The value of care

“Care is the thing that gets lost when you’re under-resourced”
“When you are stretched, it is exactly the care that becomes really hard to do. And because it is so bad to not do something with care, we will still do so, but that is when the burnout happens. So it is because care is just this unrecognized, it is a classic old thing not to value care work and it is something that is very present in our agroecologies.”

Hari Biles, Compost Mentis

An endemic lack of resources limits the development of political pedagogies with care. Care is central to building more-than-human solidarities across city territories that recognise nature as urban, and are a foundational aspect in the formation of networks to mobilise agroecological food systems. In the context of the neoliberal city, where urban agroecological work often struggles to meet project core costs, and for farmers to pay high rent and cost of living, practitioners are often confronted with painful myriads of self-exploitation, self-care or giving up the ethical ambition to work with care. To be true to values. To build prefigurations of a just and sustainable society. For resourcing the connections already there in the movement. For resourcing the ability to take time to see, recognise, listen and care. Practitioners find themselves between axis of burnout working beyond available resources, and practice with limited embodiment at risk of a thin veil of agroecological values at splintered scales. A lack of resources squeezes the space for practitioners to reflect, strategise and collectivise learning. As the structures of the neoliberal city attempt to chase out cultures of care and solidarity, it is imperative to make space to develop sustainable strategies of care. Social security mechanisms, such as universal basic income or financial supports for farm-start are policy options that could be implemented and part of an agroecological urbanism.

Building Block: Political Pedagogies