Visioning the Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor on the Roads to Detroit
Driven by the pressures of corporate competition, Midwestern capital elites envision a network of highspeed trains linking the scattered cities of flyover land into a dense urban grid. Oblivious to territories, histories and peoples you whisk your way from center to center like a roulette ball spinning through the global casino. What gets lost in the dreams of power are the connections between the city and the country, the earth and the sky, the past and the future.
What kinds of worlds are installed on the ground by the neoliberal planning processes developed in the technocratic universities? How to start building a cultural and intellectual commons that can seep into the fabric of everyday life?
The Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor is a call for longer, slower, deeper connections between the territories where we live. It’s a cartography of shared experience, built up by those who nourish lasting ties between critical groups, political projects, radical communities and experiments in alternative existence. Why not help build the commons by overflowing your usual daily routines? Why not make the journey to the US Social Forum into a chance to discover the worlds we can create right here in our own region?
This workshop draws from the inspiration of Grace Lee Boggs and the travels of the Compass Group on the “Continental Drift through the Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor.” The idea is to propose an act of collective discovery and creation, carried out this summer by anyone who’s heading to the Social Forum. Multiple caravans each chart their particular pathways and organize their own activist campaigns, artistic exchanges, skill-sharing sessions, solidarity dinners or whatever else they desire on the roads to Detroit, then converge at the Allied Media conference and the US Social Forum to share stories, images and artifacts from their detours through the Midwestern labyrinth. Meanwhile, those with different priorities can invent their own forms of travel and exchange, explore diverging temporalities, set up “stationary drifts” in the neighborhoods they inhabit and continue the projects they’re pursuing, while the moving worlds pass through them.
By taking the time for a conscious experience of the territories we are continually traversing we can build up what Stephen Shukaitis calls an “imaginal machine”: a many-headed hydra telling tales of solidarity and struggle, daily life and outlandish dreams in the places that power forgets, leaving their inhabitants free to remember living histories and work toward better tomorrows. The Compass Group will present images, narratives and documents from their Continental Drift in 2008, then open up the concept to input and debate. With the help of anyone who’s interested, we hope to lay the basis for a collaborative process of self-organization and convergence at the USSF in Detroit and to sow the seeds of future meetings and projects.