Mess Kit for Settlers, 2024-present


Concepts of progress and control are central to settler colonial patterns of thought. We seem to believe that if we go by the book and focus our minds on fixes we can think our way forward through everything. We try to maintain order at all costs.

Rationalism can prevent other ways of knowing and being. The Mess Kit for Settlers proposes approaches to re-kinning that include the mind but also invite the senses, intuitive powers, cyclical experiences, and the humility and full potential of not knowing.

The Mess Kit for Settlers is a zone of contradiction, critique and contemplative possibility. It uses the voice of pragmatism from settler colonial culture to encourage the development of lost skills and capacities. The Mess Kit invites descendants of settlers, and all who are impacted by settler colonialism, to slow down and consider the ways it is possible to re-kin and reconnect -- with self, community and the planet.

The theory of change employed in this endeavor is a belief in undoing hyper-individualism and the myth of separability by activating creativity and reflection. Through ecological crafts and games that invite players to comprehend the web of life, new abilities of being kin can develop. By contemplating one’s ancestors, and doing the shadow work needed to confront the damages built into the modern lifestyle, one can begin to comprehend the depth of the mess we must face. Recognizing relations with the web of life and living in deep connection with all of humanity is the goal.

If you are a descendent of settlers, who were your ancestors before they became part of the colonial project? How far back do you need to go before you find your people living in a place they were indigenous to? What happens in you when you re-member your family line? When do you suppose certain skills were lost, such as how to make cloth, a boat, or how to grow ancestral foods, make medicine, and sing the songs of the season? The Mess Kit for Settlers can be used in any region that has a history of settler colonialism. We are all affected by the ways that colonial history has shaped the world. Colonialism depends on disconnection from the past, from other people, and from life on the planet. The Mess Kit for Settlers invites you to reconnect through structured action.