In 2008, a mighty evolutionary leap occured in my life. This was the year that i would learn to make collectives (DC and CCC), create art installations at a UN conference, and work with the Durban municipality on future city planning projects. At that UN conference, my key project was the ‘putting the UN in June‘. Project jUNe.2008 pivoted around the KwaSpace, a magical and vibrant Durban urban theater with an expansive courtyard, where we hosted evening events and strategic meetings. The space brought together many youth representatives from around the world and created many lasting friendships and encouraged many creative collaborations.
This idea of space and people, and investigating their relationships in terms of producing creative and cultural goods and outputs, evolved organically , like a tender slender vine through time, to yield an unforeseen flower in late 2011. The COP17 Circus arrived in town, and like St Eve (pictured below), i was keen to make some noise and get involved in my hometown.
Back in Durban after many star and fire-filled moons with the Natures Valley WildSpirit community, St.Eve and i fulfilled our promise to each other, made around those same fires and stars in Natures Valley in early 2010, and were now both assembled in home town Durban, to help with the resistance around the COP17 conference. From our early vantage point (in time), we saw many creative and active forces arriving to Durban and in need of a support structure. Accordingly, we created a supportive environment by setting up spaces, systems and collectives in a network that needed a physical work/sleep/connect space to center itself around. And thus, the House was born.
MORE JHAUS PICS PLEASE ..send us some if you have them lying around
The space itself was an old Victorian-style mansion house, easily one of the early buildings of this style in Durban, placed strategically both then and now. The house, a communal house space was converted into a semi-hostel, with the bottom floor being cleared out and turned into dorms, office and chill areas. This was done due to the fact that cheap and effective accommodation for art activists and direct action campaigners was not easily available. The living space was just meant to be an add-on function to the network of gallery spaces, workspaces, computer labs and live performance spaces throughout the city, that St Eve and myself were facilitating.
And somehow, the house became the thing that people really loved and found valuable. The house did not even have a name, though it was christened the Jungle Mansion by the CYD crew who were the earliest of guests and helped created its near mythical status through stories and drop-in visits.
By having this centralized connection point, the House became a hub for local and visiting activists to connect, a home for many wandering change ajents, and was the base that our team used to put together the OccupyCOP17 camp, formed the 1%ClownArmy, and provided creative and tactical support to many direct action campaigns during the COP17 conference through our DurbanKnights collective.
The energy from this project was taken forward to Brazil in mid 2012, as the impossibly beautiful Rio De Janeiro played host to the Rio+20 conference. Having seen the value that having these autonomous spaces to support creative resistance, a small team arrived ahead of time to set up what would be known as The JungleHouse2.0 [JH2.0] ,allowing for iterations to be built upon this experiential experiment.
In this, jUNe.2012 , The JungleHouse2.0 became a vital linkage component and again, produced an in-house art/direct action collective with a healthy blend of ‘locals’ and gringos. I had lost both home-ground knowledge And St. Eve by this point, so very little media work was done and most of the magic was in the coming together of many different people, with their own histories and preconceived agendas and plans. The Riot20 Collective was born from the ashes of Youth Blast and the embers of the OccupyRio+20, youth from around the globe and across four languages who worked together to create a fresh and creative approach to direct actions, while continuing one of the key tenets of the Durban House – bridging the divide between the ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’
Some house notes:
COP18 and 19 shifted across the equator and during this time, i continued to journey across South Africa’s coastline. Completing my PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in 2013 again shifted my reality, and in this instant, gave me new eyes to see the world. The design methodology appealed to me, and being eager to test both it and myself, i used the methodology to design things besides gardens ( Music Festival – Temporary Tipi Village, Kids UpCycling Festival). These were also the days of the “Gypsy Caravan/Pirate Ship” Tour, travelling across the coastline of South Africa, linking permaculture spaces and nature conservancies/ indigenous forests, while experimenting with decentralised seed banks pinned to a cryptocurrency running on the Blockchain. The influence of my PDC had on the JungleHouse project is documented on this blog.
In mid 2014, while based on a tiny organic farm in Stellenbos, South Africa, the hive mind of our group was activated, and several late nights later, the JungleHouse2.0 ‘Tree that showered seeds’,cocooned through the Long Winter of Discontent, evolved and emerged at COP20 in Lima, in the form of the artivist house CasActiva. The house was a partnership between several organisations and was in a sense, not a JungleHouse per say, as it was not truly autonomous. The house had two main modes of functionality, facilitating connections and creativity through available space (meeting rooms, creative spaces, art room), as well as developing further, the art of people from different backgrounds, languages and agendas coming together and learning to love and live with each other, in a space of communal trust, self awareness and nurturing development (the TierrActiva crew and partner crews used parts of the house as their communal living/learning space).
The house in Lima [JH2.713A] was set up again primarily to support local resistance and creative forces and again, supporting those building bridges between the inside and outside factions. The house was a unique interaction between TierrActiva (Peru and Bolivia), itself a beautiful product of 350.org – The Global Power Shift. The house was used a central hub for local artivist groups, international organisations needing space to have meetings, workshops and to create art, meeting spaces for larger assemblies over strategy and documentation, a spider connector for visiting activists to connect to a local (Latin American) network of unique and activated individuals.
The house was known as CasActiva, and embedded itself in the legends and tales of the Latin American response to climate change and art activism. Partners included Caravan Climatica,the Yasunido’s, Bloque Hip Hop crew (mad respect to the youth of Lima using hop hop to address the globalization incursion in this region), the Lima POP20 crew, and the usual suspects of nature defenders, free ajents, artists, activists and anarchists pushing for ‘System Change, not Climate Change’.
These pictures below were snapped by many peoples whose names i dont remember or never knew… They’re mostly here to re-create the vibrant nature of this project and the Day of Action especially.
This slogan was the anthem of Lima, the one sound that the people gathered together under, a common cause to unite the struggles for freedom and sovereignty among tribes of Earth. Still, it itself needed an evolution, a fresh growth point, a new node to yield a new flower. Most of the COP20 actions and activities, when not focused on local actions, concerns, issues, and cosmology, was firmly on the prize of COP21 in Paris. Indeed, the first dreams for the Paris house began on a bus rumbling through the dessert just north of Lima.
The COP20[ JH2.713A ] did still provide support for ‘Inside’ actions, as well as the dream of the bridge to connect the Inside to the Outside directly. The reduced focus on this was a reflection of the dis-trust with the official process that is now contagious and spreading through all sectors, divisions and oppositions within this global circus show. As with almost everything that happened in Lima, this turned out be part of the Road to COP21 in Paris
The year of 2015 was dedicated to the ideas and ideals around COP21, not the official process, but rather around how to create stronger networks of resistance, playing with new forms of movement and shape/form by imitating natures patters (swarming techniques, mycelium like shapes), revitalizing the climate justice movements, helping to strengthen links between north and south resistance movements, and most importantly, evolving the ‘System Change not Climate change’ narrative.
Through the year, a concentrated group of inspired individuals worked behind the scenes crafting an environment for Paris’ resistance against the fossil fuel oligarchy that would support our creative objectives and strategic directives. The idea was to create an ecosystem of inter-dependent projects, spaces and movements that would help our individual projects to thrive to achieve their individual (and collectivised) objectives. This process was code named UnderCover COP, and facilitated many close collaborations over time that built towards establishing the Paris ecosystem.
The build-up to COP21 was an unprecedented collaborative across so many levels, sectors and old enemies. Forces truly put down their defenses, and began to work with each other across multi-lingual platforms, creating a unified civil society response and program of activities that really did its best to integrate the active concerns of hundreds of action-groups, NGOs and organisations. Coalition Climat21 and the Alternatiba crew were powerful forces in bringing change agents together and creating platforms and spaces for inter connections and synergies to emerge ahead of time.
Within this context, the UndercoverCOP team began to synergise their planned actions, and fresh new inventive forms of creative interventions and installations began to emerge. The most powerful form though, was the development of the RedLines strategy, and the setting up of the Climate Games. Both these applied patterns harnessed from nature in their structure, the Climate Games being a decentralized platform for participants playing a game as direct action teams, while the Redlines is a decentralized and distributed narrative framework. Both of these became the foundations for the re-structured resistance once Paris COP time arrived.
This iteration of the junglehouse model was a further advancement of the model developed in Durban, and taken through stages of evolution in Rio and Lima. This time, the partnership extended across the continents as the JungleCrew, the TierrActiva team from the Lima house and the Eroles art residency team combined forces to create a further partnership with French squat collective Stendhal, to open the (h)art house for Paris, known as L’Annex.
And fate would have it, the year spent projecting and planning was voided the moment news of the attacks in Paris November13 spread through the world. We realised that beyond the direct implications of an urban terrorist attack, the suppression of climate justice activists would gain extra leverage. Indeed, the circumstances were hostile, with the country in a state of emergency and L’Annex raided after the first major manifestation in Place de la Republique