rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki) | 11.02.2012 18:55 | London
this week, 'occupy london' activists opened up a new community squatted building in the city, near old street. it is a deserted primary school with loads of beautiful airy classrooms, a small gym, and some pleasant outdoor space. it has lain unused for three years and the owners are awaiting planning permission before demolishing. in the meantime, the hope is to put it to good use for the community.
click on image for larger version. 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission
since being quite violently evicted from the UBS-owned 'bank of ideas' squat, the campaigners have tried to occupy three further buildings, each time facing swift but illegal evictions at the hands of the police. however, this time they have made the new space secure, and after preparations over the past week, they are now opening up to the public.
the new occupiers have, so far, set aside a co-ordination office, an art project, a cinema, and a well-being area, as well as a cafe in the large reception hall and an exhibition covering the history and struggle of squatting. they intend to run a bike workshop, an internet cafe and tech area, gardening and permaculture training, and video and media projects including livestream.
currently they are inviting people in to the free/donation cafe, and they are open to offers and ideas for positive use of the other spaces available. the space will be open to the public from tuesdays to sundays from midday to 8pm each day.
among the projects starting up, there will be a continuation of the 'free university' initially started at the 'bank of ideas', where more than 400 talks, lectures, workshops and meetings took place over a couple of months. this was all run by more than two dozen professors who, unhappy at the introduction of £9000 fees, offered alternative qualifications there for free. among the many subjects covered were alternative economics, self-defence, and building renewable structures.
the new site, on the corner of bunhill row and featherstone street, was a purpose-built primary school until closing in 2009, and so it is decorated in lots of bright colours, gaining spectacular light from circular ceiling windows and glass walls. it has been empty for three years. the owners, the southern housing group, are hoping to demolish it and turn it into flats, but are awaiting planning permission for this, and in the meantime it is hoped they might be amenable to its use for the community. contact has already been made and an initial meeting set up.
the new website www.schoolofideas.org.uk will publicise all workshops and events and you can also call the info line on 07954 227762.
this afternoon saw the first events with workshops including 'laughter yoga', 'how to set up an eco-community project', and 'tales from the american occupy' - a visit by occupation activists who brought their experiences from chicago, rhode island, and oakland, with films, talks and workshops running all afternoon.
tomorrow (sunday) at 2pm, there will be an 'emergency squattastic' meeting to discuss the strategy for the house of lords lobby on wednesday. (more info on www.squashcampaign.org)
there is the usual wishlist of donations and offers of help required, including food, paint, tools, equipment, furniture, brooms, cleaning products, computers, and more than anything, people and skills.
if you can run workshops or write proposals, get in touch. if you can cook food or meet and greet, get in touch. if you can paint or sweep, get in touch. there are rota systems for all the necessary chores a viable community like this requires, so every offer of help ensures that the whole project continues to thrive.
the project aspires to run itself on an ideal and positive vision of a non-hierarchical, nurturing community, and while it can't always guarantee to get that perfect, it's a hell of a good aspiration.
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11646