Cog*nate Collective

The Mobile Agora Project

Project Description

In Ancient Greece, the agora was a public square and marketplace that functioned as a forum for the exchange of discourse and goods, a platform through which citizenship was defined (as abstract principal) and enacted (as practice).

The Mobile Agora Project (MAP) will create itinerant micro­agoras within existing informal markets, establishing a research hub and cultural + pedagogical + economic platform for dialogue and exchange around issues affecting immigrant communities in the markets’ surrounding neighborhoods.

The project’s primary research will assess if/how informal markets function as repositories of culture, mapping how transnational economic and cultural networks intersect in these markets. Through this research, methods and strategies to amplify, mobilize and/or hack these networks will be developed to transform these sites into incubators for reimagining community and citizenship.

MAP will be composed of four modules: 1) A pop­up shop selling goods produced by local community cooperatives, 2) a trailer (R+D Lab) that will function as an audio recording/production studio, a small workstation/display space, and a library with materials for loan and/or free distribution, 3) a mobile hyper­local radio station wagon, and 4) a Roundtable/Forum that will host art­making workshops, lectures, and performances.

MAP programming will be designed and executed in close collaboration with local community advocacy groups and will invite public practitioners to develop in­site research projects that engage vendors, surrounding communities and/or the general public.

We are requesting funding from SPArt to organize a pilot version of MAP at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet, in collaboration with a women’s cooperative from the Centro Comunitario Corazones Verdes, and RAIZ, a local chapter of the Immigrant Youth Coalition.

This pilot will include:
1) Corazones Verdes Shop

Cog•nate will invite the women’s cooperative from the Familias Corazones Verdes Community Center in Santa Ana to exhibit and sell their products, as well as host demonstrations and workshops on the production of “manualidades verdes”, hand­made crafts/artisan goods made from recycled/repurposed materials.

2) R+D Lab Trailer

During this first iteration, long­time swap meet vendors will be invited to record their oral histories aboard the trailer, while newer vendors and visitors will be invited to document their experiences at the Swap Meet, discussing the objects that they sell/buy and the reasons behind their choices.

3) Radio Station Wagon

The Cog•nate Cruiser will serve as a local broadcasting unit, establishing a hyper­local radio station covering the radius of the Swap Meet. In addition to transmitting the oral history and testimonies collected in the trailer, it will also transmit in­site recordings of the Swap Meet, and recordings produced by the public in response to a series of engagement prompts.

4) Roundtable/Forum

For this iteration of the project, we will be collaborating with RAIZ, a chapter of the Immigrant Youth Coalition, a state­wide network of young activists advocating for the rights of undocumented migrants, to host workshops and info sessions on current Deferred Action immigration policies, and provide know­your­rights and deportation defense trainings.