Envisioning the FutureA Joint Statement from Contributors to Alternative Worlds
“Envision a future in which your culture, history, and values have guided the world to an alternative reality — and harnessing that energy, create a piece to resonate with our times.”
Reality is born of our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. To create an alternative world, we must first then take an imaginative leap — place ourselves first into a future of possibilities, and only then work backwards and guide ourselves to that point from our present moment.
That was the reasoning behind this prompt for Alternative Worlds, to feel an alternative reality in our present mind, to first dream and then to manifest.
Each person has their own knowledge, stories, and vision — and it’s in bringing those voices together and harnessing our collective wisdom that we can also begin to glimpse an alternative reality greater than the sum of its parts — a collective dream that we all share.
In keeping with these ideas, here we have space for contributors to express what this project means to us, what we hope folks take away from it, and what we’re grateful for:
For me, this project was born out of a desire to create a resource for the Andean community. When I started the journey to learn about my Andean heritage, I had a ridiculously hard time knowing where to start or how to find resources and representation. So part of my motivation is to make it easier for anyone else in the future to start this process of self discovery, and to know they’re not alone.
This project is also a way to honor the idea of ayni or reciprocity in Andean culture. I’ve recently been dialed into this idea of Global Reciprocity, a proposal to create new paradigms in our cultures, practices, and institutions centering reciprocal relationships at the core, all of which I learned about alongside Shirley via a class with the Ayni Institute, a social change organization with Peruvian leadership based out of Boston.
With that in mind, creating both the Andean and Asian American collections in solidarity with one another, both as a way to celebrate our diversity as well as build new relationships and recognize our shared humanity, is a contribution to this idea of moving towards Global Reciprocity. How do we get there? By going together. And concretely, I had so much fun collaborating with Sandy and Shirley to make a zine, and with Charles on creating our essay correspondence!
In all, I hope by bringing together all of the fantastic work folks are already doing in their respective circles, we can make it easy for folks to both connect and start a process of self discovery to give us a better understanding of who we are, cultural heritage included, allowing us to nourish our own lives as well as know all that we have to offer as we share our whole selves with one another and the world.
Jessica “Urpi”(Dove) Kahn
I must say that I am grateful for this project put forth by Alternative Worlds because it allows the English-speaking world to experience Andean culture (the collection I’ve participated in). As a musician and artist I believe the Arts are the most accessible entry point into culture and cultural preservation.
In my case from this project I hope more people who have seen themselves as “just” mestizos will find the courage to learn about their indigeneity, that musicians or musically inclined people of any background will perform my short piece in their recitals knowing its context and will give credit to me and Andean roots for its creation and hopefully a wider audience see that we live and colonization did not eliminate my indigenous Native American (South American people) Tawantinsuyu (Four Suyus or the Andean world).
I feel blessed to be included in a collection of such gifted creators and artists and open for collaboration with I also hope will be possible in the future. Thank you, Gracias, Payllaa (Ancash/Central Quechua), Añay/Sulpayki (Southern Quechua), Pay Suma (Aymara)
Participating in this project, just going through the exercise of imagining a future based on different values, helped to shift my frame of thinking about what changes are possible. What I wish for people to take away from this project is encouragement to at least momentarily set aside what we think of as common sense and logic. If it can be imagined, it can be done. Believing isn’t a sufficient step but it is a necessary one. And I think art, fiction, these are all ways of giving structure the more fundamental exercise of stretching our imaginations.
I’m really grateful to have my music and art included in this collection, and love that we got to stop and consider Andean conceptions of the future and its cyclical nature. Jallalla to the organisers who worked so hard to make it possible!
In considering the future, especially after the recent IPCC report, it is difficult to imagine one without burning horizons and absolute destruction and loss, an apocalyptic future that mainstream media and peak oil preppers alike anticipate in dreams and nightmares. But certainly it is important to look into the past, to look at how we once broke free from previously established orders, recovered and adapted some of their tools and created new ones, and somehow reforged ourselves into new versions. Knowledge of our biome within us, of all the microorganisms that we cohabit with and that transcend western concepts of finite life, means our Andean three spirits — our Jach’a, Jisk’a and Sullka Ajayus — can flourish. We are not limited in time because we are linked to everything that happened before and can happen in future, but we are here now and although this Pachakuti is a great clash, a time of great destruction, it is also the beginning of a new cycle.
As this collection launches I will be in Glasgow, a city I was exiled to as a baby, like a mitma community sent by our invaders to a new inhospitable environment, but I was able to become a part of that place and discover and be there to help and work with the Minga Indigena, the gathering of indigenous delegates who are already arriving to Glasgow for COP26 as I write, each one from a different tribe across Abya Yala, to help raise awareness and share the knowledge, art and stories so that we can mold the future.
Minga is an ancient word, and like Ayni it is about shared work, this time between tribes, across cultures, where Ayni is that exchange with the elements, life and those directly around us, a Minga is that shared work we all have to do in a wider sense. In the same way the Chakana is not just a cross, but a sign in the stars that indicates the seasons, the work to do across those seasons, across our cultures, beyond our differences, for the good of mother nature, and for the society that we can build by coordinating together and figuring it all out again.
I’m grateful for memory and tradition that has granted me inspiration to write. Often we recognize that our bodies, hearts, and mind hang onto the trauma and pain. But, our bodies, hearts, and minds also hang onto our ancestral memories. I remember once in college a professor told a classmate that nationalism was a lie, and my classmate panicked fearing that their entire identity was built on a lie. While nationalism may be a colonial lie, I knew that the connection to the land and the ancestral traditions practiced on our land were and will always be real. The fire in my heart as it comes alive when I hear our traditional music is memory. The affinity to experience others never had had to face is memory. The joy of dancing and wearing our traditional clothes is memory. No one can take any of it away. I honor my ancestors' knowledge and their collective memory living in me through my writing for the project. I am grateful for the opportunity and grateful for the ability to remember.
I'm grateful for the chance to share my little story with the world, alongside so many brilliant artists who share my hyphenated identity. My webzine started out as a personal endeavor to make some sense of my hard drive full of travel photos and videos, and to put my fleeting memories into words before I forgot — I hadn't imagined that more than a handful of people might look at it. And now, seeing my story in this collection has given me greater perspective and reminded me of the power that my stories may hold, especially in chorus with other voices in the community. I hope this project can inspire someone to start creating and sharing, as even tiny and mundane stories are worth telling.
I’m grateful for this space and the opportunity to share my story and process. I find it very easy to talk with other members in this group and receive meaningful feedback, as well as learn how my experience resonates with their own. My work deals with my own narrative as I exist in the world, so I never thought about the “what if”s of an alternative reality that this project celebrates (I am now, though! :)). My project started from my art thesis in college and is gradually growing outwards as I view the other projects included here. I think it’s wonderful to see so many people like myself that are navigating through their identities in their own way and to see what media they transform that journey into.
Shirley Man-Kin Leung
This project means a few different things to me. It feels like a validation of the power of relationships and friendships even over long distances, and (especially so) through global pandemic Apocalypse. It also feels like one step towards a future that centers collaboration, creativity, community, joy, and reciprocity!
I hope they take away a sense of awe at how dope our community is!! And a sense of love and inspiration from all of the different mediums of art and truth that was shared. And maybe some motivation to keep engaging and being involved with AltSalt as we continue to grow and evolve.
I'm grateful for the core team, Art and Sandy! You both are such amazing people that I’m honored to know and work with. And for our entire community who submitted artwork and contributed their time and energy to this collection. And grateful for the Ayni institute for bringing us together and rekindling the fire of our ancestors and for sharing the wisdom and teachings of the long view.
I’m so grateful for the connections this project has helped me cultivate, nurture, and grow. Because of Alternative Worlds, I’ve been able to learn about and connect with amazing artists; not to mention see, read, and experience incredible creative works! My horizons have been expanded in the best ways possible. Especially in this day and age where we are so inundated with the internet and technology (to the point where it can be hard to put your phone down and just be present), I find that having a resource like this one is more important than ever. I try to avoid mindless scrolling through social media, but sometimes social media is the only way to find and stumble upon awesome creators that inspire me. Projects like these, however, provide another way to connect with and learn from creators that is more intentional and community-centered, which I think we can all benefit from.
It’s been a beautiful journey getting to see this project come to fruition, and for sure one of the best parts was getting to work with Art and Shirley to develop a collaborative zine! I love the energy we have as a group and I have learned so much from both of you, as well as the greater AltSalt community as a whole. I can’t wait to continue the journey and see where our projects, collaborations, and community leads us next :)
This project was devised by Sandy Enriquez, Shirley Man-Kin Leung, and Artemio Morales in May 2021 as a means of making resources for our communities.
After that, we published the open call on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter on June 15th, with a deadline of August 15th.
From July 17-18th, we held a workshop weekend of programming, including online workshops and discussion groups.
As we received final submissions around August 15th, Artemio began to design and program support for the different content types that would need to exist on the site to support the submissions.
Principal programming was completed in mid September, after which Artemio, Shirley, and Sandy began devising how to frame and present the collections.
In early October, contributors were invited to craft statements to accompany the collections and offer feedback on copy throughout the project. Preparations began for a launch event.
The collections were officially launched in November 2021.