Photos by Dillon Marsh
The social weaver is a small bird the size of an average human palm that builds nests that reach approximately 2000 lbs. These birds work communally with hundreds of other weaver birds constantly repairing and demolishing incongruent areas of the compound. This nest is often referred to in ornithological communities as the “motel 6” of the bird world, because this bird creates an apartment style dwelling that not only houses other social weavers but includes birds of other species. Social weaver birds not only live in the same nest, but live communally, raising their offspring and protecting the nest in a unified front. Social weavers are the only animals that build and live in a communal environment for itself and other species.
Culture Saving continues to research and create more complex and intricate relationships between the nests and contemporary curation. Culture Saving developed six principles from the social weaver bird’s nesting habits.
There is an inherent value in interdisciplinary communication, Both within interdisciplinary art focuses, but also in the abstracted weaving of a community. The social weaver is an expert at allowing a multitude of species to cohabitate, allowing for each bird to contribute as they can highlight each bird’s specialized skill.
While looking at examples of contemporary cultural centers, often the events happen in a cycle of downtime with spikes of activity. While looking at the constant energy flow of the social weaver nest, you can see that the constant energy that is in the nest allows for it to remain constantly evolving, never becoming stagnant.
It is necessary to provide resources to community members who can use their own agency to create the programs that they and their communities need, instead of a colonial mindset of discovery and cultural domination. Like the sociable weaver, the goal should be structured and resources without social interference.
This is a way to address the cultural clustering that happens in a city. Using vacant or blighted spaces enables energy and activity in neglected communities.
Instead of just anti-exclusivity, this is about embracing inclusivity as a guiding force. To insure inclusivity there should be a set of principles and systems designed to instill and insure that the space remains fresh with a constant stream of diverse inputs and ideas.
One of the most valuable lessons to be learned, “how do we negotiate, and first of all identify threats”, this idea allows us to view these systems without romanticizing ideas of utopia. The birds have shown us that some threats can be allowed into communities, their predator the pygmy falcon who lives peacefully in the nest refusing to eat its neighbors and whose presence warns off other potential threats. The birds, however, are also discerning as they create spikes that stick out of the bottom of the nest to ward off snakes.