…which is great, but, then what?

AfroFutures_UK is a collective of people from different backgrounds and cities, with different skills. Most of our time is spent thinking about what we can do better, so I thought it would be fun to start documenting our journey to becoming whatever it is that we become (hopefully a well grounded, sustainable AfroFuturist collective) and putting thoughts to paper… or rather pixels.

Although we’re still planning some cool events (there is so much good stuff coming for BHM2016!) lately we’ve been thinking about doing more long term projects. The funny thing about being a collective is how we’re all working on cool things individually – Nikky is doing amazing performance art; Laydeez Do Comics, Birmingham has grown into a great community thanks to Charlotte and the comicking community of Brum and between the rest of us, there’s a plethora of articles, talks, essays and what-have-you around the interwebs – but it still takes time and thought to bring it all together.

I’ve always been inspired by the Philadelphia based AfroFuturist Affair whose unique mix of social justice, artistic activism and speculative fiction have created a truly community centred AfroFuturism. Maybe it’s just because I spend most of my time daydreaming with my head in the clouds, but for AfroFutures_UK to become a presence that helps to tangibly inspire and strengthen the black community is a definite end-goal, but one we’ve yet to reach. We’ve barely been around for a year though so this isn’t an admission of disappointment (are you kidding?), but it’s good to keep oneself in check, especially when you want to mature, but need to plan how.

It was Nikky who pointed out that actually, what we’ve done so far is to provide a space for people with ideas and people with the know-how to meet, so why shouldn’t we build on that? The most amazing thing about our conference in October and our event in May with Writing on the Wall festival, was just the energy and knowledge that came about from he gathering of people with new ways of looking at things. Why can’t we help to keep harnessing that to bring about the change we want to see?

I love the idea of idea-labs. Now that I’m living in the midlands, I spend as much of my spare time with the genius folk at Impact Hub Birmingham as I can. The good thing about meeting people who want to change the world is that it certainly stretches your own ambitions! Back in Manchester, places like MadLab, FabLab Manchester and the Salford Biospheric Foundation were also key pointers showing that it as possible to bring a physical space for community based innovation and tech education to fruition.

Fortunately for us, we’re not at the level where we’re looking for a physical space, nor to become one. We’re happy for the web to be our place, providing connections between cities, people and ideas.

So how do we become an idea-lab for the community? Well, that’s something we’re going to keep exploring. It seems we’ve found our lifelong project after all!

 

by Florence Okoye
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