FEELings after one year at the FEELed Lab…

Fun and weird things are growing at the FEELed Lab.

As we close up shop for some summertime rest and downtime, we want to take a moment to reflect on a wonderful first year together, experimenting in this new infrastructure we call the FEELed Lab! I (Astrida) will speak for myself and say that I am feeling a few feelings!

First, I would like to express how grateful I am to the syilx people who have cared for the lands and waters that the FEELed Lab operates on since time immemorial. I am an uninvited guest here, with much to learn. I have deep gratitude and respect for those who offer their knowledge in many different forms.

The FEELed Lab began to take shape last August, with a general intial commitment to convening research events that could assist in building a “feminist environmental humanities” community at UBC Okanagan. We didn’t know exactly what that would mean, but we did know that:

  • “feminist” meant anticolonial, anti-racist, queer-, trans- and crip- affirming, and many other things besides;
  • taking place on syilx lands and waters meant thinking and working hard towards respectful and generative relationships with the traditional custodians of these lands
  • in a difficult year (amidst an ongoing pandemic, ongoing revelations of grave sites at former residential schools in the region, real and present climate crisis, lots of exhaustion) cultivating community would need to be low-stakes, affirmative, and even joyful (while maintaining a critical view)
  • process was everything. Figuring out how to do this work well was as (or more) important than any outputs the FEELed Lab might produce. Working towards good process (supportive relationships, sustainable practices, etc) would be the key output for the year and the foundation for anything that would come next.

With these commitments in mind, we got busy! Highlights of the year include:

  • Since for most of the year our motto was “the FEELed Lab is where the FEELed Lab does” it was wonderful to establish a virtual presence at http://www.thefeeledlab.ca, as well as on Instagram! Follow us and share!
  • We convened five online Littoral Listening sessions and seven (outdoor, COVID-aware) “Fringe Natures” gatherings to begin to build this community.
  • Syilx knowledge keepers Pamela, Grouse and Jasmine Barnes led a wonderful Land care workshop at Woodhaven.
  • With support from ASLE and FCCS, we convened the “Fire + Water” symposium, bringing together critical and creative perspectives. What a day!
  • We convened the first annual Feminist Environmental Humanities Summer Symposium (FEHSS) on the theme of “Listening, Attuning.” We learned how much deep care and intimacy a virtual seminar can still hold, and continued to build an international community of thinkers-and-feelers.
  • We secured an ALT2040 (UBCO education-focused) grant to develop a third year undergraduate “methods course” that focuses on accessibility and inclusion in environmental humanities “attunement” methods, and how these can enrich an understanding of “place” (stay tuned for updates!)
  • We applied for a SSHRC Insight Development grant that would extend this work into the research space – with other colleagues at UBCO (all experts in access and inclusion) we proposed to study diversity, accessibility and and inclusion in environmental humanities research methods, using the FEELed Lab’s own research as a case study – but we were unsuccessful (boo). Don’t you think this is important research to fund? We will try again!
  • We started exploring the Woodhaven Ecocultural Centre as a guest-base for the FEELed Lab in coming years. This would be the FEELed Lab’s field lab – a place to convene, do research, build relationships, and more. Again: stay tuned!
  • We made a zine about what we do! We will post it here soon.

…. and many more things besides: making tea, having conversations, reading things, sharing things, laughing, being frustrated, being tentative, being courageous, reaching out, stepping up, and thinking about new weird and wonderful ways to engage this sort of work.

We will reconvene in early September with a “welcome back” gathering – stay tuned for more details. Next year, we will also be offering a number of student and/or community member stipends to take on specific roles and projects as part of the FEELed Lab – more details will be posted in August, so check back if you are interested. If you would like more information, you can also reach out to us at: feeledlab@gmail.com.

Thank you to all of the humans who have contributed time, ideas, energy and resources as we worked to figure out what the FEELed Lab might be. In particular I need to shout out Madeline (Madi) Donald and Dani Pierson, who formed the centre of the FEELed Lab research and admin team this year. Madi also initiated the Littoral Listening sessions and many other events besides, and Dani cared for and about all of the social media and website business. Also: Syilx Elders Pamela and Grouse Barnes for their guidance and knowledge at several events; Rina Garcia Chua and Coralee Miller, who joined us as the core organizing team for Fire + Water – as well as all of the featured speakers/performers (Dennis Gupa, Coralee Miller, Taylor Lezard, Madeline Terbasket, Rina Chua, Niyi Asiyanbi) – and to Juan, Maria and Edmund for making the film-in-progress!; to all of the many participants at our Fringe Natures events (with a special shout out to Yazdan and Chhavi for their exceptionally regular attendance and contributions!); and to all of the guest lecturers, facilitators and participants of our first Feminist Environmental Humanities Summer Symposium. I would also like to especially thank Fran Brouse and Lacia Vogel for all of their tirelss assistance behind the scenes. Thank you to all of the more-than-humans too: air and lake, Land, creatures, edible and audible beings, everything that feels and that we feel back.

Happy summer, everyone!

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