I have been interested for a long time in how we come to know things. How do certain assumptions and beliefs make themselves authoritative and common sense, and how do others get excluded? This explains in part my fascination with Gregory Bateson, a scholar who worked in very different fields including anthropology, systems theory, biology and psychology. Bateson was very interested in this question of how we come to know things, and he defined epistemology as follows:
A branch of science combined with a branch of philosophy. As science, epistemology is the study of how particular organisms or aggregates of organisms know, think and decide. As philosophy, epistemology is the study of the necessary limits and other characteristics of the processes of knowing, thinking and deciding. (Bateson 1979: 242)
With, no doubt, many other reformist educators, such as John Dewey or Paolo Freire, I believe that there are strong links between experience and knowledge. CELL seeks to offer practice-based models for change, and ways in which we can learn to think and act on the world anew, collectively and responsibly.
The coming about of the association is intimately related to my personal journey that led me from research on the Common Agricultural Policy in Romania to systems thinking and ecological paradigms and from there to a Permaculture Design Course in Dorset. CELL is also inspired by the Transition initiative that started in the UK and has spread around the world rapidly in the last few years. Through integrating research and action in collaboration with communities, its main aims are to foster a collective process of imagining and creating a future that addresses the twin challenges of diminishing oil and gas supplies and climate change, along with unsustainable food and resource systems that we depend on everyday.
I have strong interests in acting on the ways in which people are starting to react to the triple crisis that has emerged most strongly since 2008, although it is of course much older and much more engrained in our lives. It is in this light that I want to work with others to create a positive vision for change through action research.
The baseline of CELL could be summarised as aiming to
1. live sustainably and endorsing holistic thinking and action
2. foster a culture of solidarity and collaboration
3. skilling up for living well in a post-carbon economy
Katy Fox – initiator of CELL, June 2010