Emancipatory positions and the transformative gesture
The new ways of thinking and acting required by the Anthropocene sit in tension with the consumer pressures of advanced capitalism. New emancipatory positions are needed to replace those absorbed into consumer market economies. These new positions cannot reinstate human stories of heroic rescue, they must arise from within the condition of entanglement. The transformative gesture, according to Braidotti, 'is seldom the spectacular and is never the individual solitary gesture, it is a collective activity', shaped within re-thinking the politics of location and reconceptualising desire.
The children in this book, all born into the age of the Anthropocene, occupy many different emancipatory positions, changing their local environments in multiple small ways through their practical actions. They transform a wetland from its degraded weed infested state into a flowing filtration system that invites the return of many species of wildlife. They save seeds and grow food in gardens playing their part in the cycles of growth, death and decay. These actions support the millions of unnamed and invisible micro-organisations that sustain communities of soil and water on which human and other lives depend. In these ways different ontological positions are available to both the children and the other living creatures who live in the places with them.
When children grow food by creating different systems of relations between plants, soil, micro-organisms, insects and children, each element in the system is changed. Collectives are formed beyond the human and it is the knowledge gained from these actions that constitutes sustainability knowing. Sustainability education involves the knowledge of how to revitalise living systems generated from within these relations. It requires approaches that involve and connect all of the different disciplinary subjects through the elemental experience of immersion in the world, because it is not sustainable to separate knowing from being in the world.