Research track Take Back the Economy
Take Back the Economy

This week is the first iteration of the research track Take Back the Economy. A week-long workshop for second year participants within the context of the Community Engagement aspect of the program. Various international speakers and facilitators will share their knowledge and experience on the subject. Here we give you an insight into their research and projects. We invite you to read along.



Read more about our Take Back the Economy Open Call here.




Introduction Take Back the Economy

This weeklong workshop will be facilitated by Pascale Gatzen. On Monday morning she will start with a general introduction. The new research track Take Back the Economy in the MA Practice Held in Common program takes its name from the book Take Back the Economy An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities by J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, and Stephen Healy. We are very grateful that we received the encouragement from Katherine Gibson to use the name of the book for the research track.


Take Back the Economy is an accessible guide to demystifying the economy and creating a more just and sustainable world. Take Back the Economy dismantles the idea that the economy is separate from us and best comprehended by experts, demonstrating that the economy is the outcome of the decisions and efforts we make every day. Full of exercises and inspiring examples from around the world, the book shows how people can implement small-scale changes in their own lives to create ethical economies.


Pascale Gatzen is an artist, educator and fashion designer based in The Netherlands. Within her art and design practice, Gatzen produces and facilitates large collaborative projects using textile and clothing as her main medium. Embracing fashion as a mode of human togetherness, the focus of both her artistic practice and her teaching is on the relational and empowering aspects of fashion, advancing cooperative models of production and exchange. As an Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, she developed and implemented an alternative fashion curriculum, the Fashion Area of Study, in the BFA Integrated Design program. She is a founding member of ‘friends of light,’ a worker cooperative for textile production in the Hudson Valley, New York. She is the Head of Practice Held in Common, a new Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design at ArtEZ, University of the Arts, Arnhem, The Netherlands and co-founder of the Linen Project.


Marx for Cats & Solidarity Art Economies

In this workshop, participants will consider the role of art and creativity in our economic past, present, and future. We will start with a discussion about the history of capitalism with critical theorist Leigh Claire La Berge and will aim to build a shared understanding of keywords in capitalism — work, alienation, labor, capital, finance, and economy. From here, we will transition into a visioning session with artist Caroline Woolard about values such as worker dignity and cooperation when making creative projects. Caroline will share some of the ways that creative people are practicing and championing cooperative and public ownership, a culture of solidarity, and respect for the earth. Participants will learn about artists who are working to build a just and sustainable economy where we prioritize people and the planet over endless profit and growth. Through written reflections, interviews, and the creation of artwork, students will learn about art and the role that creativity can play in achieving and advocating for economic justice. We will close with a vision of ourselves as working in and for solidarity art economies.


Caroline Woolard is an artist who, in making her art, becomes an economic critic, social justice facilitator, media maker, and sculptor. Since the financial crisis of 2007-8, Woolard has catalyzed barter communities, minted local currencies, founded an arts-policy think tank, and created sculptural interventions in office spaces. Her work has been commissioned by and exhibited in major national and international museums including MoMA, the Whitney Museum, and Creative Time. Woolard’s work has been featured twice on New York Close Up (2014, 2016), a digital film series produced by Art21 and broadcast on PBS. She is the 2018–20 inaugural Walentas Fellow at Moore College of Art and Design and the inaugural 2019–20 Artist in Residence for INDEX at the Rose Museum, and a 2020-2021 Fellow at the Center for Cultural Innovation. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Hartford.


Leigh Claire La Berge, PhD, professes at the intersection of arts, literature, visual culture and political economy. She is the author of Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s (Oxford University Press) and Wages Against Artwork: Decommodified Labor and the Claims of Socially Engaged Art (Duke University Press, 2019). She is Associate Professor of English in the Department of English at BMCC CUNY. Leigh Claire’s new project, Marx for Cats, is a book, website, and a series of videos (produced with Caroline Woolard) that narrate the history of capitalism through the figure of the cat.


Links with additional information:

Diverse Economies Framework & Re-framing our perspective for transformative change

In this workshop we will explore how re-framing our perspective on our current situation/reality can open up spaces of possibility for transformative change together with Oona Morrow and Anke de Vrieze.


Diverse Economies Framework
Oona Morrow will discuss J.K. Gibson-Graham’s Diverse Economies Framework. Diverse economies thinking reveals diversity in existing economic practices, broadening our view of what is important and viable economic activity. This includes recognizing and valuing care work and the household, and recognizing diversity in forms of economic transactions, labour and enterprise through which people around the world secure their livelihoods. Alternative markets, unpaid work and noncapitalist enterprises all come into view as vital parts of our economy. Community economies scholarship begins by rethinking ‘the economy’ and the discourses that shape expectations of how globalization and capitalism function. Building on the work of J.K. Gibson-Graham, the diverse economies framework informs the work of others in the ‘Community Economies Collective’ and the ‘Community Economies Research Network’.


Re-framing our perspective for transformative change
Anke de Vrieze will focus on the role of values, mindsets and narratives, in breaking free from habituated ways of thinking and evoking ‘transformative mindsets’. She will introduce the SUSPLACE Toolkit for Transformative Engagement and explain the thinking behind it. We will practice with some of the methods and focus in particular on the inclusion of non-human stakeholders.


Oona Morrow is an assistant professor in food sociology in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University, where she also Co-Directs the Centre for Space, Place and Society. Her work is broadly concerned with the economic politics of everyday life, a theme she explores through the practice and politics of food provisioning in cities, communities, and households. Her writings on diverse economies, commoning, care, and food sharing have been published in Gender, Place and Culture, Rethinking Marxism, Geoforum, Sustainability, and Urban Geography


Anke de Vrieze, MSc is a researcher and lecturer at Rural Sociology, and coordinator of the Centre for Space, Place and Society. With a background in anthropology and biodynamic farming, her main interest currently lies in creating ‘spaces of possibilities’ for regenerative and inclusive futures through the use of arts-based and creative methods. Specific research interests include: transformative learning, community economies, food(scapes), urban agriculture and place-based development


Finding your economic narrative

There is not just one economy, although it sometimes seems like it, there are many. Human, non-human or a combination, indigenous, familial, local, global, beneficial for many or just a few. Each one having its own underlying narrative and appearance. Together they form our economic landscape. To change the landscape, to shift the single focus on the current neo liberal narrative we need to diversify the landscape. We are called to find, develop and delineate our own economic narrative. From there we can mould, experiment and create what we live for, how to relate with the generosity of nature and how to meet our beautiful needs.


This program with Godelieve Spaas consists of a 30 minute dialogue with each participant. Listening to the other, contributing to the others’ search is part of the journey. Step by step we look into your work, your ideas and worldview to uncover your economic voice.


Godelieve Spaas is professor Sustainable Strategy and Innovation at Avans University of Applied Science. She is a researcher and creator of and makes performances and podcasts about new ways of entrepreneurial organizing where ecology, society, and the economy all benefit from and interact seamlessly with each other. Her aim is to increase diversity in organizational and entrepreneurial models and realities with a view to the development of a fairer, more sustainable and robust entrepreneurial space. She combines art, science, practices and indigenous knowledge. Godelieve also co-creates new business such as Herenboeren that are collaborative, inclusive and work in harmony with nature. She is associate director of the Pari Center in Tuscany Italy, where she organizes and participates in dialogues and follows and gives courses in between art, science and the sacred.


Links with additional information:

Film: Economy or: How I learned to stop worrying and love growth

Podcast: ‘A beginner’s Utopia’

Patterns of Commoning

What accounts for the persistence and spread of “commoning,” the irrepressible desire of people to collaborate and share to meet everyday needs? How are the more successful projects governed? And why are so many people embracing the commons as a powerful strategy for building a fair, humane and Earth-respecting social order?


In more than fifty original essays, Patterns of Commoning addresses these questions and probes the inner complexities of this timeless social paradigm. The book surveys some of the most notable, inspiring commons around the world, from alternative currencies and open design and manufacturing, to centuries-old community forests and co-learning commons—and dozens of others. Margaret Thatcher once championed neoliberal capitalism with the harsh ultimatum, “There is no alternative!” Patterns of Commoning shows in vivid detail that there are plenty of alternatives! We need only understand the robust power of commoning.


David Bollier will share his knowledge and experience on The Commons and will specifically zoom in on the book ‘Patterns of Commoning’.


David Bollier is an American activist, scholar, and blogger who is focused on the commons as a new paradigm for re-imagining economics, politics, and culture. He pursues this work as Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics (Massachusetts, US), and as cofounder of the Commons Strategies Group, an international advocacy project.


Bollier has co-organized pioneering international conferences and strategy workshops on the commons, and consults regularly with diverse activists and policy experts in the US and Europe. His blog,, is a widely read source of news about the commons, and his book Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons (2014), has been translated into six languages. He and coauthor Silke Helfrich published Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons in September 2019. Bollier is an editor or author of many other books on the commons, including Patterns of Commoning (2015) and The Wealth of the Commons (2012), both with co-editor Silke Helfrich; Green Governance (2013), co-authored with the late Professor Burns Weston; and Viral Spiral (2009), Brand-Name Bullies (2005), and Silent Theft (2002).


In 2012, Bollier received the Bosch Berlin Prize in Public Policy from the American Academy in Berlin for his work on the commons. He co-founded the Washington, D.C. advocacy group Public Knowledge in the early 2000s; collaborated with television writer/producer Norman Lear for twenty-five years on political and public affairs projects; and worked with Ralph Nader in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bollier lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.