In the predominantly Kurdish regions of Syria and Turkey, known respectively as Rojava and North Kurdistan, a groundbreaking experiment in communal living, social justice, and ecological vitality is taking place. Devastated by civil war, the Middle East is often seen as a place where little more than a cessation of hostilities can be hoped for. But Rojava and North Kurdistan have set their sights much higher. What started as a movement for political autonomy has blossomed into an attempt to build a radical pluralist democracy on the principles of communal solidarity — with food security, equality for women, and a localized, anti-capitalist economy at its core.
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Zahra Shexo bends over her sewing machine and meticulously, but expertly allows the course material to run through her fingers and under the pointed needle of the machine. The sound of over a dozen women’s laughter and conversation intermixes with the repetitive mechanical sounds of the sewing machines in the large room. The sewing room is a Kaleidoscope of different coloured materials, samples, threads and other necessary sewing items. Zahra is the current administrator of the textile cooperative Amargi in Kobane city.