Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Max Rameau’s position is by now well known in activist circles. (You can see him talk on the City from Below website.) His group founded the Umoja Village shantytown, taking over city-owned land in the black Liberty City neighborhood of Miami that had been intended for sale to a private developer. Not surprisingly in view of the tumultuous past of the district, the city kept hands off. Take Back has now taken over another tract of land to grow fresh food in a community garden.
After Max, Brenda Stokely spoke. She had participated in a squatting campaign – then called homesteading – in Harlem during the 1980s. She reminded the audience that the state moved against their organization under criminal enterprise statutes (RICO), although the grand jury refused to indict. Neil Smith spoke of the “global social crisis” which has closed down this last and greatest wave of gentrification. Now, he said, there is the political possibility of changing the rules of the game, to forward tenant and neighborhood control of city housing resources. He too warned that state repression is likely, given the example of 1930s activist movements that led to public housing.
Frank Morales spoke, pastor of the St. Marks Church. For him, squatting is “putting flesh on the bones of an abstract right” to be housed. He briefly recounted his work squatting in the Bronx, beginning with the St. Ann’s Avenue garden, described by Jonathan Kozol in his book “Amazing Grace.” His views on the agenda of capital, “spatial deconcentration,” were formed through contact by murdered housing activist Yolanda Ward. Frank ended by expressing the hope that this panel might issue a call for a large-scale occupation movement in New York City.
Finally, Peter Marcuse asked what happens after a squat? What can happen, and what ought to happen, and what needs to happen so that what ought to happen can. He recalled the policies of NYC’s last progressive mayor, John Lindsay, who set up the Division of Alternative Management in the city housing department. In the absence of such policies, the cycle will continue as it has after this interruption. “The next generation of gentrifiers are buying up houses now,” he said.
text of a Neil Smith interview on conditions in Berlin conducted by Andrej Holm, a sociologist who was later arrested by the state (he was later released)
Frank Morales is a forceful speaker; here he is in a KPFA interview in March.
[The “House Magic: Bureau of Foreign Correspondence” show on European squatted social centers is now up in Queens, NY as part of the University of Trash through 8/3/09. I am preparing a zine catalogue of the first part of the show; submissions are welcome. Firm closing 5/31.]
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The "House Magic: Bureau of Foreign Correspondence" project begun at ABC No Rio has become a research component of the "University of Trash" at the Sculpture Center, in Queens NY. HM:BGC will participate in UofT events; the schedule is here. This Saturday (5/16) from 4-7pm, the Baltimore group behind the City from Below conference will present. They will discuss Participation Park, an ongoing public art project and activist initiative based on converting a vacant lot in east Baltimore into an urban farm, social space, community kitchen, radical planning studio, free store, and adventure playground. Then Monday (5/18) 7:30pm at Brecht Forum, Max Rameau of the Florida Take Back the Land group will talk.
Monday, May 4, 2009
THIRD (and last) WEEK
Tuesday 5 May 09
“Visions of Utopia,” directed by Geoff Kozeny; Part One, the historical background (94 min.; 2009); and excerpts from Part Two, on urban communes Two (about 30 min); collective living discussion with James Andrews of Nsumi, other invitees
Wednesday 6 May 09
Zurich -- The Art Squat – “Dada Changed My Life,” directed by Lou Lou and Daniel Martinez (2004; time?) about the Zurich art squatting action that saved the Cabaret Voltaire Guest: Olga Mazurkiewicz
Thursday 7 May 09
Denmark, Copenhagen -- “Christiania You Have My Heart,” directed by Nils Vest (62 min.; 1991; Danish with English subtitles); talk with Rebecca Zorach
next venue for the boxed-up "HM:BFC" for the summer is at "University of Trash."
press release: http://www.sculpture-center.org/pressSpecific.htm?id=12595