Thursday, April 14, 2011

we eat babies...

and other things that the activists living in this squat definitely do NOT do.  i had arranged to meet up with a very good school friend in an english city not long ago.  when she said that she knew somewhere i could stay i kinda guessed it was going to be a squat.  so this is where i have spent the last two days.  it was a lot to take in.  this warehouse had been empty for about 3 years, the current residents (about 15) entered about a year ago.

 now my previous knowledge of squatters was pretty limited,  i had a pretty low opinion of them.  thinking they that they were, to sum it up simply, house thieves.  these past two days certainly gave me a new idea.
 since the residents moved in, they have built, a function room, an art room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, bedrooms, a guest bedroom and a social centre.  everything inside the building was found somewhere or taken from skips and built by evertyone.  so much for dossing around.  tuesday night was community dinner night so we all helped prepare a vegan meal for what we thought was 40 homeless people/squatters though at least 70 turned up:
 the function room

the art room
 the guest room.

so money doesn't make the world go round.

there was plenty of food in the kitchen and all of it obtained by 'skipping'.  this involves going to skips outside food shops late at night and taking the unwanted leftover food from the skips.  apparently 30% of food is damaged before it even gets to the shelves so you can imagine how much food is wasted in the uk.  fresh fruit and veg were donated market leftovers received once a week.

most of the residents were pretty friendly to me when i was introduced.  it was definitely quite a shock and i was continuously asking them questions which they were quite happy to answer.

i won't pretend to know more than i do about squatting, i was only there for two days but i did want to know how they felt about the owners of the buildings.   buildings are mostly very thoroughly researched before they enter, they don't usually go for privately owned buildings but for repossessed houses/buildings or those owned by big corporations.  these will have usually been empty for at least a year.  the building i stayed in was a listed building that the bank that had repossessed and it wanted to demolish.  the people living there were trying to make it into a positive space open to the community:

obviously this is not the same for all squats.  but this community seemed to be making a positive difference.  there was even a squatted 'free shop' not far away which people gave all there old unwanted stuff to and and then others could take stuff for free.  real recycling.  i know there are a lot of bad stories about squatters, i hope this has presented you with a different one.