permanent and temporary autonomous zones

tahrir square's tent city

i’ve been thinking a lot about destruction lately–probably a sign that i’m spending too much time with willow.  and not just destruction, but what we build as we destroy.  for the last year or so, i’ve been harboring delicious dreams of creating a permanent autonomous zone in the united states.  the dream starts with squatting a sizable, empty and forgotten space in the city.  a group of us moves in, figures out how to make it a home and then gets help defending ourselves against eviction.  dont worry, my moms already offered to come get arrested helping us avoid eviction.  we also figure out how we’re living together, how we’re sharing space and time and hearts, how we’re showing up in the broader community.  and of course, how we’re going to live without interacting with capitalism and the political system.  how we provide for ourselves those things which we absolutely need to survive and what we must have to be happy.  in fact i think we start the discussion by asking ourselves what makes us happy, and i mean really happy.

then, once we’re well established, once we’ve figured out water, food, maybe a small amount of power, and how to build deep and rewarding relationships with each other; once we’re well beyond the eviction scare, when we’re well incorporated into our surrounding community, then we branch out.  we branch out and take over other, unloved spaces.  because, of course, we’ll need other things if we’re really going to disengage from the structures that be.  we’ll need childcare spaces, free school spaces, event spaces, healthcare spaces and so forth.  if we’re doing something right, we’ll need other community buildings.  and slowly we’ll grow and become stronger.  it will be dazzling.

because i want to start an intentional community that doesnt rely on having capital and buying land.  i want to create community in a way that is more accessible to more people.  and i just dont want to live in a world where we have to work to make money to survive.  i want to live.  to actually live.  i want to be able to dedicate myself to those things that actually matter to me: building relationships, breaking down societies, playing with kids, and nurturing the people around me.  having fun and creating.

and i was recently reading an article about the potential for interplay between permanent and temporary autonomous zones.  there is a lot of passion and fun and an even greater accessibility in the “festival atmosphere” of the temporary autonomous zone.  think tahrir square, think of the upcoming occupation of wall st.  these are actions people are attracted to, that they can convince their friends to go to too.  and so my dream takes on new sparkle and dynamism.  i am dreaming of organizing taking back the street festivals, using them as a tool to create the reality that we can live in that freedom on a more permanent basis.  and using them as a fun way to refresh those of us making the permanent zones happen.

let me know if you want to help!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sara Tansey
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 14:19:30

    who wants to come with me to this:


  2. paxus
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 22:18:32

    when we are in am*dam i will take you to the Molly squat cafe and you can meet the people who do this for a living. Lots of tricks and thoughts from mama Europa on this one.


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