Grids and Storage. I remember a time when I didn’t used to notice these things. Living in Japan in the late 1990s, I have a distinct memory of a friend — a mature student who’d previously served in the U.S. military — pointing out the power infrastructure in the city of Hokkaido as we wandered the streets late at night. I was a bit blown away by what he was observing about the society as opposed to what I was taking note of, at the time. Electricity grids and power lines. Who would have imagined that there would come a time, when these networks of power would, for me, become as important as the social networks of power that I was much more attuned to in those days (and still am, of course). Who would have thought that, for me, they would become inseparable?

I spent the morning in the west end of the city, interviewing a researcher and friend who works for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). We talked at great length about the power struggles taking place in this country around resources extraction, land rights, and human rights, as well as the place of women and Indigenous women in the movements organizing for greater justice. Climate justice. Energy justice. Social justice.

As we left the interview room and rounded the corner, I was blown away by this view (see picture) out the window. We both marvelled at the power demanded by current ways of life, the dynamics of which are so closely tied to the discussions we’d been having around the desires and fears around securing control of — or on the flip side losing control of — these networks of power: both the material power and the social power that sustains the status quo.

It was a great conversation that bodes well for the future of our research projects — and if we have our way, for the future of our communities, working in solidarity.

(Image: Power lines.)