Memory Work

Memory Work is a research-based scenario, indicating possible futures of women’s labour. Click Play, close your eyes, listen to the soundscape, and visualize. Once you’re done listening, scroll down to explore.
In a looming future—Earth’s natural systems are restless. Global energy, food, and water scarcity demand lifestyle adjustments for everyone. The global economy has slowed, its decline attributed mainly to the effects of climate change and strains on natural resources. In Toronto, populations have more than tripled in the past thirty years, largely due to the influx of climate refugees arriving from the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, China, and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Economic inequality is more severe than ever and the city is a patchwork of two types of neighbourhoods: densely populated zones, mostly composed of deteriorating condos — “the jungles” — and more manicured residential and business districts, or “gardens.” Lack of opportunity sways many to migrate outside of the city — forming kin and finding meaning in the project of rewilding our natural world.
Toronto proves its resilience. The desperate moment produces a wave of mostly women introducing different kinds of economic models, technologies, and ways of thinking. Known as the Mothers of Invention, their movement assembles around notions of healing and Ancestral Intelligence — the careful application of ancestral knowledge to technology.

Slowly, the economy is finding new form. One of the world’s most influential organizations, Almanac, is a worker cooperative in the Desktop Biotech space. Almanac provides its membership with the tools and materials of programmable biology for projects that help undo environmental disturbance and cultivate gracious relationships with our ecological neighbours.
ARTIFACTS

The following are cultural artifacts from the future scenario, Memory Work. Although they might only exist in this possible future world, they are informed by signals of change observed today. Click each artifact to explore the social, political, technological, and theoretical signals that informed it.

Acall for people to be with and of nature, to take care of the Earth and each other through mutual aid and collectivized reproduction — the concept of a Living Internet took root as a new way of thinking and feeling about how we form kin.

Like mushrooms springing from disseminated spores, an ad-hoc network of communes began to emerge outside of cities. Populated by urbanite folx who looked to move from precarious conditions to collective survival — the communes embodied ways of life oriented around slowness, intentionality, distributed abundance, and decentralized care.

The Living Internet became a kind of superorganism mediating the flow of nutrients among all living beings.

She is the bridge between infrastructure and ecology, immediacy and longevity, information and life. We are the spiritual caretakers of the Living Internet, charged with the responsibility of growing and nurturing her.”
SIGNALS
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Referring to a loosely knit movement of political, business, and spiritual leaders; entrepreneurs, scientists, and innovators; and their supporters — the words Mothers of Invention (or the initialism MOI) are found emblazoned amidst the taped seams, utility straps, and zipped pockets of tech aprons and lab coats (worn functionally and fashionably as a political statement). 
In response to the clumsy and ineffectual Climate Imperative of the first decades of the 21st century, the anti-patriarchal Mothers of Invention seized control of the world’s institutions — transitioning big businesses into cooperative models, formalizing new means of equitable exchange, and choosing nurture over growth.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
SIGNALS
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The Cosmetic Healer offers personal care services that are not merely aesthetic, but also affective, producing positive psychological and mental health outcomes. Cosmetic healing practices include a broad array of services from ancestral dietary guidance to postpartum care. In the application of topical cures and facial serums, in the intimate acts of stretching, massaging, and sculpting the body, in the pull of lifting surgeries, and in the tensile pressure of braiding — subtle energies, ripples of love and compassion, transfer through the therapist to the client. Among Cosmetic Healers, treatments involving the manipulation, stimulation, and removal of hair are most sacred. Hair is seen as our subtlest sensing technology, an antenna to our external and inner worlds. It is also a storage device, a kind of soft drive, a recording of selfhood and generations of trauma. The rubbing, kneading, and then pulling of the hair into braids is a labour of care, stimulating growth and ascension to a higher self.

Given the nature of vulnerability involved with their practices and the level of faith entrusted to Cosmetic Healers, they often operate only within smaller, local communities, offering their services to lifelong friends and fictive kin in exchange for invaluable gifts such as childcare, home-cooked meals, and expert advice.

SIGNALS
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The field of Ancestral Intelligence (a mended iteration of AI) integrates more-than-human ways of thinking — reviving ecological frameworks from indigenous knowledge and employing the sensing and processing powers of plants to better understand our situation in the natural world. Ancestral Intelligence is governed by a covenant of reciprocity, to honourably transact with the natural systems whose intelligence we’ve relied on to produce our medicine, food, energy, and building materials. The principles of Ancestral Intelligence are applied throughout the living sciences and in the biotechnologies. New life is cultivated to heal environments: microorganisms that filter air pollutants, purify waters, and regenerate soils.

SIGNALS
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In the age of creative biology, the biggest challenge facing the technosphere is the closing of its materials loops and waste streams. Taking inspiration from the deep time-tested processes of evolutionary adaptation and Gaia-scale recycling, engineers, designers, and citizens are turning to biomaterials for inspiration — combining long-known traditional techniques with new molecular-scale capacities for intervention. One of the most influential organizations in the world, Almanac, provides the tools, materials, and training to a new generation of problem solvers working to make products (from organic buildings to bio-fashion) that are more resilient, more adaptive, and cycled more efficiently back into the metabolic processes of the Earth. 

Almanac’s organizational code reads as follows:

Almanac

About Almanac | We Make Living Tools™ 

Almanac is a design ecosystem for the era of creative biology. 

We are a cooperative of citizens, makers, scientists, engineers, and organizations coordinating productive workflows for programmable biology.

Together, we’re creating a flourishing desktop biotech economy, governed by a philosophy of stewardship, sustainability, slowness, and safety.

We’re giving everyone — from curious citizens to seasoned designers — the tools, materials, and knowledge to create with biology and make the most out of life.

SIGNALS
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