Why create space?

Why create space
Why create space

Reflections on why we occupy. Ideas behind our autonomous spaces.

Submitted by Amongst the Elder on March 29, 2016

“The care of the citizen is the sap of the city. But one can only care for that which one loves. A lovable city is key to a living city. A lovely city is not an accident, as a lovely person is not an accident.”

Paolo Soleri

I take my point of departure from remembering one of my core concerns about housing activism in 2014. The struggle was to ensure a roof and hot water were guaranteed when people pay insane rent for single rooms. In my city housing is a nightmare. However atop my concern for basic rights, there was another niggle. Housing for the poor is ugly. Streets of grubby faced houses leaning on each other out of exhaustion; houses that have been exploited for too long. No parks, no gardens, rectangle wastelands waiting to be developed. Jump forwards two years, I’m living in a squatted garden. A jungle, and jumble of children’s toys and drill bits, an outdoor working environment the year round, and people build their own houses and experiment with growing food.

As beginners to this way of life, our pure lack of ability to create something that looks fancy, we are sometimes oblivious to the way nature cradles us, ivy crawling over our mistakes and erupting with birdsong. Brambles are the fastest to spring up on disturbed ground, providing medicine with its leaves and a bounty in autumn to eat and make punch from. In creating an alternative society where, unlike the city, time is on one’s side, I find spontaneous art dangle from the rooftops, and communal cleaning is a way of life. All becoming green again as time passes.

I am not calling my new home a utopia of nature, it’s far from it, we are of course, still humans. Yet, unlike the ugly city that is cast from concrete, inflexible, no opening for nature, art only available where it has been commissioned, (not where it is needed,) I’d like to call my home a real alternative. An opportunity to create a space that allows each day to be worth something to the intellectual and creative benefit to the people that inhabit the moment. In the city each day was a penny in the money pot that we call life.

Allow people to invest time into space, but also learn about the weeds and how each plant is a gift, let the inertia of creativity be an ornament rather than graffiti, but also invite all kinds of people to paint the walls so that the voices represented are not just the subversive. Make the space you live a choir of all who live there. Not the blank canvas that the over-represented make of a city. All voices in harmony. A space you love, in which to love each other.