Wildseeds: The New Orleans Octavia Butler Emergent Strategy Collective
More than a bookclub
Wildseeds as a Gathering Place
Wildseeds is a feminist-of-color collective, sharing space and breath and community with one another. We collectively come together to share in the wisdom and teachings created by the writings and words of Octavia Butler.
Part reading group, part-discussion group, part sister circle, part arts collective, part social aid and pleasure club, and even part coven (as we like to say, “we’re more than a bookclub”), we gather on a monthly basis to discuss the work of Octavia Butler and other magical people of color.
There have been several subgroups birthed out of Wildseeds, including: The Bookclub, our monthly time to come together and discuss Octavia’s work; the New Orleans Sci-Fi Generator Writer’s Salon, an event where community members meet to do collective writing inspired by visionary fiction; the Dandelion Writing Group, a space for writers of color to delve deeper into the craft of writing; and the Cosmic (Re)Dress Pop-Up Market, a place for women of color artisans to sell their creations.
We also host events, skills shares, field trips, movie nights, workshops, queer and trans* people of color dance parties, potlucks, pop-up shops, panels, exhibits, cultural arts programming, and gatherings providing space for our community to come together, to create, commune, and heal.
We have several inspirations: the work of adrienne maree brown, who has spent the last few years touring the country (and world) to talk about using Octavia Butler’s writings as a template for Emergent Strategy-based social justice organizing; adrienne and Walidah Imarisha’s work on Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements; and Ayana Jamieson and Moya Bailey’s work with the Octavia Butler Legacy Network. We are inspired by the national conversation being led by Black women and other women of color on the brilliance and wisdom found in the works of black women thinkers, writers, and creators of speculative fiction and art.
Wildseeds as Root Medicine
As a collective, we use speculative works by authors and artists of color as a tool for transformative justice and healing. Rooted in the work of Octavia Butler, we use literature and art as a lens for processing both ancestral and historical violence, as well as interpersonal experiences of trauma in our lifetimes. We find models of resistance and survival in Butler’s texts that we can then use as resources for our selves, families, and communities. Rather than use the linear, rational models of change handed down by non-profits and politicians, we instead use the creative spaces that open between these books and our lives as fertile grounds for a new way of being.
Wildseeds hosts regular meetings and gatherings celebrating, lifting up, studying, and utilizing the work of Octavia Butler and other visionaries. We gather not only to discuss speculative fiction by writers of color, but also to provide material and spiritual support to one another as we work to transform the world and our communities through our creativity, organizing, and through our very survival. We strive to create a loving, accepting, healing, and sacred space for women* of color to envision and create the worlds we need.
Wildseeds as Collaboration
Rooted in communities of color, we have grown from diverse root systems — in the U.S. South, North, Midwest, East Coast, West Coast, and parts of South America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa — but with an awareness and respect for the place, the land, and the rich cultural soil and traditions, that have brought us together now in the places we’ve met and built home. All of our multi-textured experiences work together to culturally inform our approach to internal communication, community-building, and story-sharing. We use deep listening and intuition as an impetus for creative collaboration.
We also come from many different spheres of being — we are visual artists, dancers, activists, cultural organizers, poets, writers, journalists, storytellers, students, teachers, scholars, natives, transplants, immigrants, healers, witches, mothers, daughters, book-lovers, fangirls, Southern nerds, feminists, nomads, visionaries, sci-fi geeks…you name it. What brings us together is an intense desire to learn from one another and to build community and organize together at a time when women of color and queer folks of color are being erased from our own stories. Our organizing is both survival and resistance.
Shapeshifters, ancestral alchemists, black magick women, conjurers, aliens, mermaids, unicorns, and dreamers.
A medley of variant, melanated, feminist nerds who love who we are and are deeply connected to our ancestral herstories. We are committed to our communities in struggle and in cultivating an on-going love praxis. Our stories matter; we’re here to tell them, reimagine them, and archive them!
Called to intentionally create Black and Brown space(s); showing up to engage with discarded culture, content, and history. We work to create dialogue and art that nurtures sacred spaces as tools of resilience, and to birth work that reflects our lives, spirit, and struggles. We strive to be a powerful counter-narrative of fully-reflected, and visibly-engaged humanity. Our scholarship, activism, art, and cultural work exists in community with the people we come from.
Dedicated to collective healing of trauma and oppression faced by women of color; we are committed to nurturing the artistic, spiritual, and physical growth of our members and their work. We are a support group, sister circle, and prismatic love space to gather and take refuge and build up our capabilities to thrive with folks of like minds/hearts/values.
Seeking to create spaces for communities of color to imagine ourselves in our own futures, which is what the best science fiction and speculative fiction allows us to do.
An intentional and unapologetic women of color-centric community (women expansively defined*) that explores social conditions and transformative possibilities using a speculative/sci-fi lens.
Embracing our collective’s multi-expressed, spectrally-brilliant, and culturally-diverse creativity as scholars living, working, and imagining in New Orleans.
Living the world we want by listening deeply to one another and dreaming together as sisters, daughters, mothers, and chosen family.
Honoring the ancestors who paved the way for us, who dreamed us into being.
Life in the Crescent
We operate without walls, but we plant our seeds in New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Orleans and the South are places that know the power of story, of character, of people, of geography, of space and time. Of imagining and fighting for futures beyond the confines of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. New Orleans itself is a city that knows sci-fi. It has survived disasters and the world ending. It has lived post-apocalyptic futures.
Through its history, through its connection to Black social movement and rebellion, as well as Black and indigenous futurism, New Orleans is a place that knows what it is for Black people and other oppressed peoples to imagine futures after colonialism, after enslavement, after Katrina.
Afrofuturism and the complexities of the Black speculative narrative are a key part to understanding how a city like New Orleans continues to carry the cultural survivalisms that make it renowned across the globe as a place that has held and protected Black art and culture. We love and respect the brilliance of this city we call home.
Coming together at this time, in this place, becomes a necessary part of the survivalism that Octavia explores so much of in her work.
* We use the terms woman/women/womyn in the most expansive sense, understanding the myriad ways gender and gender expression can exist and be experienced in our lives. We strive to create spaces open to our transgender, gender variant, gender-nonconforming, agender, genderqueer, and masculine-of-center community members.