on the hot seat

it’s a game we play, where one person agrees to be on the hot seat and others get to ask them any question they want.  the person on the hot seat can pass, but mostly all questions get answered.  we were on a long car ride: sky, kas, willow, pax and i, and we came to a compromise with willow.  we would play a round or two of hot seats and then do a round or three of 20 questions.  and the time passed nicely as the newly dubbed weenie butt clan traveled through the virginia mountains.

we were headed home and all four adults (and for one brief moment even willow) had been thoroughly questioned.  kassia asked me if i would be willing to go back on the hot seat, specifically around my dreams of creating an autonomous zone in pittsburgh.  with only some hesitation, i agreed.  kassia started the questioning and sky joined in now and again.

would you go to pittsburgh and just start?  of course not.  it is clear that i will be entering a community and trying to do something extraordinary and unusual and that will require slow, intentional organizing.  right now i’m making scouting plans with oscar, who might actually join me in this madness.  and the plan is to choose a site intentionally, understand fully the ownership status, choose something in poor shape and in a good community.  (note that my definition of good community has nothing to do with local schools or economy, but more to do with the people living there.)  once i’ve chosen a site, i plan to live in the neighborhood, building relationships and preparing the community for what i want to be doing.

often when you squat a space you are putting yourself in opposition with the local government, who we want to keep as our allies because they can do the most good.  are you worried about that?  i sited the successful landslide squat in pittsburgh, where during the eviction process, the city government heard about what was happening and intervened on behalf of the squatters.  i think if a site is chosen that people will be happy about something being improved, we will face less resistance from local government.

do you want to squat to own or to rent?  no.  no way.  i want to squat to claim.  part of why i want to work in the community for so long before actually squatting a space is because i want the community to be invested in what we’re doing, i want people to understand our reasons for squatting and be excited about what we’re trying to create.  i want the community to care enough about us to help us resist eviction.  and i am not willing to have a land lord.  no way.

are you willing to give up the right to walk around your house without pants on in order to create a less homogenous culture?  yes.  and there are other similar cultural identity pieces i would give up to make the space i’m creating comfortable and inviting to a wide variety of people.  and what is also true is that i trust that as we build community and live together and fall in love with each other, that our cultural idiosyncrasies will be embraced.  and there will again be a time when i can walk around without pants on.

it sounds like you will not have clear cultural agreements as a foundation to community building in order to create a less homogenous culture.  are you willing to kick people out if they are not working for the community?  yes and yes.  what i find distressing about the communities i’ve played in is that, for different reasons, their culture creates a filter through which not much diversity passes.  i dont want to create that filter and understand that as a consequence, the community i want to build will be faced with conflicts that require us to be able to make hard decisions.  and kassia reminded me that i’ve admitted to conflict avoidance tendencies.  and i will have to get better if i want to make this work.

there were other great questions and it all felt really good.  because there are lots of pieces of this project that will be hard and i need to be ready for all the curve balls.  and it got me real excited for the dream.  now if only oscar would get here and we could dream new things up together.  more soon!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sapphyre
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 17:45:18

    I love these windows into your dreams. Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration =)

    Reply

  2. paxus
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 22:25:54

    honest answers, showing how much is still unknown. Great graphic.

    Reply

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