSain. Talk about co-cultivation!
The next edition: Building Alliances
The third edition of AltShift focuses on building alliances outside the degrowth movement. Degrowth argues that we need global material energy reduction to foster just and ecological futures. Until now, the strength of degrowth lies mainly within academia and, increasingly, on a top-down policy level. Seeing the degrowth movement as a node within a wider network of alternative movement struggles, we aim to shift our focus towards creating close and nurturing bonds of allyship and (un)learning how to create and cultivate such webs in a genuine way. How can degrowth become more inclusive to create research, policies and practices rooted in indigenous, decolonial, and trans-feminist knowledges and experiences? And, the other way around, how can we be better active allies to our sister movements?
On a very practical level, our content team aims to invite individuals and collectives fighting at the forefront of or engaging with grassroots social movement struggles, such as climate and global social justice, feminist abolitionism, food sovereignty, environmental justice, anti-racism, and land rights movements. Our invited guests are encouraged to bring a workshop or a discussion session in which they share their experiences, skills or knowledge. By inviting sister movements, we aim to broaden the scope of this degrowth festival to become a space of encounters and entanglement between different social movement actors.
Nurture the AltShift Revolution
Currently, we're in the process of organising the third edition of AltShift. Given that most of us are either students or employed to support ourselves, our work for ShiftSlow is a luxury that we squeeze into our 'free time'. To make the third edition of AltShift happen in August 2024, we ask for your contribution to strengthen not just our team but our collective ability to play our part in the decolonisation of degrowth. Until July, we will be busy organising content, logistics, funding, communications, partnerships, care, cohesion and more.
Celebrations are the life-juice of social movements!
Together, we can push the deeply neglected feeling of hope that degrowth aspires to. Conviviality, love and celebration are what have pushed many movements beyond the margins. The collective solidarity of people coming together to create something together is extraordinary. This is why we want to celebrate this movement, push it beyond the current margins and join arms with our sisters and brothers fighting the struggle against imperial capitalism. And we would be honoured to do it with you.
So, join us in realising this visionary event! Let's create a future where our collective actions shape a world that embraces diversity, justice, and the well-being of all beings. Donate today and help us make AltShift a vibrant reality!
Your support will go directly towards the expenses involved in organising the festivity, including the venue, workshops, materials, performer fees, logistical arrangements, and solidarity tickets for folks coming from marginalised communities. Every contribution, big or small, makes a difference. Sharing our campaign helps, too!
By supporting AltShift, you become an essential part of this movement towards inclusive, just, and regenerative modes of existence.
Donations from any group, organisation or individual do not equal endorsement from the Alt Shift team. Please read our positionality statement on our website for more information on our stances.