Check out these pictures of the back to the land movement in the late 1960s.
The new kids on the block are actually the old kids from the block, they are just back with a very politically potent offer which will hopefully be a new direction for the squatting movement – but i am getting ahead of myself, let’s begin at the beginning.
Freedonia is awesome. They have pioneered a new approach to squatting which makes it more resilient. They have tricked the police into giving them abandoned buildings. They host clever workshops, feed local and poor people for free and throw bad ass parties. All in an undisclosed location, in the shadow of serious urban decay, somewhere on the east coast of the US, far from anywhere Dick Cheney would think of hanging out.
An adventurous group of Freedonians (which is quite redundant phrase actually) set off on a bike tour to New Orleans. They called themselves the Vultures. There were puppet shows, there were narrow escapes from the police, there were complex polyamorous topographies – all the good things you would expect from our intrepid travelers. And there were lots of talks around open fires about how to step things up back in Freedonia.
Normal people would have looked at the impressive accomplishments of this full featured set of squats and said “well, we have done quite enough and we are already impressive and sustainable just the way we are”. But the Vultures would not know normal if it came at them with a knife (i’d bet on the Vultures in this fight though, normal don’t got a chance).
They decided they would kick it up a level and start income sharing. They returned from their bike tour, promptly broke into a house not far from their original places (which they had let others move into while they were on the bike tour and they did not want them to leave when they returned) and squatted it. And thus Vulture House was born.
They then offered to all of the other Freedonians to join them in this income sharing adventure. Readers of this blog will not be surprised that i think sharing and especially income sharing are instrumental in saving the world. We don’t know how many other local squatters will bite, but the Vultures are pretty compelling.
Stay tuned for more tales of intrepid revolutionaries from undisclosed locations.
The facilitator did not think it would fly. “How many people would help organize a sober New Year’s Eve Eve party?” But when more than half the room raised their hands in the Acorn Community meeting, the follow up question became obvious “How many people would attend such a party?” Almost the every hand went up in the room.
I’ve tried several times to organize large sober parties at the communes, there has not been interest or willingness to give up a major holiday for this experiment. But the case for New Year’s Eve Eve was pretty compelling. For starters, New Year’s Eve was not going to be sober, so it is physically draining to party hard this way two nights in a row. So a sober party first is an obvious fix.
But funologically sober parties bring a score of other advantages. One is talented people who don’t like to be around intoxicated folks so much jump at the chance to help make sober event happen. Purl performed a charming surreal puppet shows and enthused karaoke facilitation as part of the night’s complex mix of activities.
One of the things which i did not pull off at this event, because i was too busy driving shuttles to Twin Oaks, was a real new year’s resolution game. Using some as-yet undefined combination of appreciative inquiry and transparency tools, i wanted to craft robust resolutions that people would be excited about attempting, and compassionate with themselves around lapsing from. Just like Validation Day fixed Valentines Day, just like the communes institutional sharing fixes brittle agreements, i wanted to try to fix the generally reckless process of making a new year’s resolution. And at the center of this unfulfilled plan was sober, heady talk.
One of the things the commune does, which i deeply appreciate, is to throw multi-generational events. At this party it meant having littler kids in the early stages and the teens show up when the Magic card game started around midnight. Willow was the youngest, i was the oldest. And what was clear was that it did not really matter what your age was; what mattered was how you played, and age held little advantage in this deeply competitive game (i was one of the first eliminated).
One of the things i realized only after the event was that while the communes tend to run in the hippie direction in terms of membership, many of our friends who came to this party are punks. The punks are, because of their culture and because of the differences, inherently more edgy. Pulling intoxicants out of the mix made it more comfortable to have edgy, different people in our midst, especially for those who had never met them before.
People seemed to enjoy this well attended event, with a bit of luck, it will become and annual tradition.
Over both of the last two nights Angelica and i have spent a couple of hours at Siesta Key Beach around midnight in Sarasota FL. Sarasota is a town of 60K which my guess brushes up closer to 100K over the Thanksgiving holiday, with kids and grand kids coming to visit their less mobile older relatives. Siesta Key is considered by many to be one of the most lovely beaches in the world, with fine white sands and good facilities. There are literally thousands of condo and housing units within a few hundred yards of the beach for a very long stretch. Unlike Virginia Beach, the water is warm enough to walk through it barefoot indefinitely during the night this time of year.
Both nights on the beach there was no one else there.
Sarasota does have an impressive array of shopping centers, malls and strip malls. These are busy when ever they are open. I find myself thankful i only visit here. At my big Thanksgiving meal today i sat across from someone who leads mountain climbing exhibitions around the world who said,
I like fracking, because it means I can take explosives through my airport security easily.
Apparently she uses explosives for avalanche control.
This holiday i am thankful for Ferguson. Not the murder of Michael Brown or witness DeAndre Joshua, of course, nor the clearly contestable Grand Jury verdict. What i am instead appreciating is the explosion of media attention on the homicides by the police of unarmed people of color in the US. Murder is the largest cause of death of black males between 15 and 34 at 40%. White males of the same age range died at a 3.8% rate. And in response to the Grand Jury verdict there have been mixed race protests in at least 37 locations across the nation. And i am thankful for my inspirational allies, including Jeff Winder, who very nearly got arrested with us at the UVa anti-rape protest. Jeff does what no one else seems to be able to do at the Wayside Center where he works, which is to do organizing both from the secular community and the spiritually based one, on the same issues. And Wayside is able to build resistance movements with people of color and whites working together on the same issues. I had hoped to spend my couple of hours in jail last week talking with him. But i am confident there will be another chance to talk, likely when both of us are getting arrested at the same action or at a court hearing. Jeff’s rant below is not your classic holiday fluff. But i appreciate the he puts it out and want to repost it.