Interdependence

A blue humanoid sits cross-legged holding an Earth-like sphere

Interdependence acknowledges that our survival is bound up together, that we are interconnected and what you do impacts others. If this pandemic has done nothing else, it has illuminated how horrible our society is at valuing and practicing interdependence. Interdependence is the only way out of most of the most pressing issues we face today. If we do not understand that we are interdependent with the planet we as a species will not survive.

You Are Not Entitled To Our Deaths: COVID, Abled Supremacy & Interdependence 

Abled culture teaches you to act as if you are independent, to buy into the myth of independence. Reject this. Embrace interdependence and know it is the only way we will be able to end this pandemic. Know that if we center disabled people, first and foremost those who are high risk, it will help everyone

You Are Not Entitled To Our Deaths: COVID, Abled Supremacy & Interdependence 

This work is about shifting how we understand access, moving away from the individualized and independence-framed notions of access put forth by the disability rights movement and, instead, working to view access as collective and interdependent.

With disability justice, we want to move away from the “myth of independence,” that everyone can and should be able to do everything on their own. I am not fighting for independence, as much of the disability rights movement rallies behind. I am fighting for an interdependence that embraces need and tells the truth: no one does it on their own and the myth of independence is just that, a myth.

Changing the Framework: Disability Justice | Leaving Evidence

The notion of disability in our society is underscored by a bizarre conception of “independence”.
It is time to celebrate our interdependence!
Collaboration allows us to create genuinely safe spaces for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people.

The Myth of Independence: How The Social Model of Disability Exposes Society’s Double Standards » NeuroClastic

Access intimacy is one of the main ways that I have been building interdependence in my life. I have been pushing myself to grow it and not just subsist on the little I have been able to find, most significantly with my partner, as is the case for many disabled folks. Engaging in building any kind of interdependence will always be a risk, for everyone involved; and the risk will always be greater for those who are more oppressed and have less access to privilege. In an ableist world where disabled people are understood as disposable, it can be especially hard to build interdependence with people you need in order to survive, but who don’t need you in order to survive. In an ableist context, interdependence will always get framed as “burden,” and disability will always get framed as “inferior.” To actively work to build something that is thought of as undeniably undesirable and to try and reframe it to others as liberatory, is no small task.

Especially as disabled people, we know what it means to live interdependent lives and it does not always feel revolutionary or enjoyable.

Access intimacy is interdependence in action. It is an acknowledgement that what is most important is not whether or not things are perfectly accessible, or whether or not there is ableism; but rather what the impact of inaccessibility and ableism is on disabled people and our lives. In my experience, when access intimacy is present, the most powerful part is having someone to navigate access and ableism with. It is knowing that someone else is with me in this mess. It is knowing that someone else is willing to be with me in the never-ending and ever-changing daily obstacle course that is navigating an inaccessible world. It is knowing that I will not be alone in the stunning silence, avoidance and denial of ableism by almost every able bodied person I have ever and will ever come in contact with. Access intimacy is knowing that I will not be alone in the stealth, insidious poison that is ableism.

The power of access intimacy is that it reorients our approach from one where disabled people are expected to squeeze into able bodied people’s world, and instead calls upon able bodied people to inhabit our world.

In my life, access intimacy continues to be a game-changer, a way to queer access into a tool we can use to get free. It has been a way to shift and queer how I and others understand disability and ableism. And because of the inherent interdependence of access intimacy—the “we” of access intimacy—it has transformed the kinds of conversations I am able to have with some of the able bodied people in my life. 

Access Intimacy, Interdependence and Disability Justice | Leaving Evidence

Self-care is birthed by and through community care.

Talila A. Lewis

What is mutual aid?

“Solidarity, not charity.”

Why is a spoon share helpful?

  • Interdependence, understanding and support
  • Gives opportunity to help & care for other in on our own terms and within our own capacities
  • Direct support in a community within a community
  • It’s much easier to practice asking, offering, receiving, and declining among people who “get it”!

Source: Collective Community Care: Dreaming of Futures in Autistic Mutual Aid

Increasingly, autistic communities have been exposed to ideas of disability justice, interdependence, access intimacy, collective/community care, and mutual aid. Care collectives, spoon shares, and other community care groups by and for disabled people, racialized people, LGBTQ2IA+ people (and people at this intersection) are growing in number. Is there a future for autistic spaces to also act as spaces of intentional mutual aid?

Moving from a rights-based perspective to a justice-based one necessitates a look at our care systems and re-envisioning how our communities function to ensure no one is left behind.

Collective Community Care: Dreaming of Futures in Autistic Mutual Aid, Autscape: 2020 Presentations

It is from being disabled that I heave learned about the dangerous and privileged “myth of independence” and embraced the power of interdependence. The myth of independence being of course, that somehow we can and should be able to do everything on our own without any help from anyone.  This requires such a high level of privilege and even then, it is still a myth.  Whose oppression and exploitation must exist for your “independence?”

We believe and swallow ableist notions that people should be “independent,” that we would never want to have to have a nurse, or not be able to drive, or not be able to see, or hear.  We believe that we should be able to do things on our own and push our selves (and the law) hard to ensure that we can.   We believe ableist heteronormative ideas that families should function as independent little spheres.  That I should just focus on MY family and make sure MY family is fed, clothed and provided for; that MY family inherits MY wealth; that families should not be dependent on the state or anyone else; that they should be “able-bodied,” essentially. We believe the ableist heteronormative racist classist myth that marriage, “independence” as sanctified through the state, is what we want because it allows us to be more “independent,” more “equal” to those who operate as if they are independent—That somehow, this makes us more “able.”

And to be clear, I do not desire independence, as much of the disability rights movement rallies behind.  I am not fighting for independence.   I desire community and movements that are collectively interdependent.

As a disabled person, I am dependant on other people in order to survive in this ableist society;  I am interdependent in order to shift and queer ableism into something that can be kneaded, molded and added to the many tools we will need to transform the world.  Being physically disabled and having mobility needs that are considered “special,” means that I often need people to help me carry things, push my wheelchair, park my car, or lend me an arm to lean on when I walk.   It means that much of my accessibility depends on the person I’m with and the relationship I have with them. Because most accessibility is done through relationships, many disabled people must learn the keen art of maintaining a relationship in order to maintain their level of accessibility.  It is an exhausting task and something that we have had to master and execute seamlessly, in many of the same ways we have all had to master how to navigate and survive white supremacy, heterosexism, our families, economic exploitation, violence and trauma.   This is also one of the main conditions which allow for disabled people to be victims of violence and sexual assault.

Interdependence (exerpts from several talks) | Leaving Evidence

The Western conception of the person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment, and action organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively against both other such wholes and against its social and natural background, is, however incorrigible it may seem to us, a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures.

In America, the individual is almost always the point of reference for thinking about success, about morality, about how children are educated and what defines adulthood. It’s about me, not us. As I argued recently, the astonishing selfishness of people who refuse to wear masks or restrict their activities during an epidemic – putting their “liberty” to do whatever they please above a sense of responsibility to (let alone concern for) the well-being of others – is really just an amplified version of what our whole culture represents.

Most of us are no more aware of the individualistic worldview that shapes us and defines our culture than a fish is aware of being in water. This is the context in which to understand how the central lesson in American schools, as Philip Jackson memorably put it, is “how to be alone in a crowd.” Learning is regarded as an activity for a roomful of separate selves, not for a community. One of my elementary school teachers used to trumpet, “Eyes on your own paper! I want to see what you can do, not what your neighbor can do!” This announcement, which issued from her with all the thoughtfulness of a sneeze, annoyed me at the time mostly for its contrived use of the word neighbor. Later I came to realize how misconceived the whole posture was. An impossibly precocious student might have turned to that teacher and said, “So you want to see what happens when I’m stripped of the resources and social support that characterize most well-functioning real-world environments? Geez, why wouldn’t you want to see how much more my ‘neighbors’ and I could accomplish together?

Decades’ worth of research demonstrates the benefits of cooperative learning (CL) — an arrangement in which students of all ages and in just about all subjects figure stuff out together, in pairs or small groups. CL isn’t just about dividing kids into teams; it’s about creating “positive interdependence,” meaning that assignments are constructed so as to foster active collaboration.

But the larger point is that it doesn’t make sense to think of achievement in a purely individualistic way, as we do in schools, workplaces, and our society more generally. Tackling tasks together — particularly but not exclusively for people already predisposed toward interdependence — is usually a lot more productive.

Not only should we offer opportunities to learn and work cooperatively — the whole idea of achievement should be reframed to reflect collective accomplishment.

All of Us Are Smarter Than Any of Us – Alfie Kohn

Autists depend on assistance from others in ways that differ from the cultural norm – and that is pathologised. However, the many ways in which non-autistic people depend on others is considered “normal”, or rather it is brushed under the carpet.

W.E.I.R.D. societies prefer to forget that humans have evolved to live in highly collaborative groups, with strong interdependencies between individuals and in many cases between groups. In our pre-civilised past all human groups were small, and interdependence and the need for mutual assistance was obvious to all members of a group. The tools of civilisation, including money, have undermined our appreciation of interdependence, and within the Western world have culminated in a toxic cult of competitive individualism, which amongst the non-autistic population ironically leads to extreme levels of groupthink.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

Such exploitative interdependencies between people are considered “normal”, and we consider anyone who is able to survive comfortably by extracting money from other people “independent”.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

It is important to understand that an emphasis on local-self sufficiency in terms of physical resource use is simply an effective way of minimising energy use and conflicts arising out of spurious cultural complexity, and does not preclude extensive global collaboration and prolific knowledge sharing. Neurodivergent people suffer at the hands of a sick society, and often this culminates in severe mental health problems. The pathway forward for the individual neurodivergent person depends on the concrete context. It is time to celebrate our interdependence! Collaboration allows us to create genuinely safe spaces for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people. We should expect society to support us in establishing new forms of creative collaboration, and we should not be forced individually to be “included” in toxic exploitative environments.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

Both the commitment and the ability to make the world a better place begin with an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things. But the commitment and especially the ability both require more than just an awareness of this interconnection: they require an understanding of exactly how things are interconnected.

Literature, Social Wisdom, and Global Justice: Developing Systems Thinking

…the eco-system arises from and responds to the multiple ways in which everyone is causally interconnected with, interdependent with, and fundamentally the same as all other humans, and literary representations of these various types of solidarity, their inherence in human nature, and their benefits to people who recognize and embrace them can help students incorporate these principles into their mental models of human nature and thus both recognize and enact them more productively in their personal, professional, and civic lives.

The most obviously systemic form of interconnectedness is existential: we all depend on other humans for our very existence and survival—that is, for the production and distribution of our food, clothing, and shelter, not to mention the complex technologies that we in the postindustrial world have come to rely on. We are dependent on the work of countless other individuals at every moment in our lives, and we simply could not exist without their direct and indirect contributions to our lives.

Literature, Social Wisdom, and Global Justice: Developing Systems Thinking

For the first time, the age of digital networks enables us to construct cognitive assistants that help us to nurture and maintain globally distributed human scale competency networks – networks of mutual trust. It is time to tap into this potential and to combine it with the potential of zero-marginal cost global communication and collaboration.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

On so many levels, interdependence requires being seen, as much as possible, as your true self. Meaning that your capacity and need are transparent.

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

All healthy and resilient institutions have a well-functioning competency network (Laloux 2014; Wilson 2015). A good way to understand competency networks is via the notion of trustworthiness and the nurturing and maintenance of trusted relationships (Bettin and Elliffe 2016). A competency network can be formalised as a directed graph of experience-based pair-wise trustworthiness ratings in relation to various domains between the members of a group. You can think of it as the gifts that people bring to life by relating to each other.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

Compelling futures have to have more justice, yes; and right relationship to planet, yes; but also must allow for our growth and innovation. I want an interdependence of lots of kinds of people with lots of belief systems, and continued evolution.

Interdependence is mutual dependence between things. If you study biology, you’ll discover that there is a great deal of interdependence between plants and animals. “Inter-” means “between,” so interdependence is dependence between things, the quality or condition of being interdependent, or mutually reliant, on each other.57

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

‘Rebellion’ is not enough. We need to build new systems from the ground up, right now.
And it means grounding this effort in completely new frame of orientation, one in which human beings are inherently interconnected, and inter-embedded within the earth; where we are not atomistically separated from the reality in which we find ourselves as technocratic overlords, but are co-creators of that reality as individuated parts of a continuum of being.

Escaping extinction through paradigm shift
Lush green jungle with a sunbeam spilling through a gap in the canopy

it is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself. Field studies show that as biodiversity is reduced, so is the quality of the services provided by ecosystems. Records of stressed ecosystems also demonstrate that the descent can be unpredictably abrupt. 

E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation » The Diversity of Life
Earth's gonna set on fire
But still I wait
Rabid with desire
But still I wait

Flames gonna kiss my back
I hope I can run faster than that
Earth's gonna set on fire
But still I wait
Who's gonna swallow the blaze
After the flood
Stuck inside the maze
The moss and mud

Drowning with the plants
I hope I can swim faster than that
Earth's gonna set on fire

But still I wait
But still I wait
But still I wait
But still I wait
But still I

The Next Curse by Slothrust

A humanoid wears a mask attached by a hose to a glass box containing plants
Artist: Heike Blakley

“The Next Curse” is a song about how even in a time when we see our planet on fire and flooding, we still don’t take the time we need to heal ourselves. These circumstances begin to mirror each other in a self-perpetuating cycle. It’s my desire that humans as a species work toward less violence and more compassion for one another despite differences. I hope we can show this kindness to planet earth as well and treat her like the magical, generous being she is.

FLOOD – Slothrust Break Down Their Spiritual New LP “Parallel Timeline” Track by Track
A blue humanoid sits cross-legged holding an Earth-like sphere
Artist: Heike Blakley

Putting care—not just care work, but care—at the center of our economy, our politics, is to orient ourselves around our interdependence.

The Year That Broke Care Work

Care is an organizational structure needed to keep our nation running. It’s, by definition, infrastructure.

Care work makes all other work possible.

Health is at the center of the human experience.

We need a counterculture of care.

I feel that that the fundamental property of humanness is to fill those spaces where humanity has been abandoned with love. Those who would change the system have to begin with love, and with the vision to build geographies of care built from that love.

Reframing is self-care and social change.

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Rainbow over a river that has carved a U shaped canyon
Rainbow over a river that has carved a U shaped canyon

It is time to celebrate our interdependence!

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale: Timeless patterns of human limitations

In the Parable books Lauren is a young, black, disabled woman who manages to not merely survive but to create a belief system and lead a community that brings together and helps thousands in the midst of chaos. As a result, this series is one example of how a better future can include those of us whose lives, bodyminds, and perspectives are often devalued and discounted.

Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction

Embrace diversity.
Unite—
Or be divided,
robbed,
ruled,
killed
By those who see you as prey.
Embrace diversity
Or be destroyed.

Parable of the Sower (p. 196)

Earthseed is Olamina’s contribution to what she feels should be a species-wide effort to evade, or at least to lengthen the specialize-grow-die evolutionary cycle that humanity faces, that every species faces.

Parable of the Sower (Parable, 1)

Take a look at Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. That isn’t prophecy, I hope. The society that I portray in these two books is pretty much broken.

Global warming is practically a character in Parable of the Sower.

They’re problems now. They become disasters because they’re not attended to. I hope, of course, that we will be smarter than that.

We do tend to go to the edge more often than we ought to. We go to the edge and then we look and we realize, my god, that’s oppressive, we could fall over, we could die, and we draw back.

The problem is with something like global warming you can’t just draw back and make it okay.

Octavia Butler interview – transcending barriers – YouTube

She described “Parable of the Sower” as “definitely an if-this-goes-on story.

“And if it’s true, if it’s anywhere near true, we’re all in trouble.”

The Parable of the Sower: Crash Course Literature 406 – YouTube
The earth wears a gas mask as factories pollute
Artist: Kyle Duce

The strategies that played out in Octavia’s books included adaptability and interdependence—often through the practice of repeated vulnerability.

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

Let’s organize our lives around love and care.

Mission

We exist for the direct support and mutual aid of neurodivergent and disabled people.

We serve our loved people so we can keep on living through the onslaught.

Creed

I center the marginalized and the different. I center edge cases, because edge cases are stress cases and design is tested at the edges. I center neurodivergent and disabled experience in service to all bodyminds.

A disembodied arm with blue skin and a self-care tattoo flashes the sign of the horns

Covenant

We pledge to act and interact in ways that contribute to an open, welcoming, diverse, inclusive, and healthy community.

Two human side silhouette positioned Face to face overlaid with various semi-transparent line connected circular (network node) shapes.

Philosophy

We steer by these acquired phrases. They are compasses and stars that align us on our mission.

Rainbow woven cloth evoking our diversity and interdependence

Interdependence

It is time to celebrate our interdependence. Interdependence acknowledges that our survival is bound up together, that we are interconnected and what you do impacts others. Interdependence is the only way out of most of the most pressing issues we face today.

The many forms of difference. Adaptive Behavior Assessment (ABAS-3), Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), and Behavior Rating Inventory Executive Function (BRIEF 2) forms spread across a wooden table

Edges

Our designs, our societies, and the boundaries of our compassion are tested at the edges, where the truths told are of bias, inequality, injustice, and thoughtlessness.

Let's organize our lives around love and care
Let's write each other letters and call it prayer
Let's congregate in the place that isn't anywhere
At the temple of broken dreams
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Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they