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in·fra·cul·ture (nfr-klchr) n.
1. The volunteers and visionaries who form an underlying base or foundation of a creative “not just the arts” community organization or system.
2. The "basic-needs" facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a creative “not just the arts” community or society. Includes the citizens themselves, community centres, community gardens with wood ovens and outdoor kitchens, farmers’ markets and community-run food centres, and neighbourhood social networks (virtual or online).

Infraculutre describes tangible grassroot/local/community “creative, yet not always artistic” initiatives and social networks. In Toronto, Canada our “infraculture” is populated by creative people working well under our cultural and artistic organizations-- People who are CREATING something OTHER than art or music for those who have not forgotten to appreciate our most basic needs. Needs like good food, lower crime rates and healthy/spiritual community interaction and involvement.

Those who create the most basic “infraculture”, are average citizens who find new and inexpensive ways to help the communities in which they live. They are not always artists, musicians or dancers-- they are gardeners, bakers and gleaners(fruitpickers). They are “Community Activators and Animators”. Some are municipal workers and some are your neighbourhood volunteers, but all of them find helpful ways to interact with our cities and residents. At this time, their “truly creative” community work sometimes goes unnoticed and most often underappreciated or misunderstood. At times they must even fight their local municipalities for the positive change in their communities. They can, and are, creating change with very little money.

One of the original meanings of the word “culture” does not involve the arts but refers to the cultivation of soil. These new urban farmers work to create community gardens and greenhouses to grow local produce; these new urban bakers tend wood ovens in our parks; these new urban gleaners organize and train networks of fruit pickers to harvest the untended urban fruit trees and vines on public and private urban land.

Infraculture. Because art, music and dance should come second to food, shelter and safety.
by Gregory Alan Elliott 2 September 30, 2008
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