Creative Ecosystems is a digital garden tending communal Black creativity

It’s Nice That: Are there any other platforms or spaces out there like Creative Ecosystems, and what sets yours apart?

Annika Hansteen-Izora: Black Creative Ecosystems is a part of a long-standing lineage of Black artists and writers that have gathered through collectives. The Black Arts Movement and The Dark Room Collective were critical spaces for Black poets and literature, and Where We At Black Women Artists was a collective that formed as a response to the lack of space for Black women in the feminist art movement. With the emergence of the internet, there are more opportunities to stretch our radius more widely. What sets Creative Ecosystems apart is that we’re an online space, and also that we’re dedicated to radical Black imagination. Our definition of radical Black imagination is imagination that is rooted in Black trans disabled histories and futures that call in realities where all have access to agency and thrivability. We are interested in thought that comes from perspectives outside of the non-profit industrial complex and that takes a grassroots approach. We are also distinct in that we are focused on communal rather than individual creativity. Creative Ecosystems believes that communal creativity is a tool for supporting Black agency, community, care, and futurity.

It’s Nice That: What are the major challenges you’re facing? Equally, what are the highlights of working on Creative Ecosystems so far?

Annika Hansteen-Izora: Holding the boundary of moving slowly is one of the biggest challenges. One of the values that’s important to me is to move at the rate of sustainability. The general energy around digital spaces is growing rapidly, to “move fast and break things.” I’m only interested in growing at a speed that allows for care to be centred. Creative Ecosystems are added to the directory on a slow and rolling basis.

I’d also say expanding Black Creative Ecosystems to locations outside of the US is a challenge that I’m excited to lean into. We’re open to submissions of Black Creative Ecosystems that support communal creativity rooted in radical Black thought as a method of both imagining and creating worlds that divest from practices of domination on a global scale.

The biggest highlight of working on Creative Ecosystems is seeing the wide range of ways that communal Black creative work is being created. These are spaces that are working outside of institutions, that are building our own tables. It’s inspiring, to say the least. What’s been an even greater highlight is seeing artists connect with one another using Creative Ecosystems, and go from an online connection towards one that is committed to deeper communal learning and collaboration.

It’s Nice That: What can the creative industry do to support your intention and mission?

Annika Hansteen-Izora: Share Creative Ecosystems with your circles to help us connect with other communal Black creative spaces so that we can continue growing. Follow Black Creative Ecosystems on Instagram at @creativeecosystems. Investment is also the best way we can grow, those interested in supporting can reach out at blackcreativeecosystems@gmail.com.

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