On the edge
Every evolving environmental initiative, whether it is a research group, an activist movement, an environmental organization, an eco-community, an educational or a creative project, sooner or later faces the choice: either to find its place in "the modern society" and become its part, having assimilated conventional rules of the game, or stay in the marginal position, preserving its own identity but with the risk of being misunderstood by the authorities and mass culture, living in a completely different and environmentally unfriendly paradigm and labelling everything unknown. The same is true for cultural and public initiatives. Any individual who makes the decision to act also faces such a dilemma.

Whatever choice is made by us, our friends and colleagues, the outcome of our actions depends on whether we really intend to change the situation (at any level) or we pretend to bring changes while staying a part of the destructive system and create illusion of changes deceiving ourselves and/or others. In order to stay honest with ourselves it's necessary to admit the following fact: the logic of today's "modern society" is not compatible with the logic of preserving biodiversity and sustainable life of the humanity on Earth.

As a consequence, a person or an organization assimilating in the "modern society" can really change the situation (at any level) only by staying in a critical and in certain cases even undercover position. That is when conventional rules of the game can be accepted in order to have an opportunity to function in a society (including to receive finances, public or state support) but the genuine goals and means of our activities are defined not by those rules but by the values alternative to the "modern society".

We do not need to speak here about some specific "alternativity": if we mean real changes and not maintaining the status quo, then the actors of these changes can be people and groups acting from various "alternative" values aimed at preserving biodiversity and sustainable life on Earth. These "alternativity" of values can become the so-called "inner base" of a person, a group or movement while the outer "facade" can give a chance to communicate with the "modern society" in the familiar language and according to the usual rules and formats of interaction.

If a person, a community or an organization does not have a "facade" but only "alternativity" or "inner base", then there is a risk of not being understood by the "modern society". But if a person, a community or an organization has a "facade" but without "inner base", then their activities will not lead to real changes despite their finances or the number of volunteers and supporters. In that situation they will just reproduce the logics of the "modern society" without bringing any real changes what is in fact a mere imitation and represents a psychological defense mechanism at best and at the worst a mechanism of "utilizing funds" or creating a "positive image". Falling into this trap many groups with the intention to change something at the beginning end up mainly in maintaining their own existence without changing neither themselves or the outer situation.

Either these are small specific (and even marginal) groups or big, well-known and respected organizations, qualitative changes are possible only if there are "hotbeds of a different culture" and relations between people based on values alternative to the "modern society". If we talk about environmental changes, then these values, whatever they are, should be combined with the opportunity to maintain the coexistence of our culture (or cultures) with life on the Earth.

Whatever are the options of these value sets, in order to live by them and not just to proclaim them, it is necessary to go through a process of inner transformation of a person, a group or a community. In other words, it is impossible to change the situation outside without changing inside.

Therefore, the criterion of qualitative changes is not so much the activity tools (although their importance should not be underestimated), rather then the ability or inability of a person, a group or an organization to go through inner transformation becoming "the hotbeds of alternative culture" (relations, vision, "reality"). The values which the culture (cultures) of sustainable life on the Earth can be based on are not given to us ready-made and therefore it is impossible to simply follow them – they must be born, lived through and transformed. In other words, each person, group or organization willing really to change the situation (at any level) reaches the point where it is impossible to simply continue activities without accepting the position that is reflexive towards oneself and its own culture and without starting to change one's own worldview, values, attitudes and practices.
We invite people to the space where a person, an organization or a community can share what they found and lived through, where we offer the possibility of critical discussion, shared experiences and researches of our culture foundations which came into motion in the face of the "global challenges of the present". We offer a common search, discussion, co-creation and cooperation, without insisting on one single set of "alternative" values.

This dialogue, apart from the search for and the creation of a new culture (cultures), values, attitudes and practices, necessarily involves the study of those cultural, psychological and biosocial mechanisms that prevent people and society from cultural transformation and from the realization of deep truths able to change us and the situation on the planet. Working with such mechanisms protecting the current identity and generated by socialization, education, personal and social psychological traumas we need to go through a deep therapy, a healing process that makes it possible to realize complexes, to restore (to a person, a group, culture) integrity and manage with the consequences of psychological traumas at different levels: body, family, group, society.

We are not talking about postponing "real deeds" in favor of "self-development" but we rather suggest changing lenses and looking at the changes "inside" and changes "outside" as two sides of the same transformation process. We offer to explore and live through this transformation sharing and communicating with each other, bringing out findings and experiences into a wider cultural field, in order to make this experience and knowledge available to people outside particular organizations, subcultures and communities.

We deal with this issue because for us it is the most significant as well as inspiring and actual and not because it is supported by public attention or financial investments. The latter does not mean that we escape public attention or refuse seeking for financial support. We do. And we will be grateful for any support you can offer or we can find together.

We invite everyone resonating with these ideas in any way to the dialogue and cooperation in a set of various formats: rational, such as research and educational programs, mixed, such as expeditions, art and artistic practices, and body-intuitive ones such as therapeutic and healing processes, interaction with the wild nature and indigenous cultures.

On the edge project team
Tatiana Gulyaeva